Friday, February 27, 2009

Earthquake! for Android

A couple of years ago, the real-time earthquake display on display at the Natural History Museum in New York impressed me so much I stole copied created my own version of their concentric circle filled goodness.

Lately I've been focussing on mobile applications, so I figured why not move the same compelling UI to my Android handset?

Like the exhibit that inspired it, Earthquake! (Applications > News & Weather) shows not just the epicentres, but also an approximated 'damage zone' (inner circle, dark shading) and 'rumble zone' (outer circle, lighter shading) to give an impression of the areas likely to be affected by each earthquake. Zoom in to see which cities and suburbs will feel the tremor, and which are at risk for property damage.

Being a mobile app invites some personalization features not possible on a web site or museum display. Earthquake! lets you configure notification for new earthquakes that cause the phone to vibrate in proportion to the size of the detected quake. Small, magnitude 3 quakes barely shake your phone, but Big One's at 8 or 9 on the Richter scale will vibrate for up to 20 seconds.

Using My Location you can filter notifications to only alert you to earthquakes nearby, or for which you're within the expected 'rumble zone'.

So now if you've got an Android powered phone, you can have you own mobile real-time earthquake display. Then if you wake up in the deserted ruins of a post-apocalyptic nightmare you won't have to wonder whether or not the damage was caused by a magnitude nine earthquake splitting the Earth's crust in two.
The code used to create Earthquake! is a polished version of the ongoing example code shown in Professional Android Application Development, so if you like the idea pick up a copy and see how it's done.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

eBooks, Kindles, and Mobiles

A couple of weeks ago Chris Webb (of publisher John Wiley & Sons) wondered if Amazon's decision to make Kindle titles available on a variety of mobile phones might be especially game changing.

Being an eBook skeptic I wasn't entirely convinced. A spirited discussion on Twitter (@retomeier / @chriswebb) followed, which eventually led to Chris putting my response up in full on his blog as 'Digital Books: Digital FAIL?'.