Thursday, 8 December 2011

From Source to Release

Just read a fascinating piece by the guys at Sony Ericsson about how they take the latest Android source code release through development and testing to deployment to consumers. Most end users should read this to appreciate the time and effort required to get it working on recently released handsets. Some might start to realise that it isn't a case of "Next, next, next, finish". Lots of time and effort is required for what is quite a complex process... And it's free!

Friday, 25 November 2011

Xperia PLAY Review

A month or so ago I decided that I would take advantage of the recent price drop of the Sony Ericsson Xperia Play Android mobile phone. They had been dropping price quite substantially from the £349 RRP to a recent low of £129.99. I picked mine up direct from O2 for £149.99 knowing that I would be using my new favourite network GiffGaff (powered by O2).

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Mailto: 500 chars limit?

After a short period of testing this, I've found that a mailto: link only seems to accept a character limit of 500. I've Google it and found a number of 2000 should be more the case? One work around would be to put some of the addresses into the 'CC' field I suppose, but not as elegant as I would like.

So where is the limit? The browser? The e-mail client? Or is it an RFC agreed limit? Anyone got any hard facts on this one?

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Why is it the simplest things...

... stop clearly good code from working?!

Whilst trying to write a VBA piece to export a chart from Excel as a PNG with a colleague today, we spent AGES trying to get a very simple section to work (specify the file name and open the 'Save As' dialogue). After what felt like an eternity we discovered that taking the .extension off from the file name string solved the problem! Now I thought that was pretty dumb, everyone else agree?!

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

GiffGaff, my new favourite network

After months of trouble with Vodafone ( I have made the permanent switch to the O2 powered network, GiffGaff. I have to say that performance has been excellent on both mobile internet and voice/SMS. In my experience they have easily put some of the bigger networks to shame, providing great value for money and service to boot. I'll continue to report my findings in the coming months.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

One year on...

Last week saw the one year anniversary of my blog! Woop! Firstly it highlighted my lack of recent posts. Sorry but working in education you find that September and October are the busiest months. Secondly I've really enjoyed posting my little nuggets of information. And thirdly thanks for clicking the Google ads. The small amount they bring has been greatly received.

I'm hoping to be back to posting more frequently. So either follow my on Twitter, RSS or keep checking back!

Thanks for reading :)

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

DHCP Checker v2.4 released

After a day of testing by auth1299 (thanks once again) I am happy to release DHCP Checker v2.4. Hit the download link for your copy:

Please pass on any comments, suggestions, donations and bugs to the email address in the file or in the comments of this post.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

DHCP Checker v2.4 in testing

Thanks to auth1299 who kindly offered to test and help iron out bugs in v2.3 we should soon be able to release DHCP Checker v2.4. It is now only compatible with Windows Server 2008. Future versions may include IPv6 support. Anyone using that internally yet? Is there any need? If you do please get in touch and maybe we could do some testing in the future.

Friday, 12 August 2011

PhoneGap 1.0 released

A few days ago the multiple mobile OS development environment PhoneGap finally reached version 1.0. Here are a few of the technical improvements you'll find in PhoneGap 1.0:

  • Overall API stability and “pluggable” architecture
  • W3C DAP API compatibility
  • Contacts API
  • Remote debugging tools
I hope to install and test very soon. Feel free to post any findings in the comments.

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Developing Mobile only websites

While working on a mobile only website, I wanted to make the site just for mobile devices (a bit like or and no matter what I did the page was always bigger than the screen of the target device. Anyway thanks to Google the answer was in their Android Developer help:

    <meta name="viewport" content="width=device-width, user-scalable=no" />

Simple when you see it!

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

And people wonder why some devs just give up

This is quite simply unacceptable. XDA is going down the pan... if it hasn't already hit rock bottom.

giffgaff... too good to be true?

After MANY issues with Vodafone UK (dropped calls, calls going to answer machine, poor internet speed etc...) I've decided to evaluate some alternatives until my contract expires in 9 months or so. After checking Quidco for offers I found giffgaff which uses the O2 network. I had already looked into O2 to find their coverage was much better where I work and live. So here's the deal:

Top up £10 a month and get:

  • 250 minutes to any network any time
  • Unlimited text messages
  • Unlimited internet use
Plus for each person I refer that joins I get £5 credit and so do they! After checking the speed out (Vodafone ~0.2Mbps, giffgaff/O2 >2.5Mbps) I'm seriously thinking about asking for my PAC number from Vodafone. Just a real shame that Vodafone won't let me leave without the rather large (>£300) termination fee. They have given me one month free which was a show of good will while they investigated the problem. It turns out the network is congested at the cell that covers my work post code and it maybe sometime before an upgrade can be actioned. So if you want a free giffgaff SIM with £5 free credit then click the link on the right of my blog.

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Stupid to think that Amazon App Store would be great for devs....

Forgive the long subject title of this blog post but I've just read an interesting blog post by a small indie developer, talking about the troubles they have had using the Amazon App Store. Worth a read for any Android devs thinking of going that way: Bithack Blog

Thursday, 30 June 2011

Phonegap, iFrame, Credentials...

Using an iFrame in Phonegap... but the page I'm 'iFraming' is on a server that requires authentication... It doesn't prompt for credentials though... Bummer! That is that plan out of the window! Any ideas guys?!

Friday, 24 June 2011

Got to love jQuery

jQuery never fails to amaze me. Even a run of the mill developer like me can create some stunning effects inside a web page. Recently I've been using the overlay function in the jQuery tools.

