Tag Archives: Android


An unofficial Security Now episode explorer

Well, I finished another PhoneGap Build app.  This is another “Joe scratches his own itch” app.  It’s an app that shows the entire Security Now back catalog and lets you browse through the various topics.

This is the final app in my 30 day challenge, so my pace of new development is going to slow a little.  I am planning on iterating each of the 4 apps over the next month, though.


Try the app in your browser

PhoneGap Build Page

GitHub Page

Play Store Page


Security Now Explorer Screenshot #1 Security Now Explorer Screenshot #2 Security Now Explorer Screenshot #3


How do you sign a PhoneGap app?

This is a quick thing.  When you build an app in PhoneGap Build, it asks for a keystore file.  So, how do you get one?  Here is the command for on the mac.

keytool -genkey -v -keystore [Name for the file].keystore -alias [Name for the app] -keyalg RSA -keysize 2048 -validity 10000

Remember to replace [Name for the file] and [Name for the app].  After that, just follow the prompts.

Happy developing!

PhoneGap Build Keystore File


Killing two birds with one stone: The Network+ Vocabulary App

This week’s phone app is the Network+ Vocabulary App.  I have been taking a Network+ class at the Milwaukee Area Technical College and I figured that writing a study guide for the test, would both net me another app and help me study.

For note, this covers the vocabulary for exam N10-005.


Try it in your browser

PhoneGap Build Page

GitHub Page

Play Store Page


Network+ Vocab SS 1

Network+ Vocab SS 3Network+ Vocab SS 4


The Milwaukee Soup App: An experiment in PhoneGap and Kimono

I have had an idea for a while.  I am a huge fan of a good bowl of soup and when lunch rolls around, I check a half dozen websites for daily soup specials.  I have always wanted a singular place to see what soup is available today.  I have written an app to be that singular resource!

Milwaukee Soup has a fairly basic UI right now and it only tracks two restaurants (The Soup House and Bella Caffe), but I plan to evolve it over time.

So, you might be asking how I managed to query the restaurants, without aid of an API.  I kinda cheated.  I used Kimono to create JSON APIs from the restaurants’ websites.  So far, it seems to be working well.


Try the app in your browser

PhoneGap Build Page

GitHub Page

Play Store Page


Milwaukee Soup Screenshot 1 Milwaukee Soup Screenshot 2 Milwaukee Soup Screenshot 3


Pocket Joe Revisited: Joe evolves his PhoneGap skills

Pocket Joe UI Revisited Last week, we built a basic RSS reader, based upon an earlier experiment.  This week, I thought we would evolve the UI a little.  The UI uses jQuery Mobile now.

PhoneGap Build Page

Download it from the Google Play Store

Try the app in your browser  

So, you might be wondering where I’m going with all of this PhoneGap experimentation.  My goal is to crank out a PhoneGap app per week, during the month of February.  As with everything, practice makes perfect and I hope that a month of practice will make me reasonably good at this. Earlier today, I bought a Nokia Lumia 520.  Expect some Windows Phone versions to be published alongside the Android versions of these apps.

Want to check out the main HTML file from this app?  The source is available on GitHub.  Yes, I’m still using YQL. I’ll eventually create a proper dev environment for PhoneGap.


Building a basic RSS App With PhoneGap Build

You may or may not remember our earlier experiments with building an RSS Reader in JavaScript.  I was curious how well it would work to reuse that experiment, to create a basic RSS reader.  I found a decent jQuery accordion to use for it.  It would not be a native UI for any device but it is good enough for this experiment.



ScreenShot of the Android version of 'Pocket Joe'You can see that this is a fairly basic app.

Just like last time, I fed the HTML app into PhoneGap Build and it generated the installers, based upon my github repo.


Try it within your browser

The PhoneGap Build Page (including installers)


Notes: I know that PhoneGap can handle RSS without having it first translated to JSON.  Keeping the YQL call there just made development easier.  Once I get a good local PhoneGap development environment set up, I am probably going to need to revisit this.


First attempt at a mobile app, using PhoneGap Build

jsCalculator v0.02

For years, I have wanted to develop for Android but I haven’t gotten off my butt and done it.  I recently decided to force myself to explore development, using PhoneGap.  Today, I wrote a very basic proof of concept.  I have to admit that it was pretty easy.  I wrote the app using HTML, JS, and CSS, uploaded it to github, and built it on PhoneGap Build.  It is not pretty but it is very functional.

