Shader Editor app

Android and iOS smart phones support the OpenGL ES 3D library.

The latest version for OpenGL Stand currently at 3.2 which was released in August 2015. Most phones on the market however support OpenGL 3.0 since Android 4.3 or iOS 7.

Those is versions we released in or around 2013 such by now was five years ago.

The OpenGL API had changed a lot between 1.x and 2.0 in that it introduced vertex and fragment shader languages as part of the spec. Prior to this, the OpenGL library stopped a set of will defined API calls to handle most aspects of the OpenGL Städte engine.

OpenGL shaders

As stated above, the shader language became past of the OpenGL Standard with version 2.0 and onwards. What it provides is more flexibility in programming the GPU tender pipelines. Instead of trying on a fixed, hardcore pipeline you can go ahead and code your own shader program.

This flexibility comes at the expense of some additional complexity alas this can greatly be migrated through the usage of or defined coffee snippets or libraries which sit Stop OpenGL.

The shader language is leaning heavily on c-style and is functional in nature. As the code is compiled, linked and will then be loaded into the GPU and run with a limited set of instructions, this language is limited in certain aspects and I would really recommend to find online courses or read a book if you want to truly understand the inner working of OpenGL.

 

OpenGL ES

The ES Stand for embedded systems, and is an indication that it has some limitations to the desktop version. Alright although those limitations are really not as big as one would think.

What is more is that WebGL is basically identical to OpenGL ES and many of the shaders you will find running in the browse will also run in your phone.

For example, the web page Http:www.shadertoy.com has a lot of very interesting looking shader samples which you can adapt easily to run on your phone.

But how ?

Shader editor

The shadertoy app can help you play around with some really cool looking shader examples. When you first download the app you will only see a limited set of available samples. Burger you can easily edit and save new shader samples on your device with this app.

The editor is using a just in time compilation of the code on a semi transparent editor window. This allows you to easily explore you shaders and view the results in real-time.

The way that this tool used the OpenGL libraries is to use a fixed vertex shader code base and have all the code executing in the fragment shader. Which is to say that the whole logic is about coloring the fragments ( parts of a pixel ) to achieve those stunning effects.

If you like to experiment and OpenGL is something you have always wanted to play around with, then Shader Editor is a small app you can not afford to miss.


Get it on Google Play

Get it on Google Play

D-Tube, video cryptonite

D-Tube is a distributed video platform based on Steem . Say what ???
Okay I can see the proverbial question marks popping off of your head. No worries, I am hear to help.

Lets  go through this one fancy term at a time.

Steem, Steemit, Steem-Dollars, Steem-Power


We all know Bitcoin or we have heard of it. That magical unicorn currency which created billionaires over night. And while a lot of what has happened in the past few months was mostly negative, such as the collapse of bitconnect, the underlying technology is sound and offers many new opportunities in the tech sector.

As bitcoin has eased off last years heights of over $19000,-US per bitcoin, it currently stands at around $3200,-US per bitcoin, the whole blockchain technology front is in search of providing value beyond the selling of dreams of digital currency backed by … well I leave that up to you to figure out …

Steem is a crypto currency which is in contrast to bitcoin is based off the. Here is a good rundown of what steem is. This article goes into steem vs steem-dollar vs steem-power.
Overall, steem solves a major problem in digital content creation. You can consider Steemit as similar to Reddit, where users can create and publish their content online and get rewarded for it. However, there is one major difference. it also rewards its users using cryptocurrency!

Oh and it is uncensored, decentralized and safe .. in theory.

D-Tube, the YouTube alternative

D-Tube was started by Adrian M  as an alternative to other digital content platforms such as YouTube. The whole concept is build around the steem cryptocurrency and as a creator you will be rewarded with Steem instead of US Dollars.

There is a lot to learn about Steem and D-Tube in the beginning but once you created your account with steemit you can go ahead and create contents and publish it on D-Tube without the fear that your video may be removed by a corporate working slave with a set agenda.

What’s more is that Steem will reward you for any kind of contents you create and publish on the Steemit platform. For example I am publishing this WordPress blog post on the Internet and also on Steemit to increase visibility, and potentially earn a few cents of Steem ( Dollars and Power ).

