Snazzier (?) AppCode

At the recent and wonderful NSConference, I spoke to a number of developers who either hadn't tried AppCode, or if they had, dismissed it immediately because it doesn't use native UI.

My first reaction was - hmm "non-native UI probably shouldn't be enough of an issue to instantly dismiss it, given all the other cool stuff it can do."  But then I thought, well, I don't like the ios7 UI very much - to the point of it putting me off using my iPhone lately since some hipster designers vomited light contrast pixels onto a white background in the name of usability.  So if somebody recoils at the thought of non-native UI in a developer tool, I guess I can relate - beauty is in the eye of the beholder and what works well for some doesn't for others.  But I digress.

The point here is to show that AppCode can be tweaked to look similar to Xcode - for some degree of similarity.  Whether that similarity goes far enough to satisfy those who really want native UI is unclear but here are some screenshots that show how I've customised my AppCode (and how I like it to look), along with how I've configured my color scheme and fonts in Xcode.  And hey, if you don’t like my Xcode, well tough - it’s mine dang it!

The two screenshots below say it all... if this is interesting enough for me to describe in more detail I'd be happy to share - everything is done via the preferences screens in AppCode and is hardly rocket science.  But still, happy to go into more detail if it helps somebody out, just let me know - I'm @chwalters on Twitter.

A Tale of Five Droids - All less than a ton (c-note!)

For an Android project I’m working on I wanted to have a selection of test devices without having to spend a fortune.  To keep costs down, I went to the Geekbuying website and purchased a variety of phones, ranging from very cheap to cheap.  I paid customs/import duty on these devices, but no shipping charges since Geekbuying was offering free shipping at the time I placed the order.  The only criteria I had was for WiFi and no separate charger - i.e., chargeable via the USB connector.  I didn’t care about RAM, 3G/4G, etc or CPU speeds.

I have to say that these phones all represent tremendous value for money, and I’d probably even use the top two (Zoppo and iPegTop) as a day-to-device if I didn’t already have one.  All of them offer dual SIM slots; two are dual-core and the other three quad-core CPUs.  The screens on the very cheap devices are definitely not the best, but wait til you see the price!  Perfect for testing or for giving to a less demanding user who just wants some basic functionality without spending a fortune on the latest from Apple or the top-end Droids.

Obviously these run Android, so for some of you that might be the biggest issue if you prefer iOS.

What is clear is that educated consumers can (I believe legally) get fairly powerful but inexpensive devices with some very real but minimal downsides, depending on their requirements.  In my case I had no DOA units; the devices all seem well put together; and there were no issues with shipping or payment.  So far I’ve only tried PAYG SIMs in the iPegTop z26, and it works well - but lack of 3G on the low-end or perhaps non-standard radio bands means the buyer needs to be careful if they want to use the device as an actual phone instead of as a WiFi only terminal.

In addition, none of these devices run the latest version of Android.  In my case, a random selection of operating system versions was exactly what I needed but this will probably cause others to think twice.

Here is a quick photo album of what I went for:

But, buyer beware - be careful! Check the specs carefully should you choose to go this route, and don’t shoot me if it doesn’t work out for you - YMMV with this approach.  This article also explores reasons why this kind of purchase might remain a geek-only activity for the foreseeable future.

Fire in the Hole! (Super Spicy Toad in the Hole)


For this weekend’s brunch themed Capsicana Twitter cook-off, I made a super-spicy version of the classic “Toad in the Hole.”  Instead of normal sausages I used Spicy Bath Pig Chorizo, and with loads of chillies including three dried bhut jolokia, this dish was far from bland.

Surprisingly this dish won the cook off, and I say that because there were so many outstanding entries.  Take a look at them by searching for the hashtag #CapsicanaCookoff.

Already looking forward to the next cook-off.  They are a ton of fun, you should enter!

I used the batter recipe from Pamela Gwyther’s “Best of British Cooking” and then assembled a cast of terribles to mix in.  The result was pretty darn fiery but not intolerable - I think the stodgy batter resisted the pepper onslaught quite well.

Zapier Integration List (as of 26 December 2013)

I went to look at the list of API providers that Zapier supports and found that I hadn’t heard of many of them.  So I did a quick exercise and did a very, very quick visit to each of the service providers.  I captured the URL and a brief description of the services, and tried to categorize them by my own notion of what they do.  I made a spreadsheet to capture this info.  If you have any suggested changes, please let me know (or if you think I should use a different format, etc.).  For what it’s worth, the file is in my public documentation repository on Github, so feel free to fork away, etc.

