Monday, May 4, 2009

The Setting is Mightier than the Sword

Yesterday I updated my phone to Cupcake.
Before I did I bought a used White G1 off of craigslist for $180, so I could root and hack one phone in peace, and still have a stock version of the OS to test on on the other.

I followed these instructions on how to gain root, and then updated to JesusFreke 1.5. Go donate to the guy he does good work.

It was a very satisfying, and nerve racking. But I'm now able to play with full cupcake before most other people.

A list of my impressions will be for another post, but now I want to continue talking about the whole settings mess that is Cupcake.

Final Answer - it's "mostly" way overblown.

The major problem, that sparked this whole mess was GPS. You don't want programs turning GPS On/Off whenever they want. It was bad when it was discovered, and it still is. Google, in making their changes, wanted to force any location aware app to have the user do it. This is very simple from a programming perspective actually. And you can immediately take the user to the page in the settings app that turns location services on/off. My guess is that the power drain from the GPS receiver is a lot. And this was the only fair way to do it. A few other ideas have been proposed, but this is by far the easiest for them to implement.

The problem is the collateral damage. What other settings are going to suffer from this.

Wifi, still works. That was always part of the API.
Bluetooth, still works. This surprised me until I recompiled ToggleBlu today and tested it on my phone, it works under 1.5, even though it's a hack, even though it's using a hidden API. All bluetooth users can relax.
2G/3G, never worked anyway.
Airplane Mode, still works.

I suspect those are the major settings that people were using settings apps to change.

Brightness. OK this is one that IS still editable, but I haven't figured out exactly how just yet. I know it's editable because Toggle Settings has released a cupcake version that can change it. I am working on a few theories.

I now have a "real" website!

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Cupcake, the oncomming storm.

With Cupcake, Google closed a hole that allowed some devs to make some really good apps.

Many settings can no longer be directly manipulated in code. So far hat is on the list is: Screen Brightness, GPS, Bluetooth.

Truth is, we should never have messed with these settings in the first place. To do this we had to access APIs that were not public. Google told us not to in fact. But people (like myself) built programs that manipulated these settings, and these programs were celebrated in the community as being very useful.

Some companies abused some settings. Skyhook, a location API encorporated into a few popular applications (ShopSavvy) was manipulating the WiFi and GPS settings without user knowledge. This is a huge mistake which got them some very bad press and may have been one of the main reasons for this change.

I have no problem with Google removing access to these settings, but at least put something more controllable in it's place. Instead Google removed access to settings and have left no other option than to go into the Settings application and change it manually. And in doing so, over 100,000 of my active installs (ToggleBlu, FastBright, ToggleGPS) will disappear over night.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Bar Control

If you want better icons, email me an icon. Should be 48x48 pixel PNG24 format.


-Changed "Application Launcher" to "Main Application"
-Added the ability to specify if apps are shown first or last in the notification bar.


-Notifications are no longer "On going" events, so that new notifications show up above Bar Control apps
-Changes made to the way Bar Control stores notifications. I'm now using a database like I should
-Ability to hide Notification Icons until the window shade is pulled down (Thanks MikeDG). This may have side effects because I am doing something the API was never meant to do.
- Clear all notifications button.
- Added Donate Button

Sunday, March 8, 2009


I run my phone in silent mode most of the time. Especially if I'm working. I put my phone on my desk within my field of view. I suppose I could have it notify me on vibrate or a sound, but that often gets really annoying when I'm having a SMS conversation with someone.

I don't get a lot of calls. When I do the screen lights up. However, there is no automatic wakeup of the phone when a txt message arrives. Funny as this might sound it took me forever to realize that a green LED light meant I had an SMS, and even then I still don't notice it so easily when I'm working. One of the features I missed about my old phone was that the screen lit up when I had a txt message.

So I built one. Took me all of 15 minutes.

One of my requirements about this app was that it was a "set it and forget it" app. I install it, and it starts working. There is no app to run, nothing to configure. It just works. This is one reason I didn't use SMSPopup. No offense to the developer(s) of that popular app. And I just don't want my SMS to pop up for everyone to see like that.

And when I release an app to the Market, the Market never disappoints. Some people get it and some people don't.

I put in capital letters in the app description "THIS IS NOT A PROGRAM THAT YOU RUN." And I still get comments like "App doesn't launch. Uninstalled" with one star rating.

Friday, February 27, 2009

ToggleWifi Changelog


When the app is first run it now asks if you want to enable/disable the notification. If you decide to change your mind, you need to uninstall and reinstall.


Update adds a notification when WiFi is turned on but you are NOT connected to a network.

FastBright Changelog


Update now asks if you want to enable/disable the notification when the app is first run after install. If you want to change your preference then you need to uninstall and reinstall.


