Tag Archives: Apps

developer museums

You can't win the prize if you don't enter the raffle

I love winning a prize so when I saw an opportunity to win a Scholarship to attend SXSW2014 Interactive   it was definitely worth a go.

ImmediaTag.com were offering the opportunity for a museum professional to attend SXSW Interactive, if you haven’t heard of SXSW (South by South West) its a big conference held in Austin Texas, originally just music but has grown to embrace Film and Interactive media.

SXSW Interactive is where cutting edge technology and start ups demonstrate their new ideas and products,hoping to get noticed to secure funding or create buzz to bring their product to the wider public.

So when I found out about the chance to win a pass to go I jumped at it.  There were 4 passes been given away in two draws.  I had missed the first draw but could still enter the second.

There was a little bit more to it than just entering into the draw. I had to answer three questions.  The first was to describe my role in the museum.  For this I talked about how I work with other departments,creative agencies and developers to deliver New Media into our galleries and exhibitions.

Second was to explain why I would like to attend SXSW Interactive. On this i talked about how I am really engrossed in the museum world but trying really hard to learn all about how digital media and technology can be used in museums but also it is important to look around outside of museums at new ideas and ways of thinking.

Finally I had to think up an idea for a mobile app,this had to be completely new and not implemented anywhere else.   Rather than briefly describe itm, here is what I wrote in full:

I see a lot of people taking photos of our objects especially in the galleries that have the large objects, the aeroplanes,cars,space rockets. There are already plenty of social apps to share and tag these photos so that people can see them. What the social  photo sharing apps don’t do is connect the shared photos with the museum content.  

What I am proposing is an app that  has two modes of operation.

In the first mode  to be used in the museum, the app will be an augmented reality mode, it will recognise objects and display both photos that have been shared by other people and information about the object. The information will primarily be the museum written information but can also pull in from other sources such as Wikipedia, tagged tweets from visitors  or others as applicable.

Other features would also be possible,  take your own photo to share back for other people, tweet a comment or do a facebook ‘like’.

The second mode is designed for use outside of the  museum, working slightly different to the in museum mode,  and is intended to engage visitors with the collection before they visit.  It would start by presenting the potential visitor with an ‘official’ high quality photograph of an exhibit that a user can select they can then see the photographs that the gallery visitors have taken, see what people are tweeting about the object and again read the information written by the  museum and other sources.

Interesting things could be done to connect the pre-visit with the visit modes such as allow users to create trails for other to follow, or by measuring the number of tweets or photographs about an object create heat maps to allow potential visitors to see what other people are interested in.


From after answering those questions my application would be vetted and if suitable I would be entered into the draw. From the first round approx 40 people entered and about 10 of the applications were rejected.

At this point if you are probably expecting me to say I was entered into the draw,won the pass and will be attending SXSW Interactive. Sadly no. I passed two rounds of vetting and was into the draw but my name didn’t get pulled out of the hat. It was worth doing just to be challenged to think up an idea for a mobile app. Getting through the vetting gave me confidence that if something like that came up again it would be worth giving it ago and you never know next time I might get lucky.

technical thoughts

known unknowns

Yeah my Super Simple Weather App is now live on the Play account. Its very much in Beta at the moment, but not using the Play Developer Beta system I’m quite happy for anyone to download it and didn’t want to mess around managing groups and invites to test.

As long as people are aware that it is a Beta App and not to expect too much from it then i’m quite happy for anyone to try it.

If you look at the screen shots and also in the description there is a very obvious bug, the weather is showing as ‘unknown’ .I’m no Meteorologist but i’m pretty sure there is no such weather condition as unknown.

When I 1st saw this I was looking at it on my phone,so thought it may be a problem with that but then also saw the problem on my laptop.  I thought it was odd because I was pretty sure that nothing I was doing would give a response of ‘unknown’ so it had to be coming from Yahoo.

Looking at the Yahoo Developer forum There is a reply that simply says there is no data from Yahoo partners.

Something else I noticed was that this error mainly happens at night,as though Yahoo weather partners just can’t be bothered to look out of the window at night.

In the Short time I’m going to add in client caching for the weather conditions. This is so if the condition is unknown it can revert to the last known good condition and also to cut down on the number of server requests.  There isn’t a limit on the number of requests that can be made to the Weather API but the location API that returns the WOEID which is then fed to the Weather API is limited to 2000 hits per day.

In the long term I have been thinking of a different way to get the weather data to replace or complement the Yahoo data but will put that into another post, but for now I will leave you with some more known unknowns


1st Android App published and other stuff.

Eeep scary. So today was quite a big step forward for me. I’ve published my first Android App to Google Play under the HappyCaffeine Brand (Well not technically the first but will come to that in a minute)

Its called E Number Knowledge and it lists all the E Number food additives allows you to search through them, displays if they  are suitable for people who have a Vegan,Halal or Kosher diet and can open the wikipedia page for each additive.

Even though its only just be published i’ve already spotted loads of things that can be improved. They icons are quite basic and it does look a bit dull.  Could really do with being able to search by the name of the additive not just the number and also to filter on the vegan,kosher,halal attributes. But anyways as the basic functionality was finished, it does seem to work o.k it was  a case of publish and be dammed.

After sorting out the technicalities of publishing to Google play, taking some screen shots and quickly knocking up some icons and promotional graphics the App is now up.

Something that I hadn’t considered before was how scary this would be. For a lot of people this would be the easiest thing in the world, they are routinely developing great products, painting amazing art or writing funny or thought provoking stories. But for me doing this is the 1st time i’ve ever put myself out there and said this is me,this is what I do.

I’ve set up a website and a facebook page for happycaffeine, i’ve invited a few of my friends to ‘like’ the f.b page. The only thing on there till now is a HTML5 App that tells you the nearest Sheffield Supertram stop I was convinced all the feedback would be negative,that people would point out how much better it could be or that there are loads of bugs in it.  But you know what its not been too bad. Don’t think there will be actually many people who use it. Its a bit of a niche product at the moment, people who live in Sheffield,want to use the Supertram but don’t know where the nearest stop is can probably be counted on 1 finger.

Now I’ve got this new App up think its time to invite more people to the page, to twitter about my Apps and work and more importantly tell people about it in real life, which for me is probably the hardest, sat in front of a computer screen writing is easy, real life talking is hard.

So anyway what was that thing i wrote earlier on about this App not been my first. For everyone who knows me in real life I play Roller Derby for the Sheffield Steel Rollergirls.  When I first started getting in to Java and Android stuff I wrote a App for penalty box timing and sold it on the Google Market.  The cool thing to do would be to tell loads of people and get loads of feedback so that I could improve the App and promote it, I think I told about 4 and one of those was very quietly.

All I could think about was how many things were wrong with it and how much it could be improved. I was embarrassed about it, I didn’t want anyone to have a bad experience with the App and hate me for it.  I never even considered that people may be able to lend me some help or assistance or point me in the direction of somebody who could. My brain just doesn’t work like that.   Thats a bit of a lie really my brain does work like that, when i’m playing Derby i’m completely committed to improving, will sweat and cry and occasionally bleed to improve. Will be completely open and honest about my faults, will get knocked down again and again and again  but get up every time, no secrecy just honesty. Will seek out the best players to learn their techniques and ask for their help and advice. So having said that the thing i’m working on now is trying to connect the Roller Derby half of my brain to the Real life half of my  brain.  So if anyone has any help or advice or tips on how to go about it, I’m all ears.
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