Archive - Jun 2014

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June 29th

Random Stuff

Life has been too busy for me to write much recently. There are a lot of ideas in the works that I hope will see the light of day soon, Turtle Redux, CoPolicy, more on programming the watch and teaching kids to code. Perhaps even something on SocialMediaSunday and Ramadan. Thoughts about undoing racism, various political campaigns, like Zephyr Teachout’s in New York. Then, there is the Facebook experiment.

Without having the time I would like to delve into any of these with as much depth as I would like, I’m doing a quick summary of thoughts. Currently, I have twenty tabs open in browsers. Many of them are articles about something else I want to explore.

From those silly quizzes, I’ve found that I’m like Walt Whitman, the musical Les Mis, and the Norse God Njord. Besides the Facebook issue, there is an article on gender and education, Average IQ of students by college major and gender ratio. At some point, I should spend some time responding to that.

Another post which caught my eye, which I should go back and read more closely is Your Lifestyle Has Already Been Designed (The Real Reason For The Forty-Hour Workweek). It seems like combining this with the gender article, the Facebook research and THX 1138 could yield some interesting writing.

I also have a page open to Viewster’s online film festival. The voting has closed, the winners will be announced on the 7th, but I should spend some time checking out some of the films.

Also worth noting is that the 2014 Emerging Artists Showcase Performers for Falcon Ridge have been selected. I need to review them.

Fiona is interviewing SuperMonkey on her radio show tonight.

In geek space, a couple links that caught my attention are Biltzortung. This shows realtime lightning information and you can set up your own detector with information from the page. There is an article about what is claimed to be The most efficent wind turbine, so sale soon for about $5,500 and generating “an average of 1,500 kilowatt-hours of energy” per year.

I’m also looking at Basis, another smartwatch/fitness tracker. I’m curious about how it compares to Gears 2 and other devices. How programmable will it be? Next to that tab, I have the Samsung Gear Application - Getting started guide. I also have a tab open about Extensible Metadata Platform (XMP). I’ve been thinking about better ways to organize photos.

Also, there is the news that the Chrome OS will Run Android Apps Natively, Sync with Android Devices. This sounds really interesting, when it is ready. I’m also waiting for the next update to Glass which is expected to include a viewfinder for the camera.

In the area of health equity, I recently came across People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond’s Undoing Racism. I’ve also added Chimamanda Adichie’s TED Talk, The danger of a single story to my viewing list.

On the political side, there is Policies to Address Poverty in America. It looks like there is a lot of content there, but the question becomes, how to digest it into policy statements for a campaign. This reflects an interesting way to look at policies. On the one hand, you have the talking heads on cable news, spouting simplistic black and white talking points. On the other hand, you have policy briefs from think tanks that are so dense that they do get read as often as they should. Then, you have the problem of how to take all of this and weave it towards specific, attainable legislative action.

Staying on the more theoretical side, I’ve been thinking a lot about social contracts, and recently, how they relate to biblical covenants. This has led me to the Norwegian Peacebuilding Resource Center’s Social covenants and social contracts in transitions.

Then, there is the recent news about health issues in Connecticut, Access Health CT Looking Into North Haven Woman’s Policy Cancellation

Wrapping things, up, the latest thing on Facebook, that I’ve been finding annoyingly inane are the “If you think you’re so smart, in ten seconds think of a word that begins with T and ends with T, or starts with A and ends with E or starts with S and ends with P or a city that doesn’t have an A in it, etc.” It fits with all those things that no one will ever believe or will blow your minds.

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June 23rd

Programming in Tizen for the Samsung Gears 2 Smartwatch

A month or so ago, I got a Samsung Gears 2 watch. I was very excited to start programming for it, but have been too busy to really explore it, so I’ve been doing a little bit, here and there and finally have time to write a little bit about.

Background

First, a little background. I was pretty excited to see a watch running Tizen. One of previous cellphones was the Nokia N900, which ran a version of Linux called Maemo. I liked programming for Maemo and the Nokia N900. But Maemo was merged into MeeGo and my old N900 started falling apart so my Linux on mobile devices programming subsided as I became more involved in my current job.

Part of the reason I like open source development for mobile devices is that, in theory, it should lower the bar to entry making such programming more accessible. I’m not sure how well this has really worked out in practice, however, the community of Maemo developers was pretty good at it.

Unfortunately, Tizen on the Samsung Gears 2 Smartwatch really hasn’t developed a good open source community yet, as far as I can tell, and the documentation seems to me to be a bit obtuse. So, with that, let me share some of my experiences getting going programming the Gears 2 Smartwatch.

Installing the SDK

The first big caveat, I’m running on a Windows 8 based laptop. This presents plenty of additional challenges, but if I can get it running on this box, it should be possible to get it running a lot of places.

First step was to install Java. In theory, this should be nice and easy. However, these days, there are more and more different choices for flavors of Java. I installed Java SE Development Kit 8u5 - Windows x64.