D-Tube app

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The D-Tube app can be used to view videos in a very similar fashion as you would watch YouTube videos. However the functionality at this point in time is not much further advanced as creating a shortcut to the d.tube mobile friendly web page on your home screen. Both solutions allow you to get very similar functionality as YouTube’s video client.

From a technological point of view I think that both YouTube, and D-Tube are neck-to-neck and you will have no issues finding your way around the app.


Video Quality

Now I am not talking about the resolution, bitrate etc here. What I mean with quality is the contents of the video provided on the platform.

While it is true that you can earn money on D-TUbe, the ability to do so heavily depends on the Whale’s on Steem. In reality what you will realize is that while there is no censorship on steemit, there is an indirect censorship driven by the people with the most money ( Steem-Power ).

If you make a video which one of those whale-people likes, you stand to earn a lot of money. On the other hand, if you like to create contents about knitting or Java, there will be very little you can earn.

But on the positive side, just like YouTube, you can create your audience over time and if you are truly good at what you do and you do provide real value to — the community –, then you can grow your income as well over time and eventually become one of those whales yourself.

App vs web-page-shortcut

Android App
Android App
If you are thinking about installing the app or simply creating a web-page-shortcut, then either one will do the trick at this time. I am confident that over time there will be more advantages in choosing the app.

For not my recommendation though has to be to go to your mobile browser, navigate to https://d.tube, then find your settings and “Add to Homescreen”.
Web Page Shortcut
Web Page Shortcut


Creator vs Consumer

The answer is Yes ( or 42, depending on your leaning ). You have to check this out and decide for yourself if you like it. I found myself fascinated with the whole concept and given the proper circumstances, I can see this platform grow by leaps and bounds over the coming years.

YouTube killer … not quite yet. But if YouTube continues to disregard the smaller contributors and build more negative sentiment I have no doubt that a platform like D-Tube will give the multi billion $ behemoth a run for its money ( and future ).

Overall app rating : 3 stars out of 5.
Overall technology rating : 5 stars out of 5.
Overall honesty rating : 5 stars out of 5

Get it on Google Play

JAMFOX earbits

A few weeks ago, my trusted BT headphones broke. I had them for about a 1.5 years and I was very happy with them.

They were comfortable and quality was great and they were omni-present to the point where I forgot I was wearing them around my neck.

 
I charged them up once in the morning and when I returned from work they could still give me company until bedtime. Obviously not un-interrupted.

Then one day the left side speaker gave out. It was the cable. In my younger days I would have fixed it with my soldering iron but as you grow older you tend to value your time more and so I decided to get a pair of new bluetooth headsets. 

JAMFOX Earbits

Wireless headphones have shrunk down to the point where they have been renamed to earbuds. Well JAMFOX thought earbits may be more along the lines of their marketing strategy and indeed those speakers are tiny bits of Bluetooth technology.

You get two bluetooth devices which connect to your phone. You can also use them individually. For example, you could loan one to your friend and keep the other one connected to your phone.

A fun experiment is to connect them to different phones and listen to both at the same time. Absolutely the best solution for people with multiple personality disorder.

In my case I was more the normal user and wanted to listen to music most of the time, talk on my phone, and also have the ability to use only one side to have the second ear available for my colleagues at work while I am in the kitchen eating lunch. 

Setup and usage.

In order to pair the set to your phone you have to only pair the JAMFOX-L and ignore JAMFOX-R. That is you do not need to pair the right side with your phone. The Left earbit will connect to the right earbit and thus allow you to listen to stereo.

The bits both come with built in microphones and allow you to do a normal phone call. They behave as you would expect, which means they will stop playing your music or video when a call is coming in.

Another great thing about those little gems are the touch sensors sitting on top of each earbit. They are used to pause / play, as well as increase and decrease the volume through double-tapping the left of the right bit.

Troubleshooting

I used them the first 4 weeks without any issues and eventually I gotten myself into the situation where I could only listen to the left earbit OR the right one but not to BOTH at the same time.