The next step is to build something that looks half marketable. 🙂

Github Link

Demo of the HTML/JS app

Installer Files (iPhone, Android, etc)


Moto X on Republic Wireless: One Week Later

For the past few years, I have been using an unlocked Samsung Galaxy Nexus on Straight Talk.  Straight Talk is a MVNO that offers service on your choice of AT&T‘s network or T-mobile‘s network for much less than either provider charges.  When I switched to them, I was able to reduce my monthly cellphone bill from ~$120/mo to less than $45/mo without any noticeable degradation in the service.

Roughly a year ago, I started hearing about a new company called Republic Wireless.  When they first launched, they offered a $19/mo unlimited plan that was available solely on their one phone.  That one phone proved to be too high of a cost for me.  It was an old gingerbread phone that struggled to handle basic tasks.

Fast-forward a year and now Republic Wireless is offering Motorola’s new Moto X.  They also added more tiers of service, ranging from $5/mo to $40/mo, depending on how much you are willing to offload onto your WiFi network.

The Network

Republic Wireless calls itself a hybrid carrier.  You are tied to particular models of phones because their phones first try to use available WiFi networks for voice, text, and data transmission.  The phone only uses the cellular network if no WiFi networks are available.  In order to do this, the phone needs to have a special, modified ROM.  Since the overhead (on their end) is minimal while the phone is using WiFi, they are able to charge less.  The cellular network they use, while WiFi is unavailable, is Sprint.  Sprint is not the best cellular network in southeastern Wisconsin but it is very usable.

Republic Wireless Moto X Box

The Phone

Republic Wireless charges $299 for the Moto X, without putting you into a contract.  That is an interesting prospect.  You can not look solely at the price of the device, though.  If you are going to spend $899 (service + hardware) over 24mo on the device, it should fully do what you need it to do.  The carrier’s Moto X runs Android 4.2.2 (not KitKat).  This is less of an issue, though, since it also offers Motorola’s custom helper software.

Joe holding the Moto XThe phone really does a great job at knowing what you want it to do before you ask it.  If you pick up the phone from a table and look at the screen, it will show you the time and any notifications.  If you are in bed or in a meeting, it will silence the phone but allow it to ring if it thinks it is an important enough call.  If you are driving, it will give you messages vocally.  It is truly impressive.

Moto X battery lifeOn an early day with it, I tested the battery under very normal conditions.  I was listening to either a podcast or music over it for the majority of the time.  I was taking regular videos and pictures.  Under this load, I was able to get a solid 10.5hrs out of the battery.  The company claims that you can get as much as 13hrs out of it.  Even at 10.5hrs, it is very acceptable.

The Good

The biggest benefit is that I will be saving $531 ($1430-$899) over the course of the phone’s 24 month lifespan.  I also, though, have the benefit that I can use the phone to make calls on any WiFi network.  This means that it will work in a subbasement in Milwaukee or at a restaurant in Paris without extra expense or problem.  This is more powerful of an idea than I originally thought.

The hardware is very competent.  The 10mp camera is light-years beyond my old Galaxy Nexus.  I have been fascinated by the slow-motion video feature, also.

The Bad

It lacks the ability to do photo spheres.  I absolutely adored photo spheres.  I am truly sad to see it missing from the phone.  I also dislike the idea of not running the latest version of Android.  When I switched to this phone, I went from a 4.2.3 phone to a 4.2.2 phone.  That should not be a compromise that you are asked to make.

While the hand-offs from WiFi calls to cellular calls aren’t generally a problem, I have seen occasional issues.  The phone tends to be “optimistic” about the WiFi network at work and in the driveway at home.  I have learned to expect these situations and adapt.  If I think there will be a problem, I will just turn off WiFi before I make the call.

Overall Opinion

I think that it is an excellent option.  I really can not think of a reason why anyone should stay with one of the big carriers, over Republic Wireless.  The phone is very acceptable and the price is very good.  I do wish they would be able to offer Nexus devices on the carrier but I do not think it would be practical.  The network is very usable (especially while using strong WiFi).

I did discover that (despite what Sprint’s coverage map says) there is some 4g LTE coverage within Milwaukee.  I’m still looking at the idea of paying the extra $15/mo for 4g service but I probably won’t.  It is an option, though.