Wiirtual.Earth – A WPF Virtual Earth 3D Experiment … featuring the Nintendo WII Mote

Disclaimer: this is a hack, an experiment, not a finished application – no guarantees are given and the code is probably pretty horrible. It might max out your computer or break something, so use this at your own risk. Also, be sure to check out the great work of the poeple whose projects/source code I have used and studied to build this. Also, make sure to read the setup instructions before you start.

I have been digging deep into Virtual Earth recently – and the more I play with it, the more excited I get. I am especially intrigued with Virtual Earth 3D and have built a little project that pulls Virtual Earth into a WPF desktop application just to see what can be done with it. Well, I am proud to post this very first version of my little application up here. I have also demo’ed this application at Microsoft events in several countries and it seems that people like it …

In a nutshell, here is what it does:

  • Pretty WPF UI.
  • Virtual Earth 3D in a WPF application – using this code.
  • Control Virtual Earth properties from WPF via WPF data binding and UI.
  • Get VE info and bind it to WPF UI elements.
  • Pull in data into VE (GeoRSS, KML, Live collections, plain XML, Wikipedia, Flickr).
  • Control VE with a WIIMote (WIIMote acceleration sensors) – using Brian Peeks WIIMoteLib.
  • Control VE with the WII Balance Board – using Brian Peeks WIIMoteLib.
  • Win32 > WPF interop for mouse and keyboard.

All in all it is a pretty cool project but since I am not a developer undoubtedly there is a lot of crappy spaghetti code in there. I wrote it for a demo as an experiment. Anyways, if somebody has some comments, hints or can use this code, any feedback would be greatly appreciated! I am planning to turn this app into a series of WPF tutorials soon. In the meantime, here are the setup instructions (very important to follow those, otherwise it won’t work correctly or even start!), here is the executable (for Windows) and here is the source code. If you want to know what you can do with this app, read this quick intro document first.



MIX 08 Registration now open!


MIX 08, the conference that covers everything next web will take place March 5-7 2008 in glitzy Las Vegas. This is a great event where you can catch up on the latest Microsoft technologies and also see what others are doing with Silverlight and Expression – highly recommended! Here is what the people at Microsoft say:

Now in its third year, MIX is an intimate opportunity for cutting-edge technical, creative and business strategists to engage Microsoft in a conversation about the future of the web. Come explore the latest wave of opportunities and help redefine the boundaries between: content and commerce, PC and TV, Windows and the Web.

If you register before January 15 you can get a $200 discount on the admission price. So don’t wait too long! http://www.visitmix.com/2008/index.html.

Also very interesting is http://sessions.visitmix.com/. Here you can watch the recorded presentations from the previous MIX events – so you can check out what it will be like before booking.

I’ll be there as well by the way … woohoo :-).


PAINT.NET – a great companion to Expression Design


Expression Design is a great application – and it is often being seen as Microsoft’s competitor product to Adobe’s Photoshop. Well, personally I do think that this is a misunderstanding – for one, you cannot buy Design on its own, it is only included in the Expression Studio SKU and, most important, Design is a vector graphics program at heart. If you are using Expression Design to do photo manipulation or bitmap work, you should also take a look at a freeware application called PAINT.NET that offers a lot of the functionality of Photoshop. I find this application to be a great companion to Expression Design. Do not let yourself get fooled by the name Paint, this has nothing in common with the Paint that is included with Windows – PAINT.NET offers an advanced feature set including layers, curves, color correction, filters and more. Sadly the only thing it does not offer is a feathered selection :-(. Nevertheless, it is definitely worth a (second) look! Check it out here: http://www.getpaint.net/


Free eBook – Build a Web Site That Sells

A colleague of mine (thanks, Leon) brought this to our team’s attention: a free downloadable eBook from Microsoft on web design. Here is the abstract:

Get your free downloadable ebook “Build a Web site That Sells” from Microsoft Office Live. This ebook includes tips, techniques, and tools to help you design an effective and engaging Web site, generate more Web site traffic, maximize search engine results, provide a more secure online experience, and much more.

It’s free, so what are you waiting for? Grab it here …

Books I read: Steven Levy, The Perfect Thing


I have a guilty secret – I love the iPod. I had the first generation model back when they came out and I now have 3: a 3rd generation 20 GB model, a 5th generation 80 GB model and a brand new iPod Touch. In all honesty, the iPod is by no means the best MP3 player on the market, but nevertheless, the whole package is so polished and well thought out that it is really hard to resist.

In his book, Steven Levy has collected a number of essays that each describe one feature of the whole iPod craze. These essays can be read in any order – in fact, the author encourages that and in this way tries to evoke the iPod’s shuffle function. There are chapters about the design, the social implications and also a lot of background information about Steve Jobs, who arguably can be considered the mastermind behind the iPod’s success. This is not a big book and a very engaging read – highly recommended if you want to get an insight into why this thing took off like it did!

Link to the Amazon page …