Archive for ‘March, 2011’

Google have just released a new social search feature called “+1”

As you can see from the video it isn’t a rival to social network sites, more like a rival to Facebook’s Like button or Digg’s Digg button. It won’t be long before we these popping up on sites and blogs, but with implicit Search Engine Optimisation value. More proof that Google is thinking seriously about ways to fend off the potential of purely social searches via Facebook and other social networking platforms.

To turn it on at the moment you will need to activate in the Google Labs Experimental settings. But surely a sign of things to come.

Author: Paul Saunders

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I’m a firm believer of the theory that if you make something fun you can change behaviour for the better. A couple of progressive airlines like Cebu Pacific and Air New Zealand have cottoned on to the fact that if you make the in-flight saftey video and demonstration fun and exciting then this mandatory and essential part of every flight will be noticed and remembered.

Air New Zealand who had the nude advertising campaign and in flight videos recently have produce a corker.

In my opinion the BEST IN-FLIGHT SAFETY VIDEO….. EVER!!

Author: Paul Saunders

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Our first iPad app, Fatigue Survey has been launched on Apple’s iTunes App Store.

Fatigue Survey for iPad on the iTunes App Store

Fatigue Survey is designed to used be as part of an airline’s Fatigue Risk Management systems to survey fatigue levels amongst cabin and flight crew at key points during their duty shift and during flight. The data is captured anonymously and stored on the device before sending back to base via email for analysis.

Fatigue Survey is the latest application in the Conduce Software Fatigue Reporting suite of Fatigue Risk Managment applications.

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Last week we submitted our 2nd iOS application to the app store, an iPad application to help flight crew record fatigue levels at various stages within a flight duty. Whilst the iPhone and iPad are great devices to use, from a development and app delivery perspective they are a pain !

Learning is generally a pleasant experience, but my first foray into iPhone development was far from pleasant. The language of choice (and in many cases forced upon you) for iOS development is objective-c, an object orientated language that seems to be a hybrid of ‘c’ and smalltalk. Regardless of it’s provenance, I am no fan.

Given my initial foray into objective-c, I dispatched a Macbook Pro and iPad to Marcin and he was given the task of developing Fatigue Survey and the joy of learning a new programming language and tools. How pleasurable the experience was, I will leave to Marcin to comment, however some time later we had a fully tested iPad application ready for deployment.

Now, we are not in the habit of releasing new iPhone/iPad apps every 5 minutes, so it was down to me to remember how I’d done it before. After much searching on Apples developer website (and plenty of googling), I finally managed to work out the various steps, such as signing the app, using a distribution profile, zipping the app and uploading to iTunes Connect, the deployment face of the app store.


And that was it, app deployed. Now we just have to wait for Apple to approve the app. It’s been almost a week since the app was uploaded and we are still waiting for it to be reviewed.


As soon as it is available we will publish the launch !

Author : Wayne Enis

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I’m developing Fatigue Survey, our first iPad application that allows aircraft crew to report their current fatigue status from iPads whilst the aircraft is in flight.

As all required features were completed, I decided to set up some automated UI tests. Starting from iOS 4, Apple introduced UI Automation for iOS devices. In simple words you can write a test, using JavaScript, and run it against your iOS application. The script is able to select the application’s options, populate text boxes and push the buttons. It’s a very valuable addition to the development environment, as it allows you to setup automated tests quite easily. However it seems that it is lacking some documentation, and there are still some bugs too.
Because I couldn’t find any other tutorial on how to deal with alerts properly, I decided to share my experience with you. I’m using Xcode 4 and iOS 4.3.

Here’s the alert I was dealing with :

Basically, the code in Objective-C behind showing this alert is as follows:

alert = [[UIAlertView alloc] initWithTitle:@"Saving error"
            message:message
            delegate:self
            cancelButtonTitle:@"OK"
            otherButtonTitles:nil];
alert.accessibilityLabel = @"errorAlert";
//alert.isAccessibilityElement = YES;
[alert show];

The first line (which is 5 lines in fact) is simply the initialization of our alert with a given title, message from a variable and a single button to close it. On the next line we are assigning a string based identifier to be able to identify the alert during the test. The third line is quite interesting: Apple’s documentation suggests that isAccessibilityElement should be set to YES to enable it to be accessible via the identifier during the test. Unfortunately it didn’t make any difference for me. I tried it with both YES and NO with no change in behavior. The last line is just showing our alert to the user.

