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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

I hate McAfee

I absolutely hate McAfee antivirus. It sucks your CPU dry. This is the second company that I have worked at that uses this pile of crap. It makes my machine nearly unusable. I have used other anti-virus software that does not cause this issue.

McAfee insists on looking at every JAR file. Since they really are ZIP files it wants to open and unzip and look all the damn time. It is killing me. We had the tech team set up some exemptions and that worked for a bit but I have a feeling they got wiped out and I am back to not being able to write code. Anything using JAR files is super slow. I can't get any work done this morning so I decided to bitch on my blog instead.

I don't get viruses. I don't download stupid crap. I don't fall for scams on the internet. I just want to code but today I can't do that due to a piece of crap software that as NEVER during my time using it ever caught anything on any computer that I use EVER. I have put up with this crap for year and I hate it, hate it, hate it.

There has to be a better way for it to ignore stuff it has looked at 50 times already in a single day. Come on people, your software sucks and it is ruining my productivity. It has never helped me in the 6+ years I have been tortured by your crap.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Only doing Android work - what a change of pace

At my new position I am only doing Android development where before I was doing Android / iPhone and desktop Java. First off it is a bit weird only having one computer, one IDE, one mouse and one keyboard to deal with. Everything is the same each day. You don't have to mentally switch gears multiple times a week.

What it does make you think about is pushing the one platform you are on even farther than before. I was always in a bit of a rush. I needed this working on both iOS and Android so I got it working on each but maybe not the best on each. Now I can say "I need this working on the Android and I need to to work and look the best possible." I don't care if what I am doing it pain in the behind on iOS, there is another team to worry about that. I don't have to think about desktop Java at all.

I am finding this new mentality is really helping me discover areas of the Android platform I had not had the time or energy to investigate in the past. I have been playing around with animations. We need to swap an image view between the front and back of a check. I started with a simple one, changed it to a fade in / fade out as suggested by another developer then I switched it again on Friday to a simple animation that makes it look the check is flipping. I am pretty happy with the current iteration.

The other bonus is I have the ear of a second Android developer. Being the solo mobile guy at the last place had a number of disadvantages. No one to bounce ideas off of, do code reviews, suggest a better way, a new animation, better color schemes, different layout ideas etc. The other guy has a lot of different Android experience than I do. He had worked with JSON before so got that part running quickly. I had done custom controls and a lot of layouts so I had that handled. We both know to use styles, the string table and other XML files to keep things clean.

The code we inherited looked like it was the first Android project written by this off shore team. We had a lot of general clean up to do before we even wanted to touch the guts as they did not follow any of the general Android guidelines.

We are finishing up the process of making this a real Android app. They locked all the screens into portrait. That may be acceptable for a game but not for a main text based application. The iPhone team locked it all into portrait too because doing both portrait and landscape under iOS can be a pain. Sure, there are some gotchas in Android but it is pretty darn flexible on the layout side of things and it is easy to create the directories you need. Plus we are working on having it look nice on phones and tablets. The iOS team is not doing a universal app so iPad owners will get the less the satisfactory 2x experience.

They are not too worried about Android tablets telling us there is little demand there. Not sure they are looking forward enough. There are going to be a lot of 7" tablets from Google and Amazon under the tree this year along with iPads and iPad minis. I know I use my tablet a lot around the house and I figure more and more people will be using them too. For this battle I am making sure it looks nice and is operational on a tablet. It is not tablet optimized but if you use a tablet I don't want you to scream and run away when you fire up this application.

I would suggest they do a universal app for iOS too but I think that will fall on deaf ears. The current team is very new to iOS, learning it on the fly in fact. Since I sit a converted break room with the other Android developer and two of the iOS team I get to hear their issues. Most of them I know about having done iOS development for a year. At least they are going after iOS 5.x and above and can use the new memory management aspect. The current code does not but all new code can. That will be a huge help. I was using that on the final iPad project I worked on at the old job and I know I could get used to doing it.

The one thing I really miss from the old job is dual 24" monitors. I have a dual screen set up now, the laptop screen and a 21" screen with a less than stellar resolution. The Android emulator barely fits on a screen height wise. Developing means you have a ton of windows open: Outlook, instant messenger, browser, text editor for notes, Eclipse, emulator, music player, command prompt, paint program, etc. These little 1400x900 screens just don't cut it. A a contractor I am considering picking up a bigger screen and hauling it in just to keep my self slightly sane. Companies need to realize how important screen space is to a developer. My dual screen set up at home is a better configuration than I have at work and that is kind of sad.

All in all it has been a good experience so far. They have work lined up so I know there is plenty to do. I am becoming a better Android programmer every day and using more of what the SDK has to offer. As long as I am growing at a job I am happy. The people are friendly and having another Android coder next to me has be a huge help.

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.