Achievement Unlocked: App-ortunist

So I’ve recently rekindled my love for mobile development and have been getting stuck in to some side projects alongside my university work. I’d like to say I found the free time to do it but it’s more of a case of having to be more efficient at everything else without sacrificing quality. Over Christmas I started coding an app for Imperial’s student radio station, IC Radio, to let users stream the station’s output. I initially targeted iPhone and iOS since I’d already had some experience with it and I was rather excited to have my first submission to the app store approved two weeks ago!

I updated my IC Radio iOS app last week with Sorin, so it’s currently what I like to call version 1.1, and 1.2 is in the pipeline with additional functionality such as showing the upcoming show schedule. I anticipated calls for an Android version so I started it alongside the iOS app. As much as I approached it with an open mind, I was hit with the barrage of problems that arose from the fragmentation of Android, such as not being sure which SDK to target and various annoyances in the Java platform, quite early on. I’m hoping as time goes by and I become more familiar with the methods, my disdain and awkward affair with this hideous layer on Java will diffuse. Nonetheless, I will finish coding the app and release it to the Android marketplace in due time.

I do find it rather peculiar, however, that though my initial idea was to have an app to myself so I could listen to the stream and discover new music on demand (I got into Simian Mobile Disco through them, with Sleep Deprivation being a hit during my A level Computing coursework), I’m unable to write the same functionality for my Windows Phone. Why? Well, the stream is given in the form of an m3u playlist – fairly standard. Not a standard WP7 likes to support though. I’m thinking of workarounds such as converting the playlist file on the fly when it’s downloaded, since it really just redirects to an mp3 stream, but it’s upsetting how in this case, I’m unable to ‘eat my own dog food‘ without resorting to listening on my iPad using my iOS app.

Otherwise, I have some more exciting side projects lined up, I’ve recently decided to reimplement a few ideas I had when I wrote programs targeting the .NET Compact Framework and using SQLCE for my Windows Mobile 2003SE PDA in secondary school. I suppose one could say I was a bit of a mobile developer hipster, writing mobile apps before they were called apps, but I definitely see a one-to-one mapping from those old programs to current devices and think they’ll satisfy my hobbyist programming desires while I crack on with a large project involving optimising a kinetic simulation of muscles.

In terms of other things going on, Kelly and I have been having some nice ideas for further improving our Science section in Felix which we’ll be implementing very soon, and I’m closely looking forward to buying myself a Kinect for Windows and developing for that with my beloved Visual Studio 2010 (which Microsoft just released an Achievements system for!) Microsoft’s vision for the Kinect sensor is quite a heartfelt appeal to developers who love to free existing systems and push them to their boundaries. My Robotics lecturer recently told the class that the device is among the state of the art for depth perception and I’m really keen on seeing what comes out of Kinect development, as well as contributing to it myself.

The Christmas holidays were work filled, but I got an Xbox with Kinect and a few games which I’m having fun playing here on my projector when I have time. I’m found on Xbox Live at AlexKara15 to those who want to add me on yet another social network :)

Otherwise, my group project presentation went well, and I’m sad to see this mark the end of my last major group project at Imperial. I don’t believe we’ve seen the end of my infamous WAVE gameplay mechanics just yet, either. I’ve uploaded my first year AI group project with Fraser onto my personal Department of Computing profile as well, which can be found here. Also, the RCSU Science Challenge 2012 was launched, and I met Lord Robert Winston, who’s a professor here. He said he’d never had his picture taken with an iPad before. I’m not sure whether I’ll enter again this year, but it’s likely after having won last year’s maths prize.

So, once again we have both exciting and pressing times ahead. Much anticipation to see how this all pans out!

Alex Kara

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About Alexander Karapetian

Software Engineer & Computer Scientist from Imperial College.
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