Starting Android Development -- READ THIS FIRST

activity_lifecycle

After releasing a couple of products into the Android marketplace you get a little more familiar with the OS and framework. Looking back you start to realize that Android has a number of methods and tools that, if you took the time to learn them first you would have saved yourself a ton of time. Search after search related to problems I ran into always seemed to direct me to one page. The page didn't always have the answer to your problem but more than once it indicated that maybe I'm asking the wrong question in the first place!

Well here it is the single most important page in the entire Android framework!

http://developer.android.com/guide/topics/fundamentals.html

I can't stress this enough. Read this page in its entirety. When you are finished go back to the start and read it again. Don't do any coding until you understand how your program gets executed!

MobileMonday Opens the 71st Chapter in Calgary

The global MobileMonday group officially gave the blessing to establish the 71st Chapter of MobileMonday for Southern Alberta as of lastWednesday night. To kick things off we opened a Ning website to handle all the details about the organization. You can get to the site via http://mobilemondaycalgary.ning.com/. The site provides a great way to network with other members of the mobile community and to find out more information about the upcoming events.

Second, our first event is JAN 12, 2009 at Kits at 6pm. View Larger Map

We will be running the event in the basement and it makes for a great venue location.

And finally, I'm sure you are all excited that I will be making a presentation at the meeting. I haven't finalized a topic yet but I'm waffling between doing an Android demonstration or presenting one of our new applications (probably Snocator). If you have any recommendations or suggestions let me know.

See you Jan 12.

KnowledgeWhere Aquired By Useful Networks

The recent spat of changes has slowed my rate of updates on the site and here is why; KnowledgeWhere Inc, was aquired by Useful Networks out of Denver.Here is the news release:Useful Networks Acquires KnowledgeWhere

The sale was the culmination of many months worth of work and I think it will be a great asset to the LB industry in general. KnowledgeWhere gains the expertise and financial resources of Useful Networks , and Useful Networks gains the Location Application Platform (LAP) , gaming assets and technology that we have been created over the past 4 years.

It will be an exciting transition to work with the new team and use it to build on both our successes. I have had a chance to see the direction Useful Networks is headed and I know it will be disruptive in the very near term.

Mobile Monday in Calgary

I just finished a meeting with the "founders" to try to launch Mobile Monday Calgary Chapter.

Mobile Monday is a global community of mobile industry visionaries, developers and influentials fostering cooperation and cross-border business development through virtual and live networking events to share ideas, best practices and trends from global markets.

With a little bit of effort and luck we will be able to launch the Calgary Chapter in the new year. Post a note in the comments if you want me to keep you up to date on the latest status.

Calgary DemoCamp 08

I spent last Tuesday at my first Calgary DemoCamp where I gave a presentation of PhoneTag Elite on a Nokia N95. In case you are not familiar with BarCamps/DemoCamps (From Wiki):

BarCamp is an international network of user generated conferences — open, participatory workshop-events, whose content is provided by participants — often focusing on early-stage web applications, and related open source technologies, social protocols, and open data formats.

I was really impressed not only with the organization of the meeting but also the openness and candor of the participants and demonstrators. It was a great opportunity to display the capabilities of our company and also network with some great companies in the Calgary (and Edmonton) areas. Christian Idicula of CriticalMass out of Calgary provided a great summary of the presenters.

CTIA Wrapup

Well it turns out that PhoneTag Elite didn't take any major awards at the LBS Challenge . Our continuing curse, of always being a finalist never a bride came through again this year. I have been involved in the competition for 3 years now and I think that by far this years applications were the most promising. The applications were solid and polished. Each of them looked ready to go to market and all of them included business plans.

Of particular note was a company out of California that produce a product called SpotJots. I'm testing out the product on my Nokia N95 now and it seems like it works really well. Most importantly the application is very fast and very clean. The design work on the site is great and simple. I'll post a full review of the site when I can.

Also another participant, Trapster , produced a user-generated speed trap application. The mobile device tracks its location and when a driver passes a speed-trap on the side of the road, they can trigger a message to the server. This uploads the speed trap to a central server and when any device approaches an existing trap it can send an alert out to the driver. Great idea. After meeting the founder, Pete Tenereillo, and going for a short drive I can attest that he probably created this app out of a personal need.

If you have some time follow-up with all the application that were displayed at the LBS Challenge. You can demo most of them by downloading the Where.com application to your phone. 2/3rds of the applications were run on this platform. I'm demoing the platform now and I'll send a posting out soon.

