My Setup

This is a fake interview article in the format of The Setup. It’s enjoyable to figure out the most important stuff I use everyday in the process of this writing.

Who are you and what do you do?

I’m a code monkey working at Slide. At work, I build awesome social games using Python, Javascript, and Flash AS3. At home, I build iPhone apps with Objective C, and hobby apps on Google App Engine.

What hardware are you using?

At work I use a 15″ MacBook Pro (2nd gen unibody). I connect my Mac to one external Dell 2209WA monitor rotated at 90˚ at all time, with my terminal screen taking it at full screen. I use the Griffin Elevator to hold my MacBook Pro, with the Apple Bluetooth Keyboard and the Magic Mouse taking control. I have another 15″ MacBook Pro (1st gen unibody) for home use and a desktop computer running Ubuntu/Windows XP. On the desktop, I use Windows for gaming only and Ubuntu for everything else. But I’m spending very little time on the desktop for a while.

I use an iPhone 3GS for mobile computing. And I have the iPad on my wishlist.

And what software?

For programming I use vim. It’s super neat you can have the same developing environment as long as you work on a *nix system. My essential vim plugins are FuzzyFinder, TagList and NerdTree. My latest favorites are SnipMate and Neocomplcache. In a GUI environment I use the desert theme.

I used to use TextMate as my main editor but have converted since a while ago. TextMate is still top notch and I really like it. But there’s no denying it’s about to become the Duke Nukem in the text editor world.

I’m a heavy user of git, professionally as well as personally. It’s an awesome piece of software in itself and keep amazing me from time to time. I use GitHub for my personal stuff. It’s so great that I recently began to buy its paid service.

I’m a paying user of DropBox. I keep all my important data on DropBox and sync it over both my work and home computers running different systems, as well as my iPhone. It’s another piece of amazing software that I recommend to every friend.

I can’t part myself with QuickSilver. I do everything, I start it with QuickSilver. I find the web search plugin especially useful and I define a number of custom search command in the form of safari bookmarks. I use the SilverFlow plugin for QuickSilver. But a couple weeks ago I upgraded to Snow Leopard and it was a pain to get QuickSilver to work in the new system. So I’m trying to use Google Quick Search Box as an alternative for now. So far it’s almost as good except for customization and performance. Hopefully I can find a way to get QuickSilver work exactly the same way as in Leopard, or QSB gets really good soon.

I use Visor for a slick, Quake-like slide-in terminal. I use Megazoomer to zoom anything in full screen. I use Things both on Mac and iPhone to track all my tasks. It’s the best task management tool I’ve used. And I use Evernote to sync all my notes between Mac and iPhone. I have Thunderbird for Emails with the Nostalgy add-on for a mouse-less experience. I use PathFinder as an alternative to Finder. It’s just so much more powerful than the simplistic Finder.

My main browser is Webkit nightly. I use Firefox mostly for development using Firebug because it’s become a real beast for a browser. I also use Chrome for browsing. The Web Inspector tool shipped with Chrome dev is just not as good as that with Webkit nightly. But I love the Vimium plugin for Chrome.

What would be your dream setup?

I wish to have a 30″ monitor for development one day. The sheer screen real estate can simply change the way of working. I wish to have enough RAM to run everything I need at the same time without struggling with swapping. Infinitely fast processing power and network. And I wish *everything* could be wireless so I can get rid of any desktop clutter in my sight.

Icecodez for iPhone

My friend Ryan and I just launched our team site Icecodez, which is dedicated to our iPhone apps development. The FIRST app by Icecodez just got out this week. Check out IceMetro Shahghai Subway Map Lite (itunes link). It’s an interactive map for Shanghai subway. And it’s free! Isn’t that ice cool?

Setting up MGTwitterEngine with YAJL 1.0.6 for iPhone development

*Corrected yajl include path. Updated info about adding YAJL static lib to project for deploying on device

MGTwitterEngine is a great Objective-C library for the Twitter API. Did you know the famous Twitterrific for iPhone (iTunes link) is built with MGTwitterEngine plus YAJL? You probably know that from the now famous YAJL error Twitterrific presented you when the Twitapocalypse hit the world, right?

But setting up MGTwitterEngine and YAJL for iPhone development turned out to be more difficult than I thought, due to the lack of documentation, and my lack of extensive experience with iPhone and Mac development. Anyway, after some hacking around, I finally got the two boys to play together and work with my next cool iPhone project. The following is how I did it and I think it might be useful to someone else wrestling with the same problem out there.

