Android development – scratching your itches and stealing your code

September 14, 2010 § Leave a comment

Yesterday I was driving and my phone rang. I was wearing my hands-free, but I still had to pull my phone out of my pocket to see who was calling. (Remember when you had to answer the phone if you wanted to find out who was calling? Hahaha – talk about walking uphill in the snow both ways – we used to have to answer the phone to find out who made it ring!)

Anyway, I thought that having my phone tell me who was calling would certainly come in handy. You can assign custom ringtones to your contacts so that each contact has their own ringtone. I thought it might be more useful to have an app that uses TTS to generate an MP3 using the name of the contact, then assigns that MP3 as the custom ringtone for that contact. I went looking for an app that does that, and didn’t find anything (I will grant that I didn’t look too hard). Maybe I’ll build it – I don’t have a lot of “free” time, but it doesn’t seem too hard, and it does scratch my own itch.

Plus, Android development is fun – I like it, or at least, I like most of it. I thought that this article by Michael Bleigh did a good job of summing up my major likes/dislikes regarding Android development.

Of course, I also read this piece from Fancy Widget about other people decompiling their code, making small changes, and sticking it back in the market with a different name. Of course, decompiling byte code has been fairly trivial for a long time, but at this point, anyone can use something like Show My Code to do it. This made me pause for a minute to consider if it was really worth building something that could be so easily ripped off. Then again, if I write something that’s popular enough that someone wants to rip it off, I should probably be fairly happy about it.

So, I’m going to add another item to my todo list unless someone wants to take the idea and run with it. That would make it a lot easier because I’ll just download their app, decompile it, change the name, and re-upload it. Problem solved!


Universal Translation

September 17, 2009 § Leave a comment

This video discussing the concept of a universal translator is pretty cool.

I thought about writing something like this for the Android Developer Challenge just because it sounded fun, but ultimately decided I didn’t have time to do it. It shouldn’t be too hard – Cupcake already supports speech-to-text, Donut supports text-to-speech (and in the meantime, there are libraries like this one), and the Google Translate API is available to do the heavy lifting.

Obviously, implementing something like this on a mobile phone with out of the box technologies poses some issues, but the basic idea is cool, it’d be fun to play with, and it would come in handy in lots of situations. Hopefully someone with the time to work on it will put it together – I’d like to see how well it works.

Android news

July 27, 2009 § Leave a comment

I love my t-Mobile G1, because, well, because it’s fantastic. Read this review for one man’s opinion, most of which I agree with. I should probably write my own review, but so far, at least, I haven’t.

Came across some pre-release info on Donut, then next version of the Android framework. Cupcake was already a pretty nice upgrade, Donut looks to be adding lots more stuff – stuff like text-to-speech, multitouch, and universal search. Check out this thread on for lots more geeky info, or this article on for a higher-level overview.

Time tracking and cell phones (too creepy?)

July 12, 2009 § 1 Comment

g1watchingyouRecently, I was reading this article regarding tracking your time. The idea of time tracking appeals to me. Trying to juggle my life is difficult, what with making sure that I’m being a good husband, and a good father, working at my day job, trying to get a business started up and going, exercising, and sleeping – whew!

When I do projects, I like to keep track of the time I’m taking and what I’m spending it on. Doing so gives me a better feel for how long it really takes to do something. It also keeps me honest – I can’t just pretend I’m quicker at the task than I really am. I feel like doing some tracking and analysis of my daily activities would probably yield some benefit in many ways. At the very least, I’d realize if I really am as busy as I think I am, or if I actually am wasting a lot of my time.

I went looking for an app I could run on my Android phone, and really didn’t find much of anything. I thought about writing one – I’ve been doing quite a bit of android development recently. The idea of constantly entering what I was doing on my phone seemed to be fairly onerous, however. I’ve been kicking around in my head how to design a phone interface that’s quick and easy enough that I’d actually use it.

Of course, using GPS would help with tracking my time to some degree – it could obviously track whether I was at home, or at work, or driving in a car, or even some more subtle and varied locations. That helps, but doesn’t really tell me what I’m doing. I ran across this article a few days later, which describes a technique for using the phone to listen and analyze the sounds to determine what is going on. This would improve the information you’re gathering, because then you’d almost always know where you were and how long you were there, and you’d also often be able to automatically determine what it is you were doing based on the sounds that were being made.

And yet, that often wouldn’t help. For instance, right now, I’m sitting in front of a computer, typing away, while my wife is browsing the web on her computer, and my daughter is watching television. What on earth would my phone think I was doing? I’ve had thought about setting up a proxy server, and having the phone be able to connect to the proxy server to log network traffic, and thus determine what web pages I was looking at or posting to. This wouldn’t be particularly difficult to track, but might be difficult to analyze.

So, at this point, this is all just some random thoughts. Maybe it’s too creepy to actually do – maybe I don’t really want my phone monitoring everything I do. Of course, if it did, maybe I’d become more efficient just because of the Hawthorne effect.

It feels like the beginning of a project (a big project) that I probably don’t have the time to even think about. Of course, if I had it done, I’d probably better be able to determine how much time I could actually dedicate to such a project, huh?

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