15 Mar 2011
Last night we had Kieran and myself present to an audience at Bristol College, as part of a series of lectures on mobile app development. Amongst those listening were developers, business owners and founders, as well as coders from various disciplines looking to get some more views on the world of application development.
We split the presentation into two parts, and in sharing our experiences we talked about the key things that should be considered commercially ahead of investing in the tools, SDKs, equipment and necessary paraphernalia required for app development. A review of the economics of application development sparked a lot of debate in the formal and informal sessions, which was really valuable.
In talking about the nitty-gritty of the technology, Kieran delivered a broad summary of the available platforms, their pros and cons, and re-capped some of the ‘gotchas’ associated with each of the target platforms. This was also well received, with Kieran approached after the event to discuss these topics further.
This event was really good – we enjoyed the interactions from a really interested and diverse audience. With two more interesting events in the series it’s worth going if you can be in Bristol over the coming days.
09 Nov 2010
Last week Intohand attended and presented at OpenMIC8 in Brighton. This was a lively event with a lot of debate in the morning about the relative merits of native versus mobile web applications – and the hybrids in between. Stuart gave a presentation on the topic and Kieran followed up with a seat on the Developer panel. The afternoon barcamp sessions included an opportunity to get hands on with Windows Phone 7 devices, kindly brought by Mike Ormond as well as a Samsung Galaxy Tab from Rich Spence‘s device armoury.
The debate raged on regarding the relative merits of techniques to put material on mobile, spilling over into a bar discussion and latterly a trip to the pub. Good OpenMIC once again, well done to the Bookmeister and the support of DCKTN and University of Bath – looking forward to OpenMIC9 in Oxford!
28 Jan 2011
This week I represented Intohand at an awards day for the Millenium Development Award from Unltd and Nominet that Kieran and I were awarded last September at the Over The Air conference in London. The app we hacked together was an interface for Freecycle/Freegle groups called Freeuse.me. Kieran made an iPhone app that geocoded and uploaded a photo, and i made an Android app that allows you to save keywords to match against incoming emails and places these offers on a map by parsing the location. I then made my (first ever) Keynote presentation and presented the idea.
Unltd Award Winners (Elliot is on the left)
UnLtd, a trust that funds “social entrepreneurs” was impressed by the idea and how it had the potential to improve social inclusion, as well as improve environmental conditions by promoting the freecycle model to more people, and awarded us with a £2500 investment to take the project forward. As a result, Intohand has taken on the idea as a project, and we have planned out the project and i have begun putting together the back end.
The awards day was a good opportunity to meet about 30 other entrepreneurs, working on some really interesting projects. A few of them were working on mobile apps too so we found some good synergies. When discussing the project with people there, i was gratified to see that like most people i speak to, they universally agree on the need for something like what we’re doing. Unfortunately I don’t have a working prototype to show them but it shouldn’t be too long now. Once i have something it will be useful to have a network of forward thinking people to help us get the word out!
01 Nov 2010
Last week Intohand attended and took part in Droidcon, London.
The event was a great combination of low level technical advice and also (a lot) of higher level business advice at the same time, in a two day format.
Many of the boutique appstores such as the Orange app shop and the Vodafone 360 shop were present – highlighting opportunities for further distribution of applications on Android and other platforms.
The first day combined a barcamp with a hackathon – sponsored by Alcatel-Lucent – the hackathon challenge to make use of the openapiservice for an Android application. Kieran and Elliot decided to make use of the short time to attempt to deliver a hack using Google app engine, Google C2DM, Urbanairship and the Openapiservice. The reason for choosing Urbanairship in the actual hack over C2DM in this instance was so we were not reliant on having Android 2.2 to demo. The hack itself used app engine to search mailing lists for community recycling projects and notify for keywords that the user had logged an interest in, it used push notification to the phone to save the users having to manually monitor the lists.
The standout session for us on the first day was Kevin’s candid talk on “How I do it”.
On the 2nd day Kieran was on the panel for best of UK Mobile business where everyone was agreed that now was the start of drive for Android applications
The best sessions for us of the 2nd day was Roman’s Excellence in the Android user experience
At the close of the event we found out our previous days hack had been awarded 2nd place in show, which cemented a brilliant two days. We left happy!
Detailed notes from the two days
17 Mar 2011
A simple tool that we have been using internally for a while has now been made available on the iTunes App Store
DevKit arms you and your clients with a toolkit to assist in making and provisioning any application, it includes support for finding a devices UDID and model number and simply email these through to the developer. More importantly DevKit provides a visual tool to show you what fonts are available and how these will look when presented on the devices screen. DevKit also enables you to visualise how differing tint values affect differing parts of UIKit
Available now on the iTunes App Store
17 Feb 2011
For a while now I’ve been having an issue getting adb (On-Device Android Debugging) working on my Mac. I’d turn on USB Debugging on the device, plug it in (the notification bar told me USB debugging was active) but running “adb devices” does nothing. If you look at the Android docs they list instructions for both Linux and Windows, however “If you’re developing on Mac OS X, it just works. Skip this step.”
Well, the question is what do you do when it doesn’t “just work”? Ask Google, naturally. But the answer was elusive, so I thought I’d outline it here. Thanks to comments on Stack Overflow, it was pointed out that the app EasyTether sometimes causes issues. I vaguely remember installing this app but I could never get it to work and had uninstalled it ages ago. What I’d not realised is that since then, my mac thinks that’s what my HTC Desire Z “is” when i plug it in. So the first thing to do was to unload the kext file:
$ sudo kextunload /System/Library/Extensions/EasyTetherUSBEthernet.kext
# (type your password)
#and just to make sure it never bothers you again:
$ sudo rm -rf /System/Library/Extensions/EasyTetherUSBEthernet.kext
# (type your password)
Next was to go to System Preferences -> Network and to delete the “EasyTether” connection that still remained there.
