Jason’s February 2019 Meeting Summary


  • Talk: Taekwondo Case Study – Neil
  • Nugget: Dynamically Decoding Googles search results
  • Talk: Auto-generated SQL v. write your own in SQL Server
  • Nugget: RAD Server

Jason’s Summary

News & problem clinic broke out with discussion about VS Code and what a great dev editor it is. Then how to test systems that require sending via SMTP servers and just one of many that Neil used was Paper Cut as well as suggestions for just using the Indy SMTP demo project.  Then the real issue for some people deploying parts of their system to Android scanners and handsets for their vertical market products – a lot of these devices are old and running older version of Android and Rio doesn’t support them. You can’t support every aging bit of kit, but deploying on old kit can make real economic sense if they aren’t exposed to the internet and not being loaded with lots of bloatware.

So we kicked off with Neil taking through the world of delivering real time graphic overlays and telemetry (in this case scoring) from a live sporting event.  Zero requirement for graphics handling from his system, but more a feat of orchestration of data from various sources, driving a system that actually does the overlays. The event was the Manchester Taekwondo Grand Prix, shown online by the BBC. The system took feeds from the electronic scoring system and combined it with
info from the venue system to drive the TV graphics.

A potentially “one time use” system with one chance to work well taking REST feeds for a scoring system with strikes, narratives, scores etc being delivered along with file shares with information schedules and competitor information, all needing to come together into his single screen application to allow the operator to drive the actual graphic overlays.

Neil’s reward for presenting was to get us all to estimate how much effort we would quote for the job…. Tricky as we had a 30 minute intro… it was interesting as the estimates varied from 2 – 30 days!  It really showed that the “unknowns” of interfacing with poorly documented 3rd party systems and people.

Mark always unpicks the obscure and presented a problem that he has actually implemented on his website.  The page picks from a dictionary of 25K words and google searches using that a search term.  It picks a random result from the top 25, then displays the resulting page.  Google has some tricks to stop you this kind of farming, but with some JavaScript and php he is able to deliver this.  A detailed walk through of the code to an innovative solution.

Next Eric was up with the pitfalls of just trusting the ORM database generation and wrapper.  8 minutes to bring a fairly complex system to life where initial rendering of every button on a complex sound and image control board produces dozens of round trips to SQL server.

Finally, Ian had agreed to bring us up to speed with his investigations into RAD Server.  Much of the presentation covered points of the marketing demos seen before, but coming from someone who is learning, they emphasise the points that are really “penny drop” moments.  Demonstrating that it is built on WebBroker and deployed as an exe for test or ISAPI / Apache module for live. Plugging in Delphi packages by adding settings to an ini file.  Next, he stepped into the different ways to deliver data.  Bringing Ian’s experience with his successes with the HMRC MTD API, he compared commands and parameters.  It highlighted there isn’t standards around actual parameters and calling standards – we look forward to the next chapter.

Someone observed that I didn’t pay a lot of attention during the talks to day (or ever was the inference I think).  I had to get my laptop out to show him the notes I had taken during the day.  You see Adam wasn’t there and I had to make doubly sure I had all bases covered, but it is important to note, I am always paying attention…..  Having said that I did cause a small fire by not paying attention to where I put the filters and coffee (and I mean fire).

Finally beer!