Posts Tagged: mobile apps

NaBloPoMo Fail and Thanksgiving

Fallen hibiscus bloom

Photo taken on Nov 15th by Ms. Jen with her Nokia 808 PureView.

Mon 11.19.12 – I have had a NaBloPoMo fail. I have just plain had a daily blogging fail for the last year and some.
I talked about my blogging fail with Erika last week and she thought that I was putting my creative endeavors in other places (Twitter, photography, app creation, etc) and that for this season it was ok that I am not blogging as much. I responded to her that while that may be true, I am still not happy with it because I frequently refer to the archives of my blog as a way to track what I have been doing and thinking about.
My blog is not just a gallery for my photos, or a place for me to talk about ideas in and around technology and culture, it is also a way that I am able to mark my thoughts and actions in my world over time. Yes, kind of like a journal or diary, but a bit more oblique.
Much has happened since Feb 11, 2011 when I fell off the blogging wagon with a big giant thump and I would like to record it. The daily bits are gone, like the ephemera that they are/were, but the photos and major ideas are either on my computer in the Photos and To Blog folders. I would like to slowly but surely eject them out of their dusty folders and put them up here.
But first, I must finish up this year of creation sabbatical strong and get the mobile apps I have been working on off my computer and into an app store.
One of the cool things I have seen on other blogs this month is a countdown of thanks to Thanksgiving. Some bloggers are doing “30 Days of Thanks” and others are doing a 10 Day countdown to Thanksgiving.
Rather than try to back track and make a fuss, I will just simply say right here and right now that I am so very grateful for the ability to take this year off from web design & development client work to focus on creating some of the mobile apps* that have lived in my head for awhile.
I want to say thank you to family, friends all over, and the open source mobile community for encouraging me to do this year. In the last month or two or three that it takes to finish, deploy, and wrap up, I thank you in advance for your encouragement and support.
Y’all rock.
*Yes, I started with 2 apps to work on and then they bred like rabbits on my computer and I am now working on 3 or 4 depending on how one would count a module that could be plugged into another app. ;o)

Nokia N9 / N950 App Round Up

Now that my Nokia N9 has returned from the dead, I wanted to do a post about my favorite Nokia N9 / Harmattan apps that I use daily or very frequently:
Firefox for the Nokia n9Firefox – Oh Yes, the lovely folks at Mozilla have released a version of Firefox mobile for the N9. Love it! Thank you!
FM Radio for the Nokia n9FM Radio – I was a sad little Jen panda to learn last summer that the Nokia N9 had an FM radio receiver on board but no native app, as I do like my Los Angeles area radio when I am walking at home. Luckily, mobile app developer Andrey Kushanov has solved the lack of radio app problem with the simply named FM Radio.
The first version of FM Radio I used had only one UI skin choice, a rather amusing vintage radio interface with a possibility of 6 station presets, but the recently updated version allows one to choice between the N9 black UI skin or the vintage radio UI skin and to have more than 6 radio stations preset. Thank you, Andrey K!
Cameraa or Volume+ as Camera Button for the Nokia n9Cameraa, aka “Volume+ as Camera Button” – Brilliant app / hack. There is no camera button on the Nokia N9 and there are many times when pressing the screen to activate the camera shutter is downright awkward to unusable, thus Cameraa to the rescue! All the app does is turn the Volume Up button on the N9 into a physical camera button. Thanks, thp!
Sports Tracker for the Nokia n9Sports Tracker – Speaking of walking, I continue to love Sports Tracker (my second longest app relationship at 4 years & counting), as it not only keeps track of fun data about my walk, but more importantly photo maps my walking path. Thanks!
What Nokia N9 apps do you really like right now or can’t live without?

PySide, from the Heights of Happiness to the Depths of Despair in less that Two Hours

