Archive for May, 2007

Working out where my PDA space has gone

Sunday, May 27th, 2007

I mentioned last week that watching Doctor Who made for a good chance to absentmindedly play with some code. I seem to have started a new habit, so thought I’d share what I was worked on this week. 🙂

One of the problems with my HTC Universal is running out of storage space when trying to install new apps. The core Windows Mobile 5 tools that you can use to work out why you’re short of space are fairly limited:

  • Search – listing all files on the device larger than 64KB (an odd size to choose – and without the ability to specify which folder(s) to search in, you end up with a very long list)
  • File Explorer – shows file sizes and lets you sort a folder’s contents by size (but going through each and every folder on the device manually is fairly tedious, and there is no way to get the size of a folder without adding together the size of the contents yourself)
  • Memory applet – showing you how much space available and how much in use (useful to identify that you have a space issue, but not any use in working out why)

You often just look around and rely on trial-and-error to free up space. (Like clearing the Pocket Internet Explorer cache then finding that you have a big chunk of space freed up.)

The aim for yesterday evening was to produce something to visualise the usage of storage space on the device.

Not a terribly original idea (basically a simplified approach to drawing a tree map), but unless my ability to use Google is getting worse, I don’t think anything like this is available for Windows Mobile at the moment.

I think it might be a useful little app, and it only took a bit of an evening to throw together. 🙂

If you’re curious, read more to see some screenshots and a quick description of what I did.

Running Windows Mobile apps from a PC using RAPI Start

Monday, May 21st, 2007

People keeping half an eye on my Wakoopa feed might have noticed that I started playing with RAPI Start this weekend.

RAPI Start is a command-line tool that lets you remotely run commands on a Windows Mobile device from a connected desktop. It’s quite neat, so I want to see what sort of things I can do with it.

Here is noddy first attempt number 1 🙂

The problem:
I get a text message while I’m sat at my desk with my mobile connected to my computer. (For a mobile device, it spends a large amount of it’s life tethered to a desktop – but that’s a discussion for another time!)

I want to reply, but writing on a mobile device is fiddly. I’m sat at a full-sized keyboard, so why can’t I just use that instead?


Do I like children’s advertising?

Sunday, May 20th, 2007

Grace doesn’t watch a lot of TV, but when she does it tends to be CBeebies – BBC’s digital channel for kids. (I’m not entirely sure if there was a lot of thought behind why CBeebies – but ITV’s kids channel has only been around for a year, so I guess it was mainly that we got into a habit when it was one of the only options.)

I’m bringing this up because Grace watched Winnie the Pooh on telly in bed with me this morning. The TV in our bedroom doesn’t have Freeview, so I was limited to terrestrial channels. I happened to come across ‘The Book of Pooh’ on five just by chance – she loves Winnie the Pooh, and it bought me an extra half-hour in bed, so everyone was happy.

Anyway, this is just an observation, and I’m not trying to make a deep and meaningful point here… but the difference between watching kids TV on the BBC and five was striking. Adverts.


Playing with Google Maps

Thursday, May 17th, 2007

Can’t sleep.

So I thought I’d go back to some of the Google Maps API stuff I last played with about a month ago.

The Google Maps code I wrote before would show my last stored location.

I thought it’d be more interesting to see a number of updates over a period of time – so went back to the code and tweaked it to show updates from the last day, week or month.

Code is a bit messy, but in my defense it is past midnight 🙂

I wanted to use the Google routing algorithm used to show directions – to link together the points that I have been to over time. Assuming that I will probably have taken the most direct route between points, then you would end up with something approximating my travelling over time.

Unfortunately, Google don’t expose their routing stuff in the API. Shame.

And on a related note, apparently if I’d used the Yahoo Maps API to do all of this, I’d be breaching their terms of service.

A friend sent me this:

You may use location data derived from GPS or other location sensing devices in connection with the Yahoo! Maps APIs, provided that such location data is not based on real-time (i.e., less than 6 hours) GPS or any other real-time location sensing device, the GPS or location sensing device that derives the location data cannot automatically (i.e. without human intervention) provide the end user’s location, and any such location data must be uploaded by an end-user (and not you) to the Yahoo! Maps APIs.

