Don’t put your keystore file in GDrive!

by Richard on 11/03/2013

As a web developer one thing I like about my job is that I can instantly update code whenever I need and that basic enough backup methods for our resources mostly does (site files and DBs to an Amazon S3 account). Rarely do I have a file that if I lost or if I only have a slightly older version of that I would be screwed.

Recently I was wrapping up another mobile app and started getting paranoid about losing access to my Google play keystore file. For the unaware the keystore file is a file that a developer signs his applications with to prove they are authentic. The problem is if a developer loses this file then they cannot update any of the apps already in the app store. They would have to create a new file and release any updates as new apps!

So with me getting worried about losing the file (even though I have continuous online backups of my machine) I had the bright idea of simply moving it to our Google Apps Drive folder and therefore it would be synced up to our Google Drive as a backup to the already present backups. However when I came to have to push a point update to the app I tried signing it with the keystore file only to be told after uploading to Google Play that it wasn’t validly signed!

What happened is that Google overwrote the most up to date version of the file on my machine when it was syncing it with the server. No doubt you can image when I figured this out that I had a very bad feeling in my stomach. I pictured having to go to clients to let them know that we can’t update their apps anymore! However I was saved as Google drive as a previous versions feature which let you go back in time and revert to older versions.

After a lot of panicking I had the correct keystore file versions again and I immediately stored it out of my Google Drive folder.

So a word of warning in case you too have a bright idea for your keystore file dear reader. Keep it out of your Google Drive (and most likely other syncing services) folder. However do make sure that it is backed up!

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Database backup to S3 class

by Richard on 21/12/2012

I recently wanted a quick and easy way to dump all my databases to an S3 instance so created a class to do so. It’s public on Bitbucket so feel free to help out and improve it or just use as is. Just fire up terminal and use the below line to clone the repo and if you do have any improvements to it feel free to send me a pull request.

When I have time I do intend to write up a little walk through and post it here. I’ll update this post when I do.


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Abseiling oversight – I’m a lucky guy!

by Richard on 17/11/2012

I’m hesitant to admit to this mistake but I feel it very succinctly demonstrates a point that at times some climbers (and other partakers in adventure sports) don’t keep front of mind, that being keeping your concentration up at all times.

Time to explain then… I headed to Swanage recently to get some trad in. Was really up for it as I hadn’t had too many trad trips. First climb was to be a nice 3 star well known one that I hadn’t done yet. I was hoping to push it a bit as I’d been climbing a bit harder than when I last visited Swanage.

So raring to go we all kitted up and here’s what happened:

  • We all got to the abseil point and found that someone had already set up a line and said we could use it.
  • First person went down, then I step close to the edge.
  • I did my prusik and went over the edge!

No I haven’t mistakenly left a point out. Hopefully anyone reading this will know what should have been done after my prusik but if not then let me enlighten. A prusik’s purpose is to stop a person abseiling falling to their death should they for any reason let go of the rope, for instance if a rock knocks them unconscious, but it is not ever used to control the abseil. Get what I missed yet!

Let me tell you what my normal routine is when abseiling.

  • Rock up to the abseil line and stand reasonably close to the edge.
  • Attach the rope through my belay device and locking Krab.
  • Do my prusik
  • Double check everything is locked up and attached to the right place.
  • Abseil

Yes that’s right, the mistake I made was to change my routine and do my prusik first which then (by habbit) made me think I was all ready to go and so didn’t realise that I had forgot to attach the ab rope through my belay device and locking krab!

The mistake meant that when I did go over the edge I immediately started to fall very quickly, instinctively grabbed the rope badly burning my hands in the process before the prusik finally bit and held me. I was then able to get myself properly set up by bridging on the rock and thereafter lower myself down properly.

Now before you say it let me pre-empt you! It was an incredibly stupid and silly oversight to make.

I consider myself very fortunate to have come away from it with only burns on my hand but also to have had learned such a serious lesson without more injury to myself.

Anyway dear reader what you should take away from this is to never let your concentration slip and always follow your routine. I know I will!




