Burps and belly rumbles

So far this has just been a duping ground for moans, groans and over exagerated injustices that have rained down on me. If you look close though, you might just find a post or two of opinion and not complaint.

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Every day I love android a little more

The title says it all really, more and more I find my little phone invaluable. Today I had to get the windscreen replaced on my car after the little incident posted below. As the chip was getting so bad, I decided to take it to the Autoglass workshop rather than wait for a home visit.

And that's when android started working for me. First I load google places and search for Autoglass, select the branch I want from the list, and choose navigation. Easy as pie. Once I arrive I need to wait for 2 hours till the work is completed, so it's in with the earphones and fire up my current best music app, Moodagent (cheers CaptainStu72). But it gets better, while listening to my sounds I also load up Kindle and flick through a book, while still getting all my txt's, calls, and twitter updates, even a reply from Autoglass to see if the service is upto scratch. I was only there 2 hours, but this little box of technology kept me connected, and entertained, multi-tasking its little heart out.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Trying to teach an old dog new tricks

In a flash of inspiration, I decided that I should have a go at app creation for Android. Nothing too big, no fancy graphics, or anything that's gonna make anyone go "WOW, the dude that wrote this is a seriously clever boy". I don't even intend to get a "not bad" from anyone who ever gets to see the end result. I didn't know what to try and put together, but something simple.

Now, as I have previously stated, I have no patience or dedication, and to makes things even more awkward, the last time I wrote any code in anger was 20 or so years ago. So I will coming at this almost blind. What I have decided to do in an attempt to keep myself interested enough to finish the project, is write an app that I will actually use, and as I don't expect to produce anything of any quality, it will also need to be something that I cant just download from the market with all the bells and whistles finely polished. So now I have another problem, an app that I will want to use, that no-one else has produced.

Rejected Ideas

1 - Football or Celtic - A million apps covering news and results already exist on the market, with a couple of Celtic specific ones as well.

2 - Tech - Dont even think I need to answer this one, again the market is saturated.

3 - Sex - Even worse than tech, and I don't want to hide the netbook screen when the kids are about :D

4 - Beer - Well the best thing about beer is the consumption, and a load of augmented reality apps already cover bars / off sales, and listings and reviews are abundant on the web.

So the only area that I am left with is work, how boring is that. But the thing is, on analysis it's perfect. I run a bar, and as yet I have come across nothing which is directly aimed anyone in my position, outside of posting on social networks, or listing in guides, there are no apps designed to help me in my daily grind. Now the only decision is how can a mobile handset help me to run my business? There are a couple of ways I could use my handset, but in reality with my knowledge and lack of programming skills only one that is practical - the exciting world of STOCK TAKING. I know that I said I have a major concentration deficit, and a distinct lack of will power, but in my job I have to conduct line checks daily, and full stock takes every month or two, so my motivation wont be the fun of the final result, but rather how it can reduce the tedium of a job I have no choice but to do.

Now luckily enough when I did code all those years ago, it was for a small computer company that specialised in bespoke business software. This with the twenty odd years working behind bars (no, not sewing postbags), means that I have a fair old idea of what I can and can't expect to achieve. My first thoughts were that I should aim for a complete stand alone app to record and report on stock ins, and outs. But after some thought I realised that this would be impractical, and probably slow parts of the process down. I still haven't decided on a final setup, but I guessing it will be something like this.

Instead of a single Android app for controlling the pub's inventory, I will create something that has both a PC, and a Android client. The Android side will consist of either one combined app, or probably a suite of smaller apps that carry out specific functions. All the data will be stored, and shared through the cloud. The PC will be able to accomplish every task, but will manly be used for generating reports. The Android app(s) will be used for counting stock, checking in stock, price calculations, and generating 'small' reports for viewing on-screen, and as such I will probably create a separate app for each task making the overall job easier. Eventually I would like to progress to include barcode scanning, but I think that may be beyond me.

My plan of attack is this, I intend to spend the next few days performing a full system analysis, identifying all the features, and process's that I intend to implement. I have decided that to begin with the PC side will simply be a spreadsheet that will import from a CSV file, allowing me to get 'productive' quite quickly. As for the Android side, well its time to start reading, and running through a few simple tutorials. I don't envisage that the little apps will be too complicated, just some simple input, and data manipulation saved to file, and then sent to the cloud.

If you know of any good on-line resources please post and let me know, and the same goes if you find some faults in my logic regarding the way I am approaching this.

Thursday, 19 May 2011

NEDS !!!!!

So I'm sitting eating a late dinner, enjoying a cold beer in my home when the doorbell rings and someone starts banging the door. My wife answers it and then I hear my second youngest daughter Katie shouting me. She had been out playing at the time with Emma my youngest daughter. When I get to the door she starts to tell me that someone has broke the windscreen of my car, and then points down the road at a group of five kids about 15 years old. I have a look at the windscreen and sure enough there is a big fucking chip in it, almost a whole.