Spoilsports! (Well, I guess it’s more to do with the demands of who provides their mapping data, but pah – yay for Google)

Note: This post is a bit thin on content – sorry about that. But Twitter is down, so had to say this somewhere! 😉

How to make a phone call with a T-Mobile Ameo

Tuesday, May 8th, 2007

It’s fair to say that more than a few people have commented that my phone is a bit big, and that it is difficult to make a call with it without looking like a bit of a berk. 🙂

Not any more! If you’ve been following me on twitter, you might have seen me obsessively tracking my latest gadget toy from the U.S – an “LG Style-I” bluetooth handset. It finally arrived today.

LG Style-IIt’s essentially like a bluetooth headset – except it has buttons, looks like a normal phone and you don’t have to strap it to your ear.

(Maybe it was just Doctor Who which scared me off bluetooth headsets? 😉)

If I don’t need to use my phone as a PDA, I can just leave it in the bottom of my bag. I can just have this in my pocket and use it like a regular phone (with the only difference being that it uses the Ameo in my bag for it’s cell signal).

T-Mobile Ameo with LG Style-IThe handset can make or receive calls – the display with show stuff like incoming caller-ID from the phone and as well as being able to dial numbers normally I can still use stuff like the voice command and speed dials. It looks enough like a phone that I imagine most people seeing it will assume it is a mobile. Which is all much more practical when out and about.

There isn’t really a big market for these things… unless you also have a phone the size of a textbook, you probably wont need it. But I still think it’s pretty cool. 🙂

Budget 2007 effect on Gift Aid

Sunday, May 6th, 2007

Budget 2007 was a little while ago now, but I’ve only recently started to have a look through some of the finer details. In particular, I’m looking out for the sections which will affect charities.

One change jumps out of a lot of the analysis produced by groups involved in charities: the effect of changes in income tax rates.

The basic rate of income tax was reduced in the budget. At first glance, this sounds like a good thing, but it has a knock-on effect on Gift Aid – the scheme where charities can reclaim the tax paid on donations received from UK taxpayers. For many charities, Gift Aid makes a significant difference to the income that they receive.

By reducing the basic rate of income tax the Budget has essentially reduced Gift Aid claims from 28.2% to 25% (from next April). After a little maths, this works out to meaning that (in order to keep the same level of income that they currently receive) charities will need each of their donors to add 25p to every pound that they currently give.

Or in other words, imagine a donor who currently makes a monthly direct debit of £5. They will now need to increase this to at least £7.20 a month for the charity to get the same amount of income (allowing for tax change and inflation).

Our imaginary donor may be unwilling to do this, which means that charities like us need to start planning now on how to handle this impact on fund-raising.

Help choose a brand to promote science to young people

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2007

I’ve mentioned ‘v‘ before – the independent charity that took over the running of Millennium Volunteers project from DfES (and therefore now one of our biggest funders). I’ve also mentioned that I’m not the biggest fan of the ‘v’ brand – aside from being almost impossible to search for, they tend to stick ‘v’ before everything which I find a little clunky.

The branding was created by Love Creative – a design agency in Manchester. (v is currently on page 22 of their portfolio). They’ve done a lot of other high profile work, including work for Red Nose Day, Nike and Umbro.

I mention them because I notice that they’re doing another bit of work, this time for the Science Council, developing a website for young people to promote science education. They’ve come up with six possible names:

  • i can morph
  • we go boing
  • beep
  • made from science
  • bleep
  • ?f

They’re currently running a vote at to help choose the name.

My personal favourite is “Made from science”, but if you want to have your say in the branding used to help encourage the next generation of scientists, then go vote now! 🙂

dopplr and other ways to have fun with location updates stuff

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2007

Yesterday, Andy sent me an invite (btw – thanks, Andy!) for dopplr – another online service where you can see online where someone is at any given time.

I’ve mentioned before that I have tried stuff like Plazes, as well as trying out my own approach (which you can see in the right-hand column of this blog’s front page, or by going straight here). Dopplr is still a closed beta though, so I hadn’t had the chance to try it before.

So far, I quite like it – it adds a couple of interesting points…