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All posts for the month October, 2012

A new release (1.8) for Meeting Minutes Pro has been released today. It should be available in Google Play in another 3-4 hours. It will be available on BlackBerry App World and Amazon App Store in the next couple of days.

This release adds the following features to the app:

  • Export Meetings into MS Word XML format in addition to PDF and HTML
  • Usability improvement – Long press on Agenda, Discussion and Action Items to create duplicate items
  • Usability improvement – Long press on empty area of any list to create a new item of that type
  • Improved Error handling
  • Minor bug fixes

More than 50 million people across the US East Coast are about to face nature’s fury in another few hours. Subways, Schools, Offices, Stock Exchanges etc are now closed in what is supposed to be the busiest region in the US. The hurricane has virtually brought the entire US East Coast to a halt.

The scientific community thinks they know the reason (low pressure, high pressure and so on…) behind ferocious acts of nature like this one. The religious community thinks that everything that happens (including Sandy) in this universe is orchestrated by GOD and some of them think that GOD is punishing us this way for our misdeeds .

Whoever you might be and whatever you think it is important to know that even with all scientific advancements and improved technology there is very little (rather nothing) that humanity can control when it comes to nature. We just are able to predict certain (definitely not all) events that help us to be better prepared. Our life is a random event across the infinite evens that happened since the universe came into existence. There is no guarantee that if everything were to start from the beginning again, we (not just I or you but the entire humanity in itself) would come into being again. Life is short. Life is awesome. Be good, do good and enjoy life to the fullest…(:-)

There might be many reasons why you want to run Android apps on your PC/Mac. Let us see some reasons that I can think of.

  • You want to play that game your friend/colleague was playing on a tablet but don’t own smartphone/tablet yet
  • You have ordered a smartphone/tablet and waiting for its delivery. There is an offer on an app that you definitely don’t want to miss
  • You just want to try out the Android ecosystem before investing on a device
  • You want to try an app created by a friend but don’t have a device
  • And so many other reasons….

Whatever the reason might be, I am sure it is good enough for you to want to be able to do something about it from your PC. Here is where BlueStacks can help. BlueStacks is an Android App Player for Windows and Mac. While the Windows version is in beta and considered to be relatively stable, the Mac version is in Alpha and doesn’t have too many apps available yet.

Note: I am in no way associated/affiliated with BlueStacks.

Let me start by quickly explaining the trigger for this post. I have (just) two apps. One of them is essentially a demo/limited functionality version of the other. However, I have currently 5 different packages/versions for these two apps. While a good part of the code/functionality is common between the different versions, there are some differences that force me to maintain the 5 different packages/versions.

1. Meeting Minutes – Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) and above

2. Meeting Minutes – Android 2.3 (Gingerbread) and Android 3.0 (Honeycomb)

3. Meeting Minutes Pro – Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) and above

4. Meeting Minutes Pro – Android 2.3 (Gingerbread) and Android 3.0 (Honeycomb)

5. Meeting Minutes Pro – BlackBerry Android port

Bring in Windows, iOS and BlackBerry Native and this number is bound to grow, at least, to 10 if not more. It is simply unmanageable. Maintaining multiple sources of the same data/application can be extremely difficult and challenging. It is always better and easier to eliminate the duplicates and end up having just one source.

However, the current direction of the industry is the opposite. A few years ago, a bank needed to have just one version of online banking application. Now they still have the traditional online banking application but in addition there is a .mobi site and apps in multiple platforms. Even though all or most of these front-end applications use the same back-end services, managing and maintaining multiple different front-end applications in the longer run can become a huge overhead and very expensive. HTML 5 was one hope to bring in some convergence but hasn’t delivered the expected results.

There is a strong need for some kind of convergence of the platforms or the development of tools that make porting apps from one platform to the other relatively easier.  In-the-box and j2objc are good steps in this direction. j2objc is a smart move by Google. Google is essentially encouraging developers to develop first for Android by providing tools that help in porting Android apps into iOS. Hope to see a lot more progress on this front in the days to come.

