Thursday, December 16, 2010

SWF Transcoder

So as you may know, I like phones. It seems the world is migrating away from traditional desktop and laptop computers and adopting a more mobile model. Despite mobile's maaaaaaany many many many many drawbacks, there is still a place for mobile devices. So that's where I find myself interested in nowadays.

As a result I decided to enroll in CSCE 4930 under Dr. Garlick. Due tonight is my android app for the class. Rather than working on the app, I'm blogging about it right now. Great idea right?

It's called SWF Transcoder
I'm going to have to pat myself on the back for this icon. *Pat Pat.

What it does is it takes flash content, namely content from youtube, and transcodes it into a standard codec; namely any codec readable by Android phones. Right now all it can do is SWF to MP3, but I'll add OGG and MP4 later. The resulting MP3 file is saved to your SD card on the phone and is then fully available to be played to your heart's content in your media player.

A very basic UI at the moment

Anyway all you do is search for a youtube video, select it, and then in 3-4 minutes the MP3 pops up in /sdcard/SWF_Transcoder/song.mp3. It happens Like this: the mobile phone sends a search request to and is returned an XML file containing all the search results for the given query. Then, I used the Java SAX XML Parser to parse the results into an Object list, and then when the user selects a video, the phone gets an mp3 file of the video.

Actually it would be much easier and sell much better if I just said "IT'S LIKE MAGIC!!"

The app is not in the Android market, mind you. It's far too under-developed and inefficient to release. Perhaps in the near future I could release it if I polish it up a bit and make it more efficient. As for now, hopefully it will score me an A in 4930.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Student Orgs

There's a lot of types of student organizations out there. Greek life, professional organizations, intramural sports, etc. I can assure you I'm not a part of greek life. The only Greek lettering I know come from math terms. It's actually really funny when I meet someone in a sorority or fraternity, and they tell me lambda is one of their letters.and I say "you're an empty string?"

I get blank expressions and short conversations with these folks.

These groups sort of have a negative stigma attached to them, whether it's stories of hazing or wild parties or the like. That's not to say sororities/fraternities are ALL bad. One of the engineering ambassadors is the president of an engineering fraternity. The name escapes me at the moment, but I know it has several Greek letters.. In addition there are several engineering societies like IEEE, society of black engineers, society of women engineers, etc. I joined IEEE and I've been to a couple robotics meetings at discovery park. Most of the time, these groups look great on a resume, and can even hook you up with seminars or job offers. Not to mention the meetings are interesting as well. Point is, extracurricular activities are also an important part of college life.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Alive Week

Sorry for the absence of posts recently. I've been exceptionally lazy busy. And now that good ol dead week is back, I can become busier than ever.

"So, we meet again, DEAD WEEK!"
"Yes, you look just as worried this semester as you did last, BRETT MCCORMICK."

"Hah, if by worried, you mean worried I'm going to blow these exams out of the water, you are correct"
"That's not what your Calculus exam said about you last semester"
"Hmph. I left that chump in the dust half a year ago. Bring on some new challengers"
"Let's see how you handle my new and improved Dead Week."
"I'll show you to your grave, Dead Week!!!"

...To be concluded

In all seriousness, I've got 3 exams and a final project due. Everything should work out okay, but that's not to say I don't have plenty of work in front of me. There will be plenty of coffee consumed in the next week. Also, my mobile app is almost finished. I'll reveal that little gem when it's complete. I won't be selling it on the market since it's my first app and it's not very pretty and/or efficient but it's still something I will be using personally! Perhaps I'll publish some random apps in the coming months, now that I've waded through App development 101. Actually it's CSCE 4930/CSCE 5420 to be exact, but you know.

In case you're not familiar with app development and/or could be interested in it, this class isn't necessarily required but provides a structured case study with like-minded students. There's a forum to ask questions in case you miss class, and everyone is developing either an Android or iPhone app. Curiously, only one person is developing an iPhone app. As a reference, iPhones are programmed in modular C, and android is written in Java. Consequently, since Java is an open platform, it is very easy to decompile a paid app, and piracy seems to run rampant in the android market. The question is, do you spend millions in a fight against piracy, or do you embrace hackers and simply inform them that what they do to their phone is their own business, and if they break it, they're SOL? I can personally assure you I'm more than happy to pay 99 cents for a neat app. I mean, to put it in perspective, people are willing to pay $9.00 for a drink and popcorn at a theater, but not 99 cents for a Random Ringtone app? Seriously, that random ringtone app is awesome.

Anyway, I feel fantastic and I'm still alive.