Get off my lawn.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Android: Handstand Update

I just put up an updated version of Handstand with a few fixes, amid Christmas activities popping up all around. They're interim updates while I work on the next big feature.

  • Plain-looking UI: Don't worry, it's still plain, just a little less so in places. Still working on this.
  • Apparently, it wasn't obvious to some users that you have to configure the zip code in the preferences. An update ensures that you've set a zip code properly, or at least been prompted to do so.
  • A few people complained that the sports scores screen only showed NCAA Men's/Women's Basketball. Those choices were what we in the industry refer to as a "default setting." Other than putting a "Sports" item on the options menu, I didn't make it obvious that you can select other sports besides the two that display by default. The update shows the sports-selection screen if the user hasn't seen it before, thereby making it pretty obvious that it's possible to select other sports to view.
  • Added "Nearby Restaurants" to the "Location" section.
  • Fixed the "Delete Symbol" command in the Stock Quotes screen.
  • Updated the Sports Scores screen to show the game date.
  • Updated the background thread logic for faster/more complete cancellations.
  • Addressed some of the complaints about network error messages.
  • Replaced the location-awareness service with one that uses far fewer resources.
That's about it. Just some fixes for some annoyances.

The next update will contain something more interesting than fixes. I actually can't wait to have access to the feature myself.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Android: Handstand

I just put another app out on the Android Market, called "Handstand".

It's pretty conventional as Android applications go. Its intended audience is people who might want to keep up with current events, check on the weather, look at stock quotes, sports scores, see movies, and the like. It's not really geek-oriented, which I think limits its appeal (to me at least).

It's a work in progress, and I'm interested in input: Suggestions, bug reports, annoyances, feature requests, ideas anyone might think fit with the overall concept, etc.


I had an idea of using a monochrome theme for the icons. It turned out like I thought it would, but I'm not as enamored with the idea as I was now that I've seen it. Part of that is due to the fact that I'm not really very good drawing with a mouse. So here's a question: Would a more conventional set of Android-type icons be more appropriate? Or perhaps keep the monochrome idea, with the ability to change the background color (e.g. green, gray, magenta, etc.)? If the general consensus is that the icons should be more conventionally Android-themed, are there any hotshot graphics designers out there interested in creating 30 or so icons? Call me, let's do lunch!

News Feeds

The news feeds are mostly from Reuters. I like those because they update often, and there's a lot of them. Handstand does not (currently) allow you to set your own RSS feeds, import OPML, etc. So input here is appreciated: Would you rather see this feature added to Handstand, or a dedicated news reader application that allows that? My thinking here was that some members of its intended audience would probably not be all that interested in setting up their own feeds, or maybe even know what RSS feeds are.

Stock Quotes

This feature could use some work. What would make this more interesting? If it could manage Google Finance transactions or something, would that make it more appealing? Inquiring minds want to know.


You can see the weather in your area, plus forecasts for other locations. Meh. Maybe if a little talking guy would tell me the weather forecast for my area, it would be cooler. In any case, you can view weather forecasts for whatever cities you specify, and view detailed forecast info on Wunderground with it.

Movie Times

This one, I kind of like. Given your current location, the "Movie Times" screen shows theaters within 15 miles or so of your location, and lists the movies playing there. From this screen, you can call the theater, show it on a map (and subsequently get directions to it), see the movies playing there (and their times, hence the name "Movie Times"), plus see info about the movie if it's listed in IMDB.

Sports Scores

This screen shows you a set of recent sports scores. You can pick which sports you're interested in seeing, e.g. NCAA Men's Basketball. It only shows the scores for recent games, so you can pick all available sports.

My Location

Sometimes, I find myself in a location where I don't know the address. This screen shows that, which I've found useful at times. The information comes from Google's reverse geocoder. Where I live and where I work are separated by a vast expanse of pastoral rurality. When passing through that area, sometimes the "My Location" screen tells me I'm in "North America." All I can say is, thanks Google! Good to know that my route to/from work doesn't take me through Afghanistan or France!

In any case, the accuracy of the information shown in "My Location" improves with movement, assuming your GPS is turned on. The relevance of the information improves if you're on a street with numbers and such as well.

The My Location screen also shows the nearest intersection, which can be useful. It even works out in the middle of the aforementioned rural expanse.

Nearby Places

If you find yourself wondering what might be nearby, the "Nearby Places" screen can be handy. It shows a list of nearby cities. You can touch any of them and see the location on the map. This information comes from I originally used the Google geocoder for this information, since it can give you the names of places of interest, like "Golden Gate Bridge" or "Place where that guy in Google's Street View was caught on camera peeing beside a road sign." But in my area, the information is less interesting. I get things like my own zip code, the name of a nearby creek, the town I live in, and of course "North America". There's something a little disappointing about clicking on an item in this list, and seeing a map of the world. So, it is. I wonder if making this selectable would be useful? I could do that easily enough.


Having spent a month writing this application in my spare time, I'm a little bored with it. I don't know if my boredom with it stems from the fact that I've been messing with it for so long, or if it's just a boring application.

Anyway, it's a work in progress. It will be interesting to see what people think of it.