Awesome Inflatable RC Android – hours of fun!

A few days ago I got my hands on a RC Inflatable Google Android ‘Pump and Play’ inflatable toy. As the name suggests, it’s an inflatable remote control device shaped like the Android mascot. And as my friend Nathan was so quick to point out, it’s not controlled by your Android phone, but rather by the supplier remote. (On a sideline, why is it so hard to find 9V batteries nowadays? Took me ages to get my hands on one!)

Anyway, back to the robot. Assembly was quite simple. With the kid’s “help”, we pumped up the robot then tried attaching the wheels and drive assembly. After a few minutes fiddling with it, I reluctantly dug out the instructions and discovered they have to be attached BEFORE inflating the robot. So we let it down, attached the wheels and pumped it up again. It took us a couple of days to try out, because the remote control needs a 9V battery and I didn’t have one handy, but once we got the robot going we had loads of fun. Being inflatable, the robot can take a certain amount of abuse, and our 3-year olds loved pushing him around. It also automatically rights itself (thanks to the heavier base), so can handle being knocked over or being driven off a step.

So, where did he come from? He was sent to me by a Gadget Website – Gadget Inspector, who have a huge collection of similar toys and gadgets, including a remote control R2-D2 for all the Star Wars fans out there. He normally retails for £49.99, but is currently at £27.99. You’ll have to hurry if you want one though, there are only 500 available in the UK (well 499 as I’m not giving mine up!)

If you want to see him in operation, here’s a video showing you all he does:

Much recommended!

Get all your Manx travel info on your Android phone

I’ve just pushed out a new version of my latest Android app: Isle of Man Travel Intelligence. It started off like an older app I had written, showing arrivals and departures from the Isle of Man airport. I’ve now added arrivals and departures at the Sea Terminal too.

It’s been an interesting journey. I’ve had to learn all about Google App Engine, coding in Python, a lovely scraper engine called Beautiful Soup, Python models and memcache and a whole host of other things. And that was just for the back-end! It’s been quite satisfying really and I’m looking forward to getting some feedback to see how I can improve things.

So, if you have an Android phone, give it a try, let me know what you think: Isle of Man Travel Intelligence

(p.s. no, it doesn’t do trains .. yet)

Disassembling the Samsung Galaxy S II

So, you’ve spent an absolute fortune on a spanking new phone: the Samsung Galaxy S II, indeed an awesome phone, and you feel compelled to take it apart. Well, no fear, here’s someone who has gone through the trouble for you.

You’ll note it took a bit longer to put together, so you may want to think twice before taking it apart …

The pain of 64-bit – Java SDK, Android SDK & Titanium Developer

It’s been a few years since 64-bit operating systems have been around and you’d expect that by now that would have been properly bedded in. I’ve moved onto 64-bit Windows with my new laptop and I’ve been pretty pleased to find that I’ve had no problems finding drivers for the platform and had no software issues so far.

However, this evening I was going to play with some Android development, so I started loading up bits I needed. First on was the Java JDK. I had a choice of 64-bit or 32-bit, so went for the 64-bit version. All was fine and dandy till I tried installing the Android SDK, at which point I was presented with an error telling me that the “Java SE Development Kit (JDK) not found”

Backtracking, I uninstalled the 64-bit JDK, installed the 32-bit version and lo and behind, the Android SDK is now on my machine.

However, when I proceeded to the actual tool I wanted to have a play with, called Appcelerator Titanium, I just hit a brick wall:

Try as I might, I just couldn’t get the darn thing running on my 64-bit platform. I guess I’ll just have to set up a 32-bit VM and get it running from there, but no more time for play today, so I’ll have to shelf it for another day 🙁

Lockscreen Gestures – Best Cyanogenmod feature of 2010

I’ve been running the Cyanogenmod Rom on my Nexus 1 almost since the day I got it. It has the best enhancements, battery life and speed of the ROMs I had originally tested before making my mind up. There probably have been new ROMs springing up on the Android phone scene since then, but I’m happy to stick with a ROM that makes me happy.

Well, the latest experimental drop of the ROM: CyanogenMod 6.1.0 RC 2 has an awesome feature which has got to be my favourite feature in a long time: Lockscreen Gestures. You know how it is, you need to take a photo in a hurry, so you dig into your pocket for your phone, scramble to unlock it, get the lock code wrong, unlock again, try to find the camera icon, miss it, open the Gallery instead, go back, hit the camera .. and your photo opportunity it gone! Well, Lockscreen Gestures lets you go straight from the lockscreen to your favourite app, without having to navigate or search for it. I’ve only just started playing with it, but it really works for when you need snappy access to an application. These are the gestures I have at the moment:

If you want to try Cyanogenmod on your phone, check out if there’s a version for you under the stable mods. If you need more information, check out the wiki, or drop me a Tweet

Welcome – Google Nexus One

The latest gadget at home is my new phone, the Google Nexus One. It’s only been 6 months since I got my HTC Magic, but that’s been handed down to Camille (who had been borrowing it every now and again) and needed a handset replacement. In the meantime, I’ve managed to persuade her that I needed the latest and the greatest, and I’m over the moon with the phone. Check out some of the features in the following two videos:

and

If you see me around, just ask for a demo, I’d be delighted to oblige