Archives for : mobile

Archos tablet

As much as this is more of an online CV than an often-updated “proper” blog, I’ve recently been thinking about tablets. It’s a week since my Archos 101 arrived, and I’m a bit in love. And I’m slightly richer (or less-poor) than if I’d bought a big iPhone. Oh, and I have Flash*.

In all seriousness, however:

  1. I’m pretty indifferent to Apple – I don’t hate them, my work machine’s a MacBook. The Archos, however, is half the price of even the wifi-only iPad.
  2. I really like Android – I have an HTC Android phone that I LOVE. Android’s easy to develop on as well – not as polished as Visual Studio (but smaller), but it’s very open.
  3. The Archos isn’t one of the cheap generics flooding the market (some of which might be great – I don’t know!) Archos have a history making media players, and this is fine for browsing, music (good speakers) and video (HDMI out).
  4. I get stuff I actually want – a proper USB port (!) for flash drives, external hard drives, etc.; an HDMI port, and a big enough screen to make it worthwhile (and not a slightly-swollen phone). I’ll settle without an aluminium body for the price, and I’m happy to use my smartphone if I really need 3G data – the Archos will tether fine.
For one thing, it’s actually an OK ebook reader. I’m not that into ebooks, but there’s a Kindle app if you really want it. Personally, I find it quite easy for having papers to hand while I’m typing, without having to switch screens a lot, or use paper (arduous, I know). I’m all synced with Google Docs (which I was using anyway) and can work with documents, spreadsheets or slides easily, all things in – it really is direct manipulation, after all. Speaking of Google, the Archos’s Android OS naturally assumes that I use a Google account, so my Gmail, Calendar and Tasks are added to the home screen within a few screen-presses of unboxing. It doesn’t come with the Android Market – for Google’s licensing requirements – but it’s very easy to get it – not some techy hack, but a few clicks on the built-in app installer. It’s not something I covered in my degree, so I don’t think it’s inaccessible to those not blessed with the secret of computer science.
The stock Android browser’s ok, really, but I’ve taken to using Opera, which, frankly, is very nice and shiny – it’s not phone browsing. I don’t like Dolphin Browser, but that runs fine for those who like it – in any case, there are loads of options.
I’ve been thinking though, is there a role for using tablets in CS learning? Phones might be more realistic in availability (Android is gaining ground fast). But you still can’t develop real desktop-equivalent apps very seamlessly. Maybe the added screen-estate of a tablet will, in time, make them reasonable to play with as programming toys. Certainly, the App Inventor opens Android development to something pretty similar to the block-based teaching tools, albeit with a more complicated API. Price-wise, lower-end tablets are getting fairly accessible, but I admit I haven’t thought this that far through – it’s just a musing! Being a geek, a Trekkie (see the PADD above) and a kid at heart, I find Trek-style touch-screen tablets very cool.
Maybe I’m as much a Google fan as some people are with Apple.
Maybe not.
* Yes, I know, but apoplectic diehards can be quite funny.

Asthma phone app – download

I wrote this for myself, so it’s not a commercial product. I’ve posted this after mentioning it on the Asthma UK forums, since it might be of use to some people there.The app (described here) is a simple way to keep track of how much medicine is left in your inhaler. Some inhaler designs incorporate some sort of counter, but most don’t.

Links to download are at the bottom of the page.

This isn’t a business or commercial product, and I don’t make anything from it.  I’m in no way affiliated with Asthma UK – I just happened to mention this on their forum. They do a lot of excellent public information and research work though, and I’m sure they could do with all the support they can get.There are two versions of the app: one for Java (which should run on most “normal” phones), and one for Android (“smart” phones). There is no support for iPhone or iPad. Personally, I’ve used the app on a Sony Ericsson W595 (Java) and a few HTC (Android) smartphones (Hero and HTC1s, as of Sept 2012).

For Java, download the file and send/copy it to your phone, via Bluetooth, for example. Don’t try to run it on your computer. Most phones know automatically how to install the app and where to put it. Once that’s done, you should be able to find it alongside your other games and applications. On my Sony Ericsson, for instance, it’s in my “Applications” menu. This forum thread tells you how to install a Java game/app, and the advice is similar for most phones. If you’re really stuck, post a message on this blog and I’ll try to help you.

On Android, download the file onto your phone. Run it, and the app should install automatically.

Before downloading, you must agree to the legal stuff‘s license terms.


I hope you find this useful. Feel free to leave a comment, but bear in mind that this is a free hobby project and isn’t related to my full time job.

Asthma phone app

As per a post on Asthma UK, I’ve uploaded a free copy of a mobile phone app that I wrote for myself several months ago. I have fairly serious asthma, and over the last few years, I’ve had to use several different types of inhaler. Some (see below) have counters that tell you how much medicine is left, but traditional “puffer” ones don’t – I was a bit fed up with this.

The most popular, “traditional” type of reliever inhaler contains 200 doses, but has no counter on it.

Compare this to my Accuhaler, which tells me that there are 60 doses remaining (counter zoomed in to the right-hand image – that little white oval window next to the thumb rest).

As a programmer, I was surprised that there was no easy phone app to keep track of my remaining doses. So I wrote one. There are two versions: one for Java phones (if your phone can download and play Java games – most phones can); and one for newer Android phones. Unfortunately, there is no support for the iPhone – I’d have to pay Apple silly money for the privilege, and this isn’t a business.

The app itself is fairly simple, and both versions look similar and have the same functionality. When you take a dose, press (or touch, on a touch-screen phone) the appropriate button and the counter will go down. If you want to reset or edit your inhaler (as when you switch to a new, full, inhaler). The app might look slightly different on each handset, but the picture below is from a generic Android phone.

To download either version, read this.