Developer Options’ USB debugging checkbox was turned on (remember, if it isn’t already showing – and it shouldn’t be – you can open up Developer Options as a Settings menu option by clicking 7 times on the Build Number item tucked away behind the About Phone/Tablet settings menu option), and the USB computer connection was set to MTP media device/files option.
However, the run process kept aborting with the following error message: Invalid “–device-id” value “XYZ” where XYZ was a label associated with the hooked up device.
As it turns out, the problem is actually one of authentication or rather authorization – essentially the device doesn’t trust the PC that it is currently plugged into. So to resolve, I turned off the “USB debugging” setting, clicked on the “Revoke USB debugging authorizations” menu option below that, and then turned USB debugging back on. The tablet asked me if it was okay to allow the computer connection, and after confirming on the device and then returning to Appcelerator Studio to compile and run, the Invalid –device-id issue was gone.
So, worth jotting down for future reference then.
Penguin Random House contacted me and asked me to sit down with Jessica and have a go at the very nice Sasol Young Explorer Apps – of which there are currently two, namely Mammals and Frogs.
The apps are multilingual, allowing you to switch between English, Afrikaans, IsiXhosa and IsiZulu on the fly, which opens up their use to quite a wide audience.
Each app is split into two main ‘sections’, a play area which includes a number of animal-themed mini games (for example, different sized puzzles and memory games), and a learning section, which is chock-a-block full of beautifully illustrated animals, each with their own info page, sound bite, and even video footage!
The apps are well designed and very easy to use, and before long I found Jessica (with an observing Emily in tight next to her) quite independently sitting on the couch, giggling as she systematically made her way through all the animals and games.
This is a pretty good animal resource for kids, and I can’t wait to have the Mammals edition along the next time we enter a game reserve with the girls – I suspect that they may finally have some use as useful game spotters! :P
Created by Stellenbosch-based app development house Tribage App Studio, Xander Apps are educational mobile apps aimed at promoting mother-tongue learning for young children – with apps built in English, Afrikaans, Xhosa, Zulu, Swahili, and Tswana!
Fronted by the cute dinosaur mascot Xander, there are currently 3 main apps available:
(Oh, because my girls are English, and I mainly use Android, I’ll be referencing those versions in particular…)
Xander English 123 (Google Play)
“English 123 is an English educational app for young children that teaches numeracy using child-friendly counting beads and characters from the animal kingdom. Xander, the lovable narrator, guides your child through four learn-through-play activities involving vision, hearing and touch to teach them how to count to 10 in English.”
Xander English Shapes & Colours (Google Play)
“English Shapes and Colours is an English educational app for your children that teaches six basic shapes and the primary and secondary colours using age appropriate games. Here Xander guides your child through six learn-through-play activities involving vision, hearing and touch to teach them to identify shapes and colours.”
Xander English Wardrobe (Google Play)
“English Wardrobe is an English educational app for young children that teaches them the names (and pronunciation) for different body parts, clothing and weather.”
In general, the Xander apps are aimed at a younger target audience, though it is interesting to watch both Jessica and Emily get something quite different out of each app.
Anyway, check out their website for more on the team, what they do and how your children can benefit from their work!
Related Link: Xander Apps
I wanted to upload a quick pic of the indoor braai that I had started to ring in the end of the long weekend to Facebook, but for some or other reason, the image upload failed, or rather got stuck in its attempt to upload to the social network’s servers. This means now that every time you open the Facebook app, you watch as it futilely tries to reassure you that your post is STILL being created, even though deep down inside you know that it is a lost cause.
Actually, this happens relatively frequently, and with seemingly no method for cancelling the infinitely in progress upload, it is quite a frustrating problem to sit with.
As I mentioned, opening and closing the app won’t solve the problem. You could go extreme of course, and uninstall, but that’s a little bit on the overkill side. Instead, probably the easiest way to resolve the stuck upload issue is to simply log out of the app via the menu. Log back in, and by magic, your stuck upload should be nowhere in sight.
I have no idea why this works. It shouldn’t, but it does.
Maybe one day Facebook will fix their Android app and allow us to cancel stuck in progress uploads in a more natural fashion!
