Offline Webapps with HTML5 – slides from GDG Brunei DevFest W

GDG Brunei DevFestW - Offline Webapps with HTML5.png

2 weeks ago I had the opportunity to present a 15 minute technical talk to the GDG Brunei DevFest W organised by GDG Women Brunei.

I pre-recorded a video just in case that the Internet was not cooperative but thankfully the Internet was good.

Slides:

Demos:

Source code:

GDG Brunei

Standard Chartered Bank has not been good to me

Over the past few years Standard Chartered has left me with a very bad taste in my mouth and I’m not even directly a customer of theirs…

Here are their ‘crimes’ that they have committed against me

  1. Sent me unsolicited SMS messages
  2. Not giving me direct answers regarding a loan
  3. Not following up on a loan prepayment
  4. Not processing a loan prepayment request (~3 months and counting)
  5. Hanging up while trying to get a temporary Internet banking password over the phone

Sent me unsolicited SMS messages

Every so often I get an SMS from Standard Chartered with them offering some of their new service or their next big event. Not even having a bank account with them, I find this intrusive and unwanted. Contacted them vai the “Contact Us” link on the Brunei Standard Charted website. Let’s see what becomes of it.

Not giving me direct answers regarding a loan

Wife has a loan and she was overseas, so I tried to get some information about prepayment and some extra details. They said they couldn’t give it out the details of the loan payment scheduled or even how the amounts were calculated. Took several visits to finally get a print out of it payment schedule from which I had to manually figure out how they did the calculations in order to gauge different prepayment options.

Not following up on a loan prepayment

After doing the calculations, we asked regarding a loan prepayment and never got a response back. While I may never know the real answer, the skeptic in me thinks of a straight forward answer that they are told to delay things like this so they can make more money out of us.

Not processing a loan prepayment request (~3 months and counting)

Back in December, finally sent a prepayment request which is still pending approval. What kind of approval is needed? Followed up with the loan office and was told that ‘it was sent for approval’. Comes back to the notion of delays to get more money out of us.

Hanging up while trying to get a temporary Internet banking password over the phone

While it is not a person physically doing the hanging up, after making the appropriate selection on the automated phone system, it rings once or twice and then just hangs up. Who are we supposed to contact, if the number provided doesn’t even enable us to get in contact with a live person.

Does it matter?

Perhaps its been one of those weeks that are physically short but mentally long and draining, but Standard Chartered has not been good to me and somebody needs to know.

Is this a rant? Probably.

Are the scenarios made up? I wish they were.

Is Standard Charted a good bank? Not in my experience thus far.

What do I hope to achieve with this? Some venting. Also a weird wish that Standard Charted will in get contact with me to sort it all out, but more importantly, to improve their service. But whatever happens, for the time being I’ll have to live with the annoyances of SCB in my life. Here’s to hoping it doesn’t have to be a long term thing.

 

Update: Seems that we have go actually physically visit Standard Chartered in order to get it sorted out. Not exactly an easy option to just fly in to sort it out, but I guess there isn’t really much of an option….

Standard Charted Email

So You Want to Develop for Android – Google I/O Extended Brunei (2012)

An overview of Android development with a quick and easy way to get started in cross platform development (including Android) with PhoneGap, presented at Google I/O Extended Brunei. The presentation aims to provide attendees with basic understanding of Android development and providing them tools to create an actual application.


(this is a recorded presentation done after the actual event due to Internet connectivity issues during the event prevented an ideal recording environment)

Links

  1. Hackathon file list

    linked at http://tiny.cc/googleiobn complete with installation guide, tutorials, sample code and presentation slides used for the presentation

  2. PhoneGap Sample Code on GitHub

  3. “So You Want to Develop for Android” presentation slides

I prepared the materials assuming attendees would have no or very little Java programming background (which is needed for Android development) and thus a platform like PhoneGap was ideal as it provided an easy starting point into app development utilizing HTML and Javascript which are easier technologies to understand, and that more people would have exposure to. Based on the actual session, this assumption proved to be true and I believe was a good starting point and it has even spurred @mfirdaus to dabble with some Android development.