On Friday in the way of any good internet bunny trail, I found myself at the PySide website wondering what progress had been made with the Python port/binding for Qt since I last looked, downloaded, built and inspected to see if it was fit for my mobile application development purposes back in April/May (or more like was my skillset I ready for building the most recent stable version of PySide).
In the first 20 minutes of traipsing down Python and Qt based bunny trails on Friday afternoon, I found myself in raptures of happiness, as it appeared to my eyes and reading comprehension that Nokia had taken on the PySide project and was moving forward with it as a legitimate wing of Qt. I was so excited that I called a non-technology-working friend and gushed about it to her (sorry).
I tweeted asking if any of the PySide folk would be at Qt Developer Days 2011 in San Francisco next week. I was ecstatic about the prospects of using Python for the logic in my Qt Quick apps rather than C++ or Javascript.
The major reason that I love both Python and Qt Quick/QML is that the code is by and large minimal and declarative but gets the job done powerfully without excessive grammar, wordiness, and very little punctuation, which makes my minimalist loving self happy happy happy. The very idea of Python + Qt Quick sounded too deliciously good to be true.
And it appears that after some months of Nokia dedicating employees to making PySide a robust binding for Qt and Qt Quick, that Nokia is now un-dedicating said employees and will be decommissioning their involvement in PySide to an add-on for Qt.
My hopes were crushed in less than two hours. Up in happiness of the possible perfect pairing of my favorite programming/scripting language with my favorite mobile framework, only to fall down the rocks of despair and sadness that so much potential was so fast dissipated.
Matti Airas the Nokia python guru on the PySide project does write in this email that he does see a future for PySide and mobile as an add-on for Qt in the community separate from Nokia. Here’s to hoping that he is right.
Further hopes go to Python catching on as a good option to the various C languages and Java for mobile app development. And here’s to hoping that PySide folks will be at Qt Dev Days next week.
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Update from Wed 11.23.11 – Just to clarify, this post is for NaBloPoMo and is my joke on / to myself about moderating my enthusiasms in a world where the funding of technology projects is driven by management stratagems & quarterly profits, as I get so excited upon finding out a technology has finally reached the point that it will be useful and then, in this case, less than an hour or two later after searching for more info I find out that the project has been discontinued.

The Mobile JavaScript Summit

Mobile JavaScript Summit
This Tuesday, August 30th from 9am – 6pm (Central Time, read Texas Time), the Mobile JavaScript Summit will be coming to a browser near you. If you are a web designer/developer who is wondering how to get started with designing/developing for the mobile web and mobile apps or have already started but would love to know more about how to take the web technologies you work in and turn them to mobile, then this will be a great one-day online conference for you.
The great thing about the Environments for Humans’ Summits is that the price is low and you attend the conference on your own computer. The software used to present the conference allows the attendees to not only have a video feed of the presenter, also the slides in the main window and the ability to ask questions in real time.
Here are the talks that will be given:
Josh Clark on The New Rules of Designing for Touch
Jonathan Stark on Mobile Apps and the Enterprise
Jenifer Hanen (me) on The Realities of Mobile Design
Simon Laurent and Daniel Pinter on From “It Works” to “Wow! This is Fast!”
Lunch break
David Kaneda on Sencha Touch
Stephen Gill on Phone Gap
Marc Grabanski on jQuery Mobile
Kevin Whinnery on Appcelerator Titanium
Tom Dale on SproutCore
I presented last year at the UX Summit and really enjoyed the online format, I definitely look forward to talking about one of my favorite subjects on Tuesday.
If you would like to join us, please use the following discount code, HANEN20, at The Mobile JavaScrip Summit.

On Finding Your Medium

“People who work creatively usually have something in common: they love the media they work with. Finding the medium that excites your imagination, that you love to play with and work in, is an important step to freeing your creative energies.” – Sir Ken Robinson, The Element

My biggest surge creativity of the last 10 years was getting a camera phone and pushing the envelope of my long time photography practice with a 1 megapixel wonder. The past six plus years of having various camera phones with me everywhere I go has not just excited my imagination but freed me up to take photos of things or at angles or in lighting that I would not have with my SLR or DSLR cameras.
This summer after many years of coding web sites / apps and a few years of python mobile app attempts, I have fallen for Qt Quick / QML not just to create mobile apps that have been living in my head but as a new way to approach to javascript that has made programming in javascript fun again. The last few weeks have been very exciting because now I can program the camera and resultant photos on my phone. It is been compelling to take my hard won programming knowledge mash it up with my love for designing to create native mobile apps that I can use right then and there on my mobile.
What medium are you creating in right now that is exciting your imagination?

Nokia Developer Outreach Suggestions for Chanse

Chanse Arrington Tweet
Yesterday, Chanse Arrington asked on Twitter:

“What are some things I should be doing in 2011 to get more developers on board with Nokia in the US?”