A week or so ago I accidentally knocked my old (but awesome) Huawei Ascend P6 off my work desk here at home, with it landing neatly on its back on the screed floor. On closer inspection though, I noticed a razor thin, hairline crack across the front of the screen – the vaunted Gorilla Glass had at last given in!
At this point, I wondered to myself whether or not I was yet due a Vodacom smartphone upgrade – a quick check on their nifty My Vodacom app revealed that both Chantelle and I have been due an upgrade since August last year!
And so began the hunt for a new Vodacom contract-supported smartphone, made particularly tricky because I a) don’t particularly want to pay a premium price and b) want a reasonably good phone that is better than all these ‘lite’ mid-range phones!
As luck would have it, Chantelle spotted that Vodacom had discounted the Huawei P8 on their Smart S contract to R299 a month, more or less in my intended budget but more importantly, despite being a six months or so old model, a damn good premium phone at a very good price.
The upgrade process was of course a tedious and drawn out affair, but the end result was Chantelle and I walking out of Somerset Mall’s Vodacom branch, clutching a Mystic Champagne model for her, and a Titanium Grey model for me.
As expected, the all metal build quality is once again phenomenal, the phone is light (weighing a ridiculous 144g!), thin (6.4mm), and a beauty to behold. It comes with a 5.2″ FHD screen, boasting a 1080p (1920 x 1080), 424ppi and 16M colors display. Driven by a Hisilicon Kirin 930, 8-core 64bit, 2.0GHz CPU with 3 GB of RAM and a (slightly disappointing) 16 GB ROM, the Huawei P8 is thus far pretty snappy and runs most apps and games without any noticeable lag.
All the usual suspects in terms of connectivity are available (including LTE support), and the normal array of sensors such as Gyroscope sensor, Ambient Light Sensor, Proximity sensor, Compass, Accelerometer and GPS are all accounted for.
Sound and video quality is great, and the photo taking abilities ring in with a nice 13 Mega Pixel main camera, dual color temperature flash (great for low light photos), and a 8 mega pixel front camera for selfies. (Which the kids always love and appreciate!)
The built-in battery comes in at 2680mAh, and so far battery life seems pretty adequate – essentially at the same level as what I’m used to in any other smartphone these days. The Huawei P8 runs Android 5.0 Lollipop, and uses the pretty pleasant Emotion UI 3.1 skin overlay.
Oh, and for a change, I now have a phone that supports NFC. (Not that anyone actually uses that mind you!)
So yes, in case you can’t tell, I’m more than just a little pleased with my new phone!
I’ve mentioned that I’ve been running a XBMC (Kodi) media server at my house for quite some time now, and in fact, I just upgraded to the relatively recently renamed Kodi version of this venerable media server a couple of days ago.
Now although a wireless keyboard and mouse works perfectly fine for controlling the Kodi media server, sometimes you don’t really want to sit will all that bulk lying about your coffee table (not that I have one mind you), which is exactly where the cleverness of remote control apps come into play.
Sadly, the first iteration of the the official XBMC remote control Android app wasn’t a particularly well written, or well supported venture, meaning that the need and thus door for good apps was there – resulting in quite a few being written by enterprising individuals. Indeed, one of the standouts is/was Tolriq’s Yatse XBMC Remote, a fine piece of app development in its own right.
However, the newly refreshed Kodi team saw the lack of love for the official Android remote app and approached developer Synced Synapse with the request for their Kore remote app to become the Kodi project’s new official remote control app – and after downloading and playing with it for a day I can see why!
From the official download page, the Kore team describes the app as:
“Kore is a simple, easy to use and beautiful Kodi / XBMC remote that lets you control your media center from your Android device.
With Kore you can:
If you live in South Africa then the reality is that load shedding is here to stay for quite a bit longer – particularly as the energy demand starts spiking when the really cold winter weather starts kicking in! So with Eskom unable to meet our electricity demands and saddled with the responsibility of keeping the national grid up and running, we may as well get comfortable and start knowing our load shedding schedules and status.
This invaluable tool is a proper lifesaver when it comes to planning around and dealing with load shedding. Essentially it constantly updates itself with all the latest load shedding schedule databases from around the country, reacts in real time to sudden load shedding status changes, and pretty much lets you know whenever a break in your power supply is going to be happening.
