Inventin’ with App Inventor, Part II

I have completed a .1 release of my first Android app, hammered together with Google’s App Inventor toolkit.

It’s a simple but trailblazing RSS displayer that pulls in bill status from the New York State Senate’s own open government platform, called unsurprisingly, Open Senate.

To be truthful there’s nothing unique or groundbreaking about another Android app that displays government information.  In fact, half-way through my work I discovered Open Senate already has shrink-wrapped iPhone and Android apps.

The revolutionary part of my efforts has little do with me; they reside with Google.  Thanks to its App Inventor, any somewhat technically evolved person can make and customize useful mobile apps that are just right for their purposes.

And it’s all free, minus your own perspiration equity. Continue reading

A Little More Fun With Twilio

I’m been trying to keep up with multiple stories (Sprint-Clearwire “4G”,  Harbinger Capital’s nationwide LTE network , iPad) while running around tending other assignments.  No, I don’t have much of a smartphone,  more of a Bronze-age artifact that came with my Verizon plan.  So how do I monitor my RSS feeds  using my basic cell phone when I’m away from desk?

My only requirement was that I won’t compromise my core philosophy of  applying minimal programming effort to the task at hand. I’m thankful to be living in the right era to help me stay true to my beliefs: they’re so many great software components and productivity  tools available that it’s possible to glue together off-the-shelf parts to produce a useful digital time-saver with minimal perspiration.

As you know from a previous post, I’m excited about Twilio’s VoiceXML-lite hosting service. I will also reveal for the first time my love for a visual-oriented RSS mashup tool from Yahoo, called Pipes.

I just needed to glue a simple Pipes workflow to a little bit of PHP that calls Twilio’s SMS service and I’d have a poor man’s news notifier. Continue reading