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.



31 Demos in 39 Minutes …

If you want to know what cool technologies Microsoft has to offer (and which you can leverage as well), head on over to fellow MS colleague Nigel and watch his video 31 Demos in 39 Minutes. It is well worth spending the time and the best thing is that you can actually grab most of these technologies to play around with by yourself!

Here is the link: http://gobeyond.net.nz/thirtydemos.htm


Trynt Technologies – web services for your applications

This site offers a number of ready-to-use web services and api’s you can use to build web applications with Silverlight, Popfly or WPF. Services offered range from the useful to the plain wacky:

Check out the complete list here: http://www.trynt.com/apis/


Optimize This

I have been using Windows VISTA for quite some time now (me being a Microsoft employee this is a given!). Generally, I am OK with it (and I really like things like the sidebar or WPF, natch) but my Toshiba Tecra M4 tablet PC has been misbehaving quite a lot under Vista – hardware failures, beta-quality drivers that really need upgrades and other not so nice things have put a bit of a dent in my enthusiasm lately (please note that this is more an issue with Toshiba build quality than Vista, but still …). Today, I have decided to not only clean up my computer but also tweak Vista a bit to increase performance. I have found a great step-by-step guide that lists the most sensible Vista tweaks: http://www.tweakhound.com/vista/tweakguide/index.htm. I have done some (not all) of the listed tweaks and I have to say, my machine feels much snappier now. It is really hard to find a good set of tweaks because there is a lot of bad-researched, ill-advised crap out there … but I can recommend this one.


Information Overload

My RSS Feeds in Omea Reader

You know the scenario if you are a blog fan or RSS aficionado: how to keep track and organize that ever-expanding list of feeds or news channels. Well, the single most important tool is a robust RSS reader. There are loads out there, but I have tried many and was not really satisfied. Mostly, because I have some preferences when it comes to reading my news:

  • I do not just RSS feeds, I am also a big fan of newsgroups. So, my reader ideally needs to support both RSS and NNTP. That alone disqualified most of the applications I tried :-(.
  • Podcast and video podcast support would be nice!
  • I like to use the space bar to step through posts sequentially, I do not want to use the mouse (That comes from years of using Outlook Express to read news).
  • I have a lot of feeds & newsgroups that I read, performance (while reading and searching) is really key for me.
  • I want to categorize feeds in folders & tag them with categories.

After a lot of searching, I found the ideal tool for me: JetBrains Omea Reader. A great freeware reader and information organizer that I can heartily recommend. Check out the screenshot above or try it yourself: DOWNLOAD.