I highly encourage Brunei developers out there to contribute and give back to the community. During our time, there were no such developer events to my knowledge, and with social media, it is so much easier to get the word and out and just meet up and provide the young developers in the country with opportunities that we never had.

Footnote: Background

I was contacted by Cikgu Azaman (@azlinux) over a month ago regarding having a Google I/O Extended in Brunei. A hackathon was to be conducted and after throwing around a few ideas, I was put in charge of presenting an Android development session as in intro for the hackathon.

The event was held at iCentre on 27th June and while Internet connectivity didn’t allow a proper Google+ Hangout with a live video presentation (i.e. there was gagal-ness in trying to get things up and running) so we resorted to an audio Skype call while @mfirdaus went through the presentation slides at the Brunei side. So I thought it would be best to do a recorded presentation after the fact for a more complete presentation.

The Brunei Times Unofficial Android App beta

After hearing that the Brunei Times introduced their iPad app and discovering that there is a mobile e-paper for iOS devices that served regular jpg files, I thought it would be great to have an Android app to do something similar to the iPad app.

Features:

  • Downloads current days paper and saves to SD card (/sdcard/Pictures/bt/date)
  • Pages download in the background
  • If all pages are downloaded, no further network connection is needed

Todo:

  • Add home screen for listing all previously downloaded papers
  • Possibly find the high resolution images used in the iPad app
  • Notification of download status
  • Carousel image gallery with multi-touch zoom as seen in image viewers (swipe to move page to page)

So after dusting off some Android development cobwebs I have managed to get the following beta app for your feedback =)

Direct APK download

draft

Places to get Macbook, Macbook Pro, Macbook Air Power Adapters in Brunei

A couple months back my 2 year old 13" MacBook Pro’s power adapter fizzled into oblivion while in the middle of working on a project. And thus began the quest for a MBP power adapter. Coincidentally lots of places were out of stock (AV, Yihfa, Dee Jay) or required a custom order which would take several days and thus I even considered knock-off power adapters from B.I.T. The next step was looking up if other Apple laptop power adapters would work to replace my 60W power adapter. AV did not recommend using a 85W power adapter for 15" MBP on my 13" MBP but after looking things up online it seems fine: the main take away is to ensure the same voltage but higher or equal amperage. Even Apple says a high wattage (voltage*amperage) power adapter is fine (via StackExchange: "Can a 60W MagSafe power adapter work interchangeably on a Macbook Pro that “requires” an 85W adapter?").

Surprisingly enough, I found my power adapter at Incomm at the Mall as I randomly just walked in to look a some phones.

Places to get Apple power adapters:

  • AV – Kiulap, The Mall, KB
  • Dee Jay – Gadong (same row as McDonalds – other branches doesn’t seem to stock power adapters)
  • Netcom – Kiulap, The Mall – custom order (thus will take a few days)
  • Yihfa – Kiulap
  • QQeStore
  • Yappe – Serusop
  • Incomm – Gadong, The Mall
  • BIT Computer – Kiulap (knock off / non original chargers)

MovemberBN Android App

Been super busy finishing up contract work and now MovemberBN. With KristalFM being the official broadcast station for MovemberBN and their recent relaunch with an online streaming option, I thought it would be fitting to have an Android streaming app for KristalFM.

Direct APK Download

This app is still very beta and there are quite a few improvements I am looking at implementing on a standalone KristalFM app

To-do

  • Notification & Background service
  • Track/Buffering information

If there is anything else you would like to add for a standalone app, do let me know in the comments.

A Message to Brunei Website Owners – Do you value money or people?

Step 1: Build website
Step 2: Fill page will ads
Step 3: ????
Step 4: Profit?!?!?!

