Pebble Steel

pebblesteelPebble introduced the Pebble Steel back at CES.  It’s a good looking watch.  I’m glad to see Pebble improving on a pretty solid product.  I use my Pebble regularly (way more than my Google Glass) and for the basics of telling the time and email/text notifications, it just works.  I’ve looked at the SDK and I have some ideas for apps, but I always have more ideas than time.  I really wish there was some way to trade in my current Pebble towards a Pebble Steel.  On top of looking a lot more professional, the Pebble Steel also has more memory and a tri-color LED.  Definitely not a huge tech jump, but still better than the most recent iPhone updates in my opinion (come on, a finger print scanner).  I’m still not impressed by the Samsung Galaxy and I don’t know which of the iWatch concepts to believe.  I’m also still waiting on my Kreyos, which has nicer features than the Pebble, but now is lacking in the looks department.  Wearable tech is definitely getting better (and more expensive) so we’ll see what comes next.  I’m excited…

FinCapDev Competition

FinCapDevSince I’m a hackathon junkie, I thought I would post about some interesting hackathon/challenges I come across.  I originally heard about FinCapDev on ChallengePost over a year ago.  The premise is pretty simple, submit a proposal for a mobile app to help Americans save money and/or make better financial decisions.  And yes, it’s not the most logical thing to help people save money by requiring them to have a mobile device to use your app.  I thought they should have made it open to web apps which I think would be more accessible (at least you can get on the Internet for free at a library).  Anyways, while I might disagree with the rules, I do think the goal is noble and if even a small handful of users benefit from the apps, then it’s worthwhile.  I applied for the 2013 competition, but didn’t make the cut.  My idea was to build an online school for people to access through their phones that would try to teach financial basics through short videos/lessons with quizzes to see how well people understood the material.  The app could also provide a way for users to interact with others in similar situations trying to improve their financial situation.  I thought it was a good idea, but apparently it wasn’t good enough for the judges.  Anyways, they just started accepting submissions for their 2014 competition.  If you’re picked as a finalist, you can get $7,500 to build your app and present it in front of a panel of judges for a grand prize of $50,000.  You also get access to experts and SDKs/APIs if you’re chosen as a finalist.  I’m still looking for a team, so if you have an idea or want to help me, send me a tweet at @SolChea.

Lenovo buys Motorola

Motorola XI can’t believe Google sold Motorola to Lenovo for 2.91 billion dollars.  According to the blog post, Google will keep a majority of Motorola’s patents, but the hardware and team will go to work for Lenovo.  And while I say I can’t believe it, it’s more that I’m disappointed that Motorola won’t be as closely tied to Google and my Moto X may or may not get updates as frequently as if they were owned by Google.  I’m sure there are others that feel the same way.  Luckily, I bought my phone off-contract so if it doesn’t get updated, I’ll simply go out and buy another one. Anyways, it makes sense that Google bought Motorola for their patents to defend themselves and hopefully other Android device manufacturers.  I’m also glad that Lenovo will likely leave Motorola as an independent brand and still sell phones as Motorola phones rather than Lenovo phones.  I have never really taken to the Lenovo brand personally ever since they bought the Thinkpad brand from IBM.  So that’s the news for tonight… not exciting, a little sad but interesting nonetheless.

Games for Google Glass

Google GlassGoogle has released sample code for mini-games on their developers site to showcase game development abilities on the Google Glass.  Examples include Tennis, Balance, Clay Shooter, Matcher and Shape Splitter.  All are extremely simple but showcase different libraries available to developer to build games such as 2D and 3D rendering capabilities.  I still need to spend more time with the Glass SDK (or GDK as they like to refer to it) and start seeing what you have access to.  It does make me wonder if there will eventually be a huge demand for Glass developers similar to the huge demand for mobile developers (obviously Glass needs to become more main-stream and more geared towards consumers).  But in a year or so, there could be a demand for Glass Apps.  I can see obvious retail applications, social/location discovery, passive interactions with other technology just by looking at it.  I probably wouldn’t bet my future on the Google Glass being the wearable tech equivalent of the iPhone, but it does have potential and if any company can pull it off (besides Apple) it would be Google.

