[Insert project title here]

An Android fitness tracker application. Feedback from the preparation forum was positive, there is enough scope to expand or contract the project as needed. Importantly, it is “substantially within the sphere of information technology”.

Taking approaches from IT Systems Planning for Success (TM353) and an Agile approach from Software Engineering (TM354) meets the requirements. There is a substantial part of the application that needs synchronise with a server, utilising another level 3 module Developing Concurrent Distributed Systems (M362).

What I haven’t decided is the title!

Install Android Studio on Ubuntu


Android Studio is a great development environment and is available on Ubuntu. I’m using Ubuntu Mate 16.10 “Yakkety Yak”.
First install a Java Development Kit (JDK). OpenJDK is pre-installed or you can use Oracle Java 8 (there is a great guide here). I don’t wish to argue over your choice – I need to use the latter (my tutor does). Download Android Studio here. – I extracted it to /opt; ran the installer; and used my home folder for the SDK. If you are using 64 bit, you need the 32 bit GNU standard C++ library:
sudo apt install lib32stdc++6

For Arch you need to enable “multilib” repository:

<code><span class="pln">sudo pacman </span><span class="pun">-</span><span class="typ">Syu</span> <span class="pun">&amp;&amp;</span><span class="pln"> sudo pacman </span><span class="pun">-</span><span class="pln">S multilib</span><span class="pun">/</span><span class="pln">lib32</span><span class="pun">-</span><span class="pln">libstdc</span><span class="pun">++</span><span class="lit">5</span><span class="pln"> multilib</span><span class="pun">/</span><span class="pln">lib32</span><span class="pun">-</span><span class="pln">zlib</span></code>

Virtualisation support is interesting. I read two tutorial and Google’s guide. The former makes reference to command line options not in version 2.2.2. These posts suggest this is a bug, but it may now be default behaviour. First enable that virtualisation in BIOS (check if enabled using “kvm-ok”).

sudo apt-get install qemu-kvm libvirt-bin ubuntu-vm-builder bridge-utils
sudo adduser dougie kvm
sudo adduser dougie libvirtd

This results in an error.

Using the system version of libstdc++.so.6 works. Add the following to /etc/environment:


It seems snappy but with no feedback I’m unsure if accelerated.

So I now have a development environment set up for my project. The next hurdle is to choose a title. So far it is a: development project; distributed application; and uses Android.


After a false start when The Open University opened the TM470 module site, we got back on track on Wednesday. Although the module doesn’t start until February, I need to decide a project to assign a tutor.
I read the study guide and project choice pages. Self development is key, by being a reflective practitioner.
My project can be research, development or evaluation. It should develop knowledge acquired at level three, where I took:
  • Developing Concurrent Distributed Systems (M362),
  • IT Systems Planning for Success (TM353) and
  • Software Engineering (TM354).
I also want to use:
  • Algorithms Data Structures and Computability (M269) as I enjoyed the subject and
  • Web Technologies (TT284) as I enjoyed mobile application development and gained a distinction.
Developing a mobile application with a software engineering approach makes sense. There are techniques and approaches from TM353 that help. For TT284 I used MIT’s AppInventor but would like to use Google’s Android Studio. I worked through the tutorials and it offers a comprehensive suite of tools and runs on Ubuntu.
The trick is to be find an achievable solution to a defined problem. I have ideas but have lots of research ahead of me. I am writing down ideas in a notebook as I get them and aim to decide in the next few weeks.
Throughout I am going to blog, more for myself than anything else. I’ve noticed students reaching out for support on Twitter. While being careful about plagiarism, thought’s trigger conversations we wouldn’t otherwise have.

Acer V3-112P static issues

My little Acer V3-112P laptop has been round the world with me but recently developed a fault. It started making a ticking noise (like a capacitor discharging) when it was charging with the lid shut. Unfortunately then the screen stopped working but shining a torch on it showed the back-light had failed.

According to Acer’s support page, static electricity can build up in their devices. I’m turbo this week so I guess I’ll be taking apart a laptop this weekend to see if I can get lucky and it’s just a capacitor that needs replacing.

Fingers crossed.

Edit: Apparently Cold Cathode Fluorescent (CCFL) back-lights are no longer popular and most screens (including this one) have LED built into the screen. So I’m waiting on a replacement screen.

Deauthorise old computers from iTunes

This took me a while to work out, on iTunes (64-bit).

Open iTunes then from the menu iTunes Store→View Account. Once you’ve entered your password your details appear and you can click the “Deauthorise all” button.

Note you can only do this once a year – if you have done it already then the button just isn’t there.

Word 2013 stopped saving

Wasted a good chunk of last night and today farting around with Microsoft Office 2013 after it decided to crash every time I saved. No idea what caused it, other than that it started after I had pasted some Python code from an editor.

Control Panel, Programs, Programs and Features. Select Microsoft Office 2013 and click Change. Quick repair didn’t work but full repair did.

Well that’s a shame

From Sourceforge’s blog (emphasis mine):

Thanks to DevShare, we are now able to offer a bundle program that is fully compliant with Google’s strictest policies. This includes a solid compliance process for both open source applications and third party offerings. The whole installation flow is clean and has no misleading steps. Uninstallation procedures are exhaustively documented and all applications are verified to be virus and malware free.

I notice the linked example, Filezilla, has a clearly labelled download button with the file name on it. Except you’re actually downloading a completely different file name. Continue reading Well that’s a shame

Windows XP SP3 in Virtual Box

This post is more to jog my memory than anything else but as I mentioned in an earlier post the OU’s MCT department has a Microsoft DreamSpark Academic subscription.

Most modules requires some software. There are most always issues with Windows 7 or Linux and there are often licensing issues – Mathcad for example is only valid for the duration of the module.

So I use a virtual machine (VirtualBox) running Windows XP.

  • Create a new machine and install Windows XP.
  • Back up the machine to removable media.
  • Clone the machine for each module and install the relevant OU software.
  • Destroy the machine when the module is complete.

The version of Windows XP Professional on DreamSpark doesn’t have any Service Pack installed (there are three for Windows XP). Installing SP3 requires SP2, you can get all three from Microsoft.

Problematic licensing arrangements

I have a license for PGP Desktop software through work. When I’m away, I need to use Windows for work and whole disk encryption is essential when you’re travelling. I just returned from several months abroad, I re-installed my laptop including PGP Desktop 9.9 as usual and ran the licensing agent. There was an error message:

An error has occurred: bad parameters.

Super descriptive. I Googled it and learned a couple of things:

  • Symantec now owns the software and the only advice online is that a firewall is probably blocking the activation.
  • Rather than a firewall blocking the connection it appears that this version of PGP’s update and licensing server is no longer active.
  • The open source alternatives will accept my PGP keyring but not decrypt a virtual hard disk.
  • PGP 6.02i is still available free from this site. It doesn’t play nicely with 64 bit Windows and it can’t decrypt a drive from a newer version of PGP.
  • As it’s a corporate license, my employer didn’t tell us (or doesn’t know).

Fortunately, the licence is valid for Symantec PGP Desktop 10.2.1. Its just a shame you have to register to download the trial copy to enter your license agreement again.