I also downloaded the Tizen SDK. I wasn’t sure if I needed the Tizen SDK, the Tizen SDK for Wearable 1.0.0b1, and/or other parts. It now looks like all I really needed was the SDK for Wearable, but it doesn’t hurt to have both.

The next issue I ran into was that the install failed. Apparently, this is not a unique problem. There is a blog post about Installing Tizen SDK 2.0 on Windows 8 64 bit. After the install fails, the install manager is left in the f AppData\Local\Temp\tizensdk directory. In that directory, run javaw -jar InstallManager.jar, and you should be good to go.

At least, that worked for the Tizen SDK. However, when trying to run the Tizen SDK for Wearable, even that presented problems. I kept getting the error, “Cannot find repository http://”

I read through the Tizen forum Can't install Tizen Sdk for Wearable because of "Cannot find repository." There was a lot of discussion about HAXM, which I’ll get to later.

The comment at the bottom gave the working answer. How to install Tizen SDK for Wearable (Samsung Gear). You need to download the SDK image from the same place you downloaded the install manager, and then enter the location of the SDK image in the advanced options of the SDK Install Manager.

Installing HAXM

The installation of the Intel Hardware Accelerated Execution Manager went amazingly simply, especially given the problems installing the SDK.

However, I ran into one problem. The virtualization technology needed to be turned on in BIOS. To make things more complicated, my hard disk is encrypted so I don’t have a standard bootup process. The bootup also was set to boot without waiting for people to change BIOS settings, so it was a challenge to get the BIOS changed. I’m running an HP ENVY 15, and activating vt-x from bios gave me the information I needed, when I managed to hit the F10 quickly enough on Startup.

Learning the architecture

Being the old command line Linux programmer, I figured I should be able to connect into the Linux box (in this case the watch), bring up a shell prompt, and start developing. I’m also used to working with Google Glass which connects to the Internet via Wifi or Bluetooth tethering. With my Nokia N900, it would connect to the Internet, and then I could connect to the phone over the internet using Secure Shell, or even set up a web server on my phone. I was hoping to do something similar with the Samsung Gears 2 watch.

However, it appears as if the Gears 2 Watch is set up a bit differently. It communications with a Samsung Smartphone over Bluetooth, but does not use TCP/IP. The advantage of this is that you don’t need a special plan from your cellphone provider that permits Bluetooth tethering. However, it does significantly limit what you can do. I suspect someone will find a work around for this soon enough.

To deal with this the Gears 2 architecture is set up to run in a bunch of different modes, with applications running standalone on the watch, or communicating with an app on the phone. I have not dug deep enough to find if there is a decent generic proxy app for Gears 2, but I’m dubious. You can read more about the architecture here.

Starting the Emulator

The development environment is Eclipse. I started Eclipse from the \tizen-wearable-sdk\ide directory and started poking around. However, I couldn’t get the Gears 2 to show up and I had problems with the emulator.

While it should seem obvious how to set up the emulator, I scratched my head about it for a bit. So, the quick cheat sheet. In Eclipse, in the connection explorer in the lower left, click on the first icon entitled Emulation Manager. When the manager starts, click on Add New to create a new emulator. In the details on the right, enter the name of the emulator. I’ve created Test1 and Test2 using the defaults for all the other values. Click on Confirm at the bottom of that box.

Also, be sure you are doing this from the wearable-sdk. Otherwise, you’ll be setting up emulators for Tizen based smartphones.

Once you have your emulator created, click on the play button at the bottom of the emulator. This gets to wear I’ve run into different issues. I’ve tried launching the emulator manager multiple times and Eclipse complains that it is already running. Yet nothing show up in the list of available connections.

When I’ve clicked on the play button, nothing seems to happen, so I go on and try other things, which usually screw up everything. Be patient. On my machine, it takes about thirty seconds for the emulator to show up, and another thirty seconds before Eclipse discovers the emulator is running.

Once the emulator is running, you are ready to start testing.

Connecting the Watch

Again, this seems nice and straight forward. Connect the USB cable from the PC to the connector that snaps on the back of the Gears 2 watch. However, when I did that, I got nothing. It turns out that Windows needs driver updates to be able to recognize the USB device.

GUIDE: First Time with your new Tizen SDP - Drivers and certificate talks a bit about this and provides a link to SAMSUNG_USB_Driver_for_Mobile_Phones.zip I downloaded the zip file, ran the executable in it and the next time I connected my watch to my laptop, it showed up in the connection explorer.

Shell Access At Last!

With the watch connected, I could browse the files on my watch using Eclipse. I could also go into shell mode, using the command ‘sdb shell’ in the \tizen-wearable-sdk\tools directory. Looking at other sdb commands, there is ‘sdb root’ command. However, trying to enable root gives a Permission denied.

There is an article, [Hack] The Tizen Samsung Gear 2 and Gear 2 Neo get Root access I haven’t tried that yet since I haven’t gotten a need for root access yet.