In UI Automation we need to provide some JavaScript code to handle the alert. On Apple’s website I found the following example of the alert handler:

UIATarget.onAlert = function onAlert(alert) {
   var title = alert.name();
   UIALogger.logWarning("Alert with title '" + title + "' encountered.");
   if (title == "The Alert We Expected") {
       alert.buttons()["Continue"].tap();
       return true; //alert handled, so bypass the default handler
   }
   // return false to use the default handler
   return false;
}

The most interesting line of the code is tapping the button. Method alert.buttons() returns all buttons from a parent UI element (alert in this case). [“Continue”] selects the desired button and tap() simulates tapping it by the user. This code looks fairly straightforward and ready to be amended for our purpose. The only problem is, it doesn’t work. I just couldn’t get any buttons from the alert. Because of that I couldn’t dismiss the alert and continue the test. This is probably a bug in the UI Automation framework.
On StackOverflow I found a suggestion that method UIATarget.localTarget().tap({x:positionX,y:positionY}); can be used to tap the screen at any coordinates. The only problem was that my alert was variable height. This is because several number of errors could be displayed on the alert.
Finally I came up with following solution:

UIATarget.onAlert = function onAlert(alert){   
   var name = alert.name();
   UIALogger.logMessage("alert "+name+" encountered");
   if(name == "errorAlert"){
       var positionX = 500;
       for(var positionY=300; positionY<600;positionY+=10){
           target.tap({x:positionX,y:positionY});
       }
       return true;
   }
   return false;
}

What I did is create a loop based on an empirical value that taps various parts of the screen. The reason for this is to click the “OK” button and dismiss the alert in the result. You might think this is not an elegant solution (I would agree with that), however it was the only solution that worked for me. Additionally it simulates a bit of random user input and random user input is what would happen in real life, wouldn’t it ?

Let me know if you have similar experiences with automated tests of iOS applications or any suggestions how to make this solution (even) prettier 😉

Author: Marcin Mojciechowski

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2nd and 3rd March 2011 – Miami

4 members of the Conduce Group, Wayne, Paul, Neville and Rachel last week headed to Miami for the Americas’ leg of the Airline and Aerospace MRO & Operations IT Conference. Following Conduce’s attendance at the Frankfurt show last year as delegates, and then later the same year in Singapore as exhibitors this was the first Americas conference that Conduce had attended as exhibitors, this conference itself, only in its second year.
 
The conference has proven to be the one to attend for ‘anyone and everyone’ who is in the industry and this year’s event saw delegate numbers around the 270 mark which was up on last year. In great American style, we were greeted after registration by a good selection of coffees and breakfast treats, and the schedule allowed us ample time to say our ‘hellos’.

The first presentation of the day had an eager crowd waiting for it to start and to a full room, Michael Denis gave his keynote presentation: ROI of IT systems in a changing landscape – Realising a return on your Flight Operations and MRO Software. It was well delivered, well received and set the tone, and the mark for those to follow.

Following a further keynote presentation from Sharhabeel Lone, partner at SAKS Consulting, came a superb presentation from Mike Limbert, Director Maintenance Planning and Technology Development at NetJets. He looked at an airline case study of MRO roll-out of 3rd Generation Maintenance Management. He successfully structured his presentation so it wasn’t too technology-centric: those of us whose background is more MRO than software were able to follow his point quite clearly and he deserved the round of applause he received.

There was a good mixture of presentations and workshops throughout the two days. Conduce only attended one of the workshops and as the three of us who attended had previously worked at an MRO and currently work with software we felt that the workshop, being delivered by SAKS Consulting, would be both of interest to us and leave us well placed to contribute to it with our combined experiences. However, to sum up the workshop, whilst it was pleasantly delivered to the audience we, in our opinion felt that the moral of the story, if it were a pudding, had been rather overegged. Whilst on the whole, we understood the point they were making in that cradle to grave project management of selecting a new MRO system and the successful implementing of it, should not be undervalued, it was felt that the methodology they used was perhaps more suited to the big boys out there in the industry. If we were a small airline or repair station we would have come away feeling that we were totally inept to even contemplate such a project without the ‘much needed’ assistance from consultants. Notwithstanding that, the workshop packed a full house and despite over running its time slot, bums remained on seats right until the very end.

The end of day one brought a well deserved cocktail hour which gave us all a chance to let our hair down, mingle socially and discuss our thoughts and ideas with friends old and new. It came as no surprise that Paul received some metaphoric pats on the back regarding his superb presentation he had given that afternoon. Whilst not as well attended as the morning’s presentations (absolutely no reflection on Paul/his topic/the fact that someone with a non-American accent was giving a presentation – read more jet lag/sightseeing et al.) an enthusiastic group of around 40 delegates turned up to eagerly listen to what the new boys on the block had to say. Given that Paul got laughs in the right places, a few heckles (“where can I get Line Engineer AR from?”) and a thunderous round of applause, it wouldn’t be big-headed to say it went quite well and that if there had have been a prize, Paul would definitely have won ‘man du jour’. Unfortunately our recording of Paul’s presentation didn’t quite go as smoothly, the first ten minutes were missed due to ‘technical issues’ with the iPhone we were using. However, after a bit of clever editing the final shortened version still manages to pack a punch and is available to be viewed via our website.

Day two started with gusto and included some innovative presentations covering topics such as ‘The Concept of a paperless airline’ and ‘The future for Aircraft ‘Gatelink’ Connectivity’. Perhaps the highlight of the day was the presentation by GE’s Tim Horvatich where he showcased some of the impressive new technology solutions coming from the engine manufacturer. Paul  managed to raise a few eyebrows when he quizzed Tim on the pricing model for the otherwise excellent myEngines mobile application suite.
 