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Source order of jQuery Mobile – don’t overlook it

by Richard on 23/04/2012

I normally don’t like doing stupidly short posts but I feel a need to publish the stupidity of my oversight on this one. It didn’t take long to spot it but still…

I’ve recently been converting a mobile app to be web based and had been noticing a few unexplainable problems with it such as the back functionality being inconsistent and clicks not registering half the time. That was before I noticed that at some point I had moved the source order of my script links in the head of my document.

So I just wanted to highlight for anyone else out there that has had a lapse of sense that this is how it should be:


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Blood, sweat and screams of a project

by Richard on 21/04/2012

The thing about climbing that I love and keeps me going back 3 times a week is that once one hits their natural level the real work of progress begins.  I’ve been climbing for about two and a half years. I quickly hit my limit top roping and moved onto leading. After hitting my natural limit of about 6b/6b+ I started really trying to work toward my goal of a 7a on the overhanging comp wall at my local wall (Craggy Island).

For months now (probably about 6) I’ve been climbing harder, thinking about the routes better, polishing my technique, thinking about where to rest a little if possible, working endurance. With the latest routes going up on the comp wall at Craggy about one and a half months ago I started working a red 7a. It consisted of a pretty solid first half that wasn’t anything special but did it’s job of tiring you a bit before hitting you with quite a technical top half.

For a solid month and a week I’d say I gave this climb real effort. I mean lots of blood, sweat and screams. From not being able to get past the gaston hold half way up I managed to work and work it and refine my approach until finally about a week ago now on a Tuesday night I touched got the top hold but didn’t have enough left in me to stick it.

Although gutted of not getting it I was pretty confident that on the next session on Thursday I’d have it! It was that sort of deep confidence that can give you real hope. However here’s the thing that prompted this post. I got down on Thursday only to find that the 7a and a 7b (that I was also trying to work with a friend but was struggling on) had been replaced!

The reason was that Craggy was hosting a national youth competition. Now I love to see young people climbing but here’s the thing. Don’t mess with a climb once it’s on the wall and being climbed on until it’s time to take it down. This applies especially to the front wall that only gets set every 4-5 months. This also applies to a climb having holds added/removed after people have been climbing on it. Whether it’s soft or hard for the grade it is what it is!

Without any notice at all to just remove two climbs from the comp wall after a mere month and a bit is totally sucks. I don’t think they understand how much work people put into getting their projects. It’s not all about indoor climbing but for me certainly a big part of the allure is that fantastic feeling of getting a route that you’ve poured your heart and soul into. When you get that top clip, there’s not much else like it. This is what craggy took from it’s members when they messed with the front wall and I don’t think they even know it. Quite sad really.

I’ll of course get over this. I’ll sink my teeth into another project and of course now that the summer is coming I’ll be concentrating more on outside but still I’d love to teach the setters a lesson. How about taking whatever route they’re working outside and smash off a few handhold and foot holds. Maybe then they might feel the same as I do, that all their blood sweat and screaming was for nothing.

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iPhone 4 screen repair… quick turnaround my ar*e

by Richard on 12/04/2012

Here’s a little customer service rant. Recently while I had my iPhone tethered to my iMac whilst I was testing out an app the cord tangled around my chair handle and then when I swivelled to speak to a colleague it got pulled off the desk and hit the ground face first with a resounding thud! Once I’m past cursing myself I begin to research the best place to have it fixed.

Firstly let me say if this has happened to you then do make sure and look around as the price variation between different vendors was quite a lot. Why not spend an extra half hour and save yourself £40.

I settled on a company that seemed to be professional whilst not putting one over the table in terms of cost. So I phone them up and enquire regarding how long it should take with there current work load. Let me paraphrase the response. ‘Not more than a few days sir’. Well while I was loath to give up my phone as like most people with a smartphone I really did rely on it and was accustomed to having it wherever I may be I decided to rip of the bandage and send it away a day or two after it dropped hoping to get it back by the end of the week.

Long story short they company I sent it too still had it TWO weeks later. I finally broke when I phoned for the n-th time to enquire about it’s progress and was told yet again that they still didn’t have the parts (front screen) in stock but should be getting them in a few days. I’d heard that before so I promptly asked for a refund and return of my device.

