Blogs and websites I like to read

I use Google Reader to follow quite a lot of websites, blogs and anything else interesting that squirts out an RSS feed. For the curious, here is a list of my favourites. I’m leaving out the well known things like XKCD, Dilbert, Hack-a-day and so on.

I often find these kinds of sites while browsing around the comment fields of popular websites. It’s fun to click the random links in people’s signatures…

What are your favourite websites to visit? I’m always interested in new things to read.

Error_success : A new programming blog

If you’re not a techie, please wait for another post from me that isn’t full of nerd 🙂

However… if you’re interested in software development and programming, you could do worse than visit a new blog I’ve just finished setting up. You’ll find it at the handy URL of It’s going to be full of techie programming stuff in an attempt to keep me motivated with coding.

From now on, all my coding posts will be on my new blog, Error_Success (or should that be ERROR_SUCCESS 😉 )

Due to a slight technical problem with the WordPress-LiveJournal cross post plugin, you won’t see posts from Error_Success in my LiveJournal Feed, you’ll need to visit the site directly or subscribe to the RSS feed. I’d also like comments posting on the new blog too, rather than in LJ – you won’t need to log in or pass any Captcha tests to do this, I’m giving Akismet and my own ‘delete’ key a test instead.

Web Address:

RSS Feed:

Processing: Digital harmonics

I’ve been having another play with Processing and a bit of simple maths. Ages ago I came across the works of John Whitney, and this rather hypnotic little Flash application. It always fascinated me how the dots went around their circlular paths and new patterns emerged, and I thought it’d be cool to make my own.

Circular Motion 1 Circular Motion 2

Watch the slightly hypnotic patterns emerge from basic circular motion. More hypnotic patterns and emergent behaviour from simple maths. This one creates pretty gemoetric patterns called Hypotrochiods

Go on over to my Processing Applets page and have a look.

Crystal Reports tamed

Ha! I have just worked out how to use Crystal Reports in my own pieces of software. I can make the reports authenticate against a database and then load a .rpt file and fill it in correctly – all through code, rather than Visual Studio designer properties. And I can use stored procedures with parameters.

I’ll tidy it up, get it straight in my head and then write some waffle on it for my main website.

Processing Sketches: A new part of my website

Twangy String - 1D rippling water
Twangy String - 1D rippling water

I use the Processing language to try out little coding ideas, or to have fun making something that looks pretty, or is amusing. After looking around my computers while tidying up I found several worthy of showing off, and have created a page on my main website to display these sketches.

Each sketch does one thing, and was either created by me to test out an idea, learn something new, or simply to have a bit of fun. After writing out structured database and Windows GUI code it’s nice to sit down with a few half thought out ideas and see what happens. The 1D rippling water was my attempt at copying the ‘water’ from Electroplankton, and the Circles sketch was inspired by Bloom on the iPhone.

I intend on updating the page as I create new sketches.

XNA Game Studio

Well they’ve made this a bit easy! I’ve spent the day following the beginner’s tutorial and have a rudimentary spaceship shooting game working. It shouldn’t have taken all day, but the tutorial videos are aimed at someone who’s never used Visual Studio or C# before. I know what an “if” loop is now, at least 😉

MS appear to have made it quite straight forward to get things moving around the screen, which is good.

In other news, my Internet connection is having problems and is currently grinding along at 3MBits after spending the past half-hour having a fit and disconnecting every two minutes.

Another Context Free image

Here’s the result of some more graphical hacking. I quite accidentally discovered the nice patterns caused by rotating a shape around a midpoint. It’s a bit like those overly complicated spyrograph toys we used to have, only without the pens, cogs and irritating scoring pen line where the cog slipped, sending your pen skating across the paper.


I’ve registered on the Context Free website, and since the app itself has a handy upload feature, I can put things on it easily 🙂

More Context Free Art

I have set up a picture gallery on my photos website, as an easy way to show off the images I’m creating. I can’t include the code there as there’s no way to do that, but one of the things my new main website will have is a section for these pictures and their associated code.

Creating these images is really good fun. Usually programming is a process that has a definite aim – I’m going to create a new website, I’m going to make a program to catalogue my music, etc. From that aim the program is structured and then code written. It’s a well documented process. It’s comparable to traditional art, with the artists creating their own interpretations of real world objects or scenes, or through their imagination creating a scene that could be a real place.

There’s another style of art though which is more abstract. The artist being more interested in experimenting with form, colours or whatever else they can think of. Context Free is the programmer equivalent of that. I can sit down and for half an hour mash out some code that draws something pretty. If I don’t like it, I can modify the rules until it looks better. Often it will accidentally produce something I had no intention of creating.

It’s also fast and immediate. The only code I can write is rule definitions that describe how circles and squares are drawn. There are no loops, no variables and no boilerplate setup code.