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Help beta test an HTML2PDF Web Service

In an earlier post I asked if anyone would be interested to help me out test a web service for converting HTML to PDF. Today I’m opening up the beta to anyone that’s interested.

Please visit https://html2pdfwebservice.com/ and sign-up for a 7-day trial account. No credit card required! Trial length can be extended upon request.

Converting HTML to PDF is easy with the HTML2PDF Web Service. Here are some examples:

cURL

$ curl -H "X-API-Key: F8802062-4D31-11E3-8F59-BFD4058B6BFF"
       -H "X-API-Username: MyUsername"
       -d '{"content":"<html><head><title>My page</title></head><body><h1>Hello World!</h1><p>I am an HTML page converted to PDF!</p></body></html>"}'
       https://html2pdfwebservice.com/api/convert > page.pdf

Perl

#!/usr/bin/env perl
use strict;
use warnings;
use Mojo::UserAgent;

my $ua = Mojo::UserAgent->new;
my $tx = $ua->post(
    'https://html2pdfwebservice.com/api/convert' => {
        'X-API-Username' => 'MyUsername',
        'X-API-Key'      => 'F8802062-4D31-11E3-8F59-BFD4058B6BFF'
    } => json => {url => 'http://domain.com/invoice.html'}
);
if (my $res = $tx->success) {
    my $pdf_data = $res->body;
}

Ruby

require 'net/https'
require 'uri'

uri           = URI.parse('https://html2pdfwebservice.com/api/convert')
https         = Net::HTTP.new(uri.host, uri.port)
https.use_ssl = true
# In case the SSL certificate isn't accepted
https.verify_mode = OpenSSL::SSL::VERIFY_NONE

req = Net::HTTP::Post.new(uri.path)
req['X-API-Username'] = 'MyUsername'
req['X-API-Key']      = 'F8802062-4D31-11E3-8F59-BFD4058B6BFF'
req.body              = '{"url": "http://domain.com/invoice.html"}'

res = https.request(req)
if res.code == '200'
    pdf_data = res.body
    # - or write to file -
    # File.open('invoice.pdf', 'w') { |file| file.write(res.body) }
end

PS: Prices are subject to change. During the beta you can’t use your own credit card for payments since we’re still running in sandbox mode. All data will be wiped after the beta ends. Expected launch date will be some time in January 2014.

Quick impression of Rocksmith 2014

A little bit over a year ago I purchased the first Rocksmith on PC to get back into regular guitar playing. In the end I’ve only spent about 13 hours playing it. Not nearly enough to really get through some songs though I did master a couple of them. The reasons I didn’t invest more time in it were due to sound lag issues, the confusing interface (the fretboard is displayed with a slightly angled view), practicing a song was difficult, bad detection (power chords always failed for some reason) and having to play the songs that the game decided was a pain as well.

So I was a little weary of buying the latest Rocksmith 2014 game. For good reasons if I say so myself. But the stuff they showed at E3 such as the session mode and riff repeater made me decide to get it anyway. One very nice thing is that all the DLC you bought for the first Rocksmith can be used in the 2014 edition.

I’m liking Rocksmith 2014 a lot more than the first game. The riff repeater is a great tool that helps you master a riff. You can adapt difficulty and speed so you can gradually master a riff. I’ve done this before with Guitar Pro using the loop-feature and tweaking the speed. But with the variable difficulty setting Rocksmith 2014 makes you learn core notes of a riff first and every time you have a perfect run it increases the difficulty which adds more notes. With difficult parts what helps for me is to turn down the speed to around 80-85% with difficulty at 100%. Then after a couple of runs I crank it all up to 100% and try that.

When playing a new song it starts at an easy level and it gradually increases the difficulty if you’re doing well. This feature was available in the first Rocksmith as well but as far as I can tell all I could do is change the difficulty back to very easy to the highest level. Not really great when trying to learn the song.

I’m only 4 hours in and have almost mastered Bring Me To Life by Evanescence (I’m at 99.7% or something). And with Wheels by Foo Fighters I’ve already been able to master a part of the solo and some other parts. With the first Rocksmith I couldn’t really get anywhere with it.

In the few hours I’ve played I’m liking Rocksmith 2014 a lot more than the first game and will try to play more frequent (daily?) now. I try to play the guitar at least 3 times a week, but never learn anything new. With Rocksmith 2014 I’m finally learning new stuff again. Such as pinch harmonics, which so far have proven to be challenging :-).

Monkey re-branded to Monkey X and comes with Desktop target

Monkey by Blitz Research Ltd has been re-branded to Monkey X. Monkey X focuses on multi-platform and multi-device game development. Monkey code translates to the language used by the platform. Javascript for HTML5 games for example and C#/XNA when targeting Xbox 360. Supported platforms are Windows, Mac OSX, Linux, Flash, HTML5, iOS, Android, WP7/8, Xbox 360 and more. Ouya as well!

With the re-branding also comes a new free version. Before, the free version only supported the HTML5 target but now also includes the desktop target. Other targets can be acquired by purchasing a Monkey X Pro license.

Now that the desktop target is freely available as well I think I’ll go give Monkey a try soon. I haven’t used BlitzMax in ages (and I consider it a dead end as well) and since Monkey is very similar to BlitzMax I don’t expect too much trouble to get adapted to it.

Beta testers needed for an HTML2PDF conversion web service

I’m looking for people who would like to help me beta test my upcoming HTML to PDF conversion web service. The service focuses on programmers and designers who want to convert HTML to PDF’s. A common use case for such a service is the generation of invoices or reports.

The web service uses a simple HTTP REST API so it’s programming language agnostic. All that’s required from you is some HTML and CSS knowledge which you’ll use to create your PDF documents from and you’ve also got to know how to call a HTTP REST API from your programming language of choice. I’ve got usage examples for cURL, Perl and Ruby to help you on your way as well. Contributions that cover other languages are very welcome as well.

If you’re interested please comment below or contact me through Twitter or E-mail.

Want to use a web service to convert HTML to PDF? Then take a look at HTML2PDF Web Service.

Trying out Digital Ocean

I’m currently trying out a Digital Ocean VPS for a soon to launch Software as a Service I’m currently working on. So far I’m really liking it. The VPS (a 1GB droplet) is fast and is performing nicely.

This is also the first time I’m using Chef to provision the server. Chef is working nicely but I did had to do some manual installation and removal of specific Ruby gems. I’m still not entirely convinced about using Chef for this but that’s mostly because there’s a lot left to learn such as data bags.

My only complaint so far is that Digtal Ocean didn’t let me create a droplet (VPS) in Amsterdam. When working remotely via SSH the network latency (though only about 100ms) can get really annoying.

Aside from that I’m liking it!

Update: not long after this post Digital Ocean announced they had expanded their Amsterdam data center!