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Saturday, November 10, 2012

Life at the new job and a Galaxy Note as my testing device

Life at the new job has been interesting. They did not have an official place for me to sit on the first day so I took over the office of a guy who is on vacation. They found a place over in customer support so I moved there for a bit and now will move to a more permanent home in what use to be a small conference room that is being divided into 4 cubes. I will be in there with another Android developer and two iPhone developers. Will help us share a lot of ideas.

For my main testing device they gave me a Galaxy Note - original version not the new II. For some reason I thought it was going to be much larger as all the reviews jump all over that. It is larger than my main phone, a Galaxy S Vibrant. I actually like the size. Larger than my phone but not a tablet. I have been using it a lot a night to see what I think of it as I have considered getting a Note II when it goes on Black Friday sale, or at least I hope it goes on sale.

I wish the S-Pen worked a bit faster. I am hoping it does a better job keeping up on the Note II. On the model I have I must slow down my standard writing speed to have it draw what I think it is going to draw. I should not have to adjust to what the device can do, it should keep up with me. I have used the phone as a mini whiteboard. Again, drawing speed is a little slow but if I match the pace it works well. Using it to jot down notes at home is also handy, it sits right next to me and saves me from hunting down paper to remember something like "out of cat food". You can easily erase mistakes in your drawings too. I think this could be a great feature.

As far as a testing device it is really nice. Samsung seems to be very quick to grab back memory you once used and to kill activities as you move between them. It allows me to simulate low memory usage that would occur on a phone. This really comes into play as I am doing a lot of importing of images from the camera activity which is one area you can quickly run into memory limitations. I have been able to fix all the issues I have run into and make my code much more low memory proof than previous code I have written. Allowed me to learn all sorts of interesting things about Android programming.

After using the phone for about a week I would say it is a winner. I have been using it at night instead of my Xoom when I put my son to bed. At that time I am generally reading web pages, using Pulse or maybe playing a game. Being able to do that with one hand is really nice. I don't know if a 7" tablet would allow me to do the same thing or not as I don't have access to one. The Note fits in the hand without cramping. The screen is very bright and readable. I only charge is once a day. Web pages tend to be read in landscape mode but that works just fine. You get the side to side space you need for most websites but you do have to to a bit more scrolling vertically as you read pages. Nothing that is annoying, just something to keep in mind.

After I have time to test the S-Pen drawing speed on a Note II and it goes on sale I will probably buy one as my next personal device. I love the Xoom tablet and use it a lot. My phone is getting older and it only runs 2.2 which is pretty crappy. I need to use some of the new Android OS features to keep up with the programming world.

Working strictly on mobile development at my job has been nice. No shifting gears between iOS, Android and desktop Java during the day. One keyboard, mouse, language and IDE to keep straight.  I am happy I know Objective C so I can look at the code and see what they did as my first project is a conversion of the automatic check deposit functionality, thus me taking a lot of pictures. I am sure my cube mates are sick of hearing the sound of a camera shutter as am I. Friday morning I fixed my threading issue so I stopped taking pictures and started looking into the server API for send the deposits.

Being as I am a contractor I get to work Monday which the perms have the day off for Veteran's Day. I will be happy when I convert to a full time person allowing me to have all the bank holidays off like I did when I worked in the stock market industry.