CTIA 2008

I've made my way down to CTIA in Las Vegas because PhoneTag Elite is up for another award. This time its a big one with the NAVTEQ LBS Challenge. We've placed just missed winning this three times now so hopefully PhoneTag can pull it out and win one. I'll try to catch part of the show and let you know some of the insider gossip thats happening at the show. More to follow.

Let me know if you are at the show and I'd love to meet up with you and maybe buy you a beer.

Great Article on Rules for StartUps

 I just read a brilliant article on developing the proper environment for fostering growth in a startup company. Misanthropy Today - 10 Rules for Startups

The most poignant line and probably sums the article up best is when the author states, "Companies will often become top-heavy to disperse responsibility amongst insecure or ineffective executives." I have worked with numerous companies that have gone the route of hiring senior non-technical managers to lead product development and have yet to see it succeed. The most successful teams are led by technical staff that can adapt and understand the technology.

By hiring senior level non-technical managers you are marginalizing the technical staff and diluting your ability to innovate new products.

Take for example the two biggest tech darlings of the week, Google and Facebook. The founders were competent technically and grew into the management portions. They did not have to disperse responsibility because they had the capabilities themselves. Instead, they could focus on growing their position by becoming the leaders in their chosen fields. They chose to hire smart and competent technical staff first.

As a rule, avoid working for a tech startup whose founder or senior management team are technically weak. Inevitably this means a passive approach to new product development. They will always follow a stronger technical company. Most top-heavy companies are unable to rapidly tackle new products.

IGF Mobile Winner

Well PhoneTag Elite did it again! We won the IGF Mobile Award for Augmented Design at GDC 2008. It was a big win as the other two games in the category were excellent.  http://www.igfmobile.com/02finalists.html

We picked up quite a bit of press for winning the award and hopefully we can turn it into some commercial success.

Locative Media

IGN

1UP (Could have used more coverage here!)

Pocket Gamer

Directions Mag

Overall it has been well received but in general the game hasn't been getting a lot of downloads. PhoneTag Elite is now available on the Sprint Network for download. Check for it on the deck.

Congrats to the whole PhoneTag Elite team!

Fido and Rogers Unlimited? Browsing Plan

Rogers Detailed Plan Fido and Rogers today released their "unlimited" data plan. Which I believe is one of the major hurdles preventing the release of the iPhone in Canada.

But in classic Rogers form here are the details of who can use the data;

 Important: This plan includes unlimited on-device mobile browsing only. Plan is available on select phones only (PDAs such as Blackberry or Windows Mobile devices, PC cards and non-Rogers certified devices are not eligible). Data usage incurred on ineligible devices, incurred while tethering (using device as wireless modem for laptop) or incurred using non-Rogers (3rd party) applications downloaded to your device will be subject to pay-per-use charges of 5 cents/KB.

So the unlimited data plan only applies to those  phones that are completely useless for surfing the web and you can't install 3rd party apps (Google Maps) to use the plan. Also you have to sign a 3-year cancellation fees apply plan. This doesn't apply to video calling (who uses this anyways?) or video on demand. Really this plan is a money grab.

Pay attention, Rogers, this is what happens when you let committees decide on actions. This is the worst excuse for a plan I can remember.

Why not try this. $15 unlimited browsing (Well roughly cap it at around ~1 gig). However, require the user to use a PDA, Blackberry or new Air Card. This will drive new massive new sales of devices and encourage people to use them.

In the meantime, avoid the "unlimited" data plan, buy a PDA with WiFi and poach off your neighbours.

GDC 2008 Mobile

 I will be attending GDC 2008 Mobile this year and giving a presentation on "Why Location Matters". I wanted to encapsulated all the challenges and opportunities that adding location into your mobile application can bring. Abstract

https://www.cmpevents.com/GD08/a.asp?option=C&V=11&SessID=6505

Session Description This lecture addresses how location impacts a mobile application and how developers can leverage location technologies to improve the user experience. When our industry addresses location in a mobile context all too often we address the “HOW” of this technology rather than focusing on the impact of location in a mobile user’s experience. Technological advancements such as A-GPS (Assisted Global Position System) or WiFi-centric location are driving new application development, yet fail to address the larger concern of a user’s needs and desires when using an application.

Idea Takeaway Audience will learn about the various types of location information available in today’s wireless carrier networks and how best to apply them to create the ultimate user experience in a mobile entertainment application.

Intended Audience Advanced mobile game developers and programmers, mobile game publishers, content & entertainment managers, and game producers.

I look forward to seeing you at the presentation.

John