Crashes with NSURLConnection

Speaking of Cocoa (and iPhone) programming, for a change.

Having trouble with spurious EXC_BAD_ACCESS crashes when using NSURLConnection? NSZombie giving you not very clear messages about [Not A Type retain], pointing to an address that malloc_history says has been allocated somewhere with only framework code in the call stack? See Amro Mousa's blog entry about the subject.

In a nutshell, don't send the start message to a NSURLConnection object you've initialized with a +connectionWithRequest:delegate: or -initWithRequest:delegate:. It'll break stuff.

Apple, how about a warning about this in the docs? The docs for -start say "Causes the receiver to begin loading data, if it has not already.", not "Will break your program and make you waste uncounted hours debugging if receiver has already started." Or how about preventing this in the code? Is there some scenario where you'd want to call start after the object has already started?

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Various Python related things

  • Python Magazine published my article "Using Dependency Injection in Python" in their August issue. Doug Hellman saw my blog entry about DI when I was switching web hosting and managed to repost old stuff to Planet Python, contacted me to ask if I wanted to expand on it a bit, I said yes, and now I've been published. Which is nice. I basically argue in the article that dependency injection is a good idea and you don't need to buy into a framework to get many of the benefits and provide some examples on how to do it. Which seems kind of apropos, seeing as there's yet another new contestant in that area.
  • I was hacking on something I wrote in Python recently and was doing it in a pretty heavily dependency injected manner, writing tests as I was going along. It came to me that one really basic, really nice thing about Python that isn't discussed all that much is that callables are duck typed and there are multiple choices on how to implement them. When you write a function that takes as a parameter something it calls to acquire values it doesn't have to care what the thing it's been given actually is. It can be a function, a callable, a bound method, a constructor, a lambda expression or even a generator. The caller doesn't have to care. It's not a language feature that's easy to fit in a bullet point or to appreciate without using it, but it is useful.
  • I was excited to see class decorators are coming in Python 2.6. Then I realized I can't remember what I wanted to use them for when I was really frustrated by their absence, but still, it's good. I always found their absence rather puzzling.
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Flow 08: Saturday and Sunday

On Saturday, it was raining cats and dogs. We were appropriately equipped and sniggered at the people in trainers etc trying to dodge the puddles. However, didn't see too many acts — saw a bit of Sébastien Tellier, but decided the crowds were too much and went to find some food (which was excellent and at 25 € for a three course vegetarian menu pretty good value.)

Next up on our schedule was CSS, which was pretty good. For some reason, it has never quite clicked for me, but still, they were busy as hell and obviously having fun.

And finally, The Roots. What a great show. No bling, no diva manners, just excellent hip hop with a surprising amount of jazz thrown in, just like on their early albums. And an incredibly diverse band, with Captain Kirk shredding his guitar and Tuba Gooding Jr on sousaphone.

Saturday was the only day it really felt like there were too many people stuffed into too small a space. Maybe it was the rain, maybe it was the fact that it was sold out, even though I don't think the other two days were that far behind.

On Sunday we were definitely starting to feel old and tired. It's surprising how tiring three days of festival gets, even without excessive drinking. Maybe I'm just too old. While eating on Saturday, I had the idea that they really should offer a show and dinner version of the festival; they already have an excellent restaurant on board, now just stretch out the dinner experience a bit and place the restaurant in a suitable location, and hey, the middle aged among us could be nice and comfy while checking out the gigs. And I really think they should have put the restaurant on the roof of the newer (if it is newer, the black one) gasometer.

We caught a glimpse of Astro Can Caravan, who had the weirdo jazz thing pretty well covered. Next up was The Five Corners Quintet, whose retro jazz was excellent as always. After that, we first checked out Plutonium 74, and had enough after one and a half songs. We listened to the first two or three songs from Señor Coconut and while their version of Daft Punk's Around the World wasn't horrible it wasn't nowhere near as good as Christian Prommer's on Friday, and by the time they hit Eurythmics' Sweet Dreams, we decided we had had enough of that too.

The next act we saw was José James who was one of the high points of the festival. He did a surprisingly jazzy gig and the crowd appreciated. After his gig, we listened for a couple of songs by Cut Copy, who really revealed themselves to be very summery party pop. Loud summery party pop. Their album In Ghost Colors was decent but I didn't get into it all that much, but they were better live. However, we were just too tired at that point and after a while headed home.

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Flow08, Day 1

Flow08 started off a whole lot better than last year. Everything worked smoothly despite the fact that there were twice as many people and twice as large an area as last year. In fact, the enlarged space felt better than the more constrained area of last year, maybe because we got to see more of the Suvilahti grounds.

