Crosscountry Crosswords

Posted in personal, programming, web at 2:07 pm by danvk

logoIt’s been almost a year since I introduced lmnowave, the collaborative crossword puzzle gadget for Google Wave. A lot has happened in that past year, not least the cancelation of Wave.

First, to clear up some confusion. It’s not “I’m no wave”, it’s “L-M-N-O-Wave”, which is a play on “L-M-N-O-Puz”, aka lmnopuz, the software on which my collaborative crossword system is based. Only a few dozen people ever saw lmnopuz, so no one got the joke. And I realized after releasing it that, by changing ‘puz’ -> ‘wave’, I’d taken away any hint of what my wave gadget actually did. A bad name. Oh well.

In August, Google announced that Wave was canceled. This seemed to be the end of lmnowave. Sure, Wave was still usable. But the life had been sucked out of the project. This was quite disappointing to me, since I’d spent a fair bit of my own time developing the crossword gadget.

Then, in mid-December, Douwe Osinga introduced the oddly-named Google Shared Spaces. It’s an attempt to salvage the Wave gadget code, to let it live outside of Wave.

For lmnopuz, it’s perfect. Here’s the lmnowave shared space. You can use it to collaborate on crosswords with your friends, just like you could with lmnowave. In some ways, it’s even better, since the Wave UI is stripped away and you can focus on your puzzle. To do crosscountry crosswords, my friend and I open up a shared space and call each other on Skype. The combination works really well.

What does the future hold for lmnowave? It’s a bit unclear. I may turn it into a Facebook game, or perhaps use it to learn how to write applications for the Mac App store.




Posted in programming, web at 8:16 am by danvk

At work, I often see web pages that display large numbers like so:

num-bytes 1,234,567,890
num-entries 123,456,789

Including the commas in the display makes the numbers easier to read. But it does have a downside. Say you want to calculate the average number of bytes per entry. If you copy/paste the numbers above, the commas will prevent most programming languages (e.g. python or bc) from interpreting them correctly.

My coworker Dan came up with a great solution to this conundrum using CSS. Try copy/pasting these numbers over into the text box:

  • 1234 or 2345
  • -12345.67
  • -123456789

The commas don’t copy! Best of both worlds!

You can view source to see how it works, but let’s jump straight to the goodies:

Bookmarklet: commacopy

Unobtrusive JavaScript: commacopy.js

To use the bookmarklet, drag it to your browser’s bookmarks toolbar. If you click it, it will silently convert all numbers containing commas on the current page to the fancy copy/pasteable commas. This should really be a Chrome extension that runs on every page, but I’ll leave that as an exercise for the reader.

To use the unobtrusive JS, make a copy of commacopy.js and include it in your page via:

<script src="commacopy.js" language="text/javascript"><script>

commacopy works by converting a number like:


into this HTML:

<style type="text/css">
.pre-comma:before {
  content: ",";
123<span class='pre-comma'>456</span><span class='pre-comma'>789</span>

The commas are only present in a CSS style, rather than in the text itself. For reasons which aren’t entirely clear to me, this means that they don’t make it into the clipboard when you copy/paste them.