no easy way to earn 59p …

Every now and then, the creative juices start to bubble and I find myself toying with some random technology … if not to keep abreast of the latest gadgets out there, in the vain hope that I will one day find that elusive killer app.

I was extremely lucky to be given a Rovio by J this Christmas: the play factor of this latest gizmo is still to be fully tapped, but hacking prospects look healthy, supported by a stable following of geeks (btw, what is the collective noun for nerds?) already soldering lighting and camera modules to the unit, expanding UIRT capabilities via X10 to switch on electrical devices at home, and the ultimate mod, an AD convertor relaying voice commands received via Skype to tell Rovio to move! Anyway, this prompted me to download the JS library and the iPhone SDK with the cunning plan of creating a little app to run my Rovio whilst out and about.

Instead, I got a little side-tracked and made a travel photo diary app called iPlaces – partly because there isn’t anything out there that combines Google’s APIs (Picasa and Maps) with WordPress mobile blogging, partly because I’m fed up of losing bits of scribbled paper containing telephone numbers and links to nice restaurants, wines, cool places etc … but mainly because I’m curious to see how many 59p I can accumulate through this endeavour. Hard work it certainly is – I can’t remember the last time I did any proper coding, and Objective-C (including Apple’s Cocoa implementation) is not for the faint-hearted. Having struggled with the decision to code-up some database routines in SQLite, I’ve decided to opt for Core Data instead – costs a tad more in overheads but life’s too short to be messing around with basic (read boring) classes and methods.

Anyway, below are 2 screenshots of the imminent app. Don’t hold your breath since Apple require $99 from me to join the Developer’s programme before I can place it for sale in the App Store. Not bad eh for 1.5 days work! 😉

Advertisements

adios my little tiger …

I’ve made the executive decision to retire my trusty Mac Mini. It has served me well, but now it is time to move back to the familiar territory of Microsoft. Speaking of which, I am now the proud owner of an EEE PC on to which I’ve shoe horned a nLited version of XP (having removed the gay Xandros OS that came with it) which only takes up 600Mb of the 4Gb SSD. A 7″ touch screen is also on order, and when installed will make it a formidable gadget for any mobile road warrior (see previous post on the 3 Skypephone). Oh happy days!

Other new news … errrr, Pim’s blogged about the new Michelin France 2008 so you can read all about the movers and shakers here. There’s also a PDF to accompany the post which you can download – I’ve posted a copy here for those of you who can’t stand the suspense …

3 skypephone …

I am absolutely loving my Skypephone from 3 – see review here. Ok, it has a few bugs here and there (the most annoying being having to turn it off/on again after losing the dialup connection when using as it a modem) but on the whole, it’s a great gadget and definitely worth the £45 (I bought the discounted twinpack so SWMBO didn’t complain ;)) for the handset on Pay As You Go. A £10 top up every 30 days gives you free skype calling, even abroad in any 3 Like Home countries (e.g. Ireland, Hong Kong etc). You can use the top up to buy the £5 fair use data pack giving you unlimited Internet access at 3G speeds, which you can use with any laptop or PDA equipped with bluetooth. £2 gets you a number of mainstream TV channels (or you can stream live TV from your Orb/Slingbox/Webguide setup) and when you just want to sit back and enjoy some music or a podcast or two, the A2DP profile delivers stereo to your bluetooth headset effortlessly.

Can’t wait to hook this up to my new toy (on order now for over a week) – the ASUS Eee PC … if retailers ever receive any from Taiwan this February, apparently the snow in China is playing havoc with logistics 😦

geocoding cell id into google maps …

Ok, I think I’ve reach that point where I need to stop and catch up on lost sleep …

There seems to be a lot of recent interest in location based technology, and now with the latest MyLocation functionality in Google Maps for Mobile (GMM), it wont be long before businesses start chomping at the bit to get their products/services mapped to make it easy for Joe Public to navigate to a shop or restaurant, using just a humble GSM mobile phone without GPS fitted.

