Aaron Brethorst

Round peg in a square hole, rabid generalist.

Core Story

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December 31 – Core Story

What central story is at the core of you, and how do you share it with the world? (Bonus: Consider your reflections from this month. Look through them to discover a thread you may not have noticed until today.)

Huh? This question makes absolutely no sense. Fine, fine, fine: I’ll take a stab at it. Entrepreneurship, an acerbic nature, and a love of fine food.

2011: Stuff to Learn

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There are a few key things I want to learn a lot more about in 2011. In particular, they are:

  • State-of-the-art Javascript: Backbone.js, Underscore.js, Coffeescript, and some more Sproutcore for good measure.
  • JVM/JVM-alike: Scala and Android SDK (not necessarily together).


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December 25 – Photo – a present to yourself. Sift through all the photos of you from the past year. Choose one that best captures you; either who you are, or who you strive to be. Find the shot of you that is worth a thousand words. Share the image, who shot it, where, and what it best reveals about you.

Normally, I’m on the other side of the camera.

Ordinary Joy

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December 27 – Ordinary Joy

Our most profound joy is often experienced during ordinary moments. What was one of your most joyful ordinary moments this year?

My most joyful ordinary moments are when I’m writing code, listening to music, and hit a groove in my work.

Find Gas Stations Near Airports

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I was in Maui with my girlfriend over Christmas, and I had a problem you might have encountered before. We’re taking our rental car (a Ford Mustang convertible, incidentally) back to the airport, and we have absolutely no idea where to get gas.

When I picked up the car, I opted to fill up the car’s tank before taking it back to Hertz in order to avoid paying their exorbitant fees. But, of course, I’ve never been to Maui before, and so I had no idea where to fill up the tank. So, I hoped for the best, and—as luck would have it—there are several gas stations within a couple blocks of the airport. But still, this can be a serious problem at times.

And so, while driving to the airport, I realized this was a problem worth solving. So, I took a couple spare hours and built a web application to help you find gas stations near the airport to gas up your rental car and avoid exorbitant fees.

There are desktop and mobile versions: the mobile app is built using jQuery Mobile, so it should run on any fairly modern web browser. I’ve tested it on Android and iOS and it works great on both.

Bear in mind, I literally wrote this in a handful of hours, so it’s not terribly feature-rich, but I think it fills a woefully underserved niche.

Try it out, and see for yourself!

Defining Moment

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December 29 – Defining Moment

Describe a defining moment or series of events that has affected your life this year.

Well, let’s see: my sputtering startup sputtered its last sputter, I spent a month-and-a-half afraid I was going to go broke and have to move back to MN, I started building up my business, and my business grew larger than I could’ve hoped for. Not too shabby!

Android in 5 Minutes (or Your Money Back!)

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In response to a request for help on how to get the Android SDK up and running on a Mac, I thought it might be worthwhile to go back through the process and see how simple and fast I could make it. As it works out, I was able to get the Android emulator running on my Mac in about 5 minutes.

Here’s what this (abbreviated) guide covers: getting the Android emulator running with Gingerbread.

Here’s what it doesn’t cover: everything else, including Eclipse installation, because—quite frankly—Eclipse is a hairy, scary beast.

Step 1: Download the Android SDK

Go to the Android Developers website, and choose the appropriate package for your platform. In my case, it was the zip file entitled android-sdk_r08-mac_86.zip. Download the file. The package is about 28MB in size.

Step 2: Stick it Somewhere Memorable

I dragged the Android SDK folder into my /Applications folder, but you can put it wherever you want to.

Step 3: Launch the AVD Manager

Navigate into the Android SDK’s tools folder, and double click on the Unix executable called android. A window entitled Android SDK and AVD Manager will appear.

Step 4: Install the Gingerbread SDK

For whatever reason, Google decided to designate the components of each Android OS with three separate names. Gingerbread = 2.3 = API 9 (don’t ask, I have no idea). We’re going to install Gingerbread: choose Available Packages from the table on the left and click the disclosure triangle next to Android Repository.

You’ll see an item right near the top called “SDK Platform Android 2.3, API 9, revision 1”. Check the checkbox next to it and then click the Install Selected button in the lower right corner of the window.

A window entitled Choose Packages to Install will appear. Click the Accept All radio button button and then press the Install button. The Gingerbread SDK will now begin downloading.

Once complete, you can click the Close button (formerly labeled Cancel) on the Installing Archives window. Make sure you watch carefully as the dialog doesn’t provide any other meaningful feedback.

Step 5: Create an AVD

I think AVD stands for Android Virtual Device, but I could be horribly mistaken. Long story short, it’s the virtual hardware/software combination that the emulator will run to let you play with Android. Select Virtual devices from the left-hand table and click the New button.

Give your AVD a name; I called mine “Gingerbread.” Next, choose a target: the only option available will be Android 2.3 - API Level 9. Finally, click Create AVD.

Step 6: Fire it Up!

Select your new AVD in the Virtual devices list, and click the Start… button on the right hand side. A Launch Options dialog will appear. Ignore it, and click the Launch button. The Android emulator will appear and launch. Note that it takes a couple minutes for the emulator to boot. Congratulations! You’re all set!