2013-05-20 20:47 - General
Google's Play Store
Amazon's App Store
Blackberry's App World
I published the most recent version of DVR Commander for TiVo on April 5th. I did something new this time: I released on the Amazon and Blackberry distribution channels (after red tape delays) as well as Google's Play Store. Those are the graphs you see above. They're not what I expected. I thought Amazon was established, with lots of Fire devices out there. But even Blackberry with (I think?) just the rather new Z10 is handily beating them. Though Play Store is still way on top.
2013-05-12 18:55 - General
I posted last weekend about the window perch I made for my cats. They're enjoying it. But the stool beside it was not enough. So this weekend I added a ramp, which rests on top of the stool for height and folds down on hinges when not in use. Hasn't been up for long, but they seem to deal with it much better.
2013-05-04 14:35 - General
There's a rare few beautiful weeks in New York's spring and fall where its nice outside, and it's nice opening the windows. When I do that, my cats climb up into the jamb of the open window and cram themselves into that far-too-small space, they enjoy being there so much. I've been meaning to improve this space for them for a while, and never gotten around to it. This morning I finally did. I took the old already-carpet-covered plywood plank that was a ramp from the window sill up to the loft bed in my old apartment. Cut it to length, cut out some space in the corners to fit around the window jamb (which this perch rests on across the whole width for support), and screwed some cleats to the walls next to the window.
I think I need to also provide a better way for them to climb up there, long term. But they've stayed put when I placed them there for the past half hour now, so I'm already pretty sure this was worth the effort!
2013-04-26 21:28 - General
Today I almost perfectly completed two little DIY mods.
First, to a toy helicopter. My favorite model has removable batteries and an external charger, and I've gotten extra batteries so a charged one is always ready when I'm in the mood. My second favorite is the cheaper sort, with a hard-wired battery, which must be tethered to charge. So it ends up fly a few minutes, charge an hour .. fly a few minutes, charge an hour .. repeat.
I took a spare landing skid for the favorite model, which includes the connector and holder for the battery, and attached it to the bottom of the other model. This moved the weight of the stock battery, near the nose, to the middle. So I also removed the purely decorative (I thought!) tail boom to balance the weight out. This worked well. But the side effect was to move a fair deal of weight from the outside to the inside. It seems the gyro system doesn't deal with this now, the corrections it make work too fast, and it jitters in the air. If I replace the tail boom it hovers cleanly, but it can hardly move forward anymore, because it's off balance.
Second, I did a complete DIY mod to my automatic cat feeder, to operate off of wall current rather than batteries that always need replacing. This mostly worked fine. The idea was old, I had it back when I was using the previous (now broken and replaced) model in this line. But the new model has a totally flat bottom; the extra cord sticking out has it just slightly off balance. Oh, and it's got a jack to plug an A/C adapter into on the side! I think the old model didn't have that. So this could have been much easier!
I've got a small handful of Android apps where I prefer something older than the latest version. Some change was added that I don't like. But the Play Store has a tendency to auto-update, and then I no longer have the old version I prefer. I do this rarely enough that I can't memorize the steps, but often enough that it's annoying to go look them up again. So here they are. You'll need apktool. Plus keytool and jarsigner, which just happened to be installed for me already (in Ubuntu).
$ apktool d WhateverApp.apk
# Now edit some files, especially "versionCode" in AndroidManifest.xml.
# I like to change app_name in res/values/strings.xml just a little bit too.
$ apktool b WhateverApp/
# First time only:
$ keytool -genkey -keystore $USER.keystore -validity 10000 -alias $USER
$ jarsigner -keystore $USER.keystore -verbose "WhateverApp/dist/WhateverApp.apk" $USER
Voila! If you set versionCode high enough, you've got an old app's APK which you can side load, and the Play Store will never overwrite.
2013-04-23 22:16 - General
As mentioned, Google Reader is going away. I'm not as upset as I was at first. There are possible replacements out there. The question now is, which? Here's my opinion for likely candidates.
First, a quick overview of some of the things I consider important. Things that power important use cases to me, in Google Reader terms because that's what I'm used to.
- River of news. I want every feed's items to be mixed into one giant list, in some sensible order. I just keep tapping keys and getting new content. Ideally in something like Google Reader's "sort by magic" order, but that's probably going to die with Reader.
- Folders. Really, I want one folder. A small subset of my feeds are time sensitive. I need to read them first. I put them in a special folder, and read them when they're available.
- Strong keyboard shortcuts.
- A web site I can navigate to, from any machine.
- Very nice to have: a good Android client. Or a web view so good it works well from mobile. Feeds are a good way to fill a few idle minutes here and there.
I tried Feedly briefly a while ago. They're a quick disqualification; while they have the mobile clients, they have no "web site". Or, they do, but they block you from accessing it if you don't have their extension installed in your browser. And it's repugnant. I don't want crap overlaid on every page I ever visit. It's optional, but we're already down the wrong path. What's their business model? Ads, I think? Why won't they disappear soon?
The Old Reader
It might be a hot topic for some, but The Old Reader's first strike for me is federated login only. I don't want your service tied to another like that. They do some sort of crazy styled scroll bar, which is also invisible most of the time; I dislike those. They're not super fast. Keyboard shortcuts fair. Folders, which I got via OPML import, but I can't (immediately?) figure out how to move feeds in/out. Meh. Missing revenue source seems even worse than Feedly
Tiny Tiny RSS
One of the first open source tools I learned about was Tiny Tiny RSS. Rather than a hosted service, this is just a program which you host yourself. There is an android client; they want $2 for it but I think its sources are available, too.
I know there's Taptu (I want a feed reader, not a "magazine"). There's 1kpl.us which looks kinda nice, pleasingly minimal, but closed and disappear-y (where does the money come from, if any?). Rssminer has a nice simple design, but too few features I think. I'm coming pretty close to scraping the bottom of the barrel...
NewsBlur is real open source with a permissive license. It's second behind Feedly on ReplaceReader. It's apparently a labor of (mostly?) love by one guy. It didn't fare with the original announcement well, but he's caught up as far as I can tell. The interface is a little busy, but workable. It does river of news correctly, plus folders for when I need to escape that. Keyboard shortcuts aren't perfect, but close. And there's an android client (which is also open source). And a real revenue stream. Plus, some more unusual features; some seem useful.
I think I've made my decision. My early gut feeling seems to have been correct.
2013-04-11 19:54 - General
I've mentioned my toy helicopter hobby which has taken off well. The tail motor on my V911 (a surprisingly awesome copter!) broke a while back. Apparently this is common. I've been waiting for a replacement to repair it with, which arrived today. The repair went off without a hitch.
Since I was placing the order anyway and an entire spare (just the copter, no accessories or transmitter) was only $20, I picked one up and it works well also. Hurrah!
2013-04-08 22:16 - General
This year has been busy. But it's finally calmed down. I'm getting back to video games, starting with Zelda: Majora's Mask.
2013-04-07 22:11 - General
I spent the better part of this weekend using the Takeout data to finally replace the crappy imports I had done from Buzz and Google+. Now all my great posts (and not so great) from over the years are mine again.