Edit: My friend @ajuluri pointed out two more tools (Rhodes Mobile and Phone Gap) available for cross platform development..

Apple released the iPad mini yesterday apart from a host of other new-new and old-new devices. Marketing folks at Apple are pretty good and can make even the worst product look great with their innovative charts and statistics. One other fact that was noticed by everyone but not specifically announced by Apple was the sunset of the old new iPad (3rd gen) that was released only in March this year. Apparently, Apple is clearing their stock of the 3rd gen iPads as refurbs starting at a price of $379. The new new iPad (4th gen) is the same as the old new iPad (3rd gen) but has the lightning connector and the A6X processor.

Here is a quick comparison of the 4 popular 7 inch tablets in the market. In this comparison I have used the Google (ASUS) Nexus 7 as the baseline with which the other three are compared. It is clearly evident from this comparison that the iPad mini is essentially an outdated and overpriced device. In more simple terms it is an iPad 2 in a smaller casing. And it is also clearly evident that the Nexus 7 emerges as the WINNER. Kindle Fire HD is a pretty good device that will work for those that consume a lot of content from Amazon.

** – It is rumored that the 32 GB Nexus 7 will be introduced by the end of this month. Some folks have already been able to purchase it at some retail stores in the US.

%% – It is also rumored that the 32 GB Nexus 7 will be sold at $249 while the 16 GB variant will be sold at $199. The 8 GB variant will apparently be discontinued.

## – Prices of the Kindle Fire HD without special offers has been considered for the comparison.

Note: Google doesn’t write me any checks (though I would be more than happy if they did) out of the profits they make out the Nexus 7. I personally own a 16 GB Nexus 7.

To start with, I strongly believe that neither Capitalism nor Socialism are good in their purest form. A mixture of both is something that would work and help people of a country. The proportions of the mixture would depend on the specific situation of that country.

Of late, politicians across the world have been kind of turning people into lazy and unproductive masses. They count their achievements in terms of the number of freebies doled out to people during their days in power. There is an old saying that goes like “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime”. Sometimes it is very important to give that fish in the short term. However, it is equally important, if not more, to ensure that people are taught how to fish.

While watching the US presidential debate yesterday, there was one statement from Romney that stuck in my mind and prompted me to write this. Romney quoted the increase in the number of Americans living on food stamps between 2008 and 2012 and said “I want to make sure we get people off food stamps, not by cutting the program but by getting them good jobs”. Not that I endorse him or his thoughts or policies in general but I definitely LOVED this particular statement.

I was first introduced to “apps” when I bought my first smartphone (an iPhone 2G) sometime around April 2008. Creating an app myself has been an idea ever since but I never really took the plunge given the requirements of a Mac and a $99 registration fee with Apple. Time moved on and sometime in the early days of 2012, I came across a promotion from RIM that promised to give a BlackBerry PlayBook to developers who port their Android app and submit to RIM. Well, this seemed like a great opportunity. I was not too busy at work that required me to spend more than 8 hours in office those days and I felt motivated enough to take the plunge into app development. Just before this, in December 2011, I was involved in a short term consulting project that required me to organize 5-6 meetings a day. To keep track of all those meetings, we had to document them and it was a very tedious task. I felt the need for something that would make these meetings easier to organize and track. Fresh from that experience, I didn’t have to spend much time on the idea for my first app. That is how “Meeting Minutes” was born. I had only 15-20 days to create, test and submit the app to RIM. Having no experience of Java or Android SDK, it was initially tough but the motivation was strong and I did eventually earn that BlackBerry PlayBook from RIM. The response was good and I continued improving the app and eventually released a paid version at an initial price of $0.99. Again, the response was good and I received several emails from folks that purchased my app appreciating my efforts and how my app is different and useful from other similar apps available. The updates to the apps kept rolling (based on the free time available after my day job) and as of this post the free version has been downloaded more than 3000 times and the paid version has been purchased by more than 300 folks…