Searching online did only reveal a set of instructions which did not work for me but eventually I figured out how I could get stereo back:

I could fix it by

  1. unpairing from my Android device ( Nexus 6 )
  2. pairing it with another phone ( Remember to only pair JAMFOX-L, and ignore the right channel ). Stereo came right on.
  3. I then unpaired it with the second phone and could
  4. finally get stereo back on my Nexus after re-pairing JAMFOX-L

I hope this helps people with similar problems.

Conclusion

Those are great earbuds / earbits / headphones to have and they are well worth the investment. The battery pack will allow you to basically survive the whole day without the need to plug in.

The sound quality is the only thing which could be better however this is mostly due to the size of the speaker and I would not expect them to of the same quality as a full sized headset.

Please share your experience with them if you have the same set of earbits.

Get your background going

Setting the background of your phone is something that most people do only once in a while. I have had periods where I used the same background image for years.

Lately however I grew tired of my static background and wanted to get something with more pep.

Welcome to 3D Parallax Background.

If you don’t know what parallax stand for, according to Wikipedia, it is :

Parallax (from Ancient Greek παράλλαξις (parallaxis), meaning ‘alternation’) is a displacement or difference in the apparent position of an object viewed along two different lines of sight,

In other words, your brain can utilize the parallax from the information from both of your eyes to detect depth.

Another obvious effect is that objects closer to your eyes will move more than objects farther away. Having a multi layered image, where the background layer moves less than the foreground layer will trick us into seeing depth where there is none.

3D Parallax Background is using this effect and does so with great results. Once you have the mechanics in place, the most important thing to do is to create some stunningly beautiful collages to use.

You can choose between more than 250 different background themes in a selection menu which in itself is animated so that you can easily see the 3D effect before you actually download the whole theme and install it as your background.

 

Themes range from nature to movies to space to abstract and anime, to name but a few. I really like this app and use it currently as my background with changing themes.

I love beaches and beer which is great because there is a ready made background for me, as well as the cars and space and … well you get the drift.

The usability is also well thought through and you have many options available in the settings to tune the background to your liking. Actually the only thing I found missing was an editor to build your own theme and utilize it or publish it for every one else to use.

Overall, this app rocks, and I would recommend you take a closer look at it if you are in the market for a new background.

If you want to check it out, then hush over to the play store and install it from here

Get it on Google Play

Device Info the Iron Man way

Your Android phone is an incredible piece of technology. It has the ability to not only make phone calls but you can also take pictures and videos, play 3D accelerated games, find your location using the GPS satellite system, you have a gyroscope, compass, accelerator and much much more.

All of this hardware comes in nearly unlimited variations put together into a singular, unique device. The Samsung S5 and a Pixel XL smartphones for example both have the same types of hardware available but have vastly different hardware chips for those tasks.

If you want to know your phone, you have to know your phones innards and software versions. There are plenty of device info apps on the app store. However there is one app in particular which makes it fun and exciting to look up all of these pieces of information.

CPU Information

This app has a Virtual Reality inspired interface to view your device information. The interface can be adjust the color scheme and a few other details which makes this a great app to go together with your devices protective cover.

The dashboard graphics are stunningly beautiful and playful. Aside from the center control which acts as a menu you can also see the polar clock on the top left corner. The sound effects are very well done and play seamlessly with the animation.

CPU Information is under active development and new widgets will come on a constant basis. If you install it today you will be able to see the progress over time and take full advantage of all new widgets and features before you have to pay for them.

So to sum it all up, if there is one app you want to use to view your devices information, it is this app. CPU Information offers all the information plus one of the most unique interfaces on the app-store.

Intro Video

You can take a quick peek at the application in action in this short demo video below. But please note that the app may hav added new features by the time you view this video.



Get it on the Play store now.

Get it on Google Play

CPU Information

I have spent the past few weeks improving major parts of this app and I am finally at the point of releasing the new and shiny interface.

My ultimate goal for this app is to pull in all of the views into 3D and outshine other similar apps in beauty and create the best app for the job ( as usual ). This is a new beginning for the app and I will likely spend the next few months improving it.

