Monthly Archives: April 2007

Craigslist and Google Maps Mashup Thingy: Day 11 – More Random Code

Today for the mashup thing, I did a bit of work on the main index page where each available city will show up as a marker. So when someone goes to the root of the website, they’ll see a bunch of cities. They can also pick the cities from a drop down menu, too. This required a bit of more javascript and some template files, etc.

I did a little research on the person who did the Google Maps Craigslist mashup like two years ago. Apparently he got a job at Google! While that’s pretty awesome, I can’t see this project doing the same for me, since it’s something that’s already been done (and two years ago, which is an eternity in web time). Rather, I’m just building this for my own use and perhaps for other people who wish there were more cities available in that HousingMaps mashup.

I came up with a name for the application. I was going to call it CraigsMaps, but someone already has that domain name. I’m thinking I should buy the domain name pretty soon, but what if I come up with a cooler name later!? The app should be ready in a couple of days anyway. Depending on how much extra stuff I want to cram in before I “launch” it.

Craigslist and Google Maps Mashup Thingy: Day 10 – Custom Controls and Housekeeping

I guess this should count as the project’s 10th and 11th day, though I didn’t really spend too much time on either day, so let’s just roll them into one. After doing some CSS to overlay some divs over the Google Map, I found out there’s another way to do this: with “custom controls.”

The way that the custom controls work is both pretty sweet, and not that great. I don’t like having to add content to them by using javascript. It just doesn’t seem “correct” to do so, since I’m just overlaying normal html. So I’ll be using some custom controls, and some divs. The good thing about custom controls is that the map knows not to open infowindows under them when they’re opened up.

Besides that, I just did a lot of random work on getting the app to look a little better. Like showing the correct area based on which city’s listing you want to see. Overall, the project is coming along really smoothly, with very few roadblocks. I’m happy that it’s nearing completion. I really enjoy doing these one-man projects, since it lets me get experience in everything from database schema planning and optimizing, to php backend development, to designing the css for the content, and even maybe a little tweaking in the Apache server. I think once I add this project to my “real” server, I’ll need to get a ram upgrade.

I think the project should probably be ready to go live within a week. I dunno if I’ll actually try to get the word out, or just release it and see if people find it via Google or something. That’d be cool. Since there’s already a site that does a similar thing (though there’s a smaller number of supported cities), I don’t think what I’m doing is really that noteworthy. I think it’d be useful, though, so we’ll see if there’s any reaction at all to it.

Punch Out on Wii Virtual Console!

punch-out.jpg

I’ve never bought anything using Wii Points before since I don’t really like the idea of micro payments. I mean, Nintendo should give us free NES games just for having a Wii, right? Anyway, when I was on the Wii Store channel today, I noticed that Punch Out was on the VC!

Punch Out is one of those games that I can still enjoy playing, even after like 20 years! I can’t believe it’s that old! I can’t believe I’m that old! Anyway, I used my credit card to buy some Wii Points and downloaded Punch Out! This is the version with Mr Dream, not Mike Tyson… Speaking of changes, I was on Wikipedia like last week looking at Punch Out stuff (totally unrelated). Apparently “Soda Popinski” used to be called “Vodka Drunkenski” in the arcade version. How awesome is that!?

I got to Bald Bull before I actually lost. That dude is a bitch. I remembered how to defeat his bull charge, but let’s just say I was a little rusty. I finally beat him, but then I couldn’t beat Piston Honda in the next league or whatever. I’ll try again later. I remember that when I was a kid, that was also the part I gave up. I guess some things don’t change…

Also, the new Wiimote isn’t the best controller to play Punch Out on, but it sure as hell beats the original NES controller. I like to call that old controller “The Blister Machine!” Seriously, it hurt.

I hope they release Super Punch Out for the SNES for the virtual console soon. That game was really awesome, too. Back in the days where all SNES games were prefixed with the word “Super!”

Whos Says Myspace’s UI Isn’t Good?

myspace-user-interface-improvement.jpg

I have a Myspace account, mainly to keep in touch with people who don’t have Facebook accounts. It’s sort of like making a deal with the devil, but hey, people use it.

Anyway, I was reading some stupid “bulletin” that one of my “friends” posted. It was just some lame spam. Then I noticed that Myspace actually does keep the user in mind in some cases. See the above screencap? Whoa, there’s a “Delete From Friends” button! Genius. It saved me like 10 clicks to do it the hard way. Sorry Slevin, it’s time we went our separate ways.

Maybe this means that Myspace really isn’t all about the $$$. Okay, probably not.

Craigslist and Google Maps Mashup Thingy: Day 9 – CSS Foo and CakePHP Helpers

Today I did a bunch of CSS, making the mashup thing actually look kind of nice. Later, I may add some more “Web 2.0” features such as drop shadows and gradients. I was having a hard time getting the map to show up in the div with a few of the css layouts I downloaded, so I just decided to code it by hand. I think it looks pretty neat; the map stretches across the whole screen and then the other content is shown in absolutely positioned divs.

I also did some stuff with the CakePHP helpers. CakePHP’s inferiority to Rails is really starting to show to me. I think it’s all a product of PHP having not been created for this kind of MVC design. CakePHP tries to follow the conventions of Rails, but it does so in a sort of copycat manner. As such, the result does not meet or exceed the original.

In the case of Helpers, Rails automagically links the named helper to the controller. In CakePHP, you must specify that a certain controller uses a certain helper. It’s kind of annoying. There also isn’t any support for the Rails convention of “partials,” which is why I’m using their helpers to begin with… It’s annoying.

Also, I find it annoying that CakePHP finds an objects associated objects by default when using “find()” or “findAll().” It’s useful when I want it, but when I don’t, it wastes a lot of memory! Now that I think of it, I’m not sure if Rails does this by default or not. The only reason I mention it is because I kept getting out of memory errors (or more accurately, memory limit errors) with my application. It’s a big waste when all I want is the name of the area and CakePHP fetches ALL of the associated listings for that area…

I must sound really whiny right now. I guess it’s just from some frustration in learning a new language/framework instead of using one that I’m used to. It’s good for me, I won’t argue against that. It’s just a bit disappointing to see all of these flaws when a framework is purported to be things like “stable” and “good.”

Oh, and also, I should say that I think my actual mashup is coming along pretty nicely. It should be ready in a few more “days,” where a “day” is one I am actively working on the mashup. I could probably “release” it pretty soon, but usually when I release something, it means I won’t work on it much anymore, moving to something else I find interesting. So I should probably actually have it done before I release it…