Archive for March, 2011


Help Japan

I was busy having a baby last week and finally got time to do what I should do – help Japan who just suffered from one of the biggest earthquake and the tsunami. We donated $100 to America Red Cross to help victims in Japan.As we promised earlier, all sales from Tip Calculator (about $10) are included in this amount. Attached please find the receipt.

Human beings are so vulnerable not only before natural disasters but also before man-made structures. The most dangerous situation is not the earthquake or the tsunami itself but the endangered Fukushima nuclear plant. Because of that, millions effect by the radiations now and in the future years. Because of that, supplies cannot be shipped to the flooded places. Because of that, some people who were buried under the debris died as no one come to save them. We, as a whole human being, should be awoken from this man made disaster and stop using nuclear energy. And this is not the first time nor the last time. We should still remember what happened in Chernobyl. It is still a ghost town after twenty years. Hundreds of thousands of people, if not more, still suffered from cancers right now at the moment from that disaster. WE ARE JUST NOT READY FOR NUKES.

I decided to make Advanced Camera Ruler free for a day and see how it went. To my surprise, it ended up with 23682 downloads just in one day. It did extremely well in China and many European countries. If I remember correctly, I haven’t seen this amount of downloads in any of our apps on Android, although I never made Advanced Ruler Pro free on Android. All the free versions on Android are feature-limited version of the corresponding paid version which will of course attract less people. Comparing with the sales of this app when it is not free, I decided to keep it free for a week or so, or even consider switching to ads support model. Will see.

I also decided to release a new version to translate this app to a few other languages. It is very disappointing to see some users’ comment saying the camera won’t turn on. The reason is the camera height has to be input first before the camera preview is turned on. There is a message right there on the screen but since many of the users don’t understand English, they don’t understand what it said. Other users try to aim at the object directly and hope the app will give the direct distance between the camera and the object. Many users never read instruction. No to complain as we sometimes do the same thing. I’ll just find a creative way to make it more intuitive.

As a parent, I had a hard time persuading my ten-year-old to play full hour of piano everyday. I know it is not uncommon after talking with other parents. Sometimes, we have to go shopping and when we come back, my son will tell me he played an hour piano already while we are away. I can’t prove he did. Only when he messed up at the piano teacher’s place, I know he maybe only played for 10 minutes. So I decide to make an app for it. I leave my phone at home and I dial in using my wife’s cell phone when we are out. My app will pick-up the phone automatically, and silently so no one knows. If my son is playing piano, I can hear it through the phone. That’s how I came up with the Eavesdropper app idea.

But it is more than that. Eavesdropper can work in two different modes.

Auto Answer Mode

In this mode, the phone will ring as normal but it will pick-up the phone automatically for you according to the settings. You can choose to auto-answer all calls, just calls from contracts or favorites, or just a few phone numbers. You can also choose how many seconds to wait before answering the phone. For safe driving purpose, you should also choose to auto answer the phone only when a bluetooth device (such as headset or car hand-free system) is connected, or at least enable the speakerphone.

Eavesdrop Mode

You need two phones in this mode – the eavesdrop phone and the dial-in phone. The eavesdrop phone must be an Android phone that has this app installed. You leave it at a place you want to eavesdrop then call it from another phone (any type of phones, doesn\’t need to be an Android phone or a cell phone). The Android phone ringer is turned off in this mode so it will not ring when it receives a call. For security consideration, you should only enable eavesdrop mode when calling from a particular phone number that also belongs to you. The app will pick-up the phone based on the calling number and enter the eavesdropping mode automatically.

There are many ways to use this app in eavesdrop mode. For example, in eavesdrop mode, if you leave your phone a few feet from a baby, baby cries will be transmitted to the phone you are dialing from. Better than any other commercial baby monitoring systems which only transmits within certain distance, this app works from anywhere as long as there is a phone available. Here is another way to use it. You leave your eavesdrop phone at home in U.S., travel to Europe, call it from a hotel phone and listen to what is happening at your home. You might be surprised to hear all the noises, which could turn out to be your son is hosting a huge party when you guys are not home.

Disclaimers

It will use your cell phone plan’s talk minutes when your phone is picked up automatically in either mode, so please consider taking advantage of free mobile to mobile calls and unlimited night and weekend minutes, especially using the app in the eavesdrop mode.

2. Even though we named the app a little evil, please respect local laws and use the app in legitimate and ethical ways, i.e. baby monitor, your own house audio monitor etc.

Credits

I would like to say thanks to Everysoft for their AutoAnswer open source project. It helps us a lot when writing this app.

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