By allowing you to save areas of interest like ‘Home’, ‘Work’ or say even ‘Gym’, you know exactly when and where you can expect power breaks to be, and with handy push notifications sent whenever necessary, you are pretty much guaranteed not to get a nasty surprise when the lights go out just as you pulled closed the office toilet door in anticipation for some much needed alone time.
It’s a clever, visually intuitive app that gives you all the information you need, and if you are a South African living in South Africa – well then you would be silly not to currently have it installed on your phone!
(I’ve had mine installed pretty much straight after it was released at the end of March! Haven’t looked back since…)
Related Link: GridWatch on Google Play Store
Part of my current weight loss drive is to track my weight on a daily basis. Thus, I needed a lightweight mobile application that would facilitate this process – which is exactly where Daniel Cachapa’s excellent Libra – Weight Manager comes in.
Simple, lightweight and extremely easy to use, Libra essentially has two views, namely a graph view that plots your weight entries against a calculated trend line, and a list view of all you weight entries (with comments if present).
Data entry is simple and elegant – click on the + button and use the tape measure slider to insert your current weight.
By entering in all your weight details and goals, Libra is able to return a good number of stats for you, and combined with the historic data points it keeps, it does a great job of keeping you on your toes in terms of remaining on the straight and narrow when it comes to your weight loss journey.
There is a number of export and import options for both the database and chart itself (the CSV export is quite useful), and as an added bonus you can synchronize your data with Withings (not that I use that particular service mind you).
As expected, this small app is free and thus ad-supported, though you can of course hand over a negligible amount of money to get the ads removed.
So, if you are looking to track your weight and have an Android device at hand, you really can’t go wrong with this excellent app!
BONUS: For those of you who don’t know: Libra was the basic Roman unit of weight; after 268 bc it was about 5,076 English grains or equal to 0.722 pounds avoirdupois (0.329 kg). This pound was brought to Britain and other provinces where it became the standard for weighing gold and silver and for use in all commercial transactions. The abbreviation lb for pound is derived from libra.
The libra is one of the nonmetric units of weight still used in Spain, Portugal, and several Spanish-speaking countries of the Americas.
Related Link: Libra – Weight Manager
Back in April 2013 I ordered an Android 4.1 Proline Smart AK888-13 9.7″ Dual-Core Tablet from Loot.co.za. Of course, when it arrived I was very excited and played around with it, showed it off, and generally beamed with pleasure.
In the nearly two years since then, Android has gotten much, much better, hardware specs have greatly improved, and you know what – I seriously doubt that I’ll bother replacing my tablet.
As it turns out, owning a tablet seems rather… well… pointless.
Here’s the problems I sit with:
- The 10 inch tablet is relatively large, meaning it is not something that is going to go everywhere with you – unlike your phone which you pretty much sleep with.
- It’s not really useful for work without a physical keyboard, as onscreen keyboards are relatively slow and painful to type long strings out on. If I add a physical keyboard to it, then I’ll probably be sitting down at a table – which in that case I would much rather be using my far more versatile Windows 7 Fujitsu laptop for the job.
- With most major websites now catering for small screen mobile displays, web browsing on my phone is pretty pleasurable – and the phone fits much nicer in my hand than the tablet (plus it’s always on me). So again, why would I bother fetching the tablet to browse the web?
- My Android phone is as powerful as my Android tablet, so I tend to play mobile games on my phone if I don’t want to switch the XBOX 360 on. And if I do want to sit down for a proper gaming session – well, then I’ll go and turn the XBOX 360 on.
- For watching media, the phone works better because it is smaller, lighter to hold, and if you are watching something up that close, well then screen size tends not to matter all that much anyway!
So that’s five reasons as to why my tablet has pretty much sat next to my bed gathering dust for the last two years. Jess will probably get to play on it pretty soon, and if it breaks – well let’s just say I see no real need to replace it.
In fact, there is only one thing thus far that I have found the tablet to be absolutely awesome for: reading comic books using Komik Reader before going to bed. The screen size more or less matches that of a physical comic book, meaning the two just go hand in hand! (Of course, this is completely negated if I switch to the Comixology app with it’s guided view technology that works perfectly fine on a phone’s small screen.)
The problem is though, if I had a real paper comic book, I’d much rather pick up and read that!
So for me a tablet turns out to be a not such needed device after all, which begs the question – do you still make use of your tablet then?