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     So much for reinventing the wheel
    Filed under: — David @ 7:26 pm

    My wife has this seven-week dinner menu system all worked out, and she wanted something on her computer to manage it so she could do cool things like automatically generate a shopping list. At first we looked at doing it in Numbers, but it soon became apparent that this was not a job for a spreadsheet.

    Fortunately, Mac OS X has Core Data, which makes it easy to write database applications. Just the thing for keeping track of recipes and grocery lists. One of the example Core Data applications is even a recipe organizer, though it’s too simple for our needs.

    I’ve toyed with Core Data before, but I haven’t actually used it. I looked into it for XVG, especially since the Core Data documentation frequently mentions a drawing program as something you might use it for. But the problem was that Core Data deals only in sets of things, not ordered lists. A drawing program needs to keep track of the front-to-back drawing order of the shapes, so Core Data was out for that project.

    But for recipes it’s just right. I had fun assembling a data model, figuring out a good UI design, and even learning some more tricks for using Cocoa’s tables and buttons.

    Then I decided I ought to look around and see what else was out there… and found YummySoup. It does pretty much everything I had in mind for my own app, plus cool stuff like you can tell it how to import recipes from any web site.

    So the good news is I don’t have to write a recipe organizer. The bad news is I was actually looking forward to it, and now I need a new excuse to learn Core Data. But I’ll probably go back to writing Flag Domination for Unreal Tournament 3 instead.

     Hacking at leaves
    Filed under: — David @ 11:12 am

    In last night’s debate, Barack Obama talked about one way in which he plans to address the illegal immigration problem, and it’s something I think is not discussed nearly often enough: working with Mexico to improve their economy. This is the only approach that actually addresses the root of the problem: people are so desperate to leave Mexico and come to the US that they are willing to do it illegally. Everything else - amnesty, fences, driver’s licenses, health care - ignores the root and just hacks away at the leaves. Yet another example of far too much time and effort wasted on short-term solutions with no regard for the big picture.

    Looking at Hillary Clinton’s web site, all I see are solutions that focus on this side of the border. Her immigration page was also harder for me to find because the list of issues was all phrases like “Reforming Our Immigration System” rather than simple nouns like “Immigration”.

    John McCain (who refers to the issue as “border security” instead of “immigration”, which also made it harder for me to find) talks about “building strong allies in Mexico and Latin America”, so at least there’s some hope on that side, though I still don’t plan to vote Republican in this election.

    So on top of everything else, it looks like Obama has the best web site too. Every issues page has an “at a glance” page at the top, with links to sub-sections so it’s easy to find the details you’re looking for. Clinton’s pages have lots of big paragraphs that are hard to scan. McCain has the shortest pages, and the fewest. He doesn’t even seem to have anything to say about education, or “Improving Our Schools” as Hillary puts it.

    This is my personal blog. The views expressed on these pages are mine alone and not those of my employer.

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