The Curse of Kinect

DSCF6824

A very patient audience, thanks for putting up with me.

Just completed my Kinect session. Having done lots of tests I then got lots of problems during the demos. But everything worked in the end. For those who were there and wondering what the problem was, I think I’ve found the solution. Sometimes the sensor doesn’t wake up before my update thread tries to use it. Which doesn’t end well. I’ll be putting up a nice long blog post (and some useful code) to address this later.

After I’ve had a lie down..

MS Days in Sofia

DSCF6727

Got up bright(ish) and early this morning to head for Sofia. Nothing like a 6:10 am flight. But the journey was smooth enough and this time there was no rain when I arrived, which was nice.

DSCF6775

This is the rather funky buildings you can see from my hotel room. Although now you’ve seen the photograph there is probably less need to do so.

In the evening we went out to the Timeless Cafe for tea. Nice place. There was a clock there but it had stopped – which seems fair enough. We had a great evening of good food, drink and Geek Speak.

DSCF6783

The universal language of beer…

Then it was back to the hotel. Sessions tomorrow, looking forward to them. Hope the audience is too…

Rob on the Road

image

I’m off on my travels again next month. I’m doing sessions about Windows Phone and Kinect at TechDays in Belgium and the Netherlands and then hopping over to SIGCSE in the USA to give some sessions there too.

The plan is to develop and maybe even publish a complete Windows Phone application during one session and then play some rather silly games during the Kinect one. Should be fun.

Hull Digital for Breakfast

image

Had a chat with Jon Moss today. He’s one of the movers and shakers behind Hull Digital. I’ve been to a few of their events, which are usually (and very sensibly) held at one of my favourite eating places in Hull, Fudge in Princes Ave. If you want to sync up with what’s happening with developers in Hull they are a great way to do this.

Jon was telling me about future events, including a regular programme of Digital Breakfast MeetUps, where  like minded folk get together for “the most important meal of the day” every month. The next one is on Friday this week, which is a shame for me because I’m not able to go. I’m helping out with the Graduation Ceremony on the Hull campus. However, if you want to go along and meet up with digital folk - if you see what I mean- and enjoy some fantastic food (my advice, go for the omelette) then you should pop along.

Jon was also telling me about TEDx at Hull, which brings together a bunch of interesting folk for a day of discussion and debate about the future of, well, everything..

What with that and Platform Expo coming along it looks like it is going to be an interesting few months around here.

Robot Fun at the University Transition Event

Cowardly Programming
Making Robot Cowards with C#

Sometimes it helps to read the specification. I’d been asked to prepare a talk for a schools visit today. Six sessions in front of students from schools who were visiting the university to learn about the kind of things we do. I thought Oscar the robot and the Kinect SDK might hit the spot, so I made my slides, built some demos and turned up to give a talk to a bunch of interested Sixth Formers. Who were between 8 and 9 years old. Ooops.Turned out that this was a visit from youngsters looking at moving to the new Northern Academy which opens in 2012. If I’d taken the trouble to read up on the event I would have known all this. Oh well.

During the introductory talk I made some frantic changes to the slide deck and then off we went. Children at this age are about the toughest audience you can get. You either have them, or you haven’t. The good thing was that I had some nice props. I had a robot that you could control by touching your hand on you head. And this proved very popular. At the end of every talk we had a queue waiting for their turn to step in front of the Kinect Sensor and make Oscar the robot do a wheelie.

Who's Next
Who wants to have a go next?

It was really hard work, but enormous fun. All the kids were fantastic and a real credit to their schools. I got some great questions from the audience and everyone left happy, including me.

Customer 2Customer 1
Two satisfied customers

Watching Oscar
Watching Oscar

Thanks to Moy Lanade for sorting everything out and Mike Park, University Photographer, for the pictures.

Sir Tim Berners-Lee at the Yorkshire International Business Convention

Sir Tim Berners-Lee

Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web. I was lucky enough to take a few students up from Hull today and hear him.

During his talk today at the Yorkshire International Business Convention he mentioned that 20% of the world now has web access, and that access to the web is being made a human right in some countries. It was great to hear him speak of the origins of the world wide web as a side project and how it has developed to become the massively complex beast that we have today. Having designed the way that systems on the web interact he has made it his mission to ensure that it continues to develop according to the original vision of free access for all, to all.