Later that day a neighbouring UK-based exhibitor paid us a visit and was complimentary of our exhibition stand, enquiring where he could purchase one from. As quick as lightening, we made sure we sold our wares and pointed him in the direction of Neville. There was also another similar enquiry so fingers crossed that either or both of those enquires may convert in to actual purchase orders for Neville and his team at Dreamscape Design.

The final presentation of the day was given by a rather affable Gesine Varfis from Lufthansa Consulting on the subject of ‘How smart use of IT systems can assist OCC to complement your commercial department: A case study on best practise for IOCC will review how airlines can stay ahead.’ Despite being delivered at a truly breathtaking speed, this final presentation was a breath of fresh air as it was the only presentation not centred solely on MROs or Engineering and as such, gave an impetus to proceedings which was a shame given it was the last presentation of the event.
 
To sum up the event, the number of delegates there this year just proves how this conference really pulls in the crowds and not only that but that it actually provides a forum for like-minded individuals and companies to share their visions and experiences. It was encouraging to hear so many presenters talking about the future of IT in Aviation and Aerospace and how they are working towards bringing some of the other innovations from other industries into Aviation. The Hilton hotel and its conference facilities fitted the bill perfectly and they receive top marks for the tables of edible goodies they laid out throughout the day and during the lunch breaks. However, the real thanks go to Charles Williams, Ed Haskey and their team at Aircraft Commerce for putting together the event which is evidently going from strength to strength.

The one suggestion we would make for subsequent conferences is that it would be really good to see the paper version of the ‘Delegate Feedback Form’ done away with and instead replaced with a few iPads stations set up at the end of day two with a whizzy little app on them that allows you to give your feedback for the conference electronically. If you are reading this Ed, we know just the people to make this happen!

Author: Rachel Andrews

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Back in the Victorian times very young children learnt to write by drawing letters in sand trays. Once they had mastered this they progressed to learning their lessons on slates, easy to use, portable and easily cleanable. So what a funny world we live in when nearly hundred years later school children are once again using ‘slates’ in the classroom.

As part of my series of blogs to celebrate International Women’s Day, which itself, has its origins rooted back in Victorian times, here’s a look at how technology is being used by girls in education today.
Singapore Education Authorities are pioneering an iPad project in 4 schools whereby conventional text books are being replaced with the electronic device and teaching is being delivered in a more interactive manner. The iPad is easy to use; so far the girls are taking to the new technology like ducks to water (whilst their teachers are taking a little longer to get to grips with it) and it is indeed more portable; no more lugging around heavy school books. If the year-long project proves to be a success then they will look to roll it out to all schools in the city.


 
So, looks like the Education Authority in Singapore is ‘wiping the slate clean’ in terms of finding new and cutting edge teaching methods for their Generation Z school children. There is only one way to describe this project: ‘visionary’. Now where else have I heard that term used recently?…

Author: Rachel Andrews

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2011 sees the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day, a day when women around the world mark the day with events looking at the economic, political and social achievements of women worldwide.
The theme for this year touches on equal access, to amongst many things, technology and with this in mind I set about looking to find unusual stories about, well, you guessed correctly, women and technology.
With all the hype around the iPad, especially with the new iPad 2 due for imminent release, and user statistics showing that in the US, 49% of users are female although globally that figure sits around the 39% mark and given that the top 3 age groups drawn to the iPad are 35-44 year olds, 21-29 year olds and then 45-54 year olds the following clip is really quite endearing: perhaps it shows just how intuitive the gadget actually is and just how life changing it can be for society as a whole but one thing is for sure, she is most probably one statistic no one saw coming!

Author: Rachel Andrews

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Here at Conduce we’re always getting excited, probably overly-so, by some of the more gimmicky and cool technologies out there.  One that always catches my eye and makes me smile a bit is Augmented Reality, not least of all because of the reaction is seems to engender with people who’ve never seen it before.

Augmented Reality (AR), simply put, is where a person can use the application or device in question to overlay reality and then interact with that overlay.

There are some great examples of this on the iPhone such as Plane Finder ARARSoccer and my personal favourite ARBasketball (see screenshot below): –

In this application of AR you print an AR “marker” from the game maker’s website and print this.  You then aim your iPhone at this marker and in place of the marker you get a basketball hoop and can then “flick” a virtual basketball through the hoop.

I decided to come away from the gaming side of AR a little and see if there were any legitimate uses of the technology.  I found some fun examples that just illustrate how AR works more than anything such as GE’s SmartGrid Website and the PV3D Recursive Webcam.

The first truly useful example I found though was from the US Postal Service.  You print their marker and when your webcam sees this it makes it look as if you were holding one of their standard delivery box sizes.  At this point you can lay this on your desk and put your real package to be sent “inside” this box.  You may adjust the transparency of the virtual box until you are satisfied.  The video below is a “must watch” for how this really useful technology has been put into play: –

Please leave comments with any suggestions for AR apps that you’d consider interesting.  You never know, if you ask really nicely then Conduce Software may make one!

Author: Ben Moses

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