Author Archives: Daniel Saint James

Forcing html input type entry with jQuery

You should also do both client side and server side validation, never rely on just one method. Fortunately, jQuery makes the client side super easy. I won’t discuss validation per se, instead, we’ll focus on limiting the TYPE of data that can be entered in an input field.

Just add these two simple functions to your $(document).ready section. From now, on, any html input with the associated class assigned will limit the type of data that can be entered.

$(document).ready(function() {
    // common functions using class to control input entry
    $('.only_alpha').bind('keyup blur',function(){
        $(this).val( $(this).val().replace(/[^a-zA-z]/g,'') ); }
    );
 
    // Apply the class numericOnly to any html input to force it to only accept numbers
    $(".only_numeric").bind('keypress', function (e) {
        return ( e.which != 13 && e.which != 8 && e.which != 0 && (e.which < 48 || e.which > 57) && e.which != 46) ? false : true;
    });	
});

Now, to have an input that only accepts alpha characters, you just add the class “only_alpha” to it.

<input type="text" name="name_first" class"only_alpha" />

Likewise, to limit an input to numeric characters only, just add the class “only_numeric”.

<input type="text" name="name_first" class"only_numeric" />

For true compliance, you can also use the new HTML5 types. I won’t go into these here, but you can get a nice overview at http://diveintohtml5.info/forms.html.

Homework assignment, a Ulam Spiral Generator – Part One (Redux)

See the DEMO

Requires WebKit Browser, i.e. Chrome, Firefox, Safari

One of the things I enjoy about coding, is the ongoing development. Code is never really done, because I can always think of ways to improve it. This post was originally supposed to be the second half of the Ulam Spiral Generator (my experiments with writing an HTML, jQuery based Ulam Sprial, or Ulam Cloth generator), but certain improvements have been burning in the back of my mind and I decided to go ahead and make them now, rather then later.

The changes were mostly about the look and feel and some usability issues. I didn’t like having buttons on the page that didn’t do anything when the spiral wasn’t visible. Also, after playing with the interface, I decided that I didn’t like having to select “Go” every time I changed the row/column count. Now, the spiral adjusts live as you change the count.

I’m not going to go into much detail on the changes, they speak for themselves, and they weren’t too complex. I’ll just present the code and provide a link the revised code and you can decide for yourself.

<html>
    <head>
        <title>Ulam Spiral Generator with jQuery</title>
        <meta name="description" content="Ulam Spiral Generator written with jQuery. The Ulam Spiral is also know as the Ulam Cloth.">
        <!-- I like to use cdn's whenever possible -->
        <link href="http://ajax.googleapis.com/ajax/libs/jqueryui/1.8/themes/base/jquery-ui.css" rel="stylesheet" type="text/css"/>
 
        <script src="http://ajax.googleapis.com/ajax/libs/jquery/1.9.0/jquery.min.js"></script>
          <script src="http://ajax.googleapis.com/ajax/libs/jqueryui/1.8/jquery-ui.min.js"></script>
 
          <style>
              * {
                  font-family: Arial;
              }
              body {
                  background-color: #5872e8;
                  background-image: -webkit-gradient(radial, 50% 0%,0,50% 0%,200, from(#2c4160), to(#5872e8));
                  background-image: -webkit-radial-gradient(50% 0%, #5872e8, #2c4160);
                  background-image: -moz-radial-gradient(50% 0%, #5872e8, #2c4160);
                  background-image: -o-radial-gradient(50% 0%, #5872e8, #2c4160);
                  background-image: -ms-radial-gradient(50% 0%, #5872e8, #2c4160);
                  background-image: radial-gradient(50% 0%, #5872e8, #2c4160);
              }
 
              a {
                  color: #fff;
              }          
 
              #ulam ul {
                  list-style-type: none;
                  text-align: center;
              }
 
              #ulam li {
                  background-color: #fff;
                  position: relative;
                  float: left;
                  width: 40px;
                  height: 40px;
                  text-align: center; 
                  border: 1px solid black;
                  border-radius: 5px;
                  margin: 2px;
                  padding 5px;
                  line-height: 40px;
                  box-shadow: 2px 2px 3px #333;
              }
              #toolbar {
 
              }
 
              #output {
                  border-radius: 50%;
                  border: 2px solid white;
                  line-height: 40px;
                  text-align: center;
                  padding: 2px;
                  margin: 5px;
                  color: #fff;
                  background-color: red;
                  box-shadow: 3px 3px 5px #333;
              }
              .prime {
                  color: #fff;
                  background-color: #5872e8 !important;
              }
        </style>
    </head>
 
    <body>
        <script>
            $(document).ready(function() {
                // Apply the class numericOnly to any html input to force it to only accept numbers
                // this class function isn't currently used on this page, but I find it handy to keep around
                $("input.numericOnly").bind('keypress', function (e) {
                    return ( e.which != 13 && e.which != 8 && e.which != 0 && (e.which < 48 || e.which > 57) && e.which != 46) ? false : true;
                });
			    // we assign the class "true" to the table when we find prime numbers, we just toggle the class the reveal the prime numbers
                $("#showprimes").on('click', function () {
                    $(".true").toggleClass("prime");
			    });
 
                $("#animatespiral").on('click', function () {
                    cols = $("#cols").val();
                    maxsize = cols*cols;
                    var j = 1;
 
                    (function spiralnext() {
                        if (j < maxsize+1) {
                            $('#' + j).effect('pulsate', { times: 1 }, 200, spiralnext);
                            j++;
                        }
                    })();
			    });
 
			    // we'll update the div when the slider is updated so the user has feedback
                $('#cols').change(function() {
                    var x = $(this).val();
                    $('#output').text(x);
                });
                submit_num();
            });
 
            function submit_num() {
                // remove any td from previous 
                $("#ulam li").remove();
 
                var cells = [];
                var x = 0,
                y = 0,
                delta = [0, -1],
                cols = $("#cols").val();
                maxsize = cols*cols;
                for (i = 1; i <= maxsize; i++) {
                    cells[i] = {};
                    // I know I didn't have to add maxsize to the value, I just don't naturally visualize negative numbers
                    cells[i]['row'] = y + maxsize;
                    cells[i]['col'] = x + maxsize;
                    cells[i]['dat'] = i;
                    prime = isPrime(i);
                    cells[i]['pri'] = prime;   
                    //console.debug('POINT ', i, y + maxsize, x + maxsize);
 
                    if (x === y || (x < 0 && x === -y) || (x > 0 && x === 1-y)){
                        // change direction
                        delta = [-delta[1], delta[0]]            
                    }
 
                    x += delta[0];
                    y += delta[1];        
                }
                // Now we sort the array based on row, then column, this actually stumped me for a bit, I'm not used 
                // to sorting arrays on two fields, but fortunately, as usual, stackoverflow to the rescue
                cells.sort( function(a,b){ 
                    if (a.row != b.row) {
                        return b.row - a.row;
                    }
                    return a.col - b.col 
                });
 
                var trackrows = cells[1]['row'];
 
                for (j = 0; j < maxsize; j++) {
                    if (trackrows != cells[j]['row']) {
                        // we need to close previous rows and start a new one if the row number changes
                        // I'm thinking about rewriting this using ul, li
                	    trackrows = cells[j]['row'];
                    	$("#ulam ul").append('<div style="clear: both;">');
                    }
                    console.log('POINT ', cells[j]['dat'], cells[j]['row'], cells[j]['col']);
                    $("#ulam ul").append('<li id="'+cells[j]['dat']+'" class="'+cells[j]['pri']+'">'+cells[j]['dat']+'</li>');
                } 
                $('#tools').show();              
            }
 
            function isPrime(num) {
                var prime = num != 1; // Everything but 1 can be prime
                for (var i = 2; i < num; i++) {
                    if (num % i == 0) {
                        prime = false;
                        break;
                    };
                };
                return prime;
            };            
 
        </script>
 
            <h2>Ulam Spiral Generator</h2>
            <p><a href="http://www.tangledwebsites.com/homework-assignment-a-ulam-spiral-generator/">Read the blog post "Homework assignment, a Ulam Spiral Generator" (Redux) by Daniel Saint James</a></p>
 
            <form>
                <div> 
                    <p>Use the slider to select the number of rows/columns you would like. 
                    <span id="output">10</span>&nbsp;<input id="cols" type="range" min="10" max="40" value="10" onchange="submit_num();" />
                    <span id="tools" style="display: none;">
                        <input id="showprimes" type="button" value="Toggle Primes" /> <input id="animatespiral" type="button" value="Animate Spiral" />
                    </span>
                </div>
 
                <div style="clear: both;">
 
                <div id="ulam">
                    <ul>
 
                    </ul>
                </div>
 
            </form>
    </body>
</html>

See the DEMO

Requires WebKit Browser, i.e. Chrome, Firefox, Safari

Running startup scripts on CentOS Linux (Fedora or RHEL)

Every distro has different ways of handling start up scripts. I maintain a pretty busy server and occasionally it needs to be restarted. There are a couple of Java services that need to run as well as a chat server that needs to be started.

CentOS (and all other distros built around the Red Hat model) use a really simple method. There is a script /etc/rc.local, that you can place all of your startup items in.

Here is a simple example

#!/bin/sh
#
# All the other init scripts will run first. rc.local runs after them
 
sh /var/www/virtual/webapps/RealChatNew/realchat start

That’s really is all there is to it. There’s your handy little tip for the day!

Finding Time

I actually have a growing list of things that I’ve been meaning to post about, and I keep getting pulled off on side projects. Also, I’m between projects right now and I’ve decided to get a full time job.

Contracting is fun for the first decade or so, but after a while, you want some stability. My resolution is to try to post at least once a week.

Part Two of the Ulam spiral is almost done so I just need to get off my duff and post it.

Homework assignment, a Ulam Spiral Generator – Part One

See the DEMO

Requires WebKit Browser, i.e. Chrome, Firefox, Safari

Recently, while at a job interview, the interviewer posed an interesting problem. Could I, in any language, write code to generate a counter clockwise spiral of numbers from the center and radiating out to the edge.

Ulam_spiral_howto_all_numbers.svg

In my limited time, I worked through the problem on a dry erase marker board, and figured out the basics. I got nowhere near the answer though. “Obviously,” he remarked, “I’m not expecting you to have the answer in the limited time we have today.” He was mostly trying to see my process for working through a problem.

Mind you, whenever you give me an interesting problem, my brain tends to get stuck in analysis mode. That evening, I used my GoogleFu to discover that this particular pattern was known as a Ulam Spiral.

The Ulam Spiral, or Prime Spiral, Prime Number Spiral or Ulam Cloth, was devised by Stanislaw Ulam in 1963, while bored during a lecture (the mind reels at what it takes to make a mathematician bored), who started doodling on a piece of paper.

What makes the Ulam Spiral interesting is the odd way that prime numbers reveal themselves on the grid over time, often apparently organizing themselves into diagonal lines (they still haven’t found an explanation for this). For more on the Ulam Sprial, check out the Wikipedia entry.

I found a number of places where the math was laid out, I even found a number of programs designed to teach the concept to math classes, but no where, did I find anyone who had written a solution, let alone one in HTML.

Challenge accepted!

I had an interesting weekend, without a lot of time to focus on the issue, but finally Sunday evening, I was able to sit down and play with it.