A crap picture I know, but you can see the size of it.

Probably not the right thing to do, but the red mist came down and I went charging down the street after them, the fact that the three boys there were on bikes and scuppered off with the speed of many young Gisele's, meant that when I reached the end of the road I could only see dust. I made my way back to the house, where Katie told me what she had seen. One of the boys had thrown a 4" long quarter inch thick bolt from about 50 yards up the road at one of his friends. So I am standing in my driveway with steam coming out of my ears when I look down to the bottom of the road to see the little fuckers have made their way back down to the corner and are looking up goading me. I SNAPPED, jumped into the car, and chased the little shits round the corner and up a cul-de-sac. Got to about 5 meters from the tosser that did it, before I ran out of road, and had to jump out and chase him on foot. Now I am not the most athletic of blokes, 41 years old and not much under 15 stone for my 6 foot frame, so again I stood no chance of catching him.

Once again I made my way home. The thing that's really biting my banger is that little cunts keep peeking round the corner to see if I am there, but I know that if/when I catch him, I will probably lose it, and I will be the one who gets charged.

So now I have a dilemma, ignore it, fix the windscreen, and hope that's the end of it, or catch the little fucker when I get the chance, and kick the crap out of him.

Oh, I also meant to say, the cars not mine, but one I have a loan of while mine is getting fixed, so I am liable for the full costs of getting the chip repaired ( if it can be repaired ) or a new windscreen.

Think I am gonna need a couple of beers tonight :(


Sometimes you come a across a little app that you wonder how you got along without. For me Newrez is that app. Basically it adjusts your screen resolution to settings that your hardware isn't capable of, ie displays a larger resolution then your screen is meant to. The app can be downloaded from here and is really just a python script that sets xrandr, but its useful none the less. The reason I use it so much is I have an old Acer Aspire One with a 7.9" display which has a max res of 1024x600, so getting that little extra from it sure helps.

Android, Villains and a Hero

If you like messing about with gadgets then a mobile phone is an obvious piece of kit, it covers a lot of bases, you have it with you 24/7 and they are really quite powerful now. After the usual load of feature phones the first 'smartphone' I got was a Nokia N80, it allowed me to do a fair bit, but it had a tiny screen, and was limited in processing power, but was quite nice. The problem was that Nokia released the N95 not long after I got the N80, so it was upgrade time again soon. The N95 was a great phone, it did everything I threw at it, and even now the camera still holds up. But it was still a phone, and had its limitations. I had planned to upgrade to another Nokia when my time came, but then Android, and the Hero came out, and I did covet it.

So upgrade time comes, and Three UK start acting like bell ends. End up having to cancel my contract and taking a new one out a couple of weeks later to get the deal I want with a shiny new Hero. But I have it, and spend a couple of weeks basking in its glory before I start fucking with it. I bombard Google for tutorials on how to root it, and then its flashing time. The Hero had a great dev scene, and still has a fairly decent one all things considered. So I tried a few ROM's and settle for VillainROM 5, the quality these guys were putting out was great, and so most of the time I had my Hero as my main phone, its one of their ROM's that was on it. You can have a look at what they do here, loads of handsets are covered now.

Since the Hero, I've moved onto a HTC HD2, its getting to the end of its life cycle, but its a great phone. Originally sold for Winmob 6.5, it has come into its own as an Android device, but dual cores is where its at now. So what to get next ? SGS II ? LG 2X? Maybe, or I just wait and see what else will be coming out.

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Why Ubuntu ?

Like a lot of folk out there I had a PC running windows (XP @ the time), and I had become used to the normal routine of install, run for a couple of months, grind to a halt, re-install sequence that you get into with windows. I also used to buy the odd computer mag, reading about the latest kit I could not afford until it was near obsolete, try programs from the cover disk that just installed more crap and slowed things down even more, you know where I am coming from. Well one of those cover disks had four linux distro 's on it, and being bored I decided to have a look. The choices were Gentoo (didn't get it to boot), Knoppix (ran fine, but took a little time), another I cant remember (didn't boot anyway), and Ubuntu. To my complete surprise once Ubuntu had booted, everything on my old desktop was working (I know that aint always the way, but I got lucky), but what really astounded me was that it was running quicker from a CD-ROM than the XP I had installed was.

Over the next few days I kept booting the live disk, trying out the pre-installed apps, researching a little until I realised that I was using Ubuntu more than XP. Bugger it I though, lets install this. I installed onto a second HDD so that my XP wouldn't get damaged any away I went. Pretty soon, my wife wanted an account setup, as she noticed that the computer ran faster when I was on it, then the kids fell into line too.

I know there are a ton of other distro's out there, but until Ubuntu lets me down, I will stick with it.