Book Review – Learning Android

Mar 26, 2012   //   by Richard   //   IT  //  Comments Off on Book Review – Learning Android
Learning Android Book review by Richard Hamilton





Learning Android is a good book to learn how to develop an Android app, but it may frustrate some readers.


I think Learning Android is a good book to learn how to develop an Android app. The book takes you through the step-by-step development of an Android App (a Twitter app)…starting out small and increasing the functionality and complexity of the app. As the book explains “…we’ll add new features in small self-contained chunks and pull them back into the main project so that you can see how it fits together as a whole.” I found it very helpful that at each “stopping point”, the app always worked.


I also liked how the book shows you how to use the Android SDK tools to quickly find and fix problems. You just have to be careful because it does this by inserting mistakes into the code and then shows you how to fix them. So if you think you found an error, you will need to continue reading the chapter to see if it is corrected. Another nice feature is that you can download the code used in the book from the O’Reilly’s site.


There are some areas that the book could improve upon and that may frustrate some readers:


First, it appears that the book has not been updated since it was first published in March 2011. As with all first editions, there are a number of areas that could be updated and/or corrected. For the most part, this shortcoming is minimized by O’Reilly’s online errata page. If you are not familiar with the errata page, it is one of the best features of an O’Reilly book. O’Reilly has set up an online errata page where readers can identify possible errors and/or improvements and the author(s) can respond. Accordingly, I strongly recommend that one refers to the errata on O’Reilly.com if they have any issues with the book, as it may be already addressed.


Second, the book makes a number of “leaps” that left this reader scratching his head and slowed down my learning process as I had to search online for answers. To be honest, I think a lot of the issues are a result of my unfamiliarity with Eclipse (an open source platform used in developing the Android app). Nevertheless, below I have highlighted a few of the areas I struggled with:

    a) The book did not explain how to open the Package Explorer in Eclipse to enable you to start working on the particular example (Window -> Show View -> Package Explorer);


    b) The book refers to .xml files that Eclipse has created. However, it did not tell you where they are located;


    c) The book tells you to create a new Android Virtual Device (AVD) but it does not suggest or provide you with any of the figures to create the AVD;


    d) Another issue is that the book helps you create a “Hello World” App and tells you to create an AVD, but does not show you how to run the app in the AVD;


    e) The book refers to certain items (i.e. StatusActivity) but sometimes it was not clear where you could find this in Eclipse or how to modify it (i.e. expand the src folder and double click on onCreate(Bundle)); and


    f) It would have been nice if the book discussed how to publish your finished app to Google Play and Amazon’s Appstore.



Having said the above, I would recommend Learning Android, but I would highly suggest that you first obtain some basic understanding of Eclipse.


Disclosure: A copy of this book was provided to me as part of the O’Reilly’s Blogger Review Program on the understanding that I would read it and provide an honest review. If you are looking to join a review program, I highly recommend that you consider O’Reilly’s. Full details of the program can be found by clicking on the following:

I review for the O'Reilly Blogger Review Program








My submission re: Canada and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Negotiations

Feb 14, 2012   //   by Richard   //   IT  //  Comments Off on My submission re: Canada and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Negotiations

Yesterday I blogged encouraging you to take action and protect your online rights. One of the steps that I also took yesterday was to make a submission to the Canadian Government in relation to Canada’s interest in joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations. Please find below a copy of my submission. If you have any questions or comments, please do not hesitate to contact me or leave them below in the comment section.
 
All the best,
Richard
 
“The following is my submission in relation to the Trade Negotiations Consultations.
 
I understand that the Government of Canada (“Government”) has expressed Canada’s interest in joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership (“TPP”) negotiations. I further understand the Government has embarked on a public consultation process to allow Canadians an early opportunity to provide comments, input and advice.
 
I am a Canadian citizen, a self-employed Chartered Accountant and photographer who supports the Government’s desire to expand trade and enter into free trade agreements. By way of example, I think NAFTA had a positive impact on Canada, Mexico and the United States of America (“US”). However, before signing future agreements, I think it is critical that the Government carefully weighs the potential benefits against the costs to the Canadian people.
 
In this regard, from the various articles (such as those from Mr. Michael Geist and Mr. Peter Clark) and information and analysis of the TPP that I have read, I respectively suggest that the Government should not be joining the TPP negotiations, but should rather explore other alternatives.
 