What is galling about this isn’t that they had a supply problem it’s that from my very first enquiry with them they seemed to string me along. Bit of advice for companies out there, never string your customer along!

Anyway I’ve found another service (through eBay god help me) that looks pretty good so hopefully this time it really will be just a few days turnaround.

Oh btw just in case you’re curious the website of the company that I will never use again is

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Musing’s on mobile

by Richard on 9/04/2012

Lately I’ve been developing for the mobile app stores (iOS, Play, App World) so all the coolness and problems alike are pretty fresh in my mind. It also means I’ve been reading a lot of articles recently discussing the current state of the mobile landscape.

I thought I’d get my thoughts down while I have the time (I’ve been smacked in the face by a big fat cold virus that’s forcing me to have a break from climbing and well everything. Not nice over the long Easter weekend!).

First up RIM

I thought it might be wise for one to kick off with RIM sense it’s entirely possible that by the time I’ve finished writing this little piece that they will no longer exist. OK maybe I’m being a bit facetious to say it won’t exist but I can guarantee that it will have continued further along  it’s downward trend.

It’s funny to think how far RIM has fallen in the years preceding the iPhone and shortly thereafter Android. I personally thought that they had a brilliant place from which to wage war; that being the absolute centre of enterprise. Somehow they managed to lose it. I say somehow, you can actually pretty much chalk it up to the consumerisation of IT in the enterprise gaining momentum and RIMs inability to ride the wave.

Example. My most recent mobile app was for a client who wanted the app in BlackBerry’s App World as well as the App Store and Marketplace (now known as Play). Thing is the app was designed specifically for modern smartphone screens which we defined as about 3.5 inch with a decent resolution. Not having had to look into RIMs line up for a while I couldn’t recall their devices of the top of my head so I headed over to their product listing page.

What did I find? A product listing that looked like it was from a few months after iPhone and Android emerged. There was only one model that had a minimum of 3.5 inch screen (it actually had a 3.7″) with a decent resolution. ONE MODEL! It’s been clear that people want a big ass slab of glass for their smartphone’s today. There’s a reason why iPhone, Android and even Windows Phone 7 are all (with the exception of a few Android models I’m sure) slabs of glass.

Now I find it hard to believe that RIM’s CEO didn’t know these two facts; the trend of consumerisation of IT and the majority of people’s taste in relation to smartphone’s. So the only thing I can think that happened is that he couldn’t put one and one together and extrapolate.

There isn’t much more to say on this. RIM is losing market share, mind share, developers and staff month over month. The only good thing I’ve heard from them recently is an admission that they really have screwed up these last few years, btw that was from the new CEO.

I think the best thing for RIM to do is to get out of or trim down massively their hardware line and license their OS and services to other manufacturers. I think some other HW vendors would be interested in at least exploring the opportunity to offer a compelling counter balance to Apple and Google.

From a developer point of view. Well I wouldn’t shed a tear should RIM disappear.

Next up choice/fragmentation in Android

Depending on your view it’s either consumer choice or platform fragmentation. Well here’s the thing as a consumer I’m sort of sitting on the fence as to what I’d call it. I might be leaning toward consumer choice in relation to the HW but fragmentation in relation to the platform.

As a developer however it’s a clear cut decision. It’s fragmentation and a whole lot of work! And it ain’t quick iteration thanks to the painful sluggishness of the Android emulator. Of course as I finished the project and get my thoughts out here a new rev of the emulator has been released with the major improvement being hardware acceleration. I haven’t had a chance to update my development machine so can’t comment first hand on how well this works but I have seen some demo’s on youtube and it does look good.

Here’s an example of the fragmentation that we developers face. Take for Google’s mobile homepage for search. How do you think it holds up when viewed across a range of browsers.

You can see higher quality versions of the image here.

Keep in mind this example is only across browsers and not devices and OS versions. I like the openness and flexibility of Android but I really do wish that it was far more consistent.