Then unplug the device, plug it back in, and go back to the terminal:
$ cd android-sdk-mac_86/platform-tools
$ ./adb devices
List of devices attached
Job’s a good ‘un!
23 Oct 2011
Amongst my challenges for this week was to try to get an N950 flashed up from the “Developer” branded Beta 1 up to Beta 2, so that some of the later Qt components might work for an app build we’re working on. The kind souls at Nokia have provided an executable “OneClickFlasher” which is available for Linux, Windows and Mac – which was the first port of call for the operation.
I ended up downloading all of the OneClickFlashers and set about trying to do this job. Every one on every platform failed – and I tried six different computers. After the first attempt the device looks like it is bricked, and will not boot into anything other than a basic low level ROM re-write mode. One of my colleagues bricked another N950 in what I presume was exactly the same way.
In each instance the problem on attempted reflash was: “ERROR: Failed to erase MMC using ‘secure’ method”. I finally accepted that the OneClickFlasher as it stood wasn’t going to do the job, so I looked around to start pulling things to pieces.
Firstly, the Windows flasher (“Win_OCF_34-2_EMMC_RM680-OEM1-916.exe”) can be dismantled with Winrar. If you pull apart that package you can run the flasher executable from the command line and look for what is going wrong.
Similarly, the Linux bin file (“Linux_OCF_34-2_EMMC_RM680-OEM1-916.bin”) can also be dismantled with a shell script available from the Meego site.
So on a Ubuntu 11.10 machine with dismantled flasher I ran the commands manually and the failing stage was “./flasher -a img.bin –erase-mmc=secure”, with the failure condition a read problem. It was consistent, and presumably an attribute of the device itself rather than the flashers.
Google is your friend here so I looked for an earlier flasher or even earlier binary files to feed to the flashers, thinking I might mix and match to see if there was an exit for the bricked device. I found a very helpful website which not only has pulled apart the latest flasher, but more importantly has the earlier release of the N950 firmware posted. That release is called “Linux_OCF_22-6_EMMC_RM680-OEM1-916.bin” and as far as I can tell it’s not readily available online. At the time of writing this post, the website has disappeared from view, but not before I grabbed the 22-6 installer for Linux.
The 22-6 installer doesn’t work out of the box either, failing the same way as the 34-2. Once again at the step “./flasher -a img.bin –erase-mmc=secure” there was a read error, one of the CPUs on my machine went to 100% and by tailing dmesg I could see that the USB was connecting and disconnecting, in tune with the device flashing “Nokia” in the screen centre and then blacking out. I left it in this state for around 15 minutes waiting for recovery and wondering what to do next.
Then I had a stroke of good fortune. I ran $ ps aux | grep flasher in another window, and saw that the flasher process was directly eating the 100% CPU. So I killed the process id and the flasher moved on to the next stage: writing the ROM. This finished with a success message, and on disconnect the device booted back into its (original) 22-6 state.
So the next thing to do was try the 34-2 flasher again, on exactly the same machine that had failed a dozen times before. It worked first time, and the device booted into a non-Developer branded 34-2, fully functional. I now realise that by killing the flasher when it failed, the install script just carried on and flashed the device anyway, presumably without a fully successful ‘secure erase’.
Once the N950 connected to the WLAN, it went off searching for software updates – and it found a later version than 34-2 (actually 39-5). After around 300Mbytes of download and 45 minutes install, it bumped itself up to PR1.1 (2.2011.39-5_PR_RM680). Hopefully now all subsequent updates will be over the air!
I’ll probably qualify to sort out the other bricked N950. I’ll do it this way:
1) Reflash 22-6 with the one click installer – and if that fails, during the install I will kill the “flasher” process if it jams up on secure erase. Repeat until the device recovers as 22-6.
2) Flash up with the 34-2 upgrade. Which will probably work and if it doesn’t I’ll likely kill the secure-erase stage to force it through. Somehow I guess that won’t be needed…
Now turning my attentions to an HTC Desire PVT-4…
UPDATE 26th October 2011: Now the one click flasher for the Firmware 39-5 is available on Nokia’s site.
14 Feb 2012
Stuart presented at the University of Bath on the 8th February. The Apps Crunch event was all about getting groups of competing students to bring their business and creative skills together, as part of a mobile apps development competition.
Fellow presenters Richard and Adam of iPrinciples, helped to subject the attendees to an intensive download of information concerned with everything from business case, through platform choice to how to set about designing and developing an app. Adam even showed a Windows SDK in action to articulate how easy developing for this platform can be. Once you have his skillset, of course!
Mixing with the students afterwards there were some really good ideas floating around, and it looks like the earlier presentations didn’t put too many people off. The entries will be judged prior to the big Cross Media Lab event at the Innovation Centre next month.
15 Feb 2012
Intohand proudly present our all new 2012 website. The site follows the latest mobile responsive guidelines, is HTML5 compliant and renders in all the latest browsers; from smartphone, to tablets to widescreen monitors.
08 Mar 2012
The Citywire Selection iPad application went live in Apple’s Store today. This application brings online and offline analysis of Citywire investment funds to private and professional investors.
The application build was targeted to iPad only, with a fund comparison feature allowing any fund to be compared to any other, with information on fund managers, news related to the funds, video articles and more. This client server application uses offline storage of data and interactive graphing to deliver powerful fund analytics and information to the iPad.
Intohand is delighted to have worked with Thin Martian, as producers, on the development of this application. It’s great to see it go live!
Citywire Fund Selection is in Apple’s store