Added a notification icon when brightness is turned on. This allows you disable brightness even when you're inside an application.

Monday, February 23, 2009

HideNSeek Changelog

Cyrket Link

0.91 BETA
The speed of previews have been increased.
Overall memory consumption due to images was slashed. This was causing a majority of crashes. I just didn't understand how best to load large images.
Added "Hide All" and "Show All" buttons.
Added close button on the main screen to remind users to close. As of right now everything I've done to try to get the app to reset correctly have failed.

0.9.4 BETA
Fixed issue where hitting the back button at the flashlight screen could cause the program to go straight into the file manager bypassing the password screen. OOPS.

0.9.3 BETA
Program was loading full sized images as previews and then scaling them down to 48x48 pixels when displayed. The full sized images were staying in memory. The program was using up too much memory which resulted in a lot of the crashes that were reported. Most people reported this problem when trying to open images taken with the camera. This is significant because when I tested it I only tested it with images I put on my phone, not in the Camera directory. Those images have a resolution about 2048x1536. The images I tested with were much smaller. An update in the future needs to optimize preview loading even further.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

T-Mobile UK's Top 10 Downloaded Android Apps

Here's a flattering list.

"T-Mobile UK have released a list of the top ten most popular Android applications, as downloaded to the T-Mobile G1 by users in the UK.


9. Save MMS – Allows users to save images, video or audio from MMS text messages directly to the G1’s memory card"

It's great to be included and this news was echoed on a few of the other Android websites. However, none of them have a link to the ACTUAL press release! I'm at a loss to explain this. Perhaps it was something at MWC (Mobile World Congress) which happened over the last few days. I have no idea. There's nothing about this on T-Mobile UK's website, if anyone has any information on this please let me know.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The WinZip Problem

At some point WinZip was on every Windows computer I sat at. It needed to be, because that was the only way to handle .zip files. Windows did not have built in handling of zips.

These days you don't find WinZip installed. Once Windows added zip support, there wasn't a reason to manually download it. This has happened many times. Microsoft blew Netscape out of the water by putting Internet Explorer on everyone's desktops. Microsoft made Lotus obsolete with Excel. Google made MapQuest a joke with Google Maps. AOL, once the mighty dialup ISP was made inconsequential by the market. At first it was Friendster, then it was MySpace and now it's Facebook.

With the announcement of RC33 which I spoke about in my last post, Google has made the first shot, which might turn out to be the last shot on a very new industry with their introduction of Google Latitude.

This service will most likely crush Loopt and other Location Mapping services that have sprung up in the last few months. Google's introduction into this market is going to make their services second class. It's a shame, but it's not unexpected. There are many natural services that fit into Google Maps. An interesting tidbit, as far as Loopt goes, is that they were using Google Maps as their mapping engine.

It's happened before, and it will happen again. If your application isn't legally protectable, if it gets large enough, one day someone will just put you out of business.

This Party's Over

With this much expected announcement, my "Save MMS" application is officially obsolete.

Surprised it took them this long for such a needed feature.

To date that little utility has been downloaded over 150,000 times and as of this morning cracked the top 10 application on the Android Market. To copy the listing from cyrket as of right now it's:

The Weather Channel
ShopSavvy - Big in Japan, Inc.
MySpace Mobile
US Yellow Pages Search
DailyHoroscope - Max Binshtok
Backgrounds - Stylem Media
Free Dictionary Org -Baris Efe
Ringdroid - Ringdroid Team
Movies and Showtimes - Stylem Media
Save MMS - Me

Success tastes kinda good.

Since I released that app and started talking about it I've had more than a few friends/family lament at how I should've charged for it. Had I waited around for Google to allow paid apps on the Market I would've missed the opportunity. And there are more important things to gain from this than just money.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Getting on T-Mobile's Radar

I had a legitimate reason to call T-Mobile technical support. I had a very technical question regarding the limits of their Edge/3G network. They couldn't answer my question. They couldn't even direct me to a department that could answer my question. But while I had them on the phone I couldn't help myself.

"I have a question. If I receive an MMS message, how can I save the attachment?" I asked him innocently.
"Oh, go onto the market and download a program called 'Save MMS'", he told me without any hesitation.
I laughed, I told him the truth. I told him I was the developer who wrote "Save MMS" and I was wondering if T-Mobile technical support had heard about it and was recommending it.
"How'd you hear about it?"
"We got an email about it."
"Can I get a copy of that email?" It was a long shot, but I had to take it.
"Sorry, I don't have it anymore. But it was from a higher up so it must've been official. "

He thanked me for writing the program. I can only imagine how many times those poor T-Mobile tech support people have had to tell people there was no way to do it, or to forward it to their email.

Never had someone tell me to download my own program before.