Silhouette Cameo

I recently bought my wife the Silhouette Cameo, a paper cutting tool very useful in her line of work. We have been enjoying learning how to use it, but have had our share of issues. The cutting mat is more sticky than it should be, registration mark recognition is whacky on occasions, getting print and cut right with vector graphics tools such as Corel Draw is not so easy, and so on. After getting the hang of things, Cameo is an enjoyable machine.

Getting A3 Print and Cut right

The toughest problem we faced was getting A3 Print and Cut properly aligned. We were getting cuts that were not aligned to the print region, but misalignment was not uniform along the entire page. We suspected registration mark detection to be the cause. We finally got it right by following some simple tips posted by other users

  • Avoid printing around the registration marks (crosshatched region in Studio)
  • Place A3 page aligned along the top-right edges of cutting area of 12×24 inch mat
  • Perform manual detection of registration marks

Paper Circuits

Hope to keep posting on newer adventures with the cutting tool. One thing I want to try is to draw electronic circuits on paper and fabric using Cameo.

iOS 7 Programming Fundamentals by Matt Neuburg; O’Reilly Media

iOS 7 Programming Fundamentals, 4th Edition, is the successor to Programming iOS 6. It is a smaller tome, and a companion to Programming iOS 7 – scheduled to be released soon. As a new iOS developer, I found the book very useful to come to grips with Objective C, Foundation framework, Xcode, and UIKit. It does not cover programming topics such as multithreading, but more than makes up for that by covering newer topics such as blocks – frequently associated with asynchronous programming.

The book starts with a whirlwind introduction to C in chapter 1, where it refers frequently to the excellent C Programming Language (2nd edition) book. Objective C is covered extensively in chapters 2, 3, 4, and 5. The focus of these chapters is object-based programming, with topics such as creating classes, instantiating objects with alloc and init vs new, creating and calling methods, typecasting and the id type, blocks, subclassing and polymorphism, keywords self and super, class methods, instance variables and accessors, key-value coding, and properties. Automatic reference counting (ARC) is assumed throughout, but is covered in greater detail in a later chapter.

Chapters 6, 7, 8, and 9, cover Xcode editing environment, UI development using Interface Builder (NIB editor), accessing documentation and sample code, and project life cycle. By the end of chapter 9 you’ll be able to create a UIKit app, build it, run it in the simulator or a device, debug and unit test it, and prepare it for distribution. You’ll also know about the static analyzer, gauges, and instrumentation.

Chapters 10 and 11, cover Categories, Protocols, Cocoa Foundation framework classes, and event handling. Chapter 12 covers accessors, memory management with and without ARC, and debugging memory management problems using the memory gauge, static analyzer, and instruments (zombie template). Chapter 13 covers topics such as object visibility, notifications, key-value observing (KVO), and the model-view-controller (MVC) pattern.

The book is peppered with references to official documentation from Apple, useful tidbits of historical information such as the the meaning of the prefix NS (NeXTStep), and other technical advice. I now feel confident to commence my iOS development journey. I thank O’Reilly Media for providing an e-book for review.

A Kindle for your eyes

I have gone from reading on the Smartphone to reading on a Kindle Paperwhite (second generation). Here’s what I like best about it:

  • A bigger screen than my Smartphone, so I don’t have to hold it close.
  • Much lighter than my iPad, which I also use to read PDF documents on some occasions (besides my laptop).
  • Uniform brightness, hurts less while reading in the dark. After reading in night view on my Smartphone, I can see dark lines for a while after closing my eyes. I also have difficulty focussing on distant objects after a prolonged reading session on the Smartphone.
  • Syncs my personal docs, and books purchased from other publishers in MOBI format. Even syncs furthest location and highlights.
  • Pinch to zoom works all right with images and PDF documents. I prefer reading PDFs in landscape mode, so I can avoid constantly having to pinch to zoom. PDF is such a bad format for small screens, I’m trying to avoid it altogether.
  • Send to Kindle Chrome extension works beautifully, to send content I want to read later, straight from the browser to the Kindle. The content is also cached in Personal Documents.

I am liking my Kindle so far, and wondering why I didn’t get one sooner. I think I was waiting for a reader from Amazon worth buying. The Paperwhite is that reader.