The University of Texas at Austin School of Journalism and the Austin American Statesman both sponsored the first Journalism Hackathon, which was a success, especially for a first year event.
This was my first time organizing a hackathon – as part of a team including Robert Quigley and R.B. Brenner from the School of Journalism, and Christian McDonald and Andrew Chavez from the Statesman (they both also teach at the University of Texas in the School of Journalism as well). I’d like to thank Mashery, Microsoft, and Clarify for coming to the hackathon to show everyone what their technology does, and how it could apply to the changing world of journalism.
Many of the participants had never been to a hackathon before, and in fact were kind of intimidated – maybe the combination of “hacking” and “marathon” really doesn’t sound that friendly! From the beginning, we wanted to organize a friendly hackathon, where the focus was on learning something new, getting to know the other participants, and accomplishing something!
The highlight of the hackathon was the tour of the Statesman’s newspaper printing presses, led by Christian McDonald – the presses were busy churning out the next day’s paper. One of the most interesting facts we learned is that the Statesman prints many other newspapers as well – it’s just cheaper for these other papers to get rid of their printing presses, and run their paper copies off on the Statesman’s presses.
This was hard to find by Googling it, so I’ll put it into a blog post here. Turbolinks is a great page speed optimization technology that is built into Rails 4.
Instead, use Turbolinks.visit() with the URL you need to open, and your Rails 4 app will feel a lot quicker to your users.
I just updated the Twilio Client for PhoneGap plugin: https://github.com/jefflinwood/twilio_client_phonegap to support the latest version of Twilio’s client SDKs for both iOS and Android.
Here’s a nice write-up from the Baton Rouge Advocate on an app for Android and iOS that I worked on with Frank Eakin and Justine Boyer. I did the software development for both apps, in Java and Objective-C.
App allows tourists to experience ‘12 Years a Slave’
The app officially launches at noon on Saturday, November 1, 2014 at the Louisiana Book Fair on the grounds of the State Capitol in Baton Rouge. Steve McQueen, the director of the movie “Twelve Years a Slave”, and Louis Gossett, Jr., actor and the narrator of the audiobook, are helping to kick off the app launch. On Sunday, November 2, 2014 Frank Eakin and the descendants of many of the characters in the book will take a tour of the app sites, followed by a celebration in Marksville, Louisiana.
I had a great time working on these apps, as they combined my love of history with a great design, great content, and a very interesting story. Many were introduced to the story of Solomon Northup through the movie, Twelve Years a Slave, and I hope they can now easily visit the historical sites associated with his story of being kidnapped as a free man in New York and brought to slavery in Louisiana.
Purchase the Twelve Years a Slave Tour Guide app for the iPhone and the Twelve Years a Slave Tour Guide app for Android.
Link to my HTML5 Video Autoplay on iOS Sample App GitHub repo
As part of a current project building a large hybrid native/web iPad app, some issues came up regarding iOS 7 and 8 and HTML5 content in a UIWebView with an autoplaying video.
This is an area where Mobile Safari differs from the UIWebView that iOS developers can embed into their own apps. Mobile Safari doesn’t allow video to autoplay, ostensibly to protect users on cellular data plans from large data charges. As far as I can tell, its behavior doesn’t change if the device is on a wifi network, so there may be other reasons.
There are many StackOverflow issues about this, some of which appear to be outdated, so the easiest thing for me to do was to build a quick, simple app to test out HTML5 autoplay. The key setting to know is that you must change the UIWebView to allow media playback without user interaction – you can set this in the Storyboard, or you can set it via code:
self.webView.mediaPlaybackRequiresUserAction = NO;