RefSignals: A quiz app built using App Inventor - how to stop repeated questions

RefSignals app screenshotSummer is an odd time. With no ice hockey matches to attend our thoughts turn to other subjects, such as why does RefSignals sometimes repeat questions? I've been asked a few times about how to stop it doing this, so here is a solution. RefSignals is an Android app built with Google App Inventor for Android that quizzes you on the signals made by referees during ice hockey matches. In February I wrote about this app and published the source code so that people could take it and use it as the basis for their own quiz apps. The response was great and the app has been remixed for all sorts of subjects so I hope this will come in useful.

Using the EEE Pad Transformer with the Android SDK on Ubuntu

New Android project wizard on EclipseJust a very quick post about how to get the Asus EEE Pad Transformer working with the Android SDK and Eclipse under Ubuntu 11.04. As the emulator for Android tablets can be a bit slow this could be a handy way to test out applications as you build them. The starting point is to follow the instructions under Using Hardware Devices page on the Android Developer website. Following these instructions I got the machine working on my machine so I thought I would share what I did here.

First edit a new file:

Twenty two interesting apps for the Eee Pad Transformer

App menu on the EEE PadThe Asus Eee Pad Transformer might occasionally closely resemble a netbook, but in fact it is a very different machine that has a lot in common with mobile phones. The inclusion of a touchscreen, cameras and sensors such as GPS and a compass contribute to some interesting possibilities. The attitude towards software is different too, like a mobile its software ecosystem revolves around “apps” not “applications” so these are programmes designed to do one or two things well rather than providing a lot of functionality. With this in mind I thought it would be fun to compile a list of interesting apps (in no particular order) – software that shows off various aspects of the device (and similar devices) and some of the emerging ideas for functionality.

Will the Asus Eee Pad Transformer cause your laptop to gather dust?

Eee Pad with keyboardIt is strange to think that it was only 2007 when the first Asus EEE PC came onto the market. This fun little machine turned heads and would often be the subject of curious questions. I think it was also a bit of a game changer, opening a world of ultra mobile computing to a whole new audience. It is also ancient ancestor of the Eee Pad Transformer. I've had mine for just over a week and have sometimes used it as a tablet, sometimes as a netbook depending how I'm feeling. It is feature packed and runs on Android 3.1 (since a recent update), Google's optimised operating system for tablets. There is also a possibility that a lot of people might find it is the only machine they need.

Should Unity really be the default Ubuntu desktop?

Part of an Ubuntu Unity desktopIt is probably fair to say that the Unity interface in Ubuntu 11.04 is quite controversial and has led to some mixed reactions. Last October Mark Shuttleworth, the leader of the Ubuntu project, announced that Unity would be the default interface on desktop as well as netbooks where it and its predecessor had become commonplace. I've been using Ubuntu 11.04 across three devices; a laptop, a touchscreen netbook and a computer connected to a television. I've decided to give up on Unity on the laptop and go back to the classic interface, but on the other two devices I quite like Unity. Here I am going to try to work out why Unity is a desktop no-go for me.

An App Inventor for Android book and my first time as a Technical Editor

App Inventor for Android book coverIf you would like to take your first steps in mobile app development then a book worth a look is App Inventor for Android by Jason Tyler. It is aimed at people starting out in programming and those who want to know how to get the most out of Google's innovative app creation platform of the same name. The book takes you from the basics to some surprisingly advanced applications. For me it it is a significant book too as I worked on it as the Technical Editor, my first time in such a role.

A new look and an upgrade to Drupal 7

Drupal logoIf you have visited this site before you might have noticed that things are looking a little bit different around here. There is a new look and also the software that the site runs on has been upgraded. Since the site started it has run on an installation of Drupal 5, which is of course part of history now and no longer supported. It was great to get three and a half years service out of that version of Drupal but the time had come to move on and upgrade to Drupal 7 in order that the site will have the features it needs going forward. Upgrading was an interesting experience though and maybe a little time consuming!

Out with the old HTC Desire and in with the new HTC Desire S

Publicity shot of the HTC Desire SThe HTC Desire seems a popular phone, I keep noticing it where ever I go. I've had one for nearly a year now and am very happy with it, apart from a few gripes, so it was interesting to receive a HTC Desire S on review to see what has changed in the new model. Unlike the Desire Z and Desire HD which offered different hardware options (a keyboard and a bigger screen respectively), the Desire S is designed as a successor to the original. It is about the same size and has the same 3.7” 800x480 resolution screen, but a lot about the phone has changed, and it has picked up a few new features..

Nearly time to say goodbye to the "Your MP" Boxee app

The Your Mp app icon - Big Ben*** UPDATE! Now you don't have to say goodbye. The Public Whip has got new people to run it so this app will remain available. There may even be new versions in the future. ***
Sadly due to circumstances beyond my control it looks like I may have to remove the "Your MP" application from the Boxee platform. This is an application I did that was designed for UK users as an easy way to keep up to date with how their Members of Parliament were voting. The application gets a lot of its data from The Public Whip, who recently published an open letter (http://www.publicwhip.org.uk/openletter.php) stating their intention to close down the service as they felt it had become unsustainable. Once this site closes this will of course mean that the "Your MP" app will no longer work and so will have to be discontinued. If the closure goes ahead the last date that the app will be usable is expected to be 27th July 2011. However there may be some hope.

A Launch Party for Firefox that showed Mozilla provides inspiration as well as browsers

The winning Firefox 4 T-shirt designOutside a trendy workspace in London's Kings Cross on Thursday 21st April, a man in a fox costume ushers people greets people on their way to celebrate the launch of Firefox 4. Inside people are wearing party hats, enjoying decorated cupcakes and proudly wearing Mozilla T-Shirts in a good reminder to us all that open source software is something that we should both advocate and celebrate as a great opportunity. During the evening we get treated to some great presentations that show off what the latest version of Mozilla Firefox is capable of and also how HTML5 technology will redefine our expectations of what a web browser can do. However, there is much more to Mozilla than Firefox.

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