Saturday, October 31, 2009

An Army of Droids

If you are wondering where the hell I've been and why I haven't written anything since March, thanks for your concern and please read on to elucidate the "mystery".
Since October last year, when Android 1.0 was released and the HTC G1 phone followed soon after, I have been following the evolution of our little green droid friend and also I have been working on my spare time together with some friends who share the same interest and passion for this subject on some applications in order to learn the ropes of Google's mobile platform. What I can say is that during this year I have accumulated lots of knowledge on Android and the only real regret I have is that the time which I got to spend working on our projects was rather limited. Anyway, no sense in being hanged on the past now, especially when the future holds lots of exciting things that are going to happen. We've seen 3 major Android updates since its release and this month came the 4th - Android 2.0. We've seen 2 more HTC phones with Android, one from Samsung one from Motorola and next month will bring some really anticipated entries into the scene such as the Motorola Droid, the Sony-Ericsson Rachel, the Acer Liquid, the Samsung Behold II and some more from HTC.
You may wonder what's this got to do with me not writing anything here for half an year. Well, as I mentioned, I was busy learning the platform and working on some applications. The first one, called Aegis Shield, is a simple password manager for your web or computer accounts which spawned from the idea of having all your sensitive account information in one secure place and at your finger tips at all times. This project is Open Source software and it is hosted on this Google code address. The application is currently available for download as an apk from the Google code site mentioned above and is at the stage of release candidate 2. It will be available as a full fledged free application in the Google Android Market once the first version is completed.
With this occasion, I would like to thank the guys that helped me with code committed on this application - Rares Barbantan and Christian Stefanescu. Also, I would like to thank Lucian Grozav (aka Pava) for his support in testing the application on his HTC Magic phone - brave guy :).
The second application started as an idea to participate in the ADC2 challenge but unfortunately we didn't get to finish a good working version by the time the entry time for ADC2 ended. However, that did not discouraged us and we are now close to having version 1.0 ready. The application will also be available in the Android Marked as a free application so keep following the blog for announcements of when it is going to be released. For this application I worked together with two friends of mine to whom I would like to thank for their contribution, support, ideas and most importantly for the code contributions - the two are Bogdan Popa and Alex Boga.
As you can see, I had a lot to do, and combined also with my family and job responsibilities this concurred to the fact that I did not have enough time to write blog posts. At least, now I have some good subjects to talk about, so keep posted - more on Android and on my projects will follow, especially since next month will be full of surprises and new Android related stuff.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

o3 magazine relaunched

O3 magazine, the free online magazine for Open Source news, presentations and announcements, has relaunched recently in a new format and with a new site. If you are interested in Open Source news or if you previously used read the magazine, you can resume with following them on the new site with RSS, on their new Google Group, or on twitter.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

My Android Resources

As I might have mentioned in one of my previous posts this year, I have recently started to learn how to develop applications for Google's Android platform. There are plenty of reasons why one might want to work with Android, but this doesn't represent the scope of my current post.
The scope of this post is for me to present the most important Android web resources that I follow in my learning and development process. There are also other sites that list Android resources out there, such as AndroidSavvy and Android Tapp, but I wanted to add here the list of things I found most useful and helpful, so that I can share my experience with anyone interested in the same subject.
Anyone can do a Google search and get a bunch of Android resources, but not everything you get is useful, or at least not useful for your context so, in most cases, it helps to learn form other people's experiences and use what's proven to be useful for them. The same is the case with my experience, because I also have started by following links from here to there and doing searches and following RSS feeds and in the end not many of the resources I first encountered proved to be valuable to me, but those that did I think are worth sharing, so here it goes...
For Android, mobile technologies news and application reviews I follow mainly 3 sites:

  • Android Guys - they have the latest rumors and news about Android developments and also have reviews of books or Android applications that might prove useful

  • AppVee - "the definitive source for Android app reviews" as they call themselves are a site which review applications found on the Android Market. After all it is good to keep in touch with what is being built and also get inspired from that.

  • MobileCrunch - this is a more general information site about mobile technology, but if you enter the Android game it is good to keep informed about other possible developments. Besides, there are the occasional Android articles here also.

