20 June 2017

It has been a while since I’ve written anything on this blog. I am preparing a series of posts for the remainder of the year. Expect more to come soon.

Also on my mind is moving away from Jekyll. While it is convenient, I think I am missing some great learning opportunities by perhaps building my own formatting parser. It has too many dependencies and if it breaks, it’ll be not productive to be troubleshooting Ruby issues instead of writing quality content.

Finally, I removed Google Analytics from the blog. While it is a useful tracking mechanism, I don’t like the idea of running arbitrary code on all users that visit my blog.

Projects on my mind for this year:

  • messaging app — with an emphasis on personal assistants. Help people bypass all the logistical nonsense with arranging a meet up. Likely focus on Android first
  • website generator — perhaps using a simple build script to begin and moving up from there
  • task tracker — track tasks to be completed. Build up to project/life management while maintaining a simple interface
  • video projects — I continue to nurture my video capture hobby. I’ll be publishing more on YouTube soon

Stay tuned.

Running Android apps on your PC using AVD

02 November 2016

Android Studio is a big improvement from the days when Eclipse was the only way to write Android apps. Now, the VMs are faster, the build system cleaner, and the deployment system has erased most of the headaches that I remember. You can download Android Studio here.

My end goal for configuring Android Studio is to easily run my favourite apps on my PC without having to constantly switch between my phone and my desktop. Additionally, this would give me control over the setup process and not need to worry about any privacy concerns from using preassembled, albiet simpler, options only.

Installing Android Studio

After selecting a location to extract the SDK (~ 4GB), open the installer. You will be asked Standard or Custom. While Standard should be sufficient for most, here are the settings I used for Custom:

  1. IntelliJ UI theme
  2. Android SDK (already installed)
  3. Android SDK Platform
    1. API 25: Android 7.1.1 (Nougat) (already installed)
  4. Performance (Intel HAXM) (yes)
  5. Android Virtual Device (no)

After finishing the installation, open Android Studio. You will be presented with the following tasteful screen.

Start a new project and select with the defaults. There will be some churn as it indexes the SDK and prepares you for editing.

In the Tools menu, select Android → AVD Manager.

Once open, you should see an option in the top-right to install the Intel HAXM. You can optionally install it to improve performance.

Click the “Create Virtual Device” button and choose a configuration that suits your monitor size and host capabilities. Here are the advanced settings I used:

  1. 4" WVGA, hdpi (under the Phone category)
  2. Nougat, API Level 25, x86
  3. AVD Name: nougat-hdpi
  4. Startup orientation: Portrait
  5. Camera:
    1. Front: Emulated
    2. Back: Webcam0
  6. Network
    1. Speed: Full
    2. Latency: None
  7. Emulated Performance
    1. Graphics: Automatic
    2. Multi-core CPU: Checked with 4 selected
  8. Memory and Storage
    1. RAM: 2048 MB
    2. VM Heap: 128 MB
    3. Internal Storage: 2400MB
    4. SD card: Studio-managed: 500MB
  9. Device Frame
    1. Enable Device Frame: unchecked
    2. Custom skin definition: No skin
  10. Keyboard: Checked

Press OK and the new device should appear in the list of virtual devices.

Select the run button to launch the AVD.

Great! Now your device is running. Check the performance and if anything seems awry, the original settings for the AVD will need to be increased.

Installing Google Play

Next, we will need to install the Google Play app so we can install and run our favourite applications.

To make further efforts easier, I added the Android SDK to my path by typing the following in the command window.

set PATH=%PATH%;E:\android\sdk\platform-tools

Download the gapps package on the host computer. I used this website with the x86 – 6.0 – pico option. Once complete, we will need to sideload the required APKs onto the device.

Using lzip and tar, extract the following files, and then place the referred APKs in the same directory.

  1. open_gapps\Core\gmscore-x86 : PrebuildGMSCore.apk
  2. open_gapps\Core\gsfcore-all : GoogleServicesFramework.apk
  3. open_gapps\Core\gsflogin-all : GoogleLoginService.apk
  4. open_gapps\Core\vending-all : Phonesky.apk

In that directory, execute the following (assuming the AVD is running):

adb root
adb wait-for-device
adb shell stop
adb remount
adb push PrebuildGMSCore.apk /system/priv-app
adb push GoogleServicesFramework.apk /system/priv-app
adb push GoogleLoginService.apk /system/priv-app
adb push Phonesky.apk /system/priv-app
adb shell start
adb unroot

Once the device restarts, you can open the Play Store from the app drawer.


Any questions on this post? Shoot me an email using my contact information.

Tesla Announces Solar Roof and Powerwall 2.0

28 October 2016

Today, Tesla and SolarCity announced the Powerwall 2 and Solar Roof (video).

The goal is to make solar roofs that look better than a normal roof, generate electricity, last longer, have better insulation, and actually have an installed cost that is less than a normal roof plus the cost of electricity. So why would you buy anything else?

Musk has a knack for making you fall in love with his products in straightforward language.

Penny Arcade on the Surface

28 October 2016

Penny Arcade’s Gabe1 had some positive things to say about the newly released Surface Studio.

When I first saw the device months ago in that secret room at MS, they asked me what I thought. I said, “Well I have no idea if anyone else will want it, but you have made my dream computer.” I recognize that not everyone needs or wants a computer they can draw on. Some people do though and I will tell you that the Surface Studio is without a doubt the best digital drawing experience I have ever tried.

Full article here.


Hello Again - Apple Live Stream

27 October 2016

Apple will be streaming their “Hello Again” here.

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