.NET Gadgeteer

The .NET Gadgeteer is an open-source toolkit from Microsoft that enables you to build small electronic devices programmed using the .NET Micro Framework and Visual Studio or Visual C# Express.

Even without any knowledge of electronics, you will be able to quickly construct devices from a kit of peripherals such as sensors, lights, switches displays and many more components.

The system hardware is composed of a mainboard, containing an embedded processor, and a separate collection of modules. Modules are connected to the mainboard using a cable to connect a socket on the module with a corresponding one on the mainboard to create your working device.

For writing software, devices are programmed in C# using the .NET Micro Framework. You can correct your programs while they are running on the device which makes debugging the device a lot quicker. 



The first commercially available .NET Gadgeteer compatible hardware is the FEZ Spider Starter Kit from GHI Electronics. It's currently priced at $249.95 and available to pre-order but not due for first shipment until 30 September 2011.






Aurasma is an Augmented Reality (AR) application created by Autonomy, a company based in Cambridge (UK). It is currently available for the iPhone 4, iPