April 28th, 2006

color cycle (slow)

Fun with ForwardPass

I really need a "geeky" usericon. I had one, but I decided I didn't want photos of me in my usericons for plausible deniability reasons. Anybody feel like illustrating a dragon-nerd?

Anyway, I've just spent a while diddling around with a program called ForwardPass. It's an IDE for the PocketPC and the computer, with a full visual form editor on the PocketPC and a syntax-highlighting program editor on the computer. It lets you write VBScript or JavaScript programs for the PDA, with access to most of the system's features. You're stuck with a scripting language, sure, but it's no worse than your average prorammable calculator. The on-PocketPC scripting language "editor" is a glorified text box with a proportional font and no syntax highlighting, but the one on the computer works great.

So I made the interface in class yesterday while bored and then got most of the coding done in the evening; I finished it up and checked it for bugs now. I now have a fully-working flashcard application for the PocketPC that does what I want: keeps score as I judge for myself if I was right or wrong, and let me review the questions I missed. That's all I ask out of such a program, but most software doesn't support self-scoring, or it has hideously illegible fonts. Mine aren't too great, but at least they're usable. Also, the price is right: I charge $4.95 less than my cheapest competitor that actually keeps score and lets you write questions on the PocketPC as well as the computer.

http://students.cec.wustl.edu/~abn1/Flashcards.CAB is an installation file for ARM, MIPS, or XScale PocketPCs. (I'm not sure about MIPS, actually. But I know about the other two.) It installs the program as you might expect from a PocketPC installation cabfile; put it on the device, load it up, and it installs. It's around 200K; most of it is the ForwardPass runtime.

ForwardPass is freeware. If y'all want, I can upload the installer to my webspace (it's hard to find) and my scriptfile- yay open-source, and then the overhead of the ForwardPass runtime is ammortized by whatever other ForwardPass apps y'all use.

But for those of y'all with PocketPC systems, here's a standalone cabfile to install a flashcard program. It has an onboard cardfile editor (unlike a lot of PDA flashcard programs). A .crd file (the flashcards) is just alternate lines of question, answer, question, answer. To support multi-line questions and answers, the token <<CRLF>> in a line becomes a newline when displayed, without breaking between question and answer. (In the editor, just type a newline; my script converts it automatically.) There is, unfortunately, no way to include the text <<CRLF>> in a flashcard without it being interpreted as a newline; I figure that <<CRLF>> is sufficiently un-useful that it shouldn't cause too much trouble.

This is probably a waste of time that would have been better spent studying for finals, but I can't quite convince myself of that. I just learned JavaScript in two days by working very directly with it. And now I have a flashcard program that actually works, which is- relatively speaking- a rarity.

Just let me know if y'all play with the program!
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