November 22, 2015

Adventures with React

Recently I’d seen a post on Hacker News about a course for the React JavaScript Framework. I haven’t done much with JavaScript, apart from a course in work, which was focused on the language itself and jQuery. React is a front end framework, which allows you to build reusable components (and generate them with data.)

The only real experience I have is writing an application (using Node.js) for my MSc course which was an AJAX application for interacting with Amazon SimpleDB. It was fun to write and weird that I could use the same language from the front-end to the back-end.

Back to the React course, I completed it over a week, taking my time to break things (it’s the only way to get an appreciation for how things work!). It’s a really nicely laid out course, where you build a market for fish (a lot more exciting then it sounds). It doesn’t really cover any CSS or HTML, so you should at least know that before starting.

What I really liked in particular was the build tools, including Gulp. Gulp is like Make, Maven, Gradle, Ant etc. It’s very flexible and fast, with hundreds of modules on Node Package Manager to choose from. Part of building the app, you can make the assets (HTML+CSS etc) smaller (minification), run a web server and open your browser with the app automatically. Combined with a nifty tool called BrowserSync, it’s the fastest feedback cycle I’ve probably ever had. That makes it fantastic if your new to this kind of thing, nothing inspires happiness more than seeing instant results!

Also the course does a pretty good job at taking you from today’s JavaScript standard (ES5) to the more modern equivalents (ES6, ES7). JavaScript in time is set to become a much nicer language to write, the only problem is compatibility. Luckily the course touches on Babel which happily transpiles all your fancy newer JavaScript down the widely supported standard of ES5. The compatibility will probably be painful, it always is - judging by Python (2 to 3), Perl and all the other languages which have sought to remove cruft.

All in all I’d very much recommend it. I even re-wrote Grogan Burners (My Fathers business) website to use React components after!

October 6, 2015

Automatically Decline and Delete or Accept and Delete Outlook 2010 Meetings

You can follow the Microsoft TechNet guide to add VisualBasic code in Outlook rules.

You can just replace the code they give with this:

Sub AutoDeclineMeetings(oRequest As MeetingItem)

' If its not a meeting, we don't process
If oRequest.MessageClass <> "IPM.Schedule.Meeting.Request" Then
    Exit Sub
End If

' Get the appointment in the meeting
Dim oAppt As AppointmentItem
Set oAppt = oRequest.GetAssociatedAppointment(True)

' Send a decline response
Dim oResponse
    Set oResponse = oAppt.Respond(olMeetingDeclined, True)

' Lastly, delete the message
End Sub

Sub AutoAcceptMeetings(oRequest As MeetingItem)

' If its not a meeting, we don't process
If oRequest.MessageClass <> "IPM.Schedule.Meeting.Request" Then
    Exit Sub
End If

' Get the appointment in the meeting
Dim oAppt As AppointmentItem
Set oAppt = oRequest.GetAssociatedAppointment(True)

' Send an accept response
Dim oResponse
    Set oResponse = oAppt.Respond(olMeetingAccepted, True)

' Lastly, (optionally) delete the message
End Sub

For anything else you may want to do with the meeting, check the Outlook Visual Basic Developer Docs.

code programming
September 10, 2015

Editorial App

Editorial is an iPhone and iPad plain text editor that’s great for markdown1. It also has some nifty automation workflows, in which you can use Python scripts. These can search the web, scrape data, transform text and much more…

I pretty much wrote this blog post (and many more) in Editorial. It’s much better then the competition for markdown in particular. Byword is an obvious competitor, which I really can’t recommend (nothing inherently wrong with Byword, just doesn’t suit me). MacStories has an in -depth Editorial review, which is well worth a long read.

  1. Markdown is a lightweight markup format, created by John Gruber of Daring Fireball.

app review ios
September 1, 2015

Go Bag(s)

I follow Casey Liss’ blog and recently he had a great post about a technology go pack”. Lifehacker has written about this over the years, and the Wirecutter has a great article I shared here on this very blog. Also Casey linked to a great post by Katie Floyd on Twitter:

I finally took the hint / inspiration from all these posts, and I decided time was right to put together my own go bag”. Here’s a picture of my tech go bag:

Neil's Tech Go Bag Neil’s Tech Go Bag

What’s in my (tech) go bag:



and to keep these organised:


Other Holiday Travel stuff / bags

Also with the tech go bag, I’ve created a toiletry bag, contact lens bag etc. This goes with Ebags I bought in 2014, which have been great for travel. I bought some of these from Amazon and then from Ikea and I’m going to see which lasts longer :)

Some more pictures:

Neil's Grooming Bag Neil’s Grooming Bag

3 sizes of BUBM bags 3 sizes of BUBM bags

IKEA travel bottles in freezer bags IKEA travel bottles in freezer bags

August 26, 2015

Services I pay for

In alphabetical order:

  • / - usually buy electronics here!
  • Apple’s App Store - I use iOS & Mac heavily, buy a lot of apps!
  • - hosts this site via Dropbox
  • Dropbox - sync files across computers
  • Evernote - I store a lot of notes here.
  • Fastmail - My email, contacts, calendars
  • Hover - great place for domain names (like this one).
  • Newsblur - Personalized RSS for news junkies
  • Pinboard - stores all my bookmarks (also archives the sites)

Some of these are referral links, I stand to get extra credit on these services if you use it.