Along with keeping up to date with news, rumors and developments in the Android world, what an Android developer needs is to find technical information and tutorials on the a fore mentioned subject. Unfortunately, aside of the official Android site where you can find all sorts of tutorials, examples and documentation, and where you should start your quest for learning, the technical blogs and resources for the Android platform seem a bit scarce to me, but perhaps I did not look enough. I will add here the list of sites I find useful when working on Android and I encourage anyone who works on the platform, to add their technical resources in the comments below.

  • Android Developers Google Group - with an average of 125 new posts a day, this is the most important resource you could harness if you need some quick information when you get stuck with a problem. The people in the group are very responsive and they can give you lots of advice. Also, there is a lot of information in the group archives, so it is most likely you will find an answer to your problem before you even need to ask.

  • Android Developers Blog - this is the official Andorid Developers blog and a hub for lots of tips and tutorials about the Android platform. It also contains links to other resources for developers, so be sure to give it a look.

  • Android JavaDoc - a place where you can find the javadocs we all come to treasure and love for the Android SDK releases.

  • Learning Android - a blog containing up to date Android tutorials.

This is it for now, but feel free to add your resources in the comments and also let me know if you found these resources useful.

Monday, February 09, 2009

You Reap What You Sow

The theme of this post is concerned with our effect on the environment. I know that lately there has been a lot of talk, controversy and contradiction on the subject of Global Warming and on the effects we as humans impose on our environment, of which many are not too friendly with nature, so I am not going to write here about opinions or philosophies or other useless talk.
I think that the effects of global warming are visible, and if you still are not convinced, go outside and take a look around, you'll be sure to notice some differences. What I intend in this post is to add a few resources that each one of us could use in making a small effort towards living a greener life.
I know that there are many of us wanting to do something, no matter how small, to contribute to the saving of our environment and we may be wondering what can we do about it. Well, here are a few links from one of the most renowned authority in the domain, National Geographic, that might give us a starting point.
Greendex is a green index calculator, that can compute how environment friendly your current way of life is, and give you a general idea of what can you do to improve - feel free to give it a try (my index was 56). Preserve our planed is National Geographic's section on environment preservation where you can find information on global warming and other ecosystem and environment related information. The Green Guide is National Geographic's site with tips about leading a greener life.
These should give anyone a nice starting point in finding some answers about how can we work with our environment and not against it. I believe that it is very important for us to take action now because even with our small contributions we can make sure that we will leave a good home for the next generations.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

JobMate BETA is live

A friend of mine, Radu Tanasa, participated on behalf of his company Lightway Software, in the development of a new jobs portal for the local Romanian market, called jobmate, and he asked me to do a little presentation of the application on my blog in order to attract more people to the site.
First of all, please note that the site still is in beta stage, so you are encouraged to give it a try and send any feedback you may have through the site's contact functionality.
The portal is trying to bring more value to the people seeking new jobs by allowing them to create and maintain online CV's, access the site's forum with human resource information, read tutorials and job advice and also get free legal advice from a lawyer available for any questions they may have.
After the beta stage is over, the portal will also allow for companies to be able to view the CV's of job seekers so that they can choose from the available pool, the employees that may fit best their needs.
All in all, the site has a modern look, and offers enough functionality for its intended purpose, so if you are interested in being on the market for a job, or you are looking to hire, please give it a try and offer any feedback you have to it's creators, it might just be the next best thing in this domain.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Changes, changes and, guess what, more changes

Hi everybody and sorry for the long dry streak of articles on my blog. 2008 was a long and busy year for me for several reasons:
1. I got married last summer (pictures here) - so ladies the train has left the station :).
2. We went for a nice 2 week holiday/honeymoon in Croatia - see pictures here.
3. We finished the interior of our new apartment and we moved there.
4. We got also a new car - hooray now the banks own my ass for good :).
As you can see a lot went on in my life last year, and these were only the major things, not to mention other stuff like picking up a new hobby - photography and starting to learn Google's Android platform - see learning project here.
I am not going to make a promise out of writing more on the blog - that hasn't worked too well for me on other occasions, but as a resolution for this year, I intend to spend more time on my personal and professional development, which means that there will be a series of articles on my hobbies, including the biggest one I have, coding :). So stay tuned until next time, and we'll see what the new year brings as we go :).

Playing for Change