I will definitely do a write-up of my experience with developing Google Glass apps, but I also want to hack a web version of Samantha from “Her” – so stay tuned…

Google Chromecast

So I’ve been looking at the Google Chromecast for a while now… almost pulled the trigger when it was initially released. The only reason I don’t have one plugged into my TV right now is that I already have something plugged into every TV in the house. I have a PS3, Wii, XBox 360, Chromebox and occasionally a laptop or tablet. Oh, and I did have the RaspberryPi running as an XMBC server for a while as well. So I couldn’t really convince myself that I needed yet another device. On the other hand, a few of my friends have gotten these and they seem pretty happy so far. The only complaints I’ve heard is that it does take a while for it load and there is a noticeable lag when loading up Netflix compared to going through the XBox or PS3. Seems pretty cool and being able to control it from your phone is a nice touch (I can also do that with my RaspberryPi). So if you’re thinking about getting one or already have one, let me know why or why not on Twitter.

Fixing Google App Engine for PHP

Ever since Google App Engine decided to support PHP,  I said I would give it a try and I finally took took the leap.  And of course, as to be expected when trying something new, you typically fall flat on your face the first time you try.  So after creating a new application and installing the SDK, I try to run my app locally… I cross my fingers and hit Run… wait for it…

Screen Shot 2013-10-28 at 8.53.57 PM

Of course… big fat fail… anyways, I click ignore hoping it will still work.  I hit Browse and a new browser opens up… and then…

The PHP interpreter specified with the –php_executable_path flag (“/”) is not compatible with the App Engine PHP development environment.

"/ -v" returned an error [-11]

Okay… guess this isn’t meant to be… and after doing some Google searches, I find others having the same problem.  Anyways, after some research and dumb luck, I was able to get my local app working by running the following from my console: --php_executable_path=/usr/local/php5/bin/php-cgi /path/to/app

So that got me thinking and I decided to update the php-cgi reference inside the GoogleAppEngine resource folder. I simply renamed the existing php-cgi instance and I created a symlink to the version I manually installed:

 ln -nsf /usr/local/php5/bin/php-cgi php-cgi

So after doing this, I was finally able to use the App Engine Launcher.  I’m sure the packaged php-cgi just needs to be updated.  I saw some comments about how this only happens if you’re on OS X 10.7.5 – so maybe if I upgrade to Mavericks, it will be resolved.  Anyways, I thought I would just post this in case someone else needs a quick-fix.

Apple MacBook Pro w/ Retina Update

So I have been looking (aka drooling) over a new MacBook for a while.  I was mainly focusing on the MacBook air for a while, but ever since the Pro came out with the retina display, it was getting harder to decide between the two.  This latest refresh from Apple is very tempting since they have decreased the price.  I like the new price, but I’m not crazy about the decreased memory on the base-model, only 4GB vs. 8GB previously.  I think if I were to get one, I would go with the 8GB which would basically bump the price back up to its original pre-update price.  And truthfully, MacBooks have always been pricey no matter the configuration, so saving a couple hundred isn’t really much of a saving if you consider how much you’re paying.  And then there is the Air which is still a decent solution and the price for the 13″ model is pretty reasonable – in some ways, hard to justify the extra cost of the Retina.  Anyways, I still have my trusty MacBook Pro 15″ that’s working just fine but feels a little slow (totally in my head) and a little old (compared to the new ones of course).

AngelHack AppHACK 2013

So if you know me, you know I’m always down for a good hackathon. I’ve been to 2 AngelHack hackathons and they both were fun and very rewarding. Maybe I’ll write another post about all the amazing side-effects from going to these hackathons another time, but for now, let me focus on the AppHACK 2013. AppHACK 2013 is a slightly different format than previous AngelHack hackathons.  First, instead of being completely open-ended, AngelHack has opted to make the focus mobile (in case you aren’t aware of it, startups and mobile are almost synonyms at this point).  So while I do enjoy hacking a quick web app, I think having a mobile focus makes a lot of sense and will be fun.  Second, AngelHack is putting an emphasis on the quality/creativity of the hack itself – what this actually means is no Powerpoint presentations.  I’m curious how this will work and how people will present their apps.  Anyways, if you’re a coder, designer or just someone with a good idea, find the nearest AppHACK to you and sign-up.