HUD

I love iron Man like HUD interfaces. As such I am building a library with multiple interfaces for different visualization purposes. The interface above is a switch-board with a connected gyroscope and the Earth centered in it.

After the initial release I want to create a terminal emulation which I can scale at will in 3D space, followed by an audio interface which coverts input from the microphone into a nice 3D visual.

There are many more possibilities and I am having fun creating these playful widgets.

Shader

Another area which I want to invest some time in is to work with some custom shaders to bring out some glowing special effects and other goodies.

OpenGL ES 2.0 is a strange beast and not necessarily the easiest environment to learn but it offers some great flexibility in what you can accomplish. The ES, which stands for Embedded Systems, introduces a few changes as compared to the desktop OpenGL implementation.

OpenGL ES 2.0 Programming guide
OpenGL ES 2.0 Programming guide

I am currently going through the “OpenGL ES 2.0 programming guide”, which is a real good book to learn OpenGL. It will help me to realize the remaining widgets and animations to convert the complete app into the 3D realm.

Please give it a try and let me know what you think of it. Also I would love to hear if you have any ideas for a widget which I could implement.

Get it on Google Play

Android Storage Wars

If you have ever tried your hand on coding for Android you certainly have found google’s JAVA based API to be somewhat of a incoherent mess in certain areas, which over time has evolved into an even larger incoherent mess in even more areas.

One of those messy areas is that of the android secondary storage API. All phones have a primary storage area, where you can store images, videos, apps, and application data, and some phones come with a secondary storage option. The API to gain access to the primary storage has evolved over time but allows you to seamlessly integrate proper functionality into your app.


Now you may assume that the Android secondary storage would follow the same paradigm, and grant the same access as the primary storage to your app. However you would be wrong making this assumption. The reason you have apps like the “ES File Manager” handling this for you seamlessly is purely through tricky code in the background which circumvent googles protective scheme for secondary storage, Aka a hack.

Dont do evil … yeah right!


Yes, google in its drive to push people into using their cloud storage is actively pressuring phone makers to get rid of that large secondary storage, or worse the micro-SD slot. That overarching goal of google is driving the API and the access rights to the Androids secondary storage media in a negative way.

Let’s start with a small bit of terminology. Since the dawn of Android, nearly every type of storage has been considered “external storage” even the non-removable flash memory that comes in every device. To distinguish, the non-removable flash memory is called “primary storage”<, while a removable micro SD card is called “secondary storage”. In the early Android versions, an app merely needed permission to WRITE_EXTERNAL_STORAGE to be able to fully access both primary and secondary storage.

In March, 2011, a drastic change to Android was made which changed how secondary storage mediums (external SD cards) were mounted by the Android OS. Specifically, the commit read like this: “Mount secondary external storage writable by AID_MEDIA_RW rather than AID_SDCARD_RW.” This meant that the media would now have to belong to the “media_rw” group to modify the contents of the SD card. As a result, a new permission, called WRITE_MEDIA_STORAGE, was added to the source code. Basically, WRITE_MEDIA_STORAGE replaced the original WRITE_EXTERNAL_STORAGE.

This change has a devastating effect on apps trying to utilize secondary storage because from now on forward only system apps could request the permission to read/write to the external storage ( I.e. sdcard ).

Android secondary storage

Since the WRITE_EXTERNAL_STORAGE permission could be used by any normal app and thus any app can write to the primary storage but not to the secondary storage (external micro SD cards). The WRITE_MEDIA_STORAGE permission could write to the external micro SD card, but regular user apps could not request the permission. This change took place on Android 3.2 Honeycomb, but due to the logistics of hardware and storage mediums at that time, it was barely noticed.

Quote: “Starting around the time of Android 4.4 4 KitKat, and even a little earlier, the implementation of the userspace FUSE filesystem, in conjunction with changes to the open source code, resolved this problem. Yet, still to today, even with Android 8.x.x Oreo, third party apps must explicitly get the user’s permission for both primary and secondary storage before the app can alter either storage medium in any way. And of course, the newer concepts of adoptable storage have alleviated problems in this regard.” — end quote.

