Releasing Hover Browser

Today I released Hover Browser as an open beta for Android devices.

It’s a fork of Quickly’s floating browser which adds numerous options that previously weren’t available. Splitting off the browser from Quickly also allows me to have separate release cycles and not overly destroy people’s data plans by having new updates every other week.

You can join the community by clicking the Hover Browser link in the header of the page.

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Selfishly In Need of Help

The healthcare debate is an emotionally driven, shortsighted, and dividing topic when it doesn’t affect you.

For me it’s having my dad still around.

My dad has worked hard. Has overcome poverty under communism, child abuse and neglect that would make Dave Pelzer look well off, and managed to keep positive in complete disrespect for his presence as human being.

He’s also the man that removed my family from a conflict that led to genocide, provided for my family while working as a contractor in Germany, and brought my family to the US in the hopes of a better future. I am the beneficiary of his work ethic and positive outlook and I owe him more than I could enumerate in simple favors over a lifetime.

He’s the understated representative of the american dream as described by both dominating parties within the US. He is, what some consider self-made at the epitome of the concept. A shining beacon of what you can achieve in the U.S with hard work.

Yet, I nearly lost him because he can be a stubborn ass when it comes to unforeseen monetary expenditures.

My dad had/has super-ventricular tachycardia and since he has an underlying heart disease he was very likely to not survive an episode that led to a heart attack.

He had 4 such episodes, ones that nearly caused me to drop out of school because I was immature to handle the possible scenario where I might lose him.

Those 4 episodes were a common dialogue for those in need of help.

They would start out with his heart beginning to race. 120, 140, 180, 205.. followed by sweating, heavy breathing and very notable flu like symptoms. Then came the question of when is it going to end? Some episodes lasted 30 minutes, but kept progressing until they would be 1-2 hours in time, escalating in intensity.

Those 4 episodes of note were all in the 2+ hour stages, and didn’t end until we arrived at the hospital emergency room when they shot him up with doses of Adenosine.

Being a stubborn ass, my father never wanted to rush to the ER. Regardless of how bad his symptoms were, regardless of how much damage it would cause his heart. His entire perception on the situation was that we didn’t have money to cover the ER visits.

I would have to physically fight my father, throw threats of ambulance transport(a very expensive venture), and logical persuasion of how to balance the budget post-visit. Anything that I could come up with I would have to attempt to save him from himself.

That dialogue hurt me. It prematurely forced me to have to accept the death of my father, and it made me despise him because his first worry was money for us rather than staying around. I wish that type of dialogue between a child and a parent to never have to be a feasible scenario. I don’t wish that on the worst of people.

I write this not to ask for pity for myself, as I was taught to never accept it. Not to ask you to pity those in need, but to respect them as your human equal. Not to throw money once for a cleared consciousness, but to help when you can.

If you so believe in the generosity of the human soul and giving, then it should not be a debate to help those less fortunate.

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Understanding Notification Manager in Jellybean+ (part 1)

Android 4.1 allows for some very nifty expandable notifications for your application. Some very notable UX designs that are often overlooked in the realm of Android. These notifications allow you to provide content within multiple different pre-determined layouts such as:

Notification.BigPictureStyle

  • For notifications that includes a large image attachment

Notification.BigTextStyle

  • For notifications that includes a lot of text, such as a single email

Notification.InboxStyle

  • For notifications that include a list of strings, such as snippets from multiple emails.

    Notification.BigPictureStyle allows you to create a notification with a image resource attached. The image resource itself is expanded as part of the notification when the user does a drag down gesture. The content that you provide in this type of notification is one based on product sale or in-your-face type of marketing. It can also be a viable alternative for an alert message for whatever alarm manager service you have running.

    Notification.BigTextStyle allows you to create a notification that shows detailed text of a particular item. Let it be an incoming email that the user could preview, or a new headline regarding a sports athletes injury’s; it works to inform the user in the simplest and most efficient ways without wasting numerous system resources.

    Notification.InboxStyle allows you to create a notification that shows multiple detailed texts of a groups items. This is a viable alternative for BigTextStyle when your resources are often and non-important. These mostly focus the user on skim content.

    With 4.1, and something that has been non-utilized in my personal opinion; allows for completely custom notifications as well.

    Quickly, a project that I have been working on for the past 5 months, utlizes the added functionality in the Android 4.1 API’s to create a rich and helpful utility for android users.

    The backbone of Quickly relies in the fact that it utilizes remoteview from the API to showcase quick shortcuts to the end user.

    remoteview: formerly relegated to widgets and delayed items within an activity now can thrive within a notification. Say you create a remoteview that utilizes a user customizable audio player. The audio player could spawn a notification using a method such as:

NotificationManager nM = (NotificationManager) context
.getSystemService(Context.NOTIFICATION_SERVICE);
final RemoteViews customNotifView = new RemoteViews(context.getPackageName(),
R.layout.notification_custom);

    This customNotifView can be utlized with (Notification) notification.bigContentView to spawn a custom notification. Couple that with the added onClickPending intents and custom images, you have a fully customized experience for your user regarding audio navigation. Set a few elements to pass the static intents of stop, pause, play or the more modular approaches of shuffle, favorite, and library additions. The notification can serve as your entire UX frontend if you so choose it to be.

    These resources are kept in RAM of the device and won’t be tied to the main activity that they’re spawned from. You can quickly access and update status’ of the icons you created by passing the notification id back out as an action. A key note here is that your notification will have to be able to fully rely upon its own trigger system. Let it be from an AlarmManagerService or extra-filled Activity, you’ll always have to feed back into the notification itself.

    Allowing a flourishing experience for your user is based in the notion that you would work for their convenience. If it means that you’ll bring about a frontend entirely separate from your main activity, it’s definitely something to look into.

    Stay put for part 2 of the notification manager installment that covers image and intent handling when manually assigning resources with setInt.

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