He was preceded by Roy Walker who, as a highly accomplished comedian, gave a master class in comic timing and reminded me of a simpler time when jokes were just funny, and not complicated.

Roy Walker

Once outside we made for the beach and an ice cream:

The Crew

These are the crew that came along from Hull in the minibus.

See Sir Tim Berners-Lee for Free by the Sea

sports centre

The university has obtained a limited number of places to go and see Sir Tim Berners Lee speak at the Yorkshire International Business Convention on Friday 10th of June at Bridlington Spa. His talk is on Friday lunchtime, so we will be leaving the university around 9:45 and getting back on campus at around 2:00, depending on whether we also go for a paddle or not…

Sir Tim Berners-Lee is widely acknowledged as the person who invented the World Wide Web and is chairman of the World Wild Wide Consortium.

If you are a student at Hull who is interested in coming along please get in touch as soon as possible.

24 Hours a Day at the World Trade Centre

WTC24 Hour

Yesterday lunchtime I popped down to the World Trade Centre in the middle of Hull. They were having an event to mark the start of their “24 Hours a Day Opening”.  I was there to show off some technology and be the only one present not wearing a suit. When I arrived the whole place was packed with business folk, as you can see above.

WTC24 Hour Setup

This was my setup, where I was showing off what the Kinect can do when you write your own software for it. (and giving a none too subtle plug for the blog…)

I had a brief chat with Alan Johnston MP about game development, which was nice. I managed to get in the fact that Criterion games (who make titles like Burnout) have just hired four of our students, which counts as all their graduate recruitment for the year. I think he was suitably impressed, which was nice.

I also met up with a number of people who, once I’d told them what Kinect can do, instantly started thinking how they could use it in their business. Great fun.

XNA Windows Phone Session at DevDays 11

Windows Phone Audience Left

Windows Phone Audience Right

Two more halves of a room and one last Windows Phone XNA session. I seem to have taken a lot of audience pictures over the last few weeks. Thanks to you all for making the final session such a great one.  Remember folks that you can get all the code that you saw  from my demo pages:

/demos

The marks the end of my World Tour for a little while. Thanks to Helen for organising the European leg so well, and to Microsoft for inviting me along.

Windows Phone in Rhyme at Geek Night

Right Hand Poetry Fans
Some of the audience arriving. Left Hand Poetry Fans
The rest of the audience arriving

Well, that was fun. Once I found my notes. Thanks to the audience for really getting into the spirit of the event. The roar every time we had a “Silverlight Rhyme Alert” was most impressive. Hope you all had a good time. You can find the notes from the original Red Nose Day lecture here.

If you would like to donate to the Red Nose Day cause (which is very, very worthy and does lots of good work around the world) then you can find my donation page here.

And now I’m going for a lie down…

Recalcitrant Robots

left audienceRight Audience

Both sides of the room, click through to larger versions on Flickr.

I did my most “challenging” presentation this afternoon. Robots, hardware and the .NET Micro Framework.  Lots of things to go wrong, and most of them tried to. However, having carried my robot, a controller and a radio watch all the way around Europe I was going to do my level best to make sure that they worked at the end.

And work they did. In the end I had two debugging sessions running at the same time, one in the controller and the other in the robot. It was nice when the command went out of the controller and the robot program hit a breakpoint to indicate that the message had been received. Everyone was watching patiently to see the robot jump off the desk and shatter on the floor. Fortunately this didn’t actually happen, but the programs did all work.

Thanks for being a patient audience folks and remember, you are all embedded developers now.

Dev Days Keynote and Ambition

Rob

Also available for parties and discos…

Some time back I was asked the very perceptive question “What are your ambitions?” This is not a question that I get asked very often, and it gave me pause to think a bit about life. Eventually I  said “One day I’d like to take part in a keynote presentation at a technical conference”.  The keynote is the big session right at the start where everyone attending the conference turns up to hear some talks that set the scene for what follows.

Today I got to do that. I was on the same billing as Scott Hanselman, Wade Wegner and Ben Riga. I was talking about the joys of Windows Phone game development.

Dell

Everyone had their own laptop, mine is the Dell nearest (and they kept making fun of it because the video output was a bit dodgy).

Video

Brandon Foy’s video looks great, even from the back of the screen. Remember that you can see it here:

http://www.youtube.com/windowsphone

The presentations were all great, although I must admit I wasn’t concentrating that much – what with being the last man in.  My bit seemed to go OK, which was nice.