I agree with Mr. Peter Clark who states in his article (http://www.ipolitics.ca/2012/01/10/peter-clark-is-the-trans-pacific-partnership-a-re-writing-of-nafta/) that the TPP is not a free trade agreement, but a “Preferential Trade Agreement built on discrimination against non-members”. Furthermore, there are numerous reasons why the Government should not become involved with the TPP, including:
 

  • the significant and unacceptable effects the TPP will have on Canadians with respect to intellectual property, access to public domain, digital locks and so forth (see below for additional comments on this point);
  • the fact that the US will not include Maritime Transport in the negotiations;
  • the buy American provisions and various small business and minority set-asides that will negate the effectiveness of the US government’s procurement commitment;
  • the US’ unwillingness to provide open access to its markets for dairy and sugar; and
  • New Zealand Trade Minister Tim Groser’s suggestion that there will be no re-opening of agreed issues and no delays to accommodate the newcomers (which is completely unacceptable).

 
Notwithstanding the above, if the Government does decide to join the TPP negotiations, I respectively encourage the Government not to agree with any TPP requirements which would take away, or diminish Canadians’ rights, and in particular, in relation to intellectual property, access to public domain, digital locks and other areas I have noted below. As I understand from an article from Michael Geist (http://www.michaelgeist.ca/content/view/6225/125/), there are significant changes that the Government will be required to agree to before they will be allowed to join the TPP. Therefore, I strongly urge the Government:
 

  • NOT to extend the current term of copyright protection from the current Canadian law of life of the author plus an additional 50 years;
  • NOT to implement the digital lock rules contemplated in Bill C-11, and certainly not increase penalties for circumvention and restrict the ability to create new digital lock exceptions. As an aside, I do not understand why the Government refuses to provide an exemption to the digital lock rules which would allow Canadians to copy material that they have purchased for their own personal use (i.e. for backup purposes);
  • NOT to implement new rights management rules that would lower the standard for violation and extend the scope of prohibited activities;
  • NOT to agree to the disclosure of personal information without strict privacy safeguards;
  • NOT to agree to any copyright criminalization requirements especially in cases that have no direct or indirect motivation of financial gain;
  • to agree to the requirement to provide copyright owners with an exclusive right to block “parallel trade” of copyrighted works. This is especially relevant considering that these issues were previously considered a number of years ago by the Supreme Court of Canada, which rejected attempts to use copyright to stop such activities;
  • NOT to reverse the changes found in Bill C-11 that distinguishes between commercial and non-commercial infringement;
  • NOT to implement new ISP liability provisions that would require a notice-and-takedown system contrary to the approach established under Bill C-11; and
  • NOT to implement or agree to anything similar to the previously proposed SOPA or PIPA in the US.

 
It would appear that the primary reason for Canada to enter into the TPP is to obtain free trade agreements with other countries, in particular those in the Asia-Pacific area. I would respectively suggest that it would be more beneficial if Canada were not to enter into the TPP negotiations, but rather consider other options, including entering into discussions with the Association of South East Asian Nations or join the talks scheduled to commence shortly between China, Korea and Japan, or entering into free trade negotiations directly with individual countries.
 
If you have any questions, or if I may be of further assistance, please do not hesitate to contact me.
 
Kind regards,
 
Richard D. Hamilton, CA”

Take action and protect your online rights

Feb 13, 2012   //   by Richard   //   IT  //  Comments Off on Take action and protect your online rights

You may have read or heard that on January 18, 2012 an estimated 7,000 websites from around the world (including this one) blacked out their websites in an effort to raise awareness about the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act (PIPA) bills introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate, respectively. As discussed in the Wikipedia article Stop Online Piracy Act “Opponents state the proposed legislation threatens free speech and innovation, and enables law enforcement to block access to entire internet domains due to infringing content posted on a single blog or webpage.” As a result of the overwhelming response, both the U.S. House and Senate decided to “postpone” drafting of the bills.
 
SOPA and PIPA are just the latest examples of legislation that governments around the world have introduced or are working on in an attempt to stop the admitted problem of pirating. Unfortunately, most of this legislation goes too far and will seriously reduce a free and open Internet. The $64,000 question is why? Unfortunately, it appears that certain businesses and organizations (primarily from the entertainment industry) seem to wield a huge amount of power with governments around the world. Rather than change their business models they find it “easier” to convince governments to change their legislation. Would you like another example? Have a look at the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) that was negotiated in secrecy “for the purpose of establishing international standards for intellectual property rights enforcement”. Like SOPA and PIPA, people are thankfully expressing their dislike with this agreement. (See Tens of Thousands Protest ACTA).
 
