Approaching the finish line of the FIRST race….

It’s been almost, what, 3…4 weeks since starting on the current android project.  I should probably be concerned it has taken so long, given that it really doesn’t do much.  Oh sure, it’s a little more involved than a memory game or a tip calculator….but it’s not something ground breaking.

I’m sure a lot of this time drain can be attributed to still learning…probably the next project of a similar size will go quicker.  I’ve developed, if nothing else, a small respository of capabilities I can simply cut/paste from now.

One thing I’m kind of disappointed in is that I didn’t post more “how to” or insights/discoveries here.  I’ve really been just too focused on actually COMPLETING the app.  I normally love to share what I’ve learned, but it is a time consuming process.  Honestly, if I posted everything I learned making this app it would essentially just be links to stackoverflow or other people’s blogs, all of which helped me immensely.  But I definitely plan to be more forthcoming in the helping-others department on the next big project, mainly also because I don’t expect that project to go nearly as quickly!

I’m hopefully only a half week from release now.  I’ve got both versions ready..simple (free) and pro (paid).  I’ve been testing them quite a bit and have 1 other tester helping out too.  The only major things I can think of still to do are 1) finishing the preferences (they’re all in place, they just don’t really affect anything yet) and 2) putting the ads in the free version.

I’m actually kind of on the fence about putting in ads.  The free version really doesn’t so much, at least compared to the paid version.  The main problem is that this app is meant to kind of run in the background, and so it’s not something you spend a lot of time directly in…thus, you don’t have someone’s eyeballs for a long enough time to make putting in ads very effective.  I’m almost wondering if I’d get MORE people interested in the app (and thus possibly paying for the Pro version) if I didn’t put in ads in the free version.

It may boil down to whether or not I can put in ads and have it not be completely “in-your-face”.  I’m not exactly sure where to put them yet, though I have some ideas.  We’ll see.



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Getting the GTab connected

I couldn’t understand why my Viewsonic Gtab wasn’t being seen by the AVD Manager or Eclipse debugger, until I finally realized I had setup my GTab in Linux, not windows.

This step-by-step post, which is actually a respost of another post, helped me get it up and running.  However, before that worked, I had to go into the AVD manager (Available packages)  and install the google USB drivers, which I then found under extras->google->usb_driver in the sdk.  THEN everything worked.  Man, install and run goes so much faster on the device than the emulator.  Of course, this GTab also has a lot more muscle than your normal phone.



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Yet more

Jotting down these is the equivalent of highlighting them in the book….except I don’ t have to thumb through the book trying to find them again.

  • You can modify the type of keyboard that pops up when a user selects an edit text box.  So you can have a keyboard that is customized to what type of info they need to enter (numbers for phone, @ symbol for email, etc).  The full range of options is on the android developer site, under input type for text views.
  • You can’t get the ID of stuff in a view until AFTER that view has been set via the “setContentView()” call.
  • There’s a great article on on how to handle long-running tasks (that you’d normally spawn threads for).
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Learned tip for the day:

  • Always provide an intent chooser when designing something to be interoperable with other android services/apps.  This allows the user to decide how something is handled.  Firing off an intent without the chooser will probably crash your app.

Not a bad day in some respects.  I applied for several jobs in the area, some of which actually sounded almost interesting.  I’ve also finally gotten comfirmation from my previous company that I can develop software with abandon now, so long as nothing I ever do resembles anything I ever did for them.  Sounds reasonable, right??

I’m about 3/4 of the way through the dummies book which is good because I got the shipping notice for the much tougher, more technical “Pro Android Games” book.  I really can’t say I’m absorbing all of this yet, but it is good to be exposed to how the system works. All of it is helping, even if I’m not retaining a lot of it.  I’m not terribly concerned about that…heck, I *STILL* have to go searching for a reference book anytime I want to do file I/O in java…or C…or C++….

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As the worm turns

So where are we now.

I’m about halfway through the “android for dummies” book.  And it lives up to its name…it’s about android, and I’m a dummy.  It has some good overall info, which is what those books are good for.  I jot down occassional notes that I deem worthy of remembering as I come across them, such as:

  • Remember to make the app debugabble, in the AndroidManifest.xml
  • You can extract strings out of .xml files by highlighting the entire line and hitting alt-shift-A, then choosing extract.  This is an easier way to move stuff you stupidly hard coded in an .xml file into the res directory instead.
  • Start with large, high density images for all icons, pictures, images that you are going to use in your app.  You can (and will need to) dumb those down to the lower resolutions without a major hit in quality…but you can’t do the same going up.  And by starting large, you’re setup for success when the next major android platform comes along.
  • Use layers when creating your graphics so that you can swap out a particular component (maybe change a background color) with ease.  This is particularly true if you have text in the image, because if you ever want to use localization, it will be a lot easier to swap the english for mandarin if it exists as a single layer.

So, I’m learning stuff.  I’ve already ordered “Pro Android Games” from amazon, and that will probably arrive next week.  I should be ready for it by then.

What am I doing now?  Well, until recently, I was doing nothing but learning android.  That seemed like a noble goal, but it’s just not something I am able to do, for a variety of reasons I won’t go into now.  I’m now going to focus on 1) Getting a real job, and 2) Doing odd software jobs to bring in small amounts of income.  The advantage of doing those are that it brings in actual money (though not enough to make a difference, really) and I feel like I’m actually TRYING to change my current situation. 

I know that by learning android and creating apps I may indeed be developing my future career, but it is NOT going to happen in the short term.  It just isn’t.  So I need to make the effort of getting a real job somewhere for several reasons.  One…if I’m taking unemployment money, I need to be making an honest effort to get off that.  That’s not “sit on your can (of worms)” money.  Two…I find that when I have all of this time to myself, then I never ever feel like I can actually take time off, even when sick.  Every moment of relaxation and playing feels like time stolen from working hard on my next career developing apps.  When I worked a normal job, then my time at night or on the weekends was EARNED, and I could do whatever I want without guilt or consequence.  I have learned I need that.

My goal is still to be my own boss.  And when that happens, I know I’ll be able to live my life how I want without guilt, because we’ll have CHOSEN that path, and we won’t any longer be the targets of (much appreciated) sympathy and charity. 

I’ll still use this time for heavy android learning and development, because it’d be stupid not to.  It’ll take time to find another job either way.  But the wife and I are tired of the unknown…and until our next source of income is known, we really can’t live as we want.  So, if I can find a job that manages to help us survive, then we’ll finally have some MUCH NEEDED certainty.

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Hello world!

And so the fun begins.  Well, actually the fun began about 3 or 4 weeks ago…I can’t remember now when.

Why blog this? Because I have such witty insights into life and even this industry??  HAHAHah.  No.  This is entirely for me.  Since being put out the door by my employer of 13 1/2 years, I’ve felt the need to simply put down my thoughts somewhere.  It kind of feels like getting them OUT of my head in doing so.  It is very cathartic…or as I like to say, cafartic.

This is a good place for me to go to get my thoughts out, and to discuss (with no one) obstacles I come up against.  Maybe it will serve as a resource for me when I invariably come up against the same obstacle and can’t remember how I got past it last time!  That alone would make this worth it.

Otherwise, with a mere $15 spent on the domain, I now have a blog to abuse, and abuse I shall.

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