Hey Motorola, I won’t be buying a Xoom

I was just reading about the Motorola Xoom tablet. It runs a new version of Android intended specifically for larger screen devices rather than mobile phones and it looks pretty cool in the bits I’ve seen.

As much as I want to buy one of these things I’m afraid that I’m not going to. Why? I own a Motorola Milestone.

My Milestone was advertised as Flash Readyβ„’ when I bought it many months ago. Sadly Motorola still haven’t managed to get Android 2.2 on it, so I can’t actually view any Flash content at all. It’s not that I really care about Flash, but more the fact that Motorola lied to me. They lied to owners of some of their other Android phones too. Some people are stuck on Android 1.6 forever even though their phone is only a year old. It’s just not in the spirit of Android, as far as I’m concerned.

I will be patiently waiting for HTC or Google to release a tablet before I consider buying one.

I bet I’m not the only Motorola customer who won’t be buying anything else from them ever again.

Woken calmly

I finally got around to switching my morning alarms (I have 3 set) to my own Android alarm app last night.

The difference was noticeable straight away when I woke up at 6:30am without jumping out of my skin. I felt so much more relaxed, and so I went back to sleep until the 6:45 alarm went off letting me know that I really should hurry up and get out of bed, so I did. The 7am alarm went off telling me I should be leaving the house, and so I hurried along and set off for work. πŸ™‚

I love my app. πŸ˜€

Remote Recorder, again

I’ve been spending quite a bit of time working on the next version of Remote Recorder (my Android app for recording TV programmes with Sky+). I’ve listened to a lot of feedback and the main thing requested by people was the availability of listings for TV channels, rather than just a search interface. When I originally made the app I just wanted to be able to search, so I made it just for myself. That’s no longer the case though, as there are quite a few users of the app, and that number is growing every day.

So I have spent quite a bit of time looking at how best to implement this feature and the video below is what I’ve come up with. Keep in mind that it’s incomplete, and excuse the elevator music πŸ™‚

So yeah, that’s the basics of how it will work. There will be some minor differences that I have in mind, like the ability to filter the channels/programmes by typing the name into the box at the top. This next version should go a long way towards making Remote Recorder a much more stable and usable Android app. πŸ™‚

Oh yeah, I also registered a domain name: Remote Recorder. πŸ˜€

Bring It! – Getting started

To begin developing my game I downloaded the latest Android SDK and set up Eclipse as explained in great (and hopefully up-to-date) detail on Google’s instructions page.

Once this was working I got the latest version of the Rokon game engine and extracted it into my workspace folder. I imported the existing project into Eclipse and added my own class to the list. I copied one of the examples into my own class and then removed the com.rokon.examples class and files. I changed all references of the com.rokon.examples class to my own class in files like the AndroidManifest.xml file. I missed a few places at first, but Eclipse is pretty good at telling you what’s wrong. I found it helpful to clean the project using the Project->Clean menu item to make sure no errors were left over from before certain changes.

Once I had eradicated all errors from Eclipse I ran the source in an Android Virtual Device. To my immense surprise it was working!

I went into the code and started to strip out all the bits I didn’t want. I kept one sprite around, but changed the sprite texture to my own arrow, and made it considerably smaller.

That was all pretty easy, and I thought things were going to well until I realised that I now needed to get down to the harder stuff. The user would need to aim in different directions from one point, so I needed a way for the person to change the angle. My first thought was to use the scroll ball that appears on most HTC devices these days. I thought that might be a bit of a problem though, because I was planning on using the scroll ball press as the trigger, and that might lead to people accidentally pressing it when they didn’t want to.

I decided that it would be cool to have the character point towards where the user pressed on the screen. The problem with that is that code is required to work out what angle to rotate the character by depending on where the character is, and where the player has pressed on the screen. I managed to find various little bits and pieces online that helped me come up with a decent solution.

That looks very complicated, but it’s not that bad, really. The angle is worked out using the position of the centre of the sprite and the position of the press on the screen. I’d explain it in more detail, but that might take a while. You may notice the +90 near the end of the rotation line. Unfortunately that’s a bit of a hack to add 90 degrees of rotation to whatever angle is given to me. It works, so I’m fine with that for now.

Now when I run the “game” I see an arrow on the screen. If I press on the screen then the arrow points at where I pressed. If I move my finger while it’s pressed then the arrow follows my finger around. A good start to coding the actual character.

Now to climb the rest of the mountain!

Remote Recorder trial version

I’ve decided to release a trial version of my Sky+ Android application Remote Recorder so that it’s a bit more accessible to people who want to try it out before they commit to a (refundable) purchase.

The trial version is limited to one recording request for now, but that may change in the future if people want to try it a bit more. For now I believe that one recording is all it takes to get a feel for the application.

Along with this new trial version I have made some minor changes to the full version of the app. There are now some more robust checks in place to see if your login details are correct, and to find out if your remote record request was properly received by Sky.

To find either version search for Remote Recorder on the Android Market and pick the one you want. Any feedback is greatly appreciated.

Remote Recorder Android app for Sky+ (and Sky+ HD)

A month ago I wanted to set something on TV to record from my phone because I was out of the house. I was aware of the Remote Record option available on the Sky website, and that I could send an SMS to a specific number to set it up, but the website is a real pain to use on my phone, and I couldn’t remember the phone number, or what to send to it anyway.

I figured there was probably an Android application for sending a remote record request via the web, and there actually was. I was very pleased, until I saw that is cost quite a bit of money. This was when I came up with the idea of writing my own Remote Recorder application.

After a lot of my evenings and weekends spent on it I finally have a working application that I’m satisfied with enough to release to the general public.

Search the Android App Store for “Remote Recorder” and give it a go!

Remote Recorder has a very basic interface. You enter the name of the show you want to record into the search box and results are returned for you to choose from. Once you’ve chosen a show a list of show times and channels is retrieved and displayed to you. If you long-click on the show description then a remote record request is sent to Sky and they forward it to your Sky+ or Sky+ HD box. Hey presto, your show gets recorded. πŸ™‚

Your search results

Your search results

A list of showings

A list of showings

Sending your remote record request

Sending your remote record request

Steve Ballmer is a hypocrite

I was just reading a news article about Steve Ballmer’s reaction to the recently announced Google Chrome operating system when I stumbled on this little gem:

“I don’t know if they can’t make up their mind or what the problem is over there, but the last time I checked, you don’t need two client operating systems.”

A quick look at Microsoft’s website tells me that Windows 7 is going to be released in “Starter”, “Home premium”, “Professional”, and “Ultimate” versions. There are more versions available depending on where you live because of Microsoft’s legal obligation not to force Internet Explorer on everyone in certain countries.

These are admittedly just different versions of the same operating system, but then we have to consider Windows Mobile on smartphones. That’s a entirely different operating system because it’s designed for a different type of device. Perhaps Microsoft should be reminded of their Zune. That runs a version of Windows called Windows CE (or Windows Embedded Compact). This is similar to the uses of Google Android and Google Chrome OS. Nobody would run a full version of Windows Vista on a mobile phone. It just wouldn’t be practical. Why should it be any different for another company? Do Apple run a full Mac OSX installation on every iPod and iPhone out there? You bet your ass they don’t!