Next I plan on looking at jQuery mobile in conjunction with phonegap for some Android development... although I doubt that a recent idea I shared with @PaulOBrien will work with phonegap out of the box (due its lack of interaction ability with the notification bar). However I have discovered that there is a plugin that may help with that.

Monday, 6 June 2011


Not a software development post this but more an admiration of my fellow developers, in particular the guys who work on developing XBMC, the free, open source media center software for Windows, Linux, OSX, iOS etc.

It is often difficult to believe that such a fantastic, feature packed, slick and polished product is free! Anyone wanting to know more info should click here: or

Well worth a donation to support those guys I think!

Monday, 11 April 2011

Resize a form in VB .Net and keep items centered

Funny, I would have thought this would have bee done lots of times before my Google search. But either my Google search skills failed me or it hasn't been done lots of times before. Thankfully one search result yielded the answer (John Robbins For those who don't have a login for the network this is how it works:

Private Sub Form1_Load(ByVal sender As System.Object, ByVal e As System.EventArgs) Handles MyBase.Load

End Sub

Private Sub CenterButton()
    buttonMain.Top = (Me.ClientSize.Height/2) - (buttonMain.Height / 2)
    buttonMain.Left = (Me.ClientSize.Width/2) - (buttonMain.Width / 2)
    End Sub

Private Sub Form1_Resize(ByVal sender As Object, ByVal e As System.EventArgs) Handles MyBase.Resize
End Sub
It simply takes the form width and height, divides by two, then minus half the width of the object (to ensure an accurate center) and shazam! The example above also has a nice handle for resizing so it repositions the objects as you resize the window. Cool! You learn something every day...

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

I've sold my soul to the devil!

Well not quite. But some Android fanboys might think I have, or even worse. Cut a long-ish story short, I caught my Advent Vega Android tablet with my foot this morning and cracked the screen. One of the reasons I bought it was so that I would have internet access while on trips away. I have a trip to Canada coming up and so a replacement is needed... and I decided on an iPad. Not an iPad2. The only thing that has appealed to me about the iPad2 is the nice £100 price drop it meant for the original iPad. I rarely buy like for like with gadgets when they expire and I'm not a fanboy. I just try to buy the best product in my price range. I feel the iPad is now that product.

So does it mean I'll be developing apps for IOS? Maybe. Oh and for those interested in how my Vega now looks:

It along with it's official Vega case will be listed here shortly:

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Oh Google Maps! Why don't you love me anymore?!

To be honest I know full well why Google Maps has stopped loving me. Whilst trying to find the travelling distance between one fixed postcode and 1500 others (programatically of course!), Google Maps blocked me after the 338th request within a 6 minute period! Thankfully today the block has reset. Obviously I need to add a delay between requests. Google's FAQ says 2,500 requests per day can be made but if you make too many requests in a certain period they block you. How many in what period is not mentioned! Grrrrr!

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

DHCP Checker v2.3 released

As promised here is an updated version of my DHCP Checker script, complete with more comments and a tad tidier code!

DHCP Checker v2.3

Monday, 14 February 2011

Not Android related

I was starting to forget that my blog wasn't just about Android development! Anyway after a request out of the blue to help a stranger (hi Matt!) use my DHCP Alert script I've decided to spend a bit of time modifying it. For those who don't know the script checks a Windows DHCP server log and when it finds a new lease has been issued it checks to see if the computer exists in Active Directory... and if it doesn't it sends an email to the specified email account.

I plan on making a few changes that Matt has requested like checking renewals and the option of turning off Active Directory checking. The script also badly needs some comments as I found whilst trying to help Matt with implementing the script. More on that to follow soon...

Sunday, 13 February 2011


Sorry to anyone who is awaiting my next blog post. Sorry that this one won't be what you were waiting for! I'll be honest, my PlayStation 3 has taken over my spare time... to be more specific Gran Turismo 5! Also I'm in the process of selling and buying houses, which as anyone who has been through that process will know it is quite a time consumer. I would try to commit more time to the blog, but I'm not making any promises... just keep an eye out... see what happens!

Sunday, 9 January 2011

You are going to need Java more than it needs you

Android applications are written in Java. You will need to know Java. I knew this before I started but knew very little Java. So whilst learning to develop Android applications I knew really I would be learning Java. I had hoped that the various Android development books would also be a nice introduction to Java along the way... but no.

I have been doing my Java learning in the background, using a book (see left) and a great set of video tutorials. The videos are even more suited to the aspiring Android developer because whilst learning Java you are also learning how to get the best out the Eclipse IDE which most Android development books/tutorials recommend. The only downside of the videos is that they are in SWF format. I spent a little bit of time converting them into something I could watch on my Advent Vega tablet.

The book (Beginning Programming with Java) is about to get a revision so it might be worth while you holding out for it. To be honest the video tutorials are in my opinion a better introduction to Java. Plus they are FREE!

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Two months? Really!?

Blimey, has it really been two months since my last blog post? My apologies. A few things have gotten in the way of Android development. A new toy (Advent Vega Android 2.2 based Tablet), Christmas, New Year, Holiday planning, HTC Desire ROM testing... all excuses, I know!

But Santa did bring me:

So I plan on starting that in the next few days so watch out for a quick review of the first few chapters. A quick flick through has shown that early chapters talk more about the bits I didn't understand from the previous book. I hope also to be able to develop apps for both phone and tablet forms, coupled with that my phone now runs Gingerbread (Android 2.3) I am prepared for most areas of Android development that the current platform presents.