A list of API's supported by Zapier.  Taken from their status page and then did a very brief lookup to find out the URL and create a brief description of the service:

Burritos Del Mar

Burritos del Mar

This month’s entry in the

Guajillo sauce - mix guajillo powder, some grated cheese, chopped garlic and onions with sour cream and let rest in the fridge for an hour or so.

Toasted bhut jolokia pumpkin seeds - toss the seeds in olive oil and salt and toast gently in a skillet.  After start to swell pull them off; rest then add bhut jolokia powder and mix well.  Take care with the powder!

Poach a cod loin and a “fruit of the sea” seafood packet (squid, mussels, and prawns) gently in white wine, garlic, onions and a dash of cumin.  Set aside.  Cook rice and add black beans, more garlic, onions and a dash of salt.  Mix seafood, rice and beans together to form the filling for the burritos.

Soften large flour tortillas in a pan (or very briefly microwave) to make them easier to roll.  Fill the tortillas and roll.  Add to slightly greased baking tray.  Bake in the oven until heated through.

Heat guajillo sauce in saucepan but don't boil it.  Add a bit of cheese to thicken.

If wet (see below) cover with sauce and cheese and bake.

Serve burritos wet or if preferred, dry.  If wet, smother burrito with sauce, and then top with a few of the pumpkin seeds.  If dry, serve the sauce in a bowl on the side and use it for dipping.

Serve with side salad and diced avocado and red onion spritzed with lime.  Or make some guac!

Creamy Crab Quesadillas with Pear and Mango Salsa

aka "Having fun on Twitter!"

Today I made creamy crab quesadillas with pear and mango salsa for the monthly "#capsicanacookoff"



To make the creamy crab filling, I used a tin of Costco fancy crab meat that I had in the fridge and mixed it with 1/2 a container of Philadelphia cream cheese, adding the equivalent of 2 cloves of garlic - I used puree, powder or minced fresh garlic would also work.  Add a finely diced medium red onion, and fresh coriander to taste.  After I mixed up the filling I added some grated cheddar and mozzarella to the mix until I had a nice thick consistency that was still spreadable.  Salt and pepper to taste, I didn't think it needed it!


I had a fresh pear from the tree in the garden, and I thought it would taste nice in a salsa.  So at the supermarket I picked up some mango, six mixed chilli peppers (including a scotch bonnet!).  All of the chillies, another small red onion and 1/2 dozen cherry tomatoes were finely chopped and spritzed with lime juice and loads of fresh finely chopped coriander was added.


Take a flour tortilla, microwave it for 15 seconds to make it soft and pliable.  Place the tortilla on a plate, then fill with the cream cheese mixture, fold in half.  Fry on medium heat one at a time in an lightly oiled skillet until the tortilla is just brown and the filling gets melted, flipping as required but at least once.

Serve on a plate with sour cream garnish, loads of the salsa, and a bit more fresh coriander and pomegranate seeds.  Margaritas to drink along with the quesadillas optional but recommended!


Clueless WTF Sauce (2nd batch)

Since I was unable to attend the Bath Chilli Festival I was determined to make another batch of chilli sauce.  After my experiment was reasonably successful last time I tried to capture the recipe as I went along for the latest batch.  I was hoping for a higher yield (more sauce) but 36 chillies only makes a small hot-sauce sized bottle.  Guess if I want to make more next time I'll need to double the recipe or figure out a better way to get the liquid out of the mash.

Coding Guidelines from @RichardBuckle

(Updated to permalink on 24 Aug 2013)

Richard Buckle (@RichardBuckle) has written up his coding guidelines for Objective-C.  IMHO they are well written and appreciate the guidance by example, along with a discussion of when he believes it is ok to bend the rules a bit.  Hopefully this will be a living document and Richard can add more over time.

Like all these things, YMMV but I say thanks to Richard for sharing them.


NSConference 5


Just a heads up to let you know I'll be heading to NSConference 5.  Looking forward to it.


Tomorrow I'm off to @iOSDevUK for the first time, hope the weather is good for the 4.5+ hour drive from the south to Aberystwyth.

© Chris Walters 2018