Here is the code in it’s entirety. I’ll break it down later:

<html>
    <head>
        <title>Ulam Spiral Generator with jQuery</title>
        <meta name="description" content="Ulam Spiral Generator written with jQuery. The Ulam Spiral is also know as the Ulam Cloth.">
        <!-- I like to use cdn's whenever possible -->
        <script src="http://ajax.googleapis.com/ajax/libs/jquery/1.9.0/jquery.min.js"></script>
 
        <style>
            * {
                font-family: Arial;
            }
            td { width: 50px; height: 50px; text-align: center; 
                border-style:solid;
                border-width:1px;
                border-radius: 5px;
            }
            #spiral {
                width: 100%;
                margin: auto;
            }
            .prime {
                color: #fff;
                background-color: #666;
            }
 
        </style>
    </head>
 
    <body>
        <script>
            $(document).ready(function() {
                // Apply the class numericOnly to any html input to force it to only accept numbers
                // this class function isn't currently used on this page, but I find it handy to keep around
                $("input.numericOnly").bind('keypress', function (e) {
                    return ( e.which != 13 && e.which != 8 && e.which != 0 && (e.which < 48 || e.which > 57) && e.which != 46) ? false : true;
			    });
			    // we assign the class "true" to the table when we find prime numbers, we just toggle the class the reveal the prime numbers
                $("#showprimes").on('click', function () {
                    $(".true").toggleClass("prime");
			    });			    
			    // we'll update the div when the slider is updated so the user has feedback
                $('#cols').change(function() {
                    var x = $(this).val();
                    $('#output').text(x);
                });                 
 
            });
 
            function submit_num() {
                // remove any td from previous 
                $("#ulam td").remove();
                $("#ulam tr").remove();
 
                var cells = [];
                var x = 0,
                y = 0,
                delta = [0, -1],
                cols = $("#cols").val();
                maxsize = cols*cols;
                for (i = 1; i <= maxsize; i++) {
                    cells[i] = {};
                    // I know I didn't have to add maxsize to the value, I just don't naturally visualize negative numbers
                    cells[i]['row'] = y + maxsize;
                    cells[i]['col'] = x + maxsize;
                    cells[i]['dat'] = i;
                    prime = isPrime(i);
                    cells[i]['pri'] = prime;   
                    //console.debug('POINT ', i, y + maxsize, x + maxsize);
 
                    if (x === y || (x < 0 && x === -y) || (x > 0 && x === 1-y)){
                        // change direction
                        delta = [-delta[1], delta[0]]            
                    }
 
                    x += delta[0];
                    y += delta[1];        
                }
                // Now we sort the array based on row, then column, this actually stumped me for a bit, I'm not used 
                // to sorting arrays on two fields, but fortunately, as usual, stackoverflow to the rescue
                cells.sort( function(a,b){ 
                    if (a.row != b.row) {
                        return b.row - a.row;
                    }
                    return a.col - b.col 
                });
 
                var trackrows = cells[1]['row'];
 
                for (j = 0; j < maxsize; j++) {
                    if (trackrows != cells[j]['row']) {
                        // we need to close previous rows and start a new one if the row number changes
                        // I'm thinking about rewriting this using ul, li
                	    trackrows = cells[j]['row'];
                    	$("#ulam").append('</tr><tr>');
                    }
                    console.log('POINT ', cells[j]['dat'], cells[j]['row'], cells[j]['col']);
                    $("#ulam").append('<td class="'+cells[j]['pri']+'">'+cells[j]['dat']+'</td>');
                }                
            }
 
            function isPrime(num) {
                var prime = num != 1; // Everything but 1 can be prime
                for (var i = 2; i < num; i++) {
                    if (num % i == 0) {
                        prime = false;
                        break;
                    };
                };
                return prime;
            };            
 
        </script>
 
        <div id="spiral">
            <h2>Ulam Spiral Generator</h2>
            <p><a href="http://www.tangledwebsites.com/homework-assignment-a-ulam-spiral-generator/">Read the blog post</a></p>
            <table>
                <tbody id="ulam">
 
                </tbody>
            </table>
 
            <form onsubmit="submit_num();">
                <p>Use the slider to select the of rows/columsns you would like.<br />
 
                <input id="cols" type="range" min="9" max="20" value="9" />
                &nbsp;&nbsp;<input type="button" value="Go" onclick="submit_num();" /><br />         
 
                <span id="output">9</span><br />
 
                <input id="showprimes" type="button" value="Toggle Primes" />
            </form>
 
        </div>
 
    </body>
</html>

So this is complex, but far simpler than I had originally thought. Let’s walk through the pieces.

