My Unit Testing C4[3] Presentation


I should have posted this literally years ago. Since I just learned that Keynote can easily publish presentations to, I figure I have no excuse. Thus, here’s my C4[3] presentation on unit testing:

[Direct Link]

Joining Apple


Next week, I fly out to Cupertino to start working at Apple as a full time employee. This is a big move for me, as I’ve been working for myself since 2001. But this is truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that I cannot pass up. As is the case for a lot of people my age, I began my computing experience on an Apple ][ and have been a huge fan of Apple ever since (with a slight defection to Linux in the late 90s and early 00s). Apple-related technology (Mac OS X and iOS) has been my main source of income since around 2006, so in many ways, this is a dream come true. I’m very excited to work with a great team and for a great company.

Welcome Lily and Zach Dribin


My wife and I recently brought home two new additions to the Ross-Dribin family: Lily and Zach! All four of us are doing great, but everything since then has been a blur.

trigint: An Integer-based Trigonometry Library


Back when I was writing the A440 sample code for my iPad Dev Camp presentation, I needed to generate a 440 Hz sine wave. The simplest way to do this is to use the sin() or sinf() standard C library functions. But there was one minor caveat: these functions required using floating point data types. However, floating point on the iPhone hardware is (or at least was) not that fast compared to integer calculations, especially when compiled in Thumb mode, which is the default. You could disable Thumb mode, but then the code size would be ~35% larger.

Or, you could avoid floating point altogether. Thus, I wrote trigint, a 100% integer-based trigonometry library. It uses a 16-entry lookup table plus linear interpolation so it’s quite memory efficient, yet still accurate enough for most purposes. Since it’s written in ANSI C99, it can be used on 8-bit microcontrollers, like an Atmel AVR with avr-gcc. Here’s the code and the API documentation.

How fast is it? Take a look at the numbers on a 1st generation iPod Touch. In summary, trigint_sin16() is about 4.4 times faster than sinf() and 6.7 times faster than sin() in Thumb mode. Without Thumb mode, the gap closes a bit to 3.8 times faster and 6.2 times faster, respectively. I haven’t, yet run the benchmark on the iPhone 4 or the iPad, so it may not matter as much on the more modern hardware; however, it’s still useful for the the 8-bit MCUs like the AVR, though.

trigint is essentially a C version of the Scott Dattalo’s sine wave routine for the PIC microcontroller. Credit goes to Scott for coming up with the algorithm. He’s also got a whole write up of sine wave theory. Scott is one of the most brilliant assembly coders I’ve ever run into. He helped me optimize a CRC-16 routine in PIC assembly, years ago.

My Chiptune Cover of Don't Stop Believin'


Here’s a chiptune cover of Journey’s Don’t Stop Believin’ I made during some time off I had last December. I just haven’t gotten around to posting it until now (though I did make a few tweaks yesterday). I think we were watching Glee at the time and remember thinking a chiptune version would be even better than theirs. It was made with FamiTracker, and this video is of the song being played in FamiTracker:

You can listen to and download the MP3 from its 8bitcollective page. Or download the NSF (what’s an NSF?) and play it in an NSF player, such as my own Chip Player. Or perhaps something a bit more stable like Audio Overload.

Fun with C99 Syntax


The C99 language added some pretty neat features to the ANSI C we know and love (now known as C89). I used a construct called compound literals in my iPad Dev Camp presentation, and it seemed new to a lot of people. Here’s a summary of some lesser know features about C99 that are worth knowing. And, since Objective-C is a strict superset of C, all this applies to Objective-C, as well. Best of all, as of recent Xcode (3.0? 3.1?), C99 is the default C dialect for new projects, so you don’t need to do anything to start taking advantage of these.

iPad Dev Camp Slides


First off, a big thanks to David Kinney (@dlkinney) for organizing this year’s iPad Dev Camp Chicago. Here are the slides to my Core Audio presentations:

The source code to the two projects I went over are up on BitBucket:

  • A440: A Core Audio “Hello World”. Runs on Mac, iPhone, and iPad.
  • Chip Player: A chiptune player using the Game Music Emu library. Runs on Mac and iPad and plays popular chiptune file formats, such as NSF and GBS.

Use the ipaddevcamp2010 tag to see what they looked like at the time of the presentations.

A440: A Core Audio "Hello World"


iPad Dev Camp Chicago is coming up this weekend, and I’m going to be giving two talks about Core Audio. One of the applications we are going to go over is called A440, a “Hello World” of Core Audio. It plays a simple a 440 Hz tone using both Audio Queue Services (AudioQueueRef and friends) and Audio Unit Processing Graph Services (AUGraph and friends). In order to keep the code as simple as possible, it does not use any of the “Public Utility” C++ APIs.

I’ve posted the code up on BitBucket if you want to check it out before hand or are unable to attend. I also hope to have a more complex and complete audio playing application ready to release by this weekend, too. Hint, it’ll have something to do with 8-bit chiptunes. So if you’re in Chicago, sign up! It’ll be fun!

Debugging Asynchronous performSelector: Calls


This afternoon, I had to debug an issue that involved performSelectorOnMainThread:. This method is a great way to get a background thread to safely interact with the user interface. But when you set a breakpoint or crash nested down in one of these method calls, sometimes it’s useful to get a backtrace of who called performSelectorOnMainThread:. Unfortunately, by the time our method gets called, we don’t have that information. The same goes for performSelector:withObject:afterDelay:.

After some good suggestions on Twitter, and a bit of casual recreational coding, I’ve come up with a general purpose solution that involves, of course, method swizzling.

What I Miss from Java


On Monday, I had a series of tweets ([1], [2], [3]) about what I like about Java that I miss in Objective-C/Cocoa that were probably better off in a blog post. I blame Jeff LaMarche for baiting me into the tweet rant, so here’s the the same thing, in blog post format with more detail and other points I forgot to mention.

What I Miss

Before settling in on Objective-C, I was a Java guy for about six years or so. Overall, I much, much prefer coding in Objective-C to Java, and have no intentions of going back to Java. But that doesn’t mean there’s some things I miss. Here’s a quick list, with more detail below:

  • A flexible I/O class hierarchy
  • Everything in java.util.concurrent
  • Exceptions for errors
  • Packages, a.k.a namespaces
  • One file for interface/implementation
  • Type safe enum classes
  • Annotations
  • Awesome IDEs (IntelliJ)


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