Category Archives: Mobile

Posts relating to mobile in general, or just not Java ME ones

Aberdeen Culture Hack April 2013

Yes, this is a late post, but I wanted to put the details somewhere I could find them as I’ve found a need for them a few times now.

With the help of the city team bidding for Aberdeen as the city of culture for 2017 I helped put together an event for people to create a cultural hack from a group of artists, designers, developers and whoever might come along. The sponsors provided food and drink and we organised what people were doing. It worked out rather well as you can read here from one of the participants. You can also see the app in action at https://rawgithub.com/AndyGaskell/ach13/master/client03/index.html where the code is hosted and should be run from your mobile so that you can experience the ‘walk and listen’ aspect of the app. There is a good video of the devs talking about the event at vimeo.

Developing World and the Mobile

As part of sorting out the details of what to put into a mobile computing ‘roadshow’ for secondary pupils, I’ve been trying to find links to materials about the impact of mobiles in the developing world. Some of them will fit into the page and the later acccompanying slideshow rather well, and that’s good. The students will be presented with the wider picture than they normally see and think about, namely their mobile and them, so that they can appreciate how the impact of the mobile is greater outside of the developed world than in our world.

During the pulling together of the materials I keep thinking that it would be interesting to do a project with a team of students here, and a group of students, or workers in another country, so that together we can build something greater than the sum of us. However, while that will not happen today, or perhaps even this year, it would be nice to keep track of these resources that I’ve got so far, so that they are not stuck inside the ‘blog’ of Bloglines.

The W3C had a useful Mobile Web Initiative conference in 2008 and many of the papers and posters provide good background. Kiwanja.net provides a database of articles about the impact of mobile both globally and within specific regions across a variety of projects. The Putting People First blog had a good round of links relating to the ICT4D Africa Gathering meeting in April 2009. The Putting People First blog is always a good place to look for this kind of material actually.

Mobile Workshop for School Pupils Ideas

As part of our schools recruitment plan to get more kids to come to study here in Aberdeen, and to do computer science in particular, I’ve said that ‘maybe I could do a mobile computing workshop’. Last year we did an number of workshops on Artificial Intelligence as part of a roadshow. That went down ok.

Now we need new ideas, and while some are working out how to tie this recruitment activity in with the joke machine being developed for younger kids. We could show ‘what’ the joke machine is, and then ‘how it worked’ as part of the computer science part, which would be nice, I thought it would be good to also show them more about the handset in their pockets.

I can see four parts to the session about mobiles so that they learn more about what they are, and what people are doing with them. This is less of a ‘hands on’ session, although I would want to do that too, but given restrictions about what might be possible to install on their machines, we could end up being limited in the basic possibilities.

Part one is to look at the mobile and its impact around the world with respect to number of people using them, and the types of activities people use them for, as well as the financial implications of mobiles for profit, and the huge differences in developed and developing world regarding banking, etc.

Part two is a scavenger hunt for teams of students. Create groups of three or four students equipped with camera phones, who go out and ‘capture’ items using the camera and uploading the images to a flickr account using MMS. This gets around the data plan issues, and we can check at http://www.configuremyphone.com/ to get the settings for anyone who isn’t sure about MMS on their phone. If any of the pupils also have GPS, or data plans for their mobiles, which is probably unlikely, then there are other options available to the ‘scavenger hunt’.

Part three is an overview and discussion of the mobile web and how it relates to the web in general. If it is likely that students could work on mobile sites and demo them on something like the Openwave Simulator, then this could be an interesting ‘hands on’ part where they make pages. However, as is more likely to be the case, then this would tie in with students using on-line emulators to see how the web works on different types of handsets and the issues that it raises.

Part four should be a discussion about what mobiles can do for them and how they currently use them, as well as a look at how they would like to use them as result of the session. Where would they like to take the issues?

