May 22

Arduino Yun – Hudson/Jenkins Build Monitor

With the relatively recent release of the Arduino Yun I’ve been attracted back to my roots – digital electronics. Arduino has been making it easy to develop small, controller-based projects for some time and the Yun takes that a step further by providing a board that combines a Linux host with an Arduino, adding Wifi and wired networking to the host as well.

The result here is that with just the one board you can develop interactive projects that use resources from the internet. As a starter I decided to build a Hudson/Jenkins build monitor using LED traffic lights. The Linux side is told which builds to monitor and refreshes their status once a minute using a cron job; the Arduino side reads the job statuses and updates the LEDs in real time; this includes flashing the status LED for a build if that build is currently running.

I’ve made this project completely open source, complete with circuit diagrams, downloadable software and some set-up instructions – you can find it over at Github and also check out more project photos and video on the Google+ page

Oct 13

Audio Clock – An Update

In August and September we had some issues with the newer multicore phones running Android 4.0 and up,  responding with a series of five point releases (3.4.1 through 3.4.5) which brings us to the point where Audio Clock is now behaving itself again on all platforms. Read the rest of this entry »

Jul 17

Groovy and Grails User Group Meeting – July 16th

Yesterday I was at the monthly meeting of the Groovy and Grails User Group at Skills Matter to hear about the recent release of Groovy 2 and a standard event bus for Grails applications. The evening was split into two sessions – the first on Groovy 2 and the second on a new Grails event bus. Read the rest of this entry »

May 20

Galaxy Nexus ICS 4.0.4 – Regaining su privileges

About ten days ago I finally received the OTA update for my Galaxy Nexus that would take it from 4.0.2 to 4.0.4. Of course it didn’t show up at a convenient time despite my numerous checkin requests over the previous two weeks, I was on the motorway, using Google’s Navigation app. Ten minutes later however I was in a stationary traffic jam so I elected to apply the update. All went well and the navigation app was back and running inside ten minutes.

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Mar 27

Google I/O 2012 Verdict: Must Do Better

Last year’s Google I/O conference sold out in under 60 minutes. This year, with many more tickets available, it sold out in just 28 minutes (according to my browser) or 20 (if you read Vic Gundotra’s Google+ post here). Google could have sold every ticket at least three times over last year. Or, if you just count the tickets not sold to previous attendees – at least ten times over.

In any event many people were not going to get a ticket for this year. I was fortunate enough to go last year (thanks to eBay) and after reading this year’s registration FAQ was hopeful that demand from scalpers would be damped down by the price rise and non-transferability of tickets making re-selling a big gamble. Add in the fact that this year there was no opportunity for previous attendees to pre-register and you have 5000 tickets available instead of the 1500 or so. What’s to go wrong?

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Mar 24

Dear Samsung… you’ll never be Apple

Samsung is a company that has successfully renewed itself in recent years. If I want a good quality and feature packed TV I look at Samsung, not Sony. And If I want a good looking, up-to-date Android device then they have some fantastic hardware that performs well and looks good.

At Google I/O I got my hands on the Galaxy Tab, which is about to receive an Ice Cream Sandwich upgrade. This was when I first started to realise that Samsung have become, compared to the rest of the large tech companies, more Apple-like. They have a distinct brand name for their devices – Galaxy – and their hardware feels good and looks good. I’ve had my Tab for nearly a year now and when I’m not developing software it tends to be my go-to device for email, web browsing and media consumption. Read the rest of this entry »

Feb 04

The Joy of JSF

Android has been taking a back seat recently (although that is about to change) as the new Formula One season looms and I’ve been comprehensively overhauling the fantasy game web site I’ve been running for over ten years, fantasy-f1.net.

Last year I spent three months removing the Struts MVC layer, restructuring the underlying code and then implementing a new JSF 1.2 user interface. Once you’ve got used to the quirks of the JSF lifecycle its a relatively frictionless way to create well-structured and component-based web sites. There’s no need to write tag libraries any more – just develop your component in situ and then extract it into its own XHTML fragment and – hey presto – you have a re-usable component.

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Dec 14

Social Apps on Android

At this year’s Devoxx, Google’s Tim Bray gave a thought-provoking keynote which covered several areas but what stood out for me were his comments around writing applications for Android. In summary his message was “give software away and sell a service” and “make it social”.

Giving software away and selling a service is a whole other discussion which I intend to address separately. With regards to making it social, this is fine provided that there is a significant social angle to your application. Read the rest of this entry »

Sep 22

Android, Grails and Heroku

Having published a first Android application Audio Clock in the Android Market my attention has turned to developing something new. Audio Clock was simple but this new application is on a whole other scale.

Audio Clock had a minimal UI – in fact just some configuration views and a notification bar entry – and ran in the background, waking every 15 minutes to chime. It has no web component, no remote connections. In other words it was kept almost as simple as it was possible to be whilst till providing some useful purpose.

The current application, which I should be able to start testing in the wild with some willing victims within a week is completely different. It will have a relatively complex UI. It will use more hardware features. It will require an internet connection and I will have to write a server component. Read the rest of this entry »

Sep 15

Audio Clock Bug Fix Releases

This week we’ve pushed out Audio Clock 2.1, and then 2.2 (when we realised that 2.1 had a bit of a major defect). This fixes issues on phones with limited resources that caused audio chimes to not finish sounding.

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