Quantum Physics



Temporary blindness

Last week I spent a couple of days temporarily blind – I had cut my cornea  and its fair to say it hurt. It’s interesting how you see the world once you have no sight – of course after getting over the fact it hurt I had a little fun with it – I knew it was only temporary yet still it was a little daunting. I tried hard to resist calling everybody grasshopper and to the large part succeeded, though sometimes i slipped.

I had to rely on my other senses which was interesting – I switched on all the disability services on windows and my phone and suddenly voice recognition was my best friend.  There was a whole load of technology that i hadnt really considered that became relivant to me, which was really fairly cool. I kind of wished at that point that i had upgraded my iphone to a 4s so i could have had an intimate relationship with SIRI.

Although it was interesting to be blind a couple of days, being blind sucks . i even had trouble traversing spotify! As my sight started to improve i found that some of the sites i had done for the visually impaired took on a whole new meaning – highly contrasting colours definately did make it easy to read some things.

All is better now – I am off to watch some TV – and i am thankful that i can.

Keeping up appearances

I’ve worked with IT now for over 20 years. but even i sometimes have trouble knowing what to do.I am paid pretty well but there are very few people out there i suspect who can keep up with all the technology thats out there – in point of fact I’ve never really tried – i tend to buy exactly what i need to fulfill whatever require – its not very easy because sometimes you have to choose a track to go down – for example do i use googles services or iCloud – they both have pros and cons.

My iMac24, the machine i typically use for storing media etc is starting to get long in the tooth – its been slow for a while now and it suddenly hit me why this morning! The latest video file i downloaded (Legally of course) is 1912 x 792 px – and is 4.32gb in size – thats more RAM than this machine actually has in it. To be fair I havent upgraded since 2009 – so the time for a new laptop is fast approaching. I had it in my mind that I had already upgraded my iMac to 8gb, but to my shame I had not. A whole bunch of things are suddenly clear, like the reason the machine is slow running SharePoint 2010.

It’s hard to know what direction to go in. I like Mac products but if the iPhone 5 isn’t any good I will get an android device – if I do that, then it starts to call other things into question and following the path of Apple may not be so personally good for me.

I need to go shopping.

My First Android App

My First Android App

Ive now spent around 24 hrs developing an android app. I downloaded the SDK and Eclipse and for the first time in ages i started to work with Java. I spent quite a bit of time working with C# over the years and to be honest since i started focusing on the android SDK i havent even really noticed the difference. there was zero time needed to adapt back to Java.So my first app – is a NASA image of the day app. Now sharp people out there may know that theres a Headfirst Android Programming book that uses exactly that example, and that was my starting point – but i got lucky because the examples didnt work. The SDK has changed a bit since the book i had was published and NASA have even changed the formats of their RSS feeds. I also went a lot further than they did with the book. The skills i learned for the book

  • Setting up the dev environment
  • Creating an application
  • Downloading RSS
  • Programatically parsing XML
  • Working with the Android UI
  • Working with permissions
  • The basics of Android Architecture

And the stuff i did on top of it:

  • Creating and Binding Android services
  • Rendering Menus + catching those events
  • Creating widgets
  • Executing timed events
  • Saving things in the file system
  • Deploying my app.

I would like to thank Glen for a very late Friday evening working on this – he has significantly more android experience than i do and he helped me understand service binding and some of the key concepts of appication architecture at a time (midnight – 2am) when i was having hassle getting my head around it. We were talking about it on a Skype conversation while he was playing Diablo 3….

I found some fairly cool sensible restrictions as well – at one point i tried to put a 300k image into my widget and got a java out of memory error – which was a bit of a surprise – but the reason it happened was because my image was bigger than the total amount of memory allocated to the screen. That forced me to scale my image – which was a good thing.

Its quite cool to have my first app installed on my phone – though to be honest i probably wont keep it there. My first attempt wasnt really coded to my usual standard and ive learned how better to do things next time.  The important thing is the app worked! I will probably build another app this week.

You can download my app for Android here. Its not perfect but it works!

The Phone Swap

My work phone is now a Galaxy S2 – Ive resisted posting about my change of work phone partially because i didnt want to be seen as making a comment against microsoft – becuase professionally i am an advocate of MS technology – in truth – my previous work phone, the HTC trophy was a fairly ok phone, running WP7 but i was quite relieved when it died of natural causes! I just dont really like the style of WP7 applications or UI although i am sure some people love it.

So now i have the Galazy and ive had my opportunity to take a look at Icecream Sandwhich (its operating system), i have to say i pretty much love it.  My technology is a bit all over the place at the moment. I still love my iPhone 4, its a good piece of kit, with an easy to use robust OS and i love the way that icloud keeps things in sync, but i have to recognise the fact that android is catching up. Reality is with a google account and a dropbox account you can pretty much do most of the things that you can do with iCloud. I downloaded an app for the galaxy S2 to allow me to see and use my iCloud contacts in sync with  the android phone. If Apple dont come up with something pretty special with the iPhone 5 i will probably swap to something else.

As with any new phone and OS combination i have downloaded an SDK and started to look at developing for it – i will post a bit more about my first day of development tomorrow! I know its not the latest Samsung phone – it was a hand me down – Matt left employment at the same time as my phone had started to play up so I just took his, and I am glad i did!!


Watch out in cyber space!



Prepping for an emergency.

Today I found myself in a fairly bad situation where I had to deal with an emergency situation that involved a lot of blood all over the place. I am fairly organised but I found myself needing to find someone an emergency dentist at 8pm on a Saturday night. While I sit here in the waiting room it got me to thinking about emergencies in general – I know where all my emergency services are near home but I travel a lot and cannot say the same for everywhere I go! I keep an emergency contact sheet in Evernote and have emergency numbers in their own category in my phone. Ask yourself the following of all the places you commonly frequent:

  • Do you know where to find the closest accident emergency ?
  • Do you know where to find the closest farmaci ?
  • Do you know where to find the nearest emergency dentist?
  • Do you know the emergency phone number for the country you are in?
  • Do you have all your personal and medical information to hand?
  • Are all these places open 24/7 ?

To some people these questions are really important, and if you have kids there's a whole load of other numbers you really need to know. It's worth occasionally checking your emergency contact list becuase after all it is needed in an emergency!

The death of a time capsule

My time capsule (its a wireless router that doubles up as a NAS) died this weekend.  Without going into too much detail it lasted 19 months, which apparently is about average – its not that the components are bad in it but it has a really bad heat exchange system – i took the thing to bits to take a look at it, and it has this tiny little fan that pushes hot air around the box.  This lead to one of the capacitors burning out – i could see the tell tale bulge as i deconstructed the power supply – incidentally if your going to do that remember you have to discharge the capacitors to work safely – if you don’t know what that means keep your screwdriver the hell away from power supplies!, For a few minutes there i was without an internet connection at home! As an emergency setup i ran a wifi router on my mobile phone which did a grand job –  The app didn’t require my android mobile to be routed so thats a bonus. I was genuinely surprised i could run 3 laptops, my apple tv, my squeeze box and my iMac 24 from it (most of my data streams internally so the data costs were not too high.

I replaced the time capsule with an airport extreme. I am going to think hard about what i will do for a backup solution, as I’ve decided to move away from the whole time machine idea. Watch this space!!!

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