Here are my suggestions as a designer | developer who has been working on an app or two for the Nokia ecosystem:
1) Take over the Forum Nokia twitter account and use it to update followers on what is new content on Forum Nokia and what is new in developer tools for Nokia. Right now the @forumnokia twitter account is just a mimic to the various Nokia marketing tweets that are going around, but it could be SO MUCH MORE.
The Forum Nokia website is a bit of a beast and many useful parts are updated frequently but there is not a full RSS feed for the whole site and the new content is difficult to find, so use Twitter as that RSS feed. Let us know what new articles have been added, let us know about additions to the wiki, use twitter to highlight the best and most useful of Forum Nokia today not just what the upper dudes at marketing think are important this week.
Also use this twitter account to announce webinars, cool mobile & dev conferences (even non-Nokia), contests, blog posts by mobile devs who are writing about Qt/dev tutorials and tips, and what the community is up to, feature apps, etc. And like @NokiaCareUS and @womworldnokia, have @forumnokia have a set of photos of the tweeters for the account & their names so that it personalizes the account.
Use Twitter to make us excited about Forum Nokia’s content and thus excited about developing for Nokia devices.
2) Convince the Qt folk to make sure that the full Mac Qt with Symbian & Qt Mobility gets released extra super soon. Like it or not North American mobile app developers love their Macs, even if Nordic/Europeans are still PC/Windows committed. If you want to win over North America, get all of the Nokia dev tools fully working on Mac & Linux as well as Windows dev platforms. Steve Jobs has kindly convinced developers to dump their PCs for Macs over the last five plus years, so rather than fight it or be angry about it just give us all the tools we need to develop without hassle or dual boots or having to switch to another OS. Be developer OS agnostic, make great tools that work across the platforms so that developers can create great mobile apps.
3) Highlight the Qt Quick and other Nokia web runtime tools to web designers and developers on Twitter to show them how easy it is to transfer their current skill set of HTML/CSS/Javascript to developing apps for Nokia devices. There are quite a few great tools for web designers to start creating mobile apps, but they need to know where to start. Highlight videos, webinars, and online blog / Forum Nokia tutorials on how to create mobile web apps and mobile web sites from scratch.
Many of the current resources are native mobile app focused with the assumption that the developers have a full four year computer science bachelors background and are now Java or C++ engineers at large companies, when there are tons and tons of web designers and developers out there who could be reached but are currently being alienated by the current offerings.
Case in point, this last week’s Forum Nokia webinar on Qt Quick, where the presenter just assumed that the audience were C++ programmers who had already created Qt desktop apps and were moving into mobile, rather than presenting the material as a great place for web designers & developers with javascript experience to get started with Qt Quick / QML and mobile app development.
I have more ideas, but a great Forum Nokia twitter account, fully powered Qt for Mac with Mobility and Symbian, and a real outreach to web designers & developers is where I would start.

DIY Dev: Program or be Programmed

Fifteen years ago, to prove a snotty engineering student wrong who said artists couldn’t make websites, I taught myself in less than 2 hours how to code a website. Ten years ago, I wanted to do more than just write HTML and use Photoshop, so I checked myself into Long Beach State’s Extension and took a class on Javascript and one on Flash Actionscripting, more classes and trainings followed. Five years ago, I wanted to learn even more programming and checked myself into a graduate program that took 1/2 designers and 1/2 programmers and taught them both disciplines.
My programming professor at Trinity after our classes were over encouraged me to learn Python, of which I have done over the course of the last few years. In the last two years, I have had the opportunity to write several full web apps from the ground up. All of this has been hard, satisfying, and more than a bit of a stretch.
But I am glad that I have pushed my own boundaries and didn’t listen to the naysayers, not the ones 15 years ago or last week, who said that an artist/designer/webdev can’t learn to code/program.
If you can learn to speak/write/read a language and can reason, of which most of us have done at least once, you can learn to program.
Over the last few years, I have found myself getting increasingly frustrated that there is not the mobile app that I want out there or the one that is out does not have the features that I want, etc etc etc. Up until recently, at least from my perspective, programming a mobile application has been hard as one has to be a “real” programmer, the kind that learned Java/C/C++ in a four year Computer Science bachelors degree.
I am an optimist and frequently over commit myself by getting excited about how easy it will be to learn a new technology or language and then find myself more than a bit overwhelmed. But a funny thing happened along the way, C++ doesn’t seem so obscure/opaque and/or hard any more. In experimenting with it recently, I found myself delighting in how easy it was for me to learn it and make simple apps. All that programming in python for Google App Engine over the last 18 months has paid off.
This has me excited. Excited enough to go two weeks ago up to San Francisco for the Nokia Developer Day at CTIA to see the demos and presentations on Qt. Excited enough to then go to the Qt Training Days in Austin this week.
I have mobile app ideas running around my head and now is the time to start programming to get them out and about.
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Ms. Jen’s DIY Programming Series:
DIY Dev: Program or be Programmed
DIY Mobile Programming: Get Started with HTML, CSS, and Javascript
DIY Programming: Should HTML be Required for Literacy in the 21st Century?

Mobile UX Slides from the UX Summit

Back in April, Cindy Li & I spoke at the UX Summit on Mobile UX (aka Mobile User Experience), a subject very near & dear to me. Cindy took the first bit of the slides and concentrated on her experience in mobile app design as well as mobile web, I took the second part of the slides and focused on the principles of Mobile UX and the concepts that we need to be thinking about as we start design a mobile app or mobile web site/app.
It was surprisingly fun to sit at Cindy’s and have us both get to speak into her MacBook Pro and have the magic of Adobe Connect (or something like it) project our slides, our video and the chat area of the attendees from all over the world on one computer screen. By seeing the chat as we spoke, we were able to answer questions as they were asked or reasonably soon thereafter. Later on Twitter, we received quite a few thank yous.
Now in return, Cindy & I present to you all our slides on Mobile UX. Enjoy. And thank you!