Jamie Lidell

Artists we saw:

  • Jamie Lidell was a positive surprise. I found a video I saw earlier a bit meh, but his show was energetic and fun, moving from style to style effortlessly.
  • Kings of Convenience and Múm were both nice enough and lots of people seemed to enjoy them a lot, but... eh, not really Friday night music? Múm did occasionally manage to get a bit of a rhythm going, but they were more in the artsy fartsy moody camp I'd rather listen on my headphones. Both would have been better on Saturday or Sunday afternoon.
  • 22-Pistepirkko was excellent. It's not like they are a new band, but it was the first time I saw them live. They were loud, some of the songs got completely different treatments than on their albums, and the feeling was great.
  • Christian Prommer's Drumlesson was fabulous. The guys got an incredible groove going from the start, jazzing straight into the hedonistic heart of dance music.

Some mostly lousy pics on Flickr. Maybe Marko will post some better ones.

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Using custom widgets with Django's newforms-admin

tags python,django

The following isn't magic but it was unclear to me and required reading both documentation and source code and some additional Googling to get right. Maybe that's because I'm a Django newbie, but hey, I'm probably not the only one. By the way, the following applies to Django SVN revision 8068. That's roughly Django 1.0 alpha.

Anyway, I have in my model a field that's basically a time-stamped boolean: a field called deleted of type DateTimeField. If it's NULL, the thing, let's call it Foo, is not deleted; if it has a value, it tells us the Foo in question was marked as deleted back then. It's not the only way I could have implemented it but it meets my requirements and I didn't want to change it.

How to display that in admin? I could have left it as just a split datetime field, but that doesn't really communicate the intent. A checkbox with additional text telling the date is a much better representation.

I found some help in in Stuart Langridge's Overriding a single field in the Django admin, using newforms-admin, but it seems it's slightly outdated and didn't contain all the details.

Turns out for this to work well, I needed three bits: a widget class, a field class and a formfield_for_dbfield method in my ModelAdmin class.

Here's my widget class:

class BooleanDateWidget(forms.CheckboxInput):
    def __init__(self, attrs=None, check_test=lambda v: v is not None):
        super(BooleanDateWidget, self).__init__(attrs, check_test)

    def render(self, name, value, attrs=None):
        final_attrs = self.build_attrs(attrs, type='checkbox', name=name)
            result = self.check_test(value)
        except: # Silently catch exceptions
            result = False
        if result:
            final_attrs['checked'] = 'checked'
            dt = ' <label for="%s" class="vCheckboxLabel">(%s)</label>' % (final_attrs["id"], value)
            dt = ""
        if value not in ('', True, False, None):
            # Only add the 'value' attribute if a value is non-empty.
            final_attrs['value'] = force_unicode(value)
        return mark_safe(u'<input%s />%s' % (flatatt(final_attrs), dt))

The render method has mostly been copied and pasted from django.forms.CheckboxInput.render, with a few modifications to create an additional label. When database value is rendered to the admin form, that method gets called. If deleted is NULL, it creates an empty checkbox; if there's a date there, it creates a checked checkbox with an additional label that contains the timestamp (not very prettily formatted, though.)

Next, the field class:

class BooleanDateField(fields.BooleanField):
    widget = BooleanDateWidget

    def clean(self, value):
        v = super(BooleanDateField, self).clean(value)
        if v:
        return None

That's pretty simple. I just specify the widget to use and make the clean method which is called when the value sent by the browser is validated for storage in the model return either None if the checkbox was checked or None otherwise.

And finally the last piece is formfield_for_dbfield method in the ModelAdmin class.

class FooAdmin(admin.ModelAdmin):
    def formfield_for_dbfield(self, db_field, **kwargs):
        if == 'deleted':
            field = db_field.formfield(form_class=booleandate.BooleanDateField)
            field = super(FooAdmin,self).formfield_for_dbfield(db_field,**kwargs)
        return field

That method is invoked when the newforms-admin interface needs the field object for displaying and handling the deleted value. It checks the field name to specialize the interface. For the deleted class, we call the db_field object's formfield method, otherwise we delegate to ModelAdmin. ModelAdmin's formfield_for_dbfield is pretty simple itself, it mostly just sets the widget type for a few field types and calls the formfield method of the db_field object. That's what we could have done here, too; instead of specifying the widget type in the Field class, we could have done it here.

That's all it takes! With those modifications, the split datetime field disappears and instead you get a datetime-labeled checkbox.

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A moment of C++ hate

Apologies, I'm going to indulge myself for a moment. If you aren't interested in C++ ranting, skip this.

I'm in the process of converting some C++ code to heap allocate objects instead of putting them in the stack, because I need to use them in Objective-C++ and stack-allocated objects aren't the best idea there.

Who in their right mind wants to spend programming time worrying about where to allocate objects? Why do I have to care? There's an actual problem domain here with business objects, and I'm twiddling object allocation. I feel like bashing my head against the keyboard.

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