Sunday, September 23, 2012

SpaceUp Europe, #ILATweetup and Mars

Busy weeks. Lots of (outer) space.
What have I been doing?

Well, first of all I have volunteered (and have been accepted) as part of the Media and Communication Team of the next Mars Analog Field Simulation of the Austrian Space Forum, that will take place in Morocco in februari of 2013. This means I have worked on putting together some of the press kit documents for the recent press conference for the mission that took place last week in Vienna, doing Skype-meetings with the team, being in Innsbruck for the upcoming dress rehearsal and finally being in Innsbruck for the first of the four week mission in februari 2013. I also plan to be writing mobile apps for ÖWF.

Secondly, I was at the awesome #ILATweetup in Berlin last weekend. This was a tweetup event organised by ESA/DLR during the ILA Air Show, where participants where treated to a dense program of interesting talks, a tour of the Zero-G Airbus A-300 and a meet-and-greet with four astronauts, including André Kuipers. I was clearly not the only one taking pictures (and video) during that day..

Finally (for this blog post), I have been at the very first SpaceUp unconference event in Europe, which was at the Cosmodrome in Genk this weekend. Lots of familiar faces were there, and interesting space stuff. While en route to the second day I heard Jens Timmermans of the largest radio station in the Netherlands talking about Twitter trending topics and asking "What's your hashtag for today?". On a whim I texted that I was going to #SpaceUpEU and he almost immediately called me back, giving me some airtime to promote this awesome event on national radio (link to recorded Dutch audio), which was unexpected.

So I have been keeping myself busy.
Tomorrow will be "just an ordinary day at the office".

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Romo second generation protocol has been revealed

It seems that Romotive has released a full description of the new protocol to talk to their second generation Romo smartphone robots on their blog. I have not yet found the time to dig into upgrading my Romo SDK for Windows Phone with this, but I really want to, so keep checking the Codeplex site and this blog for more information on that.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Time for the yearly Layar update, it seems...

After all, I seem to be doing one each calendar year. Except that - surprise, surprise.. - there really isn't one, as far as I'm concerned.

I actually just said it out loud: I've given up on Layar. They are apparently never going to release their software on any device that I (want to) own.

Bye bye, Layar. I wish you all the best without me as a user...

Monday, March 12, 2012

Romo codeplex site is live

It does not contain much (yet), but the Codeplex site I created for my work on a WP7 SDK for controlling a Romo smartphone robot is now published and available.

If you have a revision 1 Romo and a developer unlocked Windows Phone you can now download a pre-alpha XAP file of an app that turns your Romo+smartphone into a moving compass.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Zaagmans has been featured on AppFlow

I just had a look at my phone, and this is what I saw on the AppFlow live tile:

This caused me to pause for a while.
I knew that app icon...
That's Zaagmans, the silly app I made!

Starting AppFlow proved that my app is the one featured app in there:

I'm guessing this is just for the NL marketplace (AppFlow recommends per marketplace now), but I still think it's cool!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

The "guy in the Netherlands"

Oh, just two things I mentioned on Twitter before, but not yet here:

I must say that I like both of them.

Romo has landed in the Netherlands

Last week brought the Microsoft TechDays in The Hague. And as part of the Caesar Experts booth, lots of people here in the Netherlands finally saw a Romo smartphone robot in person!

Elsewhere on this blog you can see how I got to know Romo and how I am writing software support for him for Windows Phones. As we expected lots of Lumia phones would be available as winnable goodies at TechDays (and we were right...) I suggested we'd go for completely different: show off my work on WP7 Romo, get people in the Netherlands to actually see one in action and have two to raffle off to registered visitors of our booth. This was actually a great succes, as far as I'm concerned. I've received lots of questions and people really seemed to like the Romo concept.

Unfortunately, the new Februari revision Romos could not be here in time, so the two winners will receive their robots later, as soon as I receive them. I hope this should not be long. Also based on the information I now have, these new revision should have support for some extra frequencies to maybe add some better control to turning the robot and ways to turn the 5V auxiliary ports on the front of the robot off and on again. When I have received information on these frequencies, included them in the Windows Phone library and have the library tested on both my original #42 revision one Romo and a new revision one, I will make my library public so anyone could write WP7 apps that drive a Romo robot.

If you have any questions, please don't hestitate to ask.
And stay tuned for more Romo information!

Monday, February 13, 2012


For readers not from the Netherlands, let me just quickly introduce the concept of "Zaagmans". You could translate him as "Mr. Saw", and he's a fictional construct mentioned by the characters of a dreary office satire called "Debiteuren Crediteuren" in the comedy program Jiskefet on Dutch televison. Zaagmans of course comes along each wednesday at noon, to "saw the week in half".

In the second week of Januari Zaagmans came up at work (must have been wednesday the 11th) and I had the idea that it would be easy to either set an alarm for noon every wednesday with the sound of a saw or write a small silly app to do that for me and optionally show me a countdown. I kept things to myself and at home that evening I wrote just such an app. I wanted to dogfood it myself for a week, and after I knew for sure it worked on wednesday I published it. It turned up in the Marketplace on december the 22nd, just over three weeks ago.

I would never have believed what I started. Download numbers are trailing a couple of days, as you probably know, but in the first 2.5 weeks the app has been downloaded 123 times! And it is only published to a couple of markets: just NL originally, but as quite a number of Windows Phone users over here still have not switched from their "fake" US/UK/DE/BE Live ID they started using when NL support was still far away, I enlarged this a bit.

What I find astonishing is the fact that I have 9 reviews already, almost all of them five star except for one four star one. And this morning I noticed that Zaagmans is in the 3/48 position of the "New & Impressive" section in AppFlow! Wow, that's still just for the Dutch marketplace, but this little app really seems to be touching a nerve. It my own little Rubber Duck! ;-)

So far, there has been one update where you are now able to choose the sound you want to hear (first version made random choice of the original three sounds) and a second is current going through Marketplace submission right. After that at least one more version will be submitted that has Flurry statistics built in; I really want to see what people do with this app.

If you have ideas for it, please let me know.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Romotive publishes Romo audio protocol

On their blog, Romotive has made public which audio waves you need to generate on which audio channel to control a Romo first revision smartphone robot. So if you want something programmable with an audio port to control one, now you know how!

The article even briefly mentions my own work on a Romo control library for Windows Phone, which can change the amplitude of the soundwaves it sends out to control robot speed as well.

This library (and my first two apps) are slowly but surely nearing a state in which they can be made public for every WP7 developer to easily interact with Romo devices. The Romotive staff has already received preliminary XAP files to use on the Nokia Lumia 800 they have, and they told me they liked what they saw so far.

There should be more information about this soon, even though the next revision of Romo (which should be out in or shortly after this Februari) will include more frequencies as part of the interface.

Just be patient...