The very first thing I do, is include the Google CDN for jQuery.

<html>
    <head>
        <!-- I like to use cdn's whenever possible -->
        <script src="http://ajax.googleapis.com/ajax/libs/jquery/1.9.0/jquery.min.js"></script>

Then I define some really basic styles:

        <style>
            * {
                font-family: Arial;
            }
            td { width: 50px; height: 50px; text-align: center; 
                border-style:solid;
                border-width:1px;
                border-radius: 5px;
            }
            #spiral {
                width: 100%;
                margin: auto;
            }
            .prime {
                color: #fff;
                background-color: #666;
            }
 
        </style>
    </head>

The next little bits are just two jQuery functions that we will use later.

        <script>
            $(document).ready(function() {
                // we assign the class "true" to the table when we find prime numbers, we just toggle the class the reveal the prime numbers
                $("#showprimes").on('click', function () {
                    $(".true").toggleClass("prime");
                });			    
		// we'll update the div when the slider is updated so the user has feedback
                $('#cols').change(function() {
                    var x = $(this).val();
                    $('#output').text(x);
                });               	    
            });

I’ll explain the core function in Part Two of this posting.

See the DEMO

Requires WebKit Browser, i.e. Chrome, Firefox, Safari

Blast From the Past

corsair

Back in the late 90′s, I still spent a lot of time with my various hobbies. One of these was 3D modeling and animation. I used to spend hours designing textures, shapes, polygon deformations, and then ten times as much time waiting on models to render.

I was all right, not great, but good for a amateur.

Then in Nine-teen Ninety-Eight, I got a call from a company in Hollywood (who’s name I won’t drop) based on my third submitted portfolio in as many years.

Anxiously, I flew out to California, interviewed for about six hours, at the end of which, they offered me a position.

At about half what I was currently making as a systems engineer.

Thus ended my dream to be a computer animator in Hollywood.

Offshore Recruiters

Back in 2005, the Information Technology industry in the United States began offshoring software development at a rapid pace. Suddenly there was a booming IT industry in India, but a floundering one in North America.

It was a grand experiment… that failed.

As project lead times spiraled into months, Quality Assurance became almost non-existent.

It’s turns out that all the money companies thought they would save wasn’t worth the low quality of products they were getting. You really do get what you paid for.

One interesting side effect is that I’ve started getting contacted by recruiters in India. Mind you, they always claim that they are in New Jersey, Chicago or California, but the telephone connections are flaky and the accents often incomprehensible.

I have nothing against companies trying to make money, but I find it ironic that they are trying to profit from the IT jobs they are losing. It’s pragmatic if nothing else.

I do however tell them all the same thing. Thank you for your interest, but I only work with companies that maintain a physical presence in Columbus Ohio (where I live).

Copy an existing MySQL table

Occasionally, it’s helpful to run complex queries against the data but you would prefer not run a risk of doing a mass update against live data. Maybe you would just like to create a backup. Either way, it’s really easy to replicate existing data.

You simply need to execute two commands.

10
CREATE TABLE products_new LIKE production.products; INSERT products_new SELECT * FROM production.products;

That’s all there is to it. It’s pretty fast too. I’ve been able to copy large tables with lots of fields in a matter of minutes.

Validating email with PHP 5.2 or higher

For years, we’ve all used variations on various methods to validate email, usually, some complicated regular expression (regex) that checked the format for us.

Since php 5.2, we’ve had a much simpler built in filter.

10
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12
13
14
15
16
17
18
function checkemail($femail) {
	if (filter_var($femail, FILTER_VALIDATE_EMAIL)) {
  		// The email address is valid
  		return true; 
	} else {
  		// The email address is not valid
  		return false; 
	}
}

It’s much easier, cleaner and above all, faster.