Getting and compiling YAJL on your Mac

First, get the latest YAJL code and get it compiled.

git clone git://github.com/lloyd/yajl

If you don’t have cmake on your Mac yet, get it via MacPorts. (The cmake version from Fink is too old to compile YAJL. I’ve tried it.)

sudo port install cmake

Now compile YAJL

cd yajl
sudo ./configure && make install

Now you should have “yajl-1.0.6” under the “build” folder. And the build process should have copied the binaries to /usr/local/lib/ and /usr/local/include/yajl respectively.

Getting MGTwitterEngine

Get the latest code from the SVN repo.

svn checkout http://svn.cocoasourcecode.com/MGTwitterEngine

Adding MGTwitterEngine to your iPhone project

Add everything from the MGTwitterEngine directory starting with “MGTwitter”, and also the NSString+UUID and NSData+Base64 category files, to the Xcode project. Choose to copy the files to the project.

Telling MGTwitterEngine to use YAJL

MGTwitterEngine doesn’t support Twitter’s search and trends API without YAJL, because these APIs only return JSON data. So obviously we need to tell MGTwitterEngine we have YAJL and please give us the support search and trends APIs, in addition to requesting JSON data for other Twitter API calls.

In MGTwitterEngineGlobalHeader.h


Adding YAJL and LibXML to the project

Now add the required frameworks to the Xcode project.

Locate “/usr/local/lib/libyajl.dylib”, drag and drop it onto “Frameworks” in the Groups & Files pane in Xcode. Don’t choose to copy the files.


Compiling YAJL from the source using the shipped makefile will produce the dynamic library binary files (yajl*.dylib) under /usr/local/lib. Although adding these files to the frameworks gets the project to compile and run on the simulator, this won’t work on a device since only static libraries are allowed on devices for third party frameworks.

Compiling the static library from the source code requires a bit more work but I found someone has already done that with more good stuff like an Obj-C wrapper for YAJL. So we can now simply grab this compiled YAJL static library for iPhone, exand it, then add the file “libYAJLIPhone.a” to the Frameworks.


Then also add “/Developer/Platforms/iPhoneOS.platform/Developer/SDKs/iPhoneOS3.0.sdk/usr/lib/libxml2.dylib” to Frameworks.

Next, open Project Info, locate the Build page, and look for the “Header Search Paths” property. Add the following two paths to the search paths property.


*Although it seems LibXML is not required, I did get compilation errors if LibXML is not in the Frameworks.

Hack and get MGTwitterEngine to build

It appears that MGTwitterEngine is still written against a previous version of YAJL (supposedly a pre-1.0 version). So if at this stage you go ahead and build the project, you will see two errors from MGTwitterEngine.

error: too few arguments to function 'yajl_alloc'
error: too few arguments to function 'yajl_free_error'

It looks like the latest version of YAJL has changed its signatures of the functions “yajl_alloc” and “yajl_free_error”. So let’s hack the corresponding code in MGTwitterYAJLParser.m to work around the build errors. Find the calls to these two functions and change the code as follows.

_handle = yajl_alloc(&callbacks, &cfg, nil, self);
yajl_free_error(nil, errorMessage);


Now you can hit Build and the project should build successfully. Next, you should take a look at AppController.h and AppController.m which come with MGTwitterEngine and see how to use it. It’s pretty easy to use once you get past the compilation problems. Now we have a fully functional and nicely built Twitter library ready to be used for any iPhone project! Also, if you have any suggestion or any better way to get the stuff to work please let me know.

Conditional compilation flag for iPhone OS 3.0

If you want to take advantage of the new APIs from iPhone SDK 3.0 while keeping compatibility with pre-3.0 devices, using the following conditional compilation flag is a good solution.

#ifdef __IPHONE_3_0
//pre 3.0

iPhone OS 3.0 beta初体验

iPhone OS 3.0 beta发布后马上下载过来体验了一把,把自己的iPod Touch刷了3.0版firmware,也升级了XCode 3.1.3。这次大版本更新带来了非常多的新特性,iPhone离一台完美的手持设备已经非常非常近了。初步体验下来,3.0版OS的潜力还是要靠app来挖掘,系统的本来面目还没有特别大的区别,众多新特性需要有软件的支持才能用得到。普通用户一上手就能看到的改进主要是spotlight搜索,拷贝粘贴,还有开放的蓝牙(但是默认状态是什么蓝牙服务都没有的)。后台Push,in-app支付,turn-by-turn GPS等等重要特性都要等到众多新版应用出现以后才能体现出强大来。先上几张touch上的截图吧。

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