Archive for July 2011

Mobile application development

Over the last few weeks we’ve been working on the development and design of several mobile applications for data collection, telediagnosis and for mLearning, especially to support Ethiopian Health Extension Workers. There are already many systems and toolkits available (especially for mobile data collection), but from the ones we have tested so far none do exactly what we need. So our first step is to review the existing systems against our requirements (see our wiki for more information), to find which would be most suitable taking into account how well designed and supported the system is, plus how much development work we’ll need to put in.

We’re also beginning to design a more integrated platform for the different components – reusing existing open source toolkits/components and standards wherever possible. It’s going to take a while to refine our ideas and then to actually build and test the system, but I’m going to start off by looking at how to create a mobile app for assessing the skills/knowledge of the HEWs.

Gredos Mountains

I spent the last weekend up in the Gredos mountains – fantastic scenery and only couple of hours drive from Madrid. On Saturday we walked from Navalperal de Torres to the Elola Refugio via Cinco Lagunas (approx 9 hours, including time for swim in the lakes), stayed overnight at Elola. On Sunday morning we went up Almonzor and back to the refugio (about 5 1/2 hours), had lunch then back to up to Navalperal (another 6 hours including break for swim in the river).

Hoping to get back there again soon!

Laptop upgrade…

As I predicted last year, my Asus Eee 1008HA has proven to be a little too fragile, although what failed wasn’t exactly as I’d thought. When I was back in Ethiopia at the end of May, the casing started to come away from the screen:

Whilst there was an unnerving cracking noise whenever I opened the lid, it still worked ok, but after another couple of weeks, the screen failed completely. The machine itself was still usable, providing I plugged it into an external monitor, but was proving to be rather useless for travelling:

So I’ve just bought myself anther new laptop, this time a Lenovo ThinkPad X220:

I’m running Ubuntu on it (11.04) and all installed very easily, no messing around with configurations/patches to get any of the hardware (webcam/wireless etc) working which I’ve had before. All the special keys worked out of the box with no extra configuration. The only very slight comment I’d have is that it has combined speaker and mic jack socket rather than a separate one for each.

Feels good to have a proper laptop rather than just using a netbook as I have been for the last 3 years or so. Although the X220 is still quite small and light it vastly more powerful!