I now have to move on to my next ambition, which is to buy Bill Gates a drink. I’d just love to be standing at the bar with Bill, see him reach towards his pocket to pay for the glasses of Coke and say “No worries Bill, I’ve got this” and the produce my wallet….

Windows Phone XNA in TechDays Antwerp

Metropolis1000

This is the Metropolis in Antwerp. Nice venue.

Audience

This is my usual picture of the audience arriving.

Did my first Windows Phone session of this part of my “World Tour” ™. I’m at Tech-Days in the Netherlands tomorrow and Friday. Thanks for being a great audience folks, although with the bright lights it was a bit hard to see if there was anyone out there (although I did hear some clapping from time to time). You can find all the code I talked about, and a lot more, in my demo directory:

/demos

Heading to Antwerp

WP_000196

Some of these trains do not exist.

In the Netherlands trains don’t run late. They just don’t run. Which makes for all kinds of fun and games if you try to use the ones that aren’t there. The 14:07 from Schipol airport to Antwerp made a brief guest appearance on the station display before vanishing. After a while I got to recognise the “apologetic cough” in Dutch that pre-ceded messages about trains that weren’t going to run. Even though I couldn’t understand much of the rest of the announcements.

Fortunately they announce the international trains in English too (I still find the idea of trains that “go abroad” really exciting) and so I was able to figure out how to get to Rotterdam and then change for Antwerp. And here I am. The hotel is great, the presentations are written and the demos are working. I’ve even found a McDonalds to have tea in. Looking forward to tomorrow.

IMG_2719

Antwerp Central Station looking good.

Ready for Tech Days

clip_image001

I’m doing some bits and bobs at TechDays around Europe this week, starting with a Windows Phone gaming session in Antwerp on Wednesday 27th, then a keynote session, a Micro Framework session and a Geek Night Windows Phone session in rhyme on Thursday at The Hague in the Netherlands. On Friday, assuming I survive, I’m doing another Windows Phone gaming session. At the moment I’m busy preparing all the content and demos. I’m making something completely new for the keynote, and I’m rather pleased to find that it is mostly working, which is nice. 

You can find out about TechDays in the Netherlands here:

http://www.techdays.nl/

You can find out about TechDays in Antwerp here:

http://www.microsoft.com/belux/techdays/2011/

I head out tomorrow, I’m trying to squeeze a robot, microcontroller, laptop and all my other bits and bobs into a single carry on bag.  

The Rob Miles Roadshow

Next week I’m doing a Mix session all about game development in XNA, stay tuned for some brand new examples and sample code, but unfortunately no new jokes. I’ve just found out that I’m also doing Ask the Experts on Tuesday evening starting at 6:00 pm  (and for once I’m not going to be doing the asking).  They are using a “speed dating” arrangement where we meet up with a bunch of folks for 20 minute slots where we get over the gist of what we are at Mix for. I’ll be doing Windows Phone games (of course) and I’d love to meet you if you come along. Strange this, nothing for years and then two sessions of speed dating in a matter of a weeks.

image

If you are lucky enough to have a Windows Phone you can download the official Mix application which is great. And also mentions me. Search the marketplace for “Mix 11”.

The “Rob Miles Roadshow”™ then rumbles on to TechDays later this month. They also have a really good Windows Phone application too, although this one works best if you can speak Dutch. Search the marketplace for “Techdays”.

DevDays Speaker

I’m doing a session on Windows Phone games, another on the .NET Micro Framework and a third (deep breath) where I’m going to be talking about Windows Phone development in rhyme, just for Geek Night. And I’m also making an appearance at one of the keynotes too. Now, if that’s not a reason to buy a new pair of jeans, I don’t know what is… Find out more here.

Prizes and Rewards with Windows Phone

image

There has never been a better time to be a Windows Phone developer. If you are a UK student you can take part in a Student Competition where you can win prizes just by submitting applications to the Marketplace. Since you can also sell these applications, and it costs you nothing to join the Marketplace if you register via DreamSpark this seems like a pretty good deal. Find out more here.

image

If you are old like me and therefore no longer a student you can instead sign up for the Think.Dev rewards programme and get prizes and rewards for submitting apps. This is open to all Windows Phone developers in the UK and you get stuff for just turning up and submitting apps. I might even win a prize for Cheese Lander (although this is probably unlikely). Sign up here.