CL-Growl client library released April 12th, 2010
Patrick Stein

Growl is a notification system for Mac OS X. You run a Growl server on your machine. Then, applications can send notifications that will be displayed on your desktop. Growl supports a thin network protocol called Growl Talk that programs can use to send notifications to the Growl server (and hence, to your desktop).

Growl is incredibly useful for any program that operates asynchronously with the user. If you want to be notified when some portion of your job completes or when there is a critical error in your web application, Growl is a great tool to have at your disposal.

I wrote an implementation for Common Lisp of the client protocol. Here is a simple example of how you might use it:

(let ((growl:*growl-default-app* "My Lisp Application")
      (growl:*growl-default-host* "localhost")
      (growl:*growl-default-password* "my-growl-password"))
  (growl:register :enabled (list "Warn" "Error")
                  :disabled (list "Info"))
  (growl:notify "Program starting up..."
                :notification "Info")
  (unless (connect-to-database ...)
    (growl:notify "Cannot connect to database!"
                  :title "Critical Error!"
                  :notification "Error"
                  :sticky t
                  :priority 2)))

For more complete usage information and to learn how to obtain the library, see the CL-Growl web page.

Parser Generator released April 9th, 2010
Patrick Stein

A few weeks back, I described an XML Parser Generator that I was working on. At the time, it could generate the parser it used itself. Now, it’s got Objective-C support and Lisp support. (The Lisp support is slightly better than the Objective-C support right now. With the Objective-C backend, you can create arrays of structs, but not arrays of strings or integers.)

Here is the Parser Generator home page.

Roto-Mortar: A 7-Day Lisp Game March 26th, 2010
Patrick Stein

Roto Mortar was written for the 2010 LISP Game Design Challenge. The challenge was to design and implement a game in seven days using some LISP dialect.

The KPs have been beating on your base all week. Your defenses are just about to collapse. In fact, your mortar cannons are both on the fritz. Billy Bob, the ACME Repair Guy, has just gotten one of your mortar cannons back online. Unfortunately, he had to wire things a little wonky. Your cannon is spinning all on its own. You’ve only got one button to control both the elevation of the cannon and when to fire it. And, you better fire it, because the KPs are still coming at you.


A few years ago, I read the book Game Design Workshop: Designing, Prototyping, and Playtesting Games. One of the exercises in the first chapter is to design a game with a “one-button interface”. At the time, I didn’t come up with anything particularly thrilling.

When I started brainstorming what to do for this Game Challenge, I remembered that exercise. I came up with this concept just under (as in 3.5 hours under) seven days ago. The game is nowhere near as polished as I’d like… but it was a 7-day thing. And, it was fun to take a break from Objective C to get back to some Lisp programming.

Obtaining It

You can find out more about the game, including where to get the source and a Mac OS X binary, on the game’s web page.

Burnt Paper plugin for GIMP February 16th, 2010
Patrick Stein

Yesterday, I decided to make the images in my article look like they were on old, burnt paper. I did this manually in the GIMP.

I liked the effect, but I didn’t want the tedium of having to do all n steps manually next time I go to use it. So, I wrote a GIMP plugin script to do it.

Here is an example of the plugin script in action. As you can see, I started with a text layer and a selection that was bigger than the text layer. The plugin uses the selection size as original edge of the paper (original, as in before the paper was burned).

And, here is the resulting image:

Here is the Burnt Paper plugin script. Plop this in a directory that’s in your script search path and refresh GIMP’s scripting and then you’ll find it in the Filters > Decor menu. [You can see the script search path by going to Edit > Preferences and selecting Scripts under Folders in the left sidebar. And, you can refresh the scripts by going to Filters > Script-Fu > Refresh Scripts.]

Spelling Toy iPhone App Released February 9th, 2010
Patrick Stein

I am pleased to announce, that my Spelling Toy for Kids is now available on the iTunes Store.

The first five respondents to this article will receive a Promotional Code to download the app for free! (Edit: all promo codes dished out… if you really want one and will publicly review my app in your blog, I’ll dig up another promo code for you.)


  • Kid-friendly interface! Just pick the letters you want!
  • Guides your child to the proper spelling of each word.
  • Adapts to your child! Cards that consistently give your child trouble show up more often.
  • Support for English, Spanish, and French! (German and Japanese Kana coming soon)
  • Lots of words to learn (with more coming soon).
  • Three different skill levels to challenge your kid!
  • Exercise some or all of the categories: Numbers, Colors, Foods (with more coming soon).