Archive for December, 2011

Ryan’s UCOSP Update

So the term has come to a close and I thought I’d give a short retrospective of my time working on POSIT. First of all, I’d like to thank all the people involved in UCOSP for making it what it is and letting us be involved in it. I know I’ve found it to be a very educational and rewarding experience, and I think the other students on my team feel the same way.

We started off the term with an experimental version of POSIT that had been rebuilt with a pluggable architecture that would hopefully make it a lot easier to customize the app according to clients’ needs. However, since the new architecture was fairly new, the actual functionality was pretty rough. For this reason, our UCOSP team spent much of the early part of the term helping Ralph and Rachel out with testing and patching bugs while they continued to build features back into the new architecture. As POSIT got incrementally nicer each week, we would then gleefully load the new version onto our phones and do horrible things to it until it broke.

Later in the term, as POSIT was getting more stable, we each chose individual projects to expand POSIT’s functionality. All of us eventually decided on function plugins for the app, which I believe have already been discussed by other members of my team. Here’s an overview of what my teammates have accomplished:

Twitter Plugin – Stanley had a neat idea early in the term to combine POSIT with Twitter. His plugin uses the Twitter4j library to give users the ability to post finds to their Twitter accounts. The wiki page for Stanley’s plugin is available here: http://code.google.com/p/posit-mobile/wiki/TwitterFunctionPlugin

Camera Plugin – POSIT’s camera functionality is one of the things I found most striking about the app when I was first introduced to it. Gordon’s plugin puts the ability to take pictures and associate them with your find back into the app using the new architecture. Find out more about it on the plugin’s wiki page: http://code.google.com/p/posit-mobile/wiki/Camera_plugin_with_syncing

Tracker Plugin – Another nifty feature that was begging to be added back in is POSIT’s tracker functionality. It provides the ability to track the path of someone’s expedition when using the app. This was Kalin’s project, and you can read about it here: http://code.google.com/p/posit-mobile/wiki/Tracker_Activity_Walkthrough

Location Aware To Do Reminder Plugin – Without disparaging anyone else, I think Eric’s plugin is probably the coolest. His To Do plugin allows you to set reminders for yourself that are linked to a find’s location. It monitors your own location and will alert you when you are in close proximity to the reminder location. You can read all about it on the wiki page: http://code.google.com/p/posit-mobile/wiki/To_Do_Reminder_Walkthrough

SMS Plugin – This was my plugin, so forgive me if I spend a disproportionate amount of time talking about it. I wanted to do something similar to what was done with the version of POSIT used in Haiti. The deployment of wireless Internet in Haiti isn’t exactly ubiquitous, so for them it was important that they be able to share data without relying on the Internet. For this reason, they built a whole synchronization system that used SMS messaging. My plugin’s functionality is a bit simpler than that. I implemented SMS functionality merely as a way of sending and receiving a single find over SMS. The tricky part about this was that, while the Acdi Voca app knew exactly what its Find object looked like, I had to contend with the fact that the user might be using a Find Plugin about which I don’t know the details. I’m pretty happy with the result, and my hope is that the code I have written will also be of help to anyone who wants to extend POSIT’s SMS functionality even further. The wiki page I created for the plugin is here: http://code.google.com/p/posit-mobile/wiki/SMSFunctionPlugin

And that just about wraps up everything I have to say! Thanks everyone again for letting me be involved with this. I think it’s great what you guys are doing and I wish you the best of luck in future terms.

Ryan McLeod

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Kalin’s UCOSP POSIT Update

A look into my experience with POSIT by Kalin Ash-Elliott, a Computing Science student from the University of Alberta.

I worked on POSIT as part of the UCOSP program for the Fall 2011 Semester. Mobile software development is a fascinating area and I knew I wanted to work with it. Working with POSIT was a great opportunity to further my interest in developing Android software. The tremendous flexibility in choice of projects that the UCOSP program offered, allowed me to gain valuable experience in the areas I am interested in and passionate about.

I worked with POSIT’s Tracker Activity: a function plug-in that tracks the phone’s location by collecting its altitude, latitude and longitude, displays the current expedition on a Google map in Tracker Activity’s UI, saves the points on the phone’s database and synchronizes the points with POSIT’s server. My project for the semester was to reincorporate Tracker Activity into POSIT’s new plug-in architecture.

The ability to share expeditions demonstrates Tracker Activity’s important applicable functionality. Improving efficiency via storing and coordinating expeditions amongst individuals in a team for such things as search and rescue missions is an example of how Tracker Activity may be used.
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POSIT: UCOSP Team Progress

Hello! My name is Gordon Leung and I’m in my final semesters of my Computing Science Degree from Simon Fraser University. I think POSIT is an application that can be used for fun as well as a practical tool for recording data. It not only allows users to share their favorite destinations, but can also be used to keep track of data when you’re out in the field.

Now it’s time for another progress report from the POSIT team! During the past few weeks, we have all been working hard to integrate our individual project proposals into the POSIT application. We’ve successfully integrated one of the student’s project proposals so far. This new functionality notifies the user when they have reached a point of interest! The user sets the reminder by specifying a particular date and location. When the user is near the location on the desired date, POSIT will notify the user of the reminder.

Another new functionality that is coming soon is the ability to tweet your finds. If tweeting your find isn’t satisfying enough, we’re also adding in the ability to send finds using SMS. We’re also adding back the basic functionality to take pictures of your finds. The tracker activity, which allows you to trace your route of how you came about your finds is also being reimplemented after being redesigned.

POSIT is becoming more and more awesome. But, during our progress we also faced many challenges. One of my biggest challenges is having to work with an emulator. Unfortunately I think I’ve reached the limitations of the emulator as our application has gotten more and more advanced. Programming on an actual phone probably would have made a huge difference in every aspect.

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