Burps and belly rumbles

So far this has just been a duping ground for moans, groans and over exagerated injustices that have rained down on me. If you look close though, you might just find a post or two of opinion and not complaint.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Trying to teach an old dog new tricks

In a flash of inspiration, I decided that I should have a go at app creation for Android. Nothing too big, no fancy graphics, or anything that's gonna make anyone go "WOW, the dude that wrote this is a seriously clever boy". I don't even intend to get a "not bad" from anyone who ever gets to see the end result. I didn't know what to try and put together, but something simple.

Now, as I have previously stated, I have no patience or dedication, and to makes things even more awkward, the last time I wrote any code in anger was 20 or so years ago. So I will coming at this almost blind. What I have decided to do in an attempt to keep myself interested enough to finish the project, is write an app that I will actually use, and as I don't expect to produce anything of any quality, it will also need to be something that I cant just download from the market with all the bells and whistles finely polished. So now I have another problem, an app that I will want to use, that no-one else has produced.

Rejected Ideas

1 - Football or Celtic - A million apps covering news and results already exist on the market, with a couple of Celtic specific ones as well.

2 - Tech - Dont even think I need to answer this one, again the market is saturated.

3 - Sex - Even worse than tech, and I don't want to hide the netbook screen when the kids are about :D

4 - Beer - Well the best thing about beer is the consumption, and a load of augmented reality apps already cover bars / off sales, and listings and reviews are abundant on the web.

So the only area that I am left with is work, how boring is that. But the thing is, on analysis it's perfect. I run a bar, and as yet I have come across nothing which is directly aimed anyone in my position, outside of posting on social networks, or listing in guides, there are no apps designed to help me in my daily grind. Now the only decision is how can a mobile handset help me to run my business? There are a couple of ways I could use my handset, but in reality with my knowledge and lack of programming skills only one that is practical - the exciting world of STOCK TAKING. I know that I said I have a major concentration deficit, and a distinct lack of will power, but in my job I have to conduct line checks daily, and full stock takes every month or two, so my motivation wont be the fun of the final result, but rather how it can reduce the tedium of a job I have no choice but to do.

Now luckily enough when I did code all those years ago, it was for a small computer company that specialised in bespoke business software. This with the twenty odd years working behind bars (no, not sewing postbags), means that I have a fair old idea of what I can and can't expect to achieve. My first thoughts were that I should aim for a complete stand alone app to record and report on stock ins, and outs. But after some thought I realised that this would be impractical, and probably slow parts of the process down. I still haven't decided on a final setup, but I guessing it will be something like this.

Instead of a single Android app for controlling the pub's inventory, I will create something that has both a PC, and a Android client. The Android side will consist of either one combined app, or probably a suite of smaller apps that carry out specific functions. All the data will be stored, and shared through the cloud. The PC will be able to accomplish every task, but will manly be used for generating reports. The Android app(s) will be used for counting stock, checking in stock, price calculations, and generating 'small' reports for viewing on-screen, and as such I will probably create a separate app for each task making the overall job easier. Eventually I would like to progress to include barcode scanning, but I think that may be beyond me.

My plan of attack is this, I intend to spend the next few days performing a full system analysis, identifying all the features, and process's that I intend to implement. I have decided that to begin with the PC side will simply be a spreadsheet that will import from a CSV file, allowing me to get 'productive' quite quickly. As for the Android side, well its time to start reading, and running through a few simple tutorials. I don't envisage that the little apps will be too complicated, just some simple input, and data manipulation saved to file, and then sent to the cloud.

If you know of any good on-line resources please post and let me know, and the same goes if you find some faults in my logic regarding the way I am approaching this.