Nick Walker

Jun 3, 2014

Valedictorians and Salutatorians lead the Class of 2014 - NISD

Familiar faces.

Mar 10, 2014 Dashboard Widget

I love and Dark Sky. So I made a widget for their embed that lets you see their awesome forecast right in your OS X dashboard.

Download here. Source is here.

Jan 1, 2014

durosity asked:
Hey, I’ve just tried out your forecast io dashboard widget, and it’s brilliant! I was wondering though, if you were planning to do any more work on it it’d be great if there was a Celsius option, and also a portrait layout option would be fab too! Keep up the great work! Mike.

I started working on adding unit controls (unfortunately, the embed doesn’t allow for anything resembling a portrait orientation). You can track progress here :
I also posted a work around in the meantime. Thanks for the kind words.

Sep 13, 2013

Setting Up a GridWorld Project in IntelliJ

If you’re using the sexiest Java IDE for AP Computer Science, you’ll need to know how to setup a GridWorld project to work on your labs.

First, download the GridWorld code. Move the folder to wherever you intend to keep your code for the year.

Make a new project in IntelliJ. Select Java Module from the left side. Make sure it’s saving to the folder where you’re keeping your code for the year. Press OK. You should now have a blank project.

Now, copy the file from the GridWorldCode > projects into the project (make sure it goes into the src folder). Open the file. There should be some red squiggly lines indicating errors. That’s ok.

Go to File > Project Structure. Make sure the project sdk is set to 1.7. If there are no SDKs, make a new one and point it to the jdk you installed. Click on Modules from the lefthand menu. Click on the dependencies tab on the righthand side. Press the plus button and press Library. In the dialog that comes up, press ‘New Library’. Browse to the .jar file for GridWorld in the GridWorldCode folder. In the next dialog make sure you select global library. Press Add Selected.

Back in the editor window, the red squiggles should be gone, but the play button still won’t clickable. Click “Run” from the top level menu. In the dialog that comes up, press BugRunner. It’ll spin for second and then GridWorld will appear.

Sep 7, 2013

Using IntelliJ for AP Computer Science

IntelliJ IDEA is an incredibly powerful, free and simple Java IDE. It handily beats other editors used to teach AP Computer Science, but it takes a little tinkering to strip it down for our uses. I’ve typed out the process below, but if you just want to download and be done with it, here’s a portable version with all of the settings tweaks.


Most school labs are locked down and prohibit software installation. This is a problem if you intend to run any IDE that isn’t already installed on the computer. Thankfully, the lab computer’s should already have a JVM installed, and it’s possible to store and run everything else that’s needed to build Java code from a flash drive.

Things that you’ll need for your portable IntelliJ installation: the latest JDK(make sure you get the right version for the computer you need to run it on), and the latest IntelliJ IDEA Community Edition release.

From a computer that will let run installers, install the IntelliJ application onto the flash drive. Make three new folders within the IntelliJ directory called jdk, jre and var. Install the JDK into the jdk folder. Then install the JRE (a separate option during the JDK installation) into the jre folder.

Now, open the idea.propeties file from the bin folder of the IntelliJ installation. Replace the first block of config settings that talk about directories with the following:


Disabling Things

IntelliJ comes with a great kit of plugins to extend the base feature set, but most of them aren’t necessary for an introductory computer science course. So, under Settings > Plugins, disable everything that isn’t GenerateToString, Inspection Gadgets, IntelliLang, Intention Power Pack, and Properties Support.

Other Settings Tweaks

Under Settings > Editor, check Use soft wraps in editor and Use soft wraps in console. This will make files with long single lines readable.

Under Settings > Editor > Appearance, check Show line numbers. This will make deciphering errors a little easier. Also, uncheck Show right margin to remove the confusing and arbitrary right margin line.

Under Settings > Appearance, check Disable mnemonics in menu, Disable mnemonics in controls to clear up some clutter, and check Show vertical indents to make it easier to keep track of nested brackets. Finally, switch the theme to Darcula to make coding easier on the eyes.

In the main IDE window, click the small dark box in the bottom left corner to hide some more UI cruft.

Better Syntax Highlighting Colors

While IntelliJ’s default syntax highlighting color set is decent, Solarized is much better. You can find preset files for IntelliJ on GitHub here (click on the XML files, right click the ‘Raw’ link above the text display and save the files). Change the file extensions to icls and put them in var > config > colors.

Conclusion (TL;DR)

Here’s a download link for a nice, preconfigured, portable IntelliJ installation. It includes both 32 and 64 bit versions of the JRE and JDK. Delete the one you don’t need to save space. The bin directory includes both 32 and 64 bit Intellij executables.

Eventually, you’ll need to get GridWorld running. Here’s how.

Jul 24, 2013


The transistor is one of the most essential components of modern technology. Developed in the late 1940s and early 1950’s, this device enabled scientists to amplify and redirect electrical power, a crucial innovation in the field of electronics. Nick Walker, a student at Communication Arts High School in San Antonio, created a video for Texas History Day narrating the big history of this little device.

Learn more at Not Even Past.

Jul 22, 2013

Yet another awesome update to the web inspector in Safari 6.
Really pulling some of the best of the Xcode UI with the at-a-glance page weight display.

Oh. And it has right-side docking. Finally.

Jan 17, 2013

Webkit Pseudo Element Animation Lands

Amongst the many annoying limitations of pseudo elements, none were quite as confusing as the fact that they didn’t take transition or animation properties. No more (once, of course, this makes its way into public releases).

Jan 9, 2013

Magnet School Fair flier for Northside Independent School District.

Magnet School Fair flier for Northside Independent School District.

Dec 14, 2012

Mishka type-specimen for the Photography Club’s Holiday Photo Booth.