Samsung Galaxy SIII

As my phone contract with Orange was nearing it’s completion, I decided that I would upgrade to the Samsung Galaxy SIII.

It’s a pretty good phone, running Android 4.0.4 Ice Cream Sandwich, 16GB internal memory, Samsung Exynos 4 Quad SoC based on a 1.4 GHz quad-core ARM Cortex-A9 CPU, so it’s not slow! The UI (TouchWiz) is pretty responsive, but a bit different to what I’m used to with HTC Sense – such as the customisable number of home screens. Admittedly, I do miss some of the things that the HTC Desire had – such as a widget to enable the hotspot mode, but there are so many really nice things with this phone – including the availability of Google Chrome :)

The S3 is also my first device which includes an NFC (Near Field Communication) reader, and I’ve found that I can read a number of different things somewhat unexpectedly, including both my bus pass and my passport – I’m hoping I’ll have some chance to play with that technology in the future, especially since I have some NFC tags on order :)

There has also been a bit of a problem with these phones – it was discovered by some researchers that on opening a URL using the “tel” scheme will automatically open the dialler and pre-fill in the number. For example, a link such as the example below will open the dialler and dial 012345:

<a href="tel:012345">click me!</a>

However, some special numbers (called USSD codes) will automatically detect as these special numbers and automatically start something – most phones can be made to show their IMEI number by dialling *#06#. If, by clicking a link such as this your phone shows it’s IMEI, it’s vulnerable to attack. The Galaxy SIII has a special code in it which can be used to run a factory reset without confirmation and without possibility of cancelling it. This could be started simply by clicking a link in a web page. Thankfully, my phone doesn’t appear to be affected by this, but a large number of Galaxy SIIIs out there are vulnerable.

Overall, it’s a brilliant phone, and I’m really glad I got it :)

Strobe Light

Growing tired of the poor strobe light applications available on Android Market, I decided to build my own.

Lots of the so-called strobe light apps which already exist on Market seem to be of the type which use the phone screen as the “strobe” – this isn’t good cos it takes a while to update the screen, and it isn’t as bright as the camera flash led.

My app is a very simple one – a quick loop to set the flash on, wait a while, set the flash off, and wait a while.

The two waits are configurable with sliders, with values of anything from 0 (theoretically) to 500ms.

The only problem is the fact that developing camera-based applications on Android is a bit of a dark art – not all manufacturers seem to use the Camera API to access their camera. Therefore, camera-based apps can be a bit hit-and-miss as to whether or not they will work. As I only have the HTC Desire, I can’t test it on anything other than the Android Emulators, and my actual phone. I have, however, had reports of it working on a number of devices, including the Samsung Galaxy S2, HTC Incredible, and the HTC Evo 4G. There have also been reports of it NOT working on the Galaxy Tab, Droid X, and the XT720 Milestone.

As all the flashing takes place in an infinite loop, there’s no time to handle GUI events. Therefore I branch out the flashing bit to a separate thread, and use Handlers to make the necessary calls back to the main thread to update the GUI as necessary.

The main reason to update the GUI is to make sure that should the strobe thread get stopped in any way, such as on activity changes or screen re-orients (currently disabled) etc, the GUI “enable” toggle button actually shows the correct status, as well as to easily display any error messages as necessary.

There’s still a few outstanding bugs (screen orientation!), and there’s a few changes I’d love to make to it, but it’s coming along quite nicely, I just need more time to actually work on it!

Technology updates

Quite a bit has happened recently!

I’ll try and give a bit of info about each, there’s quite a lot to write about though!


An IRC bot which stalks changes to Wikipedia based on regex matches. Read more

caterpie beedrill as minecraft server

Those of you who use my Minecraft server will know that the server known as “caterpie” was bad. Any more than one person connected, and it would lag to the depths of hell. I’ve replaced it with a 1.7G beast of a server, still running as an Amazon server instance.

I registered a new domain! I’m still in the process of setting the thing up though, but that will become my main website, not quite sure what I’m gonna put there yet, but it’ll probably replace what webspace I had at


A couple of weeks ago, the IRC bot that we use over at Wikipedia’s Account Creation Assistance project decided it would stop giving notifications to the IRC channel.

I’ll write more about this at a later time, hopefully soon, but probably when I’ve finished messing with my new site :P

strobe light

Growing tired of the poor strobe light applications available on Android Market, I decided to build my own.

I’ll also write more about this too at a later time – I think this bit and the last one need their own posts.