Evil geniuses and world domination are 2 of our goals... we also like Dr Who

Mars bar not found

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Ubuntu Happy hour

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I attended the Ubuntu Happy hour on Thursday evening, It was quite a small-key affair (there was only 6 of us there).  I suppose that is probably right considering that it is Wolverhampton.

Got talking with Amo, Iain and Dave M from Wolves LUG – nice guys. Alex (i think it was Alex) was there for a while, but was helping a new Ubuntu user get minecraft installed (we have to get the priorities right!)

If you’re a reader of the blog (and you’re in Wolverhampton), then consider getting yourself down to the Moon underwater on a wednesday evening – look for the plush penguin, or the group of geeks on laptops.  Check the Mailing list first to confirm that it’s still on.


BBC News – Millennium Technology Prize for Linux system founder

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BBC News – Dr Who’s sonic screwdriver ‘invented’ at Dundee University

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Afternoon ruined

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One of my work colleagues just showed me funniest review of a product on amazon.

Here’s a link to the offending item…. my afternoon has been ruined….

Dalek related headline in yesterday’s Shropshire Star.

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The Shropshire Star article is here

Episode Randomiser

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I have been struggling with the Episode Randomiser project.  The main issue I’ve had was the complexity of the API.  I spent ages trying to get the Database to install using the Titanium.Database.install function and realised (eventually) that the installation is only applicable to mobile platforms.. So the lesson for tonight : Read… and then read again.

I’m going to accept that I was at fault for not reading the documentation – but I do think the design could be better :

Take these 2 pages here and here

What’s confusing is that both pages has the same look and feel – the only difference is that on the desktop version, the mobile icons are disabled.  The lack of an icon for the desktop just screams that this platform is for the chop.  So I’ll keep with it for a while, and look to port the finished product on to Iphone and Android.

So – as of tonight the Randomiser (and I’m going with the project name of rndmiser) allows a sample Database to be installed along with the application, and I managed to perform a simple  query listing all of the doctors.


better than a name in a hat

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So we dropped ourself in it – sort of. There was a mention made on the April 1st episode of the Dr Who episode randomiser. Now the randomiser was a project idea that we had here at the bunker. So spurred on by the latest episode we started examining the options.  The premise is that there is a piece of software that picks a random episode from Dr Who.

Sounds simple right? Create something that will search through a collection of episodes and return a random one from the list. But there were a number of design decisions that we needed to look at :

  • The Data
    The HooOnWho show looks at a subset of the available Dr Who episode. These episodes are classified as Classic Dr Who, rather than the newer episodes – but how do we classify these? We could use the Dr’s themselves. Now the original series went into hiatus under the stewardship of Sylvester McCoy, and he handed the torch to Paul McGann in the 1997 Movie.Does that mean that only episodes featuring those first 8 Doctors should be used? after all Peter Davison did appear in an episode (time crash) with David Tennant.
  • The Platform
    The TitaniumBunker are primarily a PC house1 (with the exceptions of Rachel’s Iphone and Ipod) and I’m predominantly a Linux user.  The Hooies are mainly macintosh.
  • The functionality
    How should the program operate?  Should the program only select from DVD’s that the HooOnWho Team have access to?  Or should it provide any episode.


Now we do have access to a TitaniumBunker macintosh, but realistically we need to be able to develop on PC, under windows or Linux, and be able to distribute anywhere.  Therefore I have made a few design decisions which I am documenting here.

Data and storage

SQLite seems an obvious choice.  The advantage from this free format is that is supported on Android, IOS, macintosh, Windows and Linux Platforms, and a partially populated Database can be distributed with the application.  A SQLite Database has been created with basic episode information stored within – for example which actors played the Doctor, and will eventually store an episode list, allowing the user to select random episodes from a particular Doctor’s reign.

The Platform

I am currently developing a prototype using Titanium – a Cross platform tool.  Currently the plan is to build the application and make it work under Desktops.  Desktop support is currently being spun off to a separate project.  I personally think that this is a bad idea.  I can see the justification behind such a decision, but I think that this drastically reduces one of the main points for the project.  Primarily that once I am happy that the application works well, that I can make versions of that application available to all desktop and mobile platforms without needing excessive re-writes.  the work to spin off the Desktop side is still work in progress, and nothing is available yet.  Perhaps it will do the project good, but I do get the impression that cross platform desktop support was a happy accident of the Titanium model.  There isn’t even intelli-sense support for Desktop, but this does seem to exist for Mobile.

By trade I am a .NET developer, so the idea that I’m going to abandon a strongly typed language in favour of a dynamically typed language hasn’t exactly filled me with joy – I suppose I have been spoiled by the benefits that the .NET development environment gave me.  Maybe I’m just too much of a dinosaur.

The functionality.

I see the application allowing 2 modes of use.  Primarily the user will be able to add episodes.  Each episode will have a cast list, which can be edited later if needs be.  In addition a DVD will be marked as to whether the DVD is owned by the user, and whether it has already been reviewed.

At some point the user may want to select the random episode.  The user fills in some selection criteria – for example ticking a box for “Only select DVD’s that I have”, Additionally the Search can pick only episodes where a particular actor is involved.  Initially the ACTORS table contains the 11 Doctors, but there would be nothing to prevent companions to be added to the list, allowing the user to pick a random Adric episode, or random .  The User can also select whether to include or exclude DVD’s that have already been reviewed.

Now the interesting part – how do you select a random record from the episode list?  Well a quick perusal of stack exchange revealed this suggestion :


This code allows the selection of potentially any number of random episodes – if you want to pull 10 episodes then replace the limit count with 10.   It all seems so simple.  Development under Titanium Studio is currently stalling a little due to issues I am currently having installing a Database.

I’ll try and keep this updated as I make progress.


1The exceptions to this are : Rachel’s 3rd generation Ipod, Rachel’s Iphone 3GS, and My Ipod Nano (I do run RockBox on it – so I count that as a moral victory)