My main issue is ads that seem to fill many Bruneian websites. I understand the need to make money, but when I see multiple and obtrusive ad spots all over your page, it really turns me off. To me, it conveys that you value the money from your advertisers more than you value my experience (as a customer / viewer) on your site. I’m sure everybody is familiar with one of the biggest offenders in Brunei which is BruDirect. Going to the page and I’m greeted with 4 huge ads and no content. I’m not sure how everybody else feels about it, but I for one tend to boycott these sites by not going to them.

I would also like to raise the question as to why so many Brunei websites do this and if there are any globally popular websites that do the same kind of obtrusive ad marketing. I personally can’t name any (perhaps because if I did run into it, I probably boycotting it =p). But either way, I would like to know your thoughts on this matter and, if you would be so kind, do answer the questions below and leave your reply in the comments. Add any additional remarks or comments as you wish.

  1. Do you find ad filled pages in Brudirect ok?
  2. Do you find them annoying?
  3. Do you still read the website?
  4. If you find them annoying and still read the website, why do you put up with it?
  5. How many ads is too much?

Note: I started this post several days back when I ran into a new website (can’t remember the exact URL) that had all those "Your-ad-here" spaces which seemed to litter the page. I’m not against ads as a whole, just website owners who seem it is best to fill the page with all of them. I took some time to let this post sit here so I can simmer down with my utter disdain for the act of ads littering a page. Maybe I’m too idealistic, maybe I just want a better experience when viewing websites or maybe I’m full of it. Let me know in the comments.

Creating a Brunei Apple App Store Account Without a Credit Card

As mentioned in our episode of Corner Geeks 8: The Brunei Apple App Store, the video below documents how to create a Brunei account without a credit card.

Do note:

  1. not all apps seem available (e.g. WhatsApp) but most seem there.
  2. no music / movies / TV shows available
  3. AV mentioned that they currently selling Brunei iTune gift cards

The gist of the process:

  1. Load the App Store in iTunes
  2. Search for a free app (e.g. Angry Birds)
  3. Download the free app
  4. Sign up from the dialog box
  5. Select "None" as a "Payment Method" section during the registration

I still think getting a US iTunes Account is still the best option as it is completely unrestricted. You can create a US account without a credit card, using the same method above but select US instead of Brunei. You will need to buy gift cards online though, and I have bought iTune gift cards from both PC Game Supply and Jerry Cards with good results so thus far. See which works best for you and join the ecosystem that has yet to be rivaled (especially outside the US).

Sony Ericsson Xperia Mini Pro – a Great Budget Android Phone?

Among my usual habits, I will check availability and prices of phones on Incomm and I was surprised to see the Xperia Mini Pro going for B$378.

This phone seems to be a phone I would buy, if I didn’t buy my LG Optimus One, as a great budget Android phone which seems to have the least compromises. Check out the video that I managed to get at Incomm as I played with the device.

Notable Specifications

  • Android 2.3 Gingerbread: the current major version of Android of phones
  • Connectivity: 3G (HSDPA 7.2Mbps, HSUPA 5.76Mbps), WiFi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 2.1
  • 3" HVGA (320×480) screen: a bit small in size but good resolution that is widely supported by all apps
  • Slide out landscape QWERTY keyboard
  • 1GHz Snapdragon CPU with Adreno 205 GPU
  • 512MB RAM
  • 400MB for apps (according to GSM Arena): a bit small but acceptable for a budget phone and sadly (for Arc users) it is the same amount as the Arc based on Sony’s specs which says up to 320MB (Arc vs Mini Pro)
  • 5MP rear camera with autofocus, flash and 720p video recording (auto focus while recording video, recorded in mp4 encoded with h264, aac)
  • VGA front facing camera for video calls
  • Supports Adobe Flash
  • Plays 720p videos (mp4 encoded with h264,aac)
  • Can open PDFs and Microsoft Office documents (doc,docs,xls,xlsx,ppt,pptx)
  • microSD support up to 32GB
  • 1200mAh battery

Full specifications at Sony Ericsson or GSM Arena

I really like that this budget phone seems to have practically no compromises for a budget phone: there doesn’t seem to be any major show stoppers. Most budget phones will have no front facing cameras and won’t have cameras that can record 720p. A budget phone won’t have a keyboard nor a 1GHz CPU. The CPU couple with a GPU and sufficient RAM should ensure this device is smooth and usable for the regular user.

