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Contraction Timer

I’ve not updated the blog this week as my wife gave birth to a girl, weighing 7lb 3oz called Kathleen (Kitty). Everything is going very well so far!

In preparation for the birth, I had downloaded an app called Contraction Timer, which does what it says really. You press a button to start the timer at the start of the contraction, and press it again when the contraction is over. This will then show you how long the contraction lasts and how frequent they are.

Contraction Timer screenshotAs you can see I didn’t get a chance to stop the last contraction time as I was on the phone to the hospital by that point! But this app was very useful in helping us keep track of the times and I’d highly recommend it.

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BBC iPlayer app released for Android

After a long wait, the BBC have finally released an official iPlayer application for Android phones. However, I’m not entirely sure it was worth the wait.

BBC iPlayer app home screenAs you can see, the app provides a decent interface to the wealth of programming available, similar to that on the iPlayer website. You can also view a live stream of the BBC channels.

BBC iPlayer Live TV page

However, there have been many complaints about the app, some of which are:

  • The app doesn’t work over a 3G connection, it only works on Wi-Fi.
  • It isn’t possible to download the programmes for future viewing, you can only stream them – which limits you to watching programmes where a Wi-Fi connection is available.
  • The app only works on Android phones with version 2.2 (Froyo) or above.

From using the app, it seems to me that this is just a fancy front-end for the iPlayer and it’s using the same streams as the website does – as users with Froyo and Flash can already view the iPlayer through the mobile website. So while it’s nice to have slightly easier access to programmes, it’d be much better if they made a non-Flash version (similar to how the iPhone app works). Even the ability to download programmes for viewing offline would make a huge difference, hopefully the BBC engineers are working on this.

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World War problem with Froyo fixed?

As I wrote a couple of months ago, I had a problem with running World War on my Samsung Galaxy S which had been newly upgraded to Froyo. I was having an issue where the game wouldn’t remember my account details, and every time I loaded the game I’d end up logged into someone else’s profile!

After recently upgrading my phone to Froyo 2.2.1, I thought I’d try again to see if it works. Now, I don’t know if the problem has been fixed in the game itself or if upgrading to Froyo 2.2.1 has fixed it, but now the game works as designed, and every time I log in it logs in to my own profile! So now I can play the game properly. If anyone wants me in their alliance, my Alliance Code is XAAQFD, please add me!

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Upgrading my Samsung Galaxy S to Froyo 2.2.1

I recently got an HTC Wildfire to use on my second line, and was surprised to see that it was running the latest version of Froyo, 2.2.1. I checked to see if it was available for the Galaxy S. Unsurprisingly it wasn’t available from T-Mobile, so I investigated how best to go about upgrading. Sadly I had just upgraded my copy of Kies so I was unable to use the registry hack to download the new firmware.

I had installed a program called ROM Manager from the Market which lets you use the ClockworkMod recovery tool, but unfortunately because I was running Froyo I couldn’t access ClockworkMod as the phone was using the stock recovery program version 3E which won’t allow unsigned updates.

The solution for me was to install the CF-Root kernel, which includes a downgraded stock recovery program (2E) which can run unsigned updates. I had to deactivate the lagfix on my phone before doing this otherwise it might have led to problems. Follow the link for instructions on how to do this, but make sure you read everything very carefully or you run the risk of bricking your phone. (I can’t take responsibility for any damage you do to your phone by following what I did).

Once the new kernel was in place and I’d tested that ClockworkMod worked, I set about creating a custom ROM using the wonderful RomKitchen, which lets you customise the ROM to your heart’s desire. For information about the kitchen it’s best to view the XDA forum thread about it. I generated my ROM, added it to the internal SD card of my phone and followed the instructions on using ClockworkMod to use the new ROM. After a worryingly long time (it seemed to take ages wiping the data, then on the initial bootup) the ROM loaded and I set about restoring my apps.

The phone is now so much quicker, it’s strange to think the phone doesn’t work like this when you get it from the factory. The Quadrant score isn’t as high as it was when I previously used a lagfix, but I think that score is flawed anyway – actually using the phone is much quicker, there’s no slow-down in Game Dev Story (which was one of my motivations for upgrading) and everything just seems to work instantly. With the custom ROM that I used, it includes Harcore’s kernel, which allows you to apply lagfixes from within ClockworkMod recovery. You have to jump through hoops to get your phone into this kind of state but once you get it there everything becomes so much simpler, kudos to the developers of these utilities!

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Game Dev Story

Game Dev Story is a game for both Android and iOS devices. The premise is simple – you run a startup games studio and you have to build them up into one of the giants of the industry. The game is fairly straightforward but is incredibly addictive – I only downloaded the demo on Monday, I bought the full game shortly afterwards and haven’t stopped since!

Game Dev Story front page
The title screen for Game Dev Story

Within the game you get choices about what type of game to develop (genre and style), which platform (better platforms become available during the 20 years but they cost more to develop for), advertising, hiring, firing and training of employees and much more. At heart the game is very simple but it’s very just-one-more-go. I’m doing fairly well now, I have a team with 4 hackers and have developed my own console!

Game Dev Story - my current progress
My current progress in the game

I’m well on my way to a billion dollars! The game is especially a treat if you have any interest in video games or technology in general as there are plenty of in-jokes. I can’t recommend this game enough.

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Android is now the world’s leading smartphone OS

A report released by research firm Canalys shows that Google’s Android platform was on more smartphones shipped last year than any of the competitors (such as Apple, Blackberry and Symbian). This is good news for Google who are looking to increase their market share, and to beat Symbian shows how far Android has come in such a relatively short space of time.