Bottom line

Thanks to google the way that most apps now handle android secondary storage heavily depends on the Android version being used. Unfortunately at this time most phones will have a hard time working with the secondary storage, but some phones do. I have updated the file browser integration into my apps and have fixed the issue of secondary storage on some Android versions and not on others.

This whole debacle has not only cost me weeks of effort and research, it has negatively affected all apps with file system access and is the main reason that almost all apps only storing their data on the primary storage, which in most cases is much smaller than the external storage. At this tmie you can get a cheap microSD card with up to 512 GB. However what good is this in your phone if most apps can only use the built-in 16GB ?

Can the Google Play Store Stats be trusted

The Play Store Stats contain important metrics about your apps in the Google Play Store. Any app developer has noticed by now ( August 2018 ) that Google is changing the stats displayed in the developer console and in the app store.

One of the largest changes has been the removal of the “Total Installs” from the play store stats in the developer console. A move which is causing a lot of trouble to me because I relied on it for my growth goals. Google’s reasoning behind this is that it wants quality apps and as such the number of active installs is what Google wants developers to focus on.

I used to look at both numbers together and determine what the rate of adoption was ( E.g. 22% of people installing my app would retain it ). Now however I have to gobble these numbers together through a few more mouse clicks. By choosing “Number Of Installs” for the period “Lifetime” of the app.

Google Play Console Total Downloads

Another unfortunate change that I have just noticed is the elimination of the displayed download tiers in the Play Store. I have a fairly new app n the app store which has just crossed the 5k download mark. The Play store used to honor this by displaying Installs 5000+. However, as of today, with a total install of 5,535 I do see this in the Play Store:
Google Play Store Total Installs

I also noticed that frequently the displayed metrics are distorted after Google changes ( Aka tweaks ) the formula behind the metric. For example the number of active devices would unexpectedly drop from one day to another by a few hundred. However at the same time, the play store stats showed a positive difference between installed and uninstalled apps.

The number of active devices is “Number of Android devices that have been active in the previous 30 days that your app is installed on.”. If that’s the case and Google’s number would be accurate it would mean a hell of a coincidence that a few hundred users of my app stopped using their phone at the same day.

Stats Madness at Google

I wonder how many more changes there will be in the future for app developer. After all if I can not rely on the metric displayed in the app store stats, what are the chances that the numbers in Google Ads are accurate ? I guess there is really no way to tell.

Below is the link to Reverse Video Magic. Can you see how many installs ?
Get it on Google Play

Revert Video Magic Video Android-app

After returning from vacation this year I wanted to edit and send some videos to my family which should highlight some of the more outstanding experiences in a funny but interesting way. The Revert Video Magic app for Android on the google play store was exactly what was needed for this job.

I was looking to take a piece of a video, and revert parts of it and then replace this part with a sequence of forward, backward, forward action all abound. Here is the resulting video to better explain the effect I was after.



I looked around but could only find one app on the google play market which would offer me this functionality. Revert Video Magic for Android

The below images are screenshots of the main screens for Revert Video Magic for Android

The Main Screen is where you select the source video from, that is you can either browse through the media library of your phone or you open a File Browser which allows you to browse the file system of your phone. You can even use your video camera and shoot the video from within the app.

Revert Video Magic Main Screen
Main Screen
Revert Video magic settings screen
Revert Video Settings screen
Revert Video Magic Share Screen
Share Screen

Once you have selected the source video you would like to use, you arrive at the settings page. The Revert Video Magic Settings page allows you to modify the resulting video resolution, the speed of the reverted part, as well as cutting the start and end points of the target video.

Once these settings are set, you will see the Post Processing screen of the revert Video Magic app. This page allows you to actually replace the selected part in-place of where the original video part was. None of the other revert video apps on the google play store do allow for this to happen.

Using the -SHARE- button on the top right corner of the Share screen will then allow you to finally send the video to your friends or share it on social media like YouTube, FaceBook etc.

This app is focused on doing one thing but doing it right. The built in video player, Camera functionality, File Browser, and Share functionality are all part of making reversing part of your video as much fun as the final video.

Feel free to download the app for free from the link below.

Get it on Google Play