Lastly; Adobe might be getting back to its ‘we build kick ass tools’ roots with Shadow

As a quick last point I want to highlight a new app from Adobe. It’s called Shadow and it allows you to pair mobile devices with your dev machine and test web apps on the mobile device.

Besides from me liking the tool, it really can speed up workflow, I’m heartened to see Adobe returning to it’s tools heritage. Originally before getting caught up in Flash Adobe made tools and not platforms. I think this is the direction they need to continue.

Adobe I’d love to see more releases such as Shadow that solve real problems.

Update: Adobe have released an update of Shadow that solves some of the major problems I encountered while playing with it. Loving the quick iteration Adobe! Instead of me re hashing the details you can find out more on the release here

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Good to see some in the trenches & big idea innovation from Google

by Richard on 6/04/2012

People have been saying for a while that Google hasn’t been innovating like it use to. A good discussion was had on the last this week in Google that got me thinking about some previous Google products such as GMail, Maps, Reader and of course search that I love and would say Google innovated in that space.

More recently… it hasn’t felt like they’ve kept the pace up. It’s understandable, companies grow, start to have vested interests and lose their agility.

However very recently, for the last year in fact Larry Page has been at the helm for Google once again and he has brought a focus back to the company that was sorely missing. For a while I really did think that Google might just quietly slide into the big company trap that caught Microsoft but now I think  they have a fighting chance of staying out of it.

Lately I’ve felt like they’ve been getting back to form in both the big idea playground and in the trenches of everyday life. Lets start with the big idea playground shall we.

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If the country needs the money how come we aren’t fixing issues such as this!

by Richard on 6/04/2012

Question. How much tax did Amazon pay in the UK in the last fiscal year?

Struggling? Let me help you out with some figures. In the last year alone Amazon’s revenues in the UK were £3.3 billion. Any ideas now?

Before I offer up the answer let me ask you to reflect on a few other points. At the time of writing this the global economy is still struggling to free itself from the grips of recession or flat growth. World governments are (supposedly) trying everything they can to jump start each of their economies. One tactic in the many being tried is to become more efficient and less wasteful. To make what we have work harder and last longer.

What this point in reality means is that for the average person things have got a bit/massively tight. Does this sound familiar; No pay rise in work, cost of living increasing, access to finance reduced, having to make do with less whether that be not taking the kids out for the day or trying to get another meal out of your weekly shop. My point here is that the average Joe is making sacrifices to help get the economy back on track, which is pretty fair in these times. I’m sure no matter what country you’re reading this from you’ve heard the phrase ‘We’re all in this together’.

Well we’re not. How much tax did Amazon pay in the UK last month? £0.00. Nothing!

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Eric Schmidt at Mobile World Congress 2012

by Richard on 2/03/2012

One of the main reasons I love working in the technology industry is because of the magnitude of change it can bring about. You want proof? How about… mp3 players, tablets, massively powerful PCs/Macs in a home environment, medical appliances, educational tools and oh maybe the Internet.

I believe technology will be the thing that either destroys us or makes our species eternal. Bold statement huh :) I do truly believe it though. Technology is having such a major and fundamental impact on everything and it evolves so fast. It’s advances will either, in my mind, lead us to an unfortunate dystopia or it will allow future generations to set foot upon worlds we currently only glimpse and experience as pinpricks of light. They will expand humanity beyond our tiny, little planet.

It’s all about technology. Period!

Knowing how I think regarding this topic I’m sure you will understand why I was interested in a recent talk Eric Schmidt gave at MWC 2012. He touches on how technology will help the other 5 billion people on the planet who currently don’t have access to it.

There’s nothing profoundly new being said here but if like me you love exploring the big picture in technology and how it really can influence lives in a real way then you’ll probably enjoy the talk.

With my waffling over I present to you (via our YouTube overlords) Schmidt’s musing’s on the importance of bringing the technology we take for granted to the many people without.

Our feature presentation…

Bonus video!

I got thinking and if you really do love the possibilities that technology holds then here’s another more fun glimpse at what could be in store for us. It falls on the superficial fun side of the fence.

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