And the development

I’ve been having problems with my machine crashing a bit recently, since I’ve started trying to develop for Gears 2. I’m not sure if the problem is with the IDE, the emulator, or completely unrelated, but it has been slowing down my testing. I did manage to side load a package on my watch using the commands in How to Install (sideload) .wgt app files on the Samsung Gear 2 smartwatch using SDB. This is also useful in finding out about certificates, which is an area I haven’t mastered yet. Once an application is slide loaded, removing it can be a challenge. How to uninstall an app in Tizen emulator? gives a good idea how to do it, except that the package id is in the config.xml file.

I’ve also run applications from Eclipse, which I’ll talk about more later.

I apologize for such a long detailed post about getting started with development for Gears 2. Hopefully, this will provide a good starting for others wanting to get going.

June 18th

Geek's Grief - RIP Pepper

The once animated photogenic face lies ashen, motionless in the casket, surrounded by symbols of a well lived life; an American flag is in the corner, a rosary in his hands and a Yankee’s jersey. The individual in the casket, the people gathered round and specific pictures on the easels are what make this different from all the other wakes in all the other funeral homes across our country. For those caught up in their grief, it is unique. For those who have been fortunate and have not been visiting too many funeral homes in the recent past, it is unique.

The pictures show a life well lived, with children and grandchildren at births and weddings. They show good times on a boat or at a hunting club. They show thin you men, little older than boys in Vietnam. Next to the pictures are medals earned.

While the war ended some forty years ago, it has ranged on inside many of our vets, and while the brief illness may have been referred to as organ failure by others, the organs were most likely victims of the ongoing conflict.

I look at the mourners, hard working men and women, cops, nurses, and teachers. I look at the friends who have shown up, burly men with bulging muscles, tattoos, Fu Manchu moustaches and pony tails. Perhaps they are friends from the VFW. Perhaps the Vietnam War rages on in some of them as well.

The ex-wife, whom everyone loves and was so sad when they split up is there with a male friend. The nephew’s ex-girlfriend, whom no one could understand why they broke up, they were so perfect together, is heartily hugged by all the relatives as the nephew stands by awkwardly. A woman that no one seems to know, who was a close friend for several years appears briefly, in deep grief.

We all have our own ways of mourning. Our grief can be complicated, ambiguous, disenfranchised, and it takes place against the backdrop of our lives. One friend has had a major court battle which has disrupted years of his life, take a very positive turn. I sit there quietly, amidst great turmoil in my work life.

I’m a geek. I’m normally connected to social media 24/7. Out of respect for the family, I leave my Google Glass in the car. I set my two cellphones and my smartwatch to vibrate. I know there will be emails for me, and messages on social media about an ex-employee hurtling down a self-destructive road.

A Catholic Deacon conducts a brief service for the deceased. Afterwards, I head home, listen to a few hymns and other songs of remembrance, and think happier aspects of my work, what to teach young kids about technology and how to program my smartwatch.

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June 13th

Little Brother

Recently, a friend posted on Facebook a link to Cory Doctorow’s post on BoingBoing, Why I'm sending 200 copies of Little Brother to a high-school in Pensacola, FL.

The principal of Booker T Washington High in Pensacola FL cancelled the school's One School/One Book summer reading program rather than letting all the kids go through with the previously approved assignment to read Little Brother, the bestselling young adult novel by Cory Doctorow. With Cory and Tor Books' help, the teachers are fighting back.

Before I learned that I’m supposed to be embarrassed to read young adult novels, I downloaded it for free.

At the top, Cory has “THE COPYRIGHT THING”. It is chock full of great quotes:

Universal access to human knowledge is in our grasp, for the first time in the history of the world. This is not a bad thing.

As to why he gives away his ebooks, he says,

For me -- for pretty much every writer -- the big problem isn't piracy, it's obscurity… I'm more interested in getting more of that wider audience into the tent than making sure that everyone who's in the tent bought a ticket to be there.

Well, I’m glad to help with that. Perhaps this blog post will encourage a few more people to check out Cory’s writing.

Yet the quote that has particularly jumped out at me is this:

If you're not making art with the intention of having it copied, you're not really making art for the twenty-first century.

Of course, I wonder what people who advocate not making art, just making something think about this final quote.

June 9th

The Return of Music Mondays

A few years ago, I tried to put up a blog post every Monday about music. Sometimes, the blog posts would be about Falcon Ridge Folk Festival or local concerts. Often, this would be tied to some performer calling into Fiona’s Radio Show.

Yet I’ve gotten pretty busy and have had less time to write blog posts and my music posts have fallen by the way side. A month or so ago, I put up a listing on SonicBids looking for performers that wanted to be on Fiona’s Radio Show, and we’ve gotten a bunch of submissions. Yesterday, I went and looked at the submissions.

Fiona is old enough now, with her own tastes in music, so she could select the performers that she wants on her show. She has selected two so far and so I’m busy scheduling performers for her to interview. Coming up soon, SuperMonkey

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