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Month: October 2018

Kindle Fire – ‘Kids Edition’ freeing up storage (& deleting 300+ Minecraft PE Worlds).

Kindle Fire – ‘Kids Edition’ freeing up storage (& deleting 300+ Minecraft PE Worlds).

Why is file management so hard on these things?!

Firstly a gripe, no one told me parenthood would be basically unpaid IT support.  On the one hand I want my kids to be able to use technology responsibly and be able to confidently manage their digital lives.  On the other-hand I want to tightly control their exposure initially and ensure they have the right experiences without being put off with the unsavoury aspects of say the internet.  I firmly believe that …

Computers and technology are a wonderful thing, but it is imperative we give our kids the right tools and knowledge to cope with it all.

That’s why a couple of years back we bought Kindle Fire tablets (Kids Edition) for our two eldest children.  I’ve got to be honest these devices are great and have lasted.   The appeal of a managed kid-centric/walled garden  environment seem a good compromise.  All the apps and games they want (within reason) allows them to explore their likes without the parental fear of massive bills every month.  Eventually I also bought them Minecraft Pocket Edition, which they’ve used almost consistently.  For those who don’t know Minecraft is the digital equivalent of Lego (okay I know you can get Lego computer games too).   It’s also more than that you sort of get introduced to programming because combing blocks and resources produce different effects and items.

I know some frown at this sort of thing as somehow ‘less creative’ or encourage a child’s isolation.  Firstly my kids sit next to each other talking about what they build, secondly I’ve bought a Minecraft realm where they can join up with their cousins (who don’t all live here in the UK) to build and chat, it’s the opposite of anti-social.   Furthermore take a look at where our economy is going… yes we are still building physical stuff but we are also increasingly creating digital products.  You only have to look at the rest of my blog to see I trained as a geographer and town planner only to end up creating 3D digital cities for all sorts of uses (mapping, analysis, military and entertainment.).  I firmly believe some of our kids need the skills of building digital environments.

Oh dear, I digressed didn’t I? This was a blog post about freeing up space on those damned Kindle Fires!

My method of freeing up space on the Kindle Fire (Kids Edition)

Anyone who has a kid with these devices and the Kids Edition probably knows that the hardware memory allocation wasn’t great, and kids being kids will end up installing ALL THE APPS.  Yes you can uninstall them (by long clicking an application/game icon and clicking ‘remove from device’), but sometimes that doesn’t seem enough.    

So you check memory usage and you see space taken up by applications and pictures, oh and the system.  Well you can do something about some of those applications and pictures but then there’s this huge bar representing ‘Miscellaneous‘ to be honest I’m still not sure what all of it is (probably app related essentials) but basically this bit seems to get larger and can’t be simply deleted.

You search the internet forums and lots of people have this issue, some use special clean-up applications installed (logged on as a parent) on to the kids device…. others recommend deleting games/applications cache.  Well I’ve done this stuff before but for one of my kids tablets it didn’t work.  So this is what I did:

BEFORE PROCEEDING YOU HAVE TO ACCEPT THAT THE RESPONSIBILITY IS YOURS FOR FOLLOWING WHAT I DID.  I CANNOT GUARANTEE THIS WILL WORK FOR YOU OR THAT IT WILL NOT DAMAGE YOUR DEVICE  (having said that it should be fine, but if you are unsure don’t do this). Also these instructions assume you know something about Windows, file explorer, and file management.  A suggestion for those nervous about deleting files, create an archive directory on your PC with appropriate folder names and copy files to them before deleting on device making sure your record where they had come from).

  • Switch on tablet and login as your child
  • Plug in the tablet to your Windows PC.
  • look in file explorer under “This PC” for an icon representing your Kindle (Windows seems to recognise it as a media device not as a simple USB stick) double click on it.
  • Under the Kindle device you will have two ‘drives’ Internal Storage’ and ‘SD/External Storage’, notice how the internal storage bar is red and looks full… double click on ‘Internal Storage’
  • Navigate to ‘InternalStorage/Android/data/com.amazon.venezia/files’ there maybe lots of files with file extensions ‘apk’ here these are install files for applications and games.   It seems you can delete these and it won’t hurt your tablet (they get downloaded again when you need them).
  • Navigate to ‘imageCache/com.amazon.venezia/’ lots of thumbnails here for apps my kids no longer use I deleted all here EXCEPT for the two generic thumbnail images not stored in a sub-directory.
  • Now there maybe more tips to freeing up space if you have any add a comment to this post and I will add it in here (with proper acknowledgement of course!)
Fantastic but I didn’t sign-up for file managing 300 ‘worlds’

MINECRAFT PE USERS: My kids had created 300 + Minecraft worlds over the last two years which took up a lot of storage, this doesn’t count as ‘Miscellaneous’ in your usage but I think but having to manually delete each world in the Minecraft application seems awful.

