Space Apps for Android: 8 Sep 2019 Update

I released a new update of my book Space Apps for Android: Discover the Best Astronomy and Space Apps on September 8, 2019. If you purchased the book, you can download the latest version for free from your Leanpub library.

This new version comes with the complete rewrite of chapter The Sun, which now has an introduction. I removed all the material on Solar Observer because the app is partially obsolete and doesn’t provide much value. I also added the entries for Eclipse Calculator 2, the best eclipse app, and SunViewer 2, which lets you view the latest solar images.

Why an update? Because I’m self-publishing the book as a work in progress with the Lean Publishing process, so I’m constantly updating and expanding it.

NASA Removes HDEV Support From Its Android App

The HDEV experiment on the International Space Station stopped working sometime in July 2019. The official NASA app for Android removed HDEV support in version 1.90, released on August 30, 2019, as its change log entry notes:

Removed the ISS HDEV section which has reached end of life
HDEV (High Definition Earth-Viewing ) was a set of commercial HD video cameras mounted on the exterior or the ISS and aimed at the Earth. The purpose of this NASA experiment was to evaluate the effects of long-term exposure to space radiation of off the shelf video equipment.

The cameras streamed beautiful live images of the Earth from space and worked continuously, except for the night side of the orbit or when operational constraints prevented it.

The loss of the payload is not unexpected as the harsh environment was eventually going to damage the devices. Still, the general public loved these views and hoped for more. NASA unsuccessfully tried to restore the system but had to give up, declaring the expe…

A Conversation on Repurposing Blog Content to Publish a Book

Some bloggers write a book by putting together their posts, revising the content, and expanding it with new material. I always used Google+ as a blog and I did something similar by using my posts as an early draft of the book Space Apps for Android I self-published.

In a video conversation with Nina Trankova, Monika Schmidt, and Bob Danley, a part of Nina’s "On e Board" series, I explained how I repurposed the posts of one of my Google+ collections as the backbone of the book. I also discussed the Lean Publishing workflow with which I produce the book.

How I Fixed the Fingerprint Sensor of My Pixel Phone

Some time ago the failure rate of the fingerprint sensor of my Pixel 2 XL Android phone got worse. The device was failing to recognize my fingerprint more and more. Two simple things I did fixed the issue, here they are in case you experience something similar.

The first was to clean up the fingerprint sensor. I had been using the phone for a year or so and the sensor had likely gathered significant dirt.

Another thing I did was to scan more fingerprints of the same finger to increase the recognition accuracy. 2-3 scans of the same finger should be enough, try more if there is little or no improvement. You may want to scan also a different finger.

Leanpub and Lean Publishing Featured in Carnival of the Indies #107

The Carnival of the Indies is a blog carnival for indie authors.

Every month the blog The Book Designer posts a collection of links to selected posts by indie authors on industry-related topics such as book design and production, success stories, writing tools and tips, and more.

I closely follow this resource packed with valuable information and now I’ve had the opportunity to contribute. Issue #107 (August 2019) of the Carnival of the Indies includes (under Book Design and Production) a link to a post to my blog, Leanpub and Lean Publishing. It’s an overview for authors who are not familiar with the process and the platform.

20 Years of Google Blogger

Google Blogger turned 20. It was actually Pyra Labs that launched the blogging platform on August 23, 1999 before Google acquired it in 2003.

Peggy K celebrated the 20th anniversary of Blogger by briefly telling its history, which is part of the history of blogging, and explains why it’s still worth blogging and using Blogger in this social era. Peggy wrote:

While it feels like social media has taken over much of publishing over the past decade, the tide may be turning. As there have been increasing concerns about privacy breaches, harassment and fickle algorithms on Facebook and Twitter, there are rumblings that blogging is making a comeback.
I recently came back to Blogger and my motivations are similar to Peggy’s, such as Blogger having the features I need and being integrated in the Google ecosystem. I also share her hope the tide may be turning and blogging may be making a comeback, or at least growing a little more visible and relevant.

What about the future of Blogger? Google is…

My First 10 Years With Android

I left the Vodafone store at a shopping mall near Milan, Italy, in the early afternoon of a summer day. Precisely at 02:24pm on August 26, 2009, as printed on the receipt of the HTC Magic Android smartphone I had just bought for €449. It was my first Android device, 10 years ago today.

Google unveiled Android in November 2007 and HTC released the first consumer Android device in September 2008. I’d say I qualify as an early adopter.

Until that summer I had owned two feature phones, an Ericsson R320s and a Nokia 6151. WAP2 on the Nokia seemed an experience straight out of science fiction. But there were things I wanted on the go that only a smartphone could do easily, such as email, Twitter, and real-time text chat. Although the iPhone was already popular, Android looked promising and as a Google enthusiast I was committed to its ecosystem.

The HTC Magic shipped with Android 1.5 Cupcake, soon replaced with the 1.6 Donut OTA update.

The first days with the HTC Magic taught me a lot on s…