Options for extension might include the following if some software could be installed on machines in the schools, or if we could bring along some laptops for the students to use in pairs. The easiest option is to install the Openwave Simulator, as it is the least invasive, and doesn’t require much from the students. If we try to use any tool to create an app for the mobile, then we run into issues about their programming ability. Naturally, we’d point out what could be done when they are students here, and that these are all issues raised in classes here in third and fourth year.

While biking home I had some more thoughts about this, which I’ve added below.

As you can see the trouble with the mobile is that it’s real easy to show them the cool stuff that they can do with it, and we can discuss the types of applications that can be done for them too. Less easy, however, is teasing out the computer science behind them at the level that works for them. I see two approaches to this.

On the one hand, we could go through the development issues about apps on the handset and how you choose which language to use for your app. This brings up the issue of fragmentation, and markets, and would be useful for those thinking about making it rich with an iphone app.

On the other hand, we could look at the network and operator side of the issues and how you can use MMS to send your current photo to Flickr instead of waiting to get home and do it from your pc. Similarly, we could look at how airtime is used as money in Africa, and how you can tie mobile apps together with server-side ones to make bigger apps.

Lots to think about, and also lots to think about how to make it easy for them to understand, and to find exciting. Whatever the case, I need to find simple ways to get them involved and interactive in the session. It shouldn’t be a lecture. It should be fun.

UPDATE (1 May)

Spoke to Phil about this and his idea was to also add in barcode reader cocept, which could be done as a way to distribute the Flickr details. Good idea. He also reminded me that the alternate reality game run by SRAS was under the Book of Hours title, and is found at their MySpace page. Be interesting to see if they do it again this year. Must go speak to them about it sometime.

Eclipse and mobile application development

The iphone and googlephone assualt on the rest of mobileland is having an effect. It seems that the other mobile handset OEMs are now gathering behind a proposed tool for building mobile apps based on Eclipse. It will hopefully work well and integrate some of the web features available for iphone development under Aptana, which is also built on top of Eclipse.

The Register have a good round up of information on this new plugin called ‘Pulsar’, which suggests a timeline of a product this coming summer. This would fit in with the other annual releases of Eclipse that have occured the past three years or so. You’ll find less details in the project’s own pages, but more about this ‘Mobile Interest Working Group’ in their charter. Interestingly, neither Google nor Apple are part of this group, and Sun is also missing, but given the open sourcing of the JDK that is not the issue that it might have been in the past.

Happily it looks like it will build upon the resurrected Mobile Tools for Java (MTJ), which has now pulled in the work of EclipseME. It also appears to bring in the Tools for Mobile Linux (TML) project.

All in all this could be a good development if there is one plugin, one tool, which will allow both web and installed mobile app development. Could be a sweetspot.

Macbook rebuild part six

Ok, so Java is less important than setting up the macbook to use my mobile as a modem using Bluetooth. I don’t use this feature often, but now and again it is handy when you just get onto the train, and realise that the file you wanted to work on is still on the file server at work. Then it is a life-saver. That, and of course when on holiday and there’s no internet provided.

The best guide to all of this is a series of blog entries at the macsis blog. Start with the Getting Connected – Bluetooth entry. Then if all goes well, you should see the option for your operator appear in the screen about using the internet. If not, then use Ross Barkman’s GPRS Info Page to tell you the finer details about what the APN, username and password are for your network operator. Or, you can phone up your operator and ask for them. If your mobile connects to the internet anyways, then you will have all of this available somewhere on your mobile already. However, if it’s like mine, then the password is just stars. Don’t worry, Ross’ page will tell you what they are.

Opera report on ‘state of the mobile web 2009’

The Paving Ways blog has a good round up (and links) to the recent report from Opera on the state of the mobile web based on the usage of Opera Mini. I think it’s interesting that the number of pages, which they’ve transcoded has tripled in the last year. This will also, by default exclude all of the iphone users, as that device doesn’t run Opera Mini. This means we can compare these stats with those monthly ones from AdMob for a more rounded picture of events.