Speaking of Science

The Scienticity Blog


“Eye for Science” and Android Wallpaper

Posted by jns on 14 September 2011

You may recall my mentioning Scienticity’s “Eye for Science” project, a Flickr group to which members contribute interesting and provocative images that tell a story about science or nature or something related, which images we then try to get in front of others to provide a brief science moment. One way we do this is through a widget that shows a clickable thumbnail of the image; you can see it in action right there on the right of this blog page (or the left, if I’ve redesigned the theme). Every time the page is reloaded, a different image, chosen randomly from the group, shows up. At the time of my writing this the project has been going for a little over two years and the group has 97 members who’ve contributed 994 images. Why not consider joining us?

Ever since smartphones started to appear I’ve wanted to have an “Eye for Science” app that would serve up a random image from the collection whenever the user accessed the app. But, I’ve never taken the time to learn how to program in the necessary way to create such an app. Very recently I upgraded my own phone to something “smart”, an Android model as it turns out, and the thought crossed my mind again, and I made a happy discovery : no programming required!

Well, nearly. Which is to say that I could accomplish the best part of what I wanted with tools that existed on my phone, without writing an app. What I decided I wanted one afternoon was to use an eye-for-science image for my phone’s wallpaper and be able to change it easily whenever the whim arrived to do so, maybe every day (or more often). I did have to do a little behind-the-scenes programming with the Scienticity-hosted webpage that accesses the Flickr database, but that I knew how to do.

So, here’s how I have a pseudo-app–a bookmark, actually–on my Android home page that let’s me view a random sciency image and make it my wallpaper.

I used the “web” app (browser) to access the url, http://scienticity.net/efsm/ ; you can do this in your regular browser, too, there’s nothing magical about it. Accessing this URL returns a random, full-sized image from the Flickr database, along with the title and caption, the same thing you’d get by clicking the thumbnail in the widget on this page.

Once I have this page in my browser I can make a bookmark (“menu / more / add shortcut to home”) on my home screen. From my home screen, then, touching the bookmark opens this URL in my browser with a new random image. If I’m already looking at an image page I can get a new image, randomly selected, by touching “menu / refresh”, because each time I access the URL I get a new random image. Then, I can keep trying images (and enjoying what I see) until I get to one that strikes me as something that will make good wallpaper.

Then — on my phone at least — all I have to do is touch the image on my screen and hold my finger there until I get a menu of options, one of which is “set as wallpaper”. I touch that option and I have new wallpaper!

I’m a little embarrassed to say how inordinately pleased I am to be able to set my wallpaper so easily to new eye-for-science images whenever I feel moved to do so, but there you go.

Please, I invite you to give it a try, It’s quick, it’s easy, and you’ll see interesting things that might make you think “hunh”, which is the goal of the project. Have fun!

Comments are closed.