I took a trip with Uber Lagos … and it was excellent!

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Some times, its really important to tell the beautiful stories – stories of things that went well and exceeded expectations and not only stories of disappointments or let downs. I am further encouraged to share this, given the excellent narration of a positive experience by a friend of mine regarding his use of Airbnb South Africa. So here goes …

I took an Uber in lagos (at night) and it was perfect!

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Foqus – A Mental Health and Mindful Meditation App

Foqus is an app I released two years ago (July, 2014) for the Samsung Gear 2 which went on to become a finalist in the Samsung 2014 Gear App Challenge. Good to see Apple also catering to the mental health app genre with their breathe app announcement at WWDC 16!

Focus App Description

This app is designed to improve the quality of life for people living with mental health issues such as stress, anxiety and Attentition Deficit HyperActivity Disorder (ADHD) . The app achieves this goal through modules that help boost productivity ( through improved focus ) and serve as a reliable support tool in implementing mindful meditation . As a standalone app, Foqus makes wearable devices (such as the gear 2) come alive by addressing pressing issues in the area of health and wellness.

Add radical productivity value to your gear smartwatch with this useful app!

Features

Pomodorro . A flexible implementation of the famous pomodoro time management technique. You can set pomodoro focus sessions associated you registered tasks . A pomodoro session is a period (usually 25 minutes) where you focus your entire attention on a single task, followed by a 10 minute break. This method helps you build up your focus stamina from short bursts till you become a focus ninja!

Mindful Meditation This section of the app provides a vibration based support tool to implementing mindful meditation. Visual and vibration cues guide you on regulating your breathing pattern as the meditation session progresses. You can also customize the duration of the inhale/exhale cycle. Select longer inhale exhale cycle for deeper meditation sessions.

Health Tips This section provides short tips ( adapted from the Mental Health Foundation) on ways to live healthy, and maintain excellent mental health.

Settings Configure the vibration settings, and duration for each mental exercise. Customize the duration of pomodoros and rests. Also customize the number of seconds spent in the inhale, exhale cycle.

Tested User Interface . App interface has been tested for legibility (a minimum of 35px font size) , touch interaction (well sized buttons) , and responsiveness . At all times, interactions are designed to be as natural as possible, and effort is made to inform (visual and vibration cues) the user of any other expected interaction .Foqus is also designed to run in the background. I.e pomodoro timer can run in the background while other screens/apps on the gear are being accessed.

Coming Soon .

  • White Noise . This plays white noise from both the smartwatch speakers or paired audio devices (headsets or speakers) that can serve several purposes : block distractions, improve job/task performance, improve focus at school, calm the mind or even sleep better.
  • Breaks Lets you set reminders to take important ergonomic breaks from work.
  • Goals and Analytics Set goals on the number of pomodoros completed each day and the total amount of meditation time spent each day. Detailed analytics of pomodoros and meditation completed will also be included.

How to Test it Out

App is released on the Samsung Gear app store. You will need to have a samsung device and a Gear 2.

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Trivia Monkey is now Open Source!

GitHub Link – Here !
To try out the working app, you can download it from the Windows Phone App Store.

A while ago, I built Trivia Monkey as a way to get familiar with C# and mobile development for Windows Phone. It implements some interesting ideas I had mainly around deep heming (from xml styles). Its now available for all Windows Phone developers on GitHub as an open source project!  Unfortunately there isn’t much documentation for now or tutorials around it … you might just have to use it as it is.

The app code might work well as a way to create visually attractive themes for your Windows Phone app if you are not interested in building a Quiz app.

If its helpful to you, please feel free to leave a note!

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Objective C or Swift ? Which should I learn ? You should learn Swift!

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As someone who has developed extensively for the blackberry, windows phone, android and tizen platforms (and is invested in learning a new language or platform every year or so) … iOS is my next destination. Apparently, iOS apps can be written in both Objective C (the older and more used language for programming iOS apps) or Swift (apples new and fairly well received language, released in 2014) – and given that I have a full-time job (where learning new stuff is in the DNA), a practical decision on my hands is whether to invest in learning Objective-C or Swift!  And that’s what this post is all about – how Swift emerged as my top pick! Ofcourse, this article is meant for beginners to iOS application development who are deciding on which of these two language to invest in learning.

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Windows 10 – We couldn’t complete the updates, undoing changes

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Similar to windows 8.1 update issues, it appears the new Windows 10 does occasionally have the same problem. With such problems, your PC may restart repeatedly showing the message below.

We couldn’t complete the updates, undoing changes.

Here are some steps to fix this. Continue reading

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Adsense Milestone … One Million Ad Impressions

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Around January 2014, I decided to share more of my thoughts on this blog for two main reasons. First, to share my thoughts on problems for which there wasn’t much information out there (e.g my posts on Samsung Gear App development) and secondly, as a means of improving my writing skill. As an experiment, I also decided to include adsense on the blog. Signed into adsense today and found I’d reached a milestone. Yay!

So far, ONE MILLION ad impressions have been served to viewers visiting denvycom!

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PhD Study Memoirs

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If there’s anything you learn during a PhD (especially in the social science field), it is writing. Of course, the act of writing is born out of an underlying sequence of activities – thinking deeply (analytically) on matters, connecting dots, synthesizing (new) meaning and then comes the desire to communicate (writing). As I spend the next few months (10/15 – 01/16) writing my thesis, I also have the opportunity to reflect on the last 3 years of my PhD study life – the highs, the lows, mistakes, lessons learned etc. As with most of my writing on this blog, I share this series of posts, with the hope that it will both make an interesting read, and help someone in some meaningful way. This memoir is also inspired by the writings of Philip Guo who chronicled his PhD journey as a computer science grad student at Stanford in a rather detailed (and attention gripping) 100+ page memoir. Like Philip, this writing aims to be as candid, objective and as honest as possible. Continue reading

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Samsung Gear S2! Many things done right!

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image: Samsung developers

And so Samsung has now released the Gear S2 – their new smartwatch which I talked about a while ago. While I haven’t gotten my hands on one yet, I strongly believe many things have been done right! The device excels on all aspects of the wearable design framework – boosting its fashion appeal, leverages sensors (the tactile rotating bezel) in exploring new forms of input, and meets functional needs. Continue reading

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Finishing the Internship – Its a wrap!

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4 months did whizz by quite fast. And so the internship has come to an end! It was indeed a wonderful and inspiring experience and I am truly humbled and thankful for the opportunity! This post is more of a reflection on the entire experience – initial challenges faced, how much of my goals I met, and what I would do differently. Hopefully, this helps future interns. Ofcourse, it is important to note that this internship was conducted within the confines of a research environment and certain things might differ compared to an engineering or business internship. Continue reading

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Comparison of SmartWatches and Sensors with 3rd Party Developer Access

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Recently, I have been working with wearables and it has been exciting to watch the rapid pace of innovation with these devices – especially the impressive set of sensors that are built into them. Companies tend to provide limited or no access to their sensors and it can be disappointing purchasing a device only to learn its sensors are not available via an API. Ofcourse, there are valid reasons for this (competitive advantage, legal/medical certification processes etc), but its always great to know what is available before you purchase a device. As a researcher interested in collecting data for my work, one requirement for smartwatches I work with is that allow 3rd party apps directly read and extract sensor data. Below is a list on  leading  smartwatches available as at the time of writing this article today and the sensors whose data are available to 3rd party developers. By available data, I mean your app can directly obtain realtime data from the smartwatch.
Note : This list was created [As of June 23, 2015] and may be updated as device upgrades and sensor access are updated.

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