The main issue is the small 3" size of the screen (iPhone: 3.5", Optimus One & Wildfire S: 3.2", Galaxy Mini: 3.14"): a small size coupled with a high resolution may make some text small to read and will make using the onscreen keyboard a bit difficult. Thankfully there is a physical keyboard on the Xperia Mini that should help alleviate this (as long as the keyboard is good and usable). Also the smaller 1200mAh battery (vs 1500mAh of the Optimus One) may give it less battery life, but that also depends on the amount of work being done: with a better CPU, the same amount of work may require less energy from the Xperia Mini. I guess we’ll just have to wait for more in-depth reviews with battery life scores and this is the main unknown factor at the moment. Another compromise would possible be the UMTS frequency band support with it only being dual (900/2100) or triband (800/1900/2100) depending on where it is purchased but I don’t think this will affect many. Most of these issues/compromises are acceptable for a budget device.

With that said, I think I could tentatively highly recommend this phone to users but only after they take a look at it and try to use the keyboard and check to see if the text is too small on the device; and also after some battery life tests are published – all the features are of no use if the battery life is bad. From my use with it, the screen and text size seem fine but my fat thumbs did have a bit of an issue with typing. It could play 720p video, Flash video and even edit office documents. Overall a snappy device and I’m just very impressed at what Sony Ericsson managed to pack on this device hitting all the right check boxes giving the user minimal compromises. Great job Sony Ericsson, now improve your higher end devices!

Sample Photos (note front camera was covered with a thin plastic film):

Sample Video from rear camera:

Acer Iconia A500 Debunking Misinformation from Brunei Times

I’m pretty happy that @denogoh likes to cover Android but I was pretty sad to see that some of the arguments he made regards to the A500 where just wrong or could be misinformation. This article came out in the Brunei Times on Wednesday 18th May 2011. Below is a screenshot of the E-Paper version

the A500 has a proper-sized USB slot. The list of things you could do with this fabulous gadget include transferring files from pendrive or external harddisk, plug a dongle for Internet wherever you go in the world, very easily find a cable to connect to whatever you want to connect it to)

Just because there is a USB port doesn’t mean it will support any USB device: it needs the necessary drivers for the OS to communicate with the USB device. For instance, there is no mouse support yet (but is supposed to come soon with an over-the-air upgrade). It seems some people are working to get a 3G USB dongle to work with some success but it doesn’t look like something for a regular user.

not to mention it’s quite light (lighter than the iPad 2)

But it is not lighter than the iPad 2 which according to Apple specs is 1.33pounds (601g) for the Wi-Fi only model and 1.35 pounds (613g) for Wi-Fi+3G model. The Acer Iconia A500 is “0.4 pounds heavier than the iPad 2” according to Laptopmag.com while Gigaom reports the weight to be 1.69 pounds and Carrypad reports: 765g. All 3 different sources say that it is heavier.

The video capabilities of the tab is not something to boast about as well, but you do get 1080p later this year

While it does not support extra codecs, the standard H264 in MP4 format, AAC, MP3 should all work fine and they are the typical formats available: similar to the iPad 2. Otherwise software decoding could be used though players like RockPlayer Lite to play files that is not initially supported. Currently 720p output is available with 1080p output to come in the future.

Currently the A500 32GB version is going for B$728 at Concepts which is cheaper than a 32GB iPad at B$798 (however there is a 16GB iPad2 which is cheaper, currently it seems that the 16GB A500 is not brought in). @mfirdaus and I will try do a (possible live stream) video later doing an overview of Honeycomb and the device itself