So I thought I’d join this race and get myself up to speed with the latest tools and development ideas – hence the insomnia and radio silence (haha pun not intended!). Anyway, I’ve written a number of PHP scripts to geocode LAC/CID data from the RIL module on my Windows Mobile WM6 PDA into a seachable AJAX google map – in English, this means that my PDA is continuously updating my webserver with the GSM cell tower information which I am currently connected to, and I then turn this into geogaphical references (Latitude & Longitude) which are plottable on Google Map. And just for fun, I nicked someone’s code to reverse geocode the Lat/Long into Street Name, Town, Postcode, Country etc … click here to see my last reported position, click on the pushpin to get details of timestamp. Next step, a J2ME app that will work on most GSM phones to query the RIL for cell data, do some triagulation onsignal strength to determine the hotspot (cell towers don’t provide GPS accuracy) and update a MySQL database with an ‘invisible’ http session. Now that will be an interesting project …

Those of you who want to try this out, I’ve also knocked up a prototype script which you can access from http://fiftyone.no-ip.org/files/geocodecelltower3.php?lac=10&cid=16701 – you just need to put in the LAC (Local Area Code) and CID (CellID) – if you know what these are …

Happy locating!

dublin four flowers …

flowers.JPG

When I was last in Ireland a couple of weeks ago, my sis-in-law asked me to put together a web site (domain name registration, hosting and html coding – the full monty) for her flower design studio serving the Ballsbridge, Donnybrook and Sandymount areas in the prestigious postcode of D4 in Dublin … and thus www.dublinfourflowers.com was born.

Now, isn’t she a talented girl? Get your Christmas orders in now …

beauty is skin deep …

I can still remember feeling squeamish whenever J channel-flicked onto one of those edutainment programmes on Sky that show live surgery. If I had my way, even Nip Tuck would have been committed to the TV naughty corner, had it not been saved by surprisingly creative dialogue and provocative plots … not to mention the tanned bodies and strong jawlines. Call me shallow, but I pledge my full support to the producers of that TV show when it comes to flaunting feminine curves and 6-pack torsos … because beauty (and I herewith make an advance apology to any hirsute lesbians/feminists and Lionel Richie lookalikes who may be offended by my next pronouncement) is skin deep. And whereas the external human form has immense sex appeal, the insides of a human body and its workings are about as interesting as the contents of Margaret Thatcher’s handbag. That is, unless it is your body … and then, it suddenly becomes the most intriguing thing since Kate Moss’s purse and the most bloggable subject in the world!

Last Wednesday, I gave birth to twin gallstones – an achievement that would not have been possible without the skill and professionalism of the very competent team at Bath Clinic, particularly Messrs Hardy (anaesthetist) and Britton (surgeon). While Hardy knocked me out and made sure I stayed under, Mr Britton (whose dry and boyish bed-side manner reminded me of Stan Laurel) stabbed me 4 times in the abdominal area in a procedure known as a laparoscopic cholecystectomy (that’s gall bladder removal for the medically challenged among you) which comes under the curious medical vernacular of ‘key hole’ surgery. Key hole – now that’s a bit of a misnomer! What surgeons fail to explain to patients during pre-op consultations is the size of the lock they will be dealing with, and judging from the length of incisions on my tummy, it would appear that my surgeon was attempting to pick-lock the portcullis of Warwick castle 😉

But it is all good, as they say and I am now bed-bound and signed off work for the next two weeks with little prospect of social interaction to feed my blog, and yes, I will spare you loyal readers any write up on the frequency of bowel movements and other bodily functions. However, I’m giving serious thought about a paper comparing the coefficient of transparency between Egyptian cotton pillow cases and my nylon anti-DVT stockings. Ummmm, maybe I should save that for next week. Suffice it to say, the prescription drugs, in particular Tramadol, are doing wonders for pain management and inducing some very interesting and florid dreams – an added bonus of being an opiate derivative, I guess. Kids at home, say NO to Tramadol ok … unless you’ve been stabbed.

Meanwhile I’ve made a start on a programing project – a piece of extra-curricular work set by my boss to develop an eBay software tool that will allow sellers to do some statistical analysis on historical auction behaviour in order to predict (read: artificially inflate) the best final sale price for an item. I thought I might write it in Java, but being bed-ridden and having no access to any good books, I’ve decided to plumb for Visual Basic 2005 Express. Progress to date includes the GUI mini-browser functionality (which was a doddle), and today’s task is to work on the ‘state machine’ of valid eBay HTML responses, before diving in to the nightmare of parsing HTML code to extract valuable data from the noise. That should keep me out of mischief for a couple of days …