Canada, unfortunately is no different. The current Canadian Government appears determined to trample on the rights of its citizens in an effort to satisfy the entertainment industry and the U.S. government. How is the Canadian Government putting the entertainment business ahead of its citizens? Bill C-11, which is currently in committee, appears as an honest attempt to create some balance between copyrights and the rights of the Canadian citizen. Unfortunately, the Government has made a decision that digital locks will “trump” all rights and there will be no exemptions. So consumers cannot break any digital lock if they want to back up their DVDs, eBooks, software and so forth. You will also not be able to copy the material to other devices that you own unless the provider allows you to do so, even if it is just for your own personal use. Digital locks and Bill C-11 is discussed in a great article by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF).
 
One also has to really wonder about the Canadian Government’s desire to truly debate these bills when you have Canada’s Public Safety Minister Vic Toews stating “Stand with us or with the child pornographers”. This law is not even introduced and the Government is already using unacceptable methods to convince people that they should be supporting the bill. If the law is so necessary, shouldn’t the government be trying to explain it and educate its citizens rather than telling them that they will stand with child pornographers if they question the law? Unfortunately, I believe that the Government’s actions and the upcoming introduction of the Access to Information Act are really the first steps down a very dangerous slippery slope. I strongly urge you to read the following two articles on this topic:

 
My hope is that I have raised your awareness in relation to rights that you will be losing if we do not stand up and be heard. So please learn more about what the Canadian Government is trying to take away from you, write to your Member of Parliament and tell your MP to stand up for Canadians and finally, please sign the openmedia.ca’s No Internet Lockdown Petition [EDIT – Link no longer working…was www.openmedia.ca/lockdown].

If you would like to read more about this topic, I highly recommend the following:

 
All the best,
Richard

Content is growing

Feb 13, 2012   //   by Richard   //   General  //  Comments Off on Content is growing

As a result of a decision to consolidate and simplify our blogs, you will find that our content at K9xMedia has grown exponentially over night. 🙂 Going forward, our blog at K9xMedia will focus on three main areas: Translations, Photography and Information Technology (IT). Matters which involve accounting, bankruptcy, finance, insurance and taxation will now be discussed at our new blog located at CanadianMoneyMatters.ca.

For your convenience, you can read, in chronological order, our K9xMedia blog posts by clicking on the “Blog” menu at the very top of each page. You also now have the option to sort the posts related to each of the three main areas identified above, by moving your cursor over the Blog menu at the very top of the page and then clicking on the area of your choice. We have also added a “General” area which will include all discussions not related to the main divisions (i.e. like this post). If you would like to view our photo blog at richardhamiltonphotography.com, we have included a link under the Blog menu.

We hope you like the latest changes and apologize for any inconvenience you may have experienced if you arrived here when you were trying to reach one of our other blogs that are now consolidated within K9xMedia. You comments are always welcomed.

All the best,
Richard

September 2011 – What to do

Jan 30, 2012   //   by Richard   //   General  //  Comments Off on September 2011 – What to do

Backyard_almost_finished_MG_4245

In the comfort of my home at approximately 3:00 a.m., on 31 August 2011, I federally incorporated K9xMedia Corp (Oh how I love the internet).  Okay, maybe it wasn’t the most comfortable as I was working on an old office chair and table as our belongings had still not arrived from the Cayman Islands.  Nevertheless, it was an exciting time and felt good to finally have the corporation formed.  Of course, that was the easy part…the next part was to have it registered in Manitoba to do business (which I had to do in person) and decide exactly what K9xMedia Corp. would be doing.  My original idea was for the corporation to focus on building mobile apps.  But having researched and considered the matter, it became apparent that it would be beneficial if the corporation was diversified (translation…it could take quite a while to make money developing apps).  Therefore, we decided to create two divisions:

1. K9xTranslations – Which would be headed up by my wife, Brigitte, and would specialize in German to English translations for the legal and financial industry; and

2. Richard Hamilton Photography – For as long as I can remember I have enjoyed photography and saw this as an opportunity to monetize my hobby and turn it into a business.

Effective 30 September 2011, K9xMedia Corp. and its divisions were registered to operate in Manitoba. We also decided that the app development would take a back seat until the other divisions were up and running.

On the personal side, in September our belongings arrived safe and sound from the Cayman Islands.  If you are moving from the Cayman Islands, I would highly recommend Miracle Brokers.  They were by far the best moving company I have dealt with in a very long time.  Everyone was extremely professional and they wrapped and packed all of our belongings with the greatest of care.

Further to my last post, we purchased a house, built in 2010, with a walk-out basement situated on a retention pond in Winnipeg.  Since the original owners did not develop the backyard, we planned to do so shortly after we moved in.  Therefore, in September I designed a plan and began overseeing a number of great contractors who built a raised deck, stone patio, landscaping (including an in-ground sprinkler system) and black chain-link fencing.  The yard work was completed in October and turned out beautifully. We recommend the following companies:

Until next time, take care,

Richard

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