  • Navigate to “InternalStorage/games/com.mojang/mineCraftWorlds/”
  • List the weird folder names by modified date and delete all the old ones by selecting multiple items (you know click one file then ‘shift-left-click’ to select multiples)
  • If you need to check you’re deleting the correct worlds in each directory there is a text file with the Minecraft world name in it,

I hope this all helps put your comments below if you have anything to add 🙂

Highlights from the EsriUK Scotland Conference 2018 #EsriUKSC

Highlights from the EsriUK Scotland Conference 2018 #EsriUKSC

Well I always intending on writing up about the EsriUK Scotland conference held in Perth this year.  I’ve said before it’s been a great conference in a great town and this year was no exception.  The speakers were all great with some notable highlights being (this is not an exhaustive list but ones that have stuck in my mind):

EsriUK: The live traffic count demo using a camera from a mobile phone roaming Perth and some machine learning algorithms ‘hats off’ for this amazing live demo on conference wifi.   Shows how all our devices can be connected to scarily powerful cloud services to perform analysis for good… or evil. 

like Siri or Alexa but from EsriUK and for planning applications…

There was also an interesting proof of concept demo from EsriUK (called ada I think) which walked people through a planning application type scenario.

RSPB Scotland and drone use..

RSPB Scotland:  They talked about “Saving nature with drones” and actually a really inspiring use of drone technology for producing up to date high resolution terrain and imagery for habitat management.  Also great uses for bird counts too!   They produced a best practice for using drones guide which probably everyone should read which is here (not sure this is final official version but only one I could find online): Drones for GIS (PDF) Did you also know they have an opendata site? No neither did I!

Powerful and effective communication techniques from Esri StoryMaps…

South Lanarkshire Council: This presentation on “Protecting the quality of the air that we breathe” stood out for me because the presentation hosted by 3 presenters from 3 departments showed what GIS should be about.  That’s joining of information and providing a powerful communication analysis and tool.  Here was a great use of storymap to communicate serious ideas to a wide audience, here’s what can happen when departments talk and work together.  I recommend you look at their storymap here.

That’s a few users…

EsriUK Education: Back to EsriUK again but here on their ‘Education Session’ I have a renewed interest due to being an new School Governor at my local primary school.  Now I’m always of two minds about private large organisations providing free stuff to schools/education.  I can hear the criticism of the open source movement loud and clear that a large company is perhaps abusing it’s position to increase it’s market share…. I know there are free (in money terms at least) programs teachers can use, I know a cloud solution (Esri is giving ArcGIS Online accounts away for free to schools) isn’t ‘true’ GIS in that it won’t teach the intricacies and science that’s required for a better understanding of the power of GIS and associated technologies.  However I know that teachers and schools also don’t have the time and resources to manage installations, perhaps a managed solution from Esri is actually the best solution.  Afterall those who are truly interested will seek out other tools to achieve what they need.  Who among us started their journey into GIS with Esri technology and now use other software and tools to do better?  I bet many of us.  Shocking I know but sometimes all they want IS a map…

So that’s my small write up of the EsriUK Scotland conference, a smaller more intimate and frankly more comfortable conference than the larger EsriUK one in London they do in May…  Perth is a lovely location and I hope they keep it there.

Finally I need to talk about the inspiring keynote from one of the Esri cartographic legends called John Nelson…. well no, I’m saving that for the next blog post as it deserves some nice maps that I made which he inspired me to make.

A helping handle & visual cues for my rules in Esri CityEngine

A helping handle & visual cues for my rules in Esri CityEngine

Sometimes in CityEngine it can be hard to figure out what’s going on.  Whether that’s understanding scope (CityEnginers understand this can get complicated) or just simple metrics.  

Down the CityEngine rabbit hole I go again…..

I’ll often use a combination of ‘print’ and ‘report’ to give me a better understanding of my code at any given point.  What I also do is use bright colours (which have simple RGB/hex colour codes) to indicate whether a part of the code has been reached.  once I’ve confirmed it works I continue the code.

Bright colours can show you interesting metrics but also when you’ve screwed up…

Recently I’ve been working on some code where an understanding of the orientation of an model is important, not just as a world orientation but also relative to the initial shapes scope.  As is the case with most of my work in CityEngine I start to wonder, how would I go about making something more visual for me?   Thus I decided to spend some (okay probably too much!) time creating a procedural protractor.  This allows you to switch between displaying an angle relative to the shapes scope, or the world.

Any excuse to use an animated GIF…

I’ve used the Handle features in CityEngine to make interacting with the attributes associated with this rule simple.  I’m starting to use ‘handles’ in CityEngine to expose attributes for users in a friendlier way.

To sum up for me I’ve found that programming language in Esri CityEngine called Computer Generated Architecture (CGA) is easier to pick up than traditionally programming languages because it is a visual one and by that I mean you create geometries.