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Akshathkumar Shetty
Bangalore based technologist, travel and photography enthusiast.
Bangalore based technologist, travel and photography enthusiast.


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I have often talked about the need for journalists to become specialists. The reason is that the internet itself will tell us all we want to know about 'what happened', but what we don't know is why it happened or what it means.

In other words, everyone can be a reporter, and simply repeat to people what have happened. You don't need to be a journalist to do that, nor does doing it make your special or distinctive.

Let me give you one example of a journalist being brilliant at being a specialist. During a recent Formula 1 race, Hamilton and Rosberg crashed into each other, taking both cars out of the race.

Most media sites merely reported that it happened, followed up by interviews with other people who had no more information than what we could all see on TV. This is the old form of journalism, in which you are merely the bringer of news.

But then look at Sky Sports (see the video below). Here you truly see the power of the specialists, and how this type of journalism gives people a much superior form of content that is both incredibly insightful and makes Sky Sport worth turning to in the future.

Please, journalists. do more of this ... a lot more.
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Tesla Model S P90DL

Fully Charged is back and what a car to start with!
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SpaceX finally did it. They launched a Falcon 9 rocket, went into space-ish, reversed the engines, and landed back on Earth. This is important because this will significantly reduce the cost of putting things into space, but also resupplying the things we already have in space.

In terms of rocket-propelled launches, this is a big step forward.

We still haven't really solved the problem of space flight. Even with Falcon 9, we are still using a 541 ton rocket to send 13 tons into space (or 4 tons into geosynchronous orbit). That means that 97.5% of the rocket is either fuel or engines. The real dream for a space geek like me is still for us to develop rockets that aren't rockets at all.

But, for now, SpaceX's Falcon 9 is amazing. The old Space Shuttles cost a staggering $450 million to launch, on average. Falcon 9 is set to cost $61 million per launch, with its bigger brother Falcon Heavy set to cost $90 million per launch.

That's some serious cost optimization.

Note: You can watch the full launch and landing webcast here:
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A message for all senior management teams.
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Use cold start time effectively with a branded launch theme
Pro-tip by +Ian Lake

When your app isn’t in memory and is launched, that ‘cold start’ can take significantly longer than if your app is already in memory. Depending on the size of your app and what you’re doing in your Application’s onCreate() (as little as possible I hope!), there may be lag between when the user starts your app and your Activity’s onCreate() is actually called. During that time, the window manager makes its best effort to draw a placeholder UI using elements from your theme such as the background and status bar color.

But the background doesn’t have to be a solid color: it can be an opportunity to add a little more personality and branding to your app without slowing down the user through the use of a branded launch screen (, allowing your app UI to focus on content rather than additional branding. The key is creating a custom theme that overrides android:windowBackground, then replacing that custom theme with your standard theme before calling super.onCreate().

Assuming you have a theme called AppTheme, your launcher theme would be:
<style name="AppTheme.Launcher">
  <item name="android:windowBackground">@drawable/launch_screen</item>

This implies that everything about the launcher theme is inherited from your main theme - you’re just changing the windowBackground. One other attribute you may consider changing here is colorPrimaryDark: the status bar color on Android 5.0+ devices. Setting colorPrimaryDark to your main background color can put more emphasis on your branding at the expense of another element changing when transitioning to your final theme.

But drawable/launch_screen can’t be just a simple image, unfortunately - it’ll end up stretched to fill the entire screen. Instead, you can use an XML file such as:
<layer-list xmlns:android="" android:opacity="opaque">
  <!-- The background color, preferably the same as your normal theme -->
  <item android:drawable="@android:color/white"/>
  <!-- Your product logo - 144dp color version of your app icon -->

Make particular note of the android:opacity=”opaque” line - this is critical in preventing a flash of black as your theme transitions.

Then apply your theme to your activity in your AndroidManifest.xml using android:theme="@style/AppTheme.Launcher".

The easiest way to transition back to your normal theme is to call setTheme( before super.onCreate() and setContentView():
public class MyMainActivity extends AppCompatActivity {
  protected void onCreate(Bundle savedInstanceState) {
    // Make sure this is before calling super.onCreate
    // ...

Things to note with this approach:
- No launchpad activity - there’s no delay such as there would be if you were launching a second activity from a dedicated splash screen style activity
- No artificial delays - you’re only using the time that you have, just taking advantage of theming
- No extra overdraw - resetting your theme removes a layer of overdraw compared to having an opaque view with your normal background above the custom windowBackground
- Only for your launcher activity - this isn’t appropriate for deep links into your app or handling a URI, but for launches done through the home screen - the point is to minimize dead time, not to annoy users.
- Fast is best - keeping your app lean and minimizing work done at startup is critical to a good experience, even if that means slightly less time for branding - remember: getting users to the content they care about should be your #1 priority.
- Watch your transition - keep both the number and complexity of your transitions to a minimum by sharing as many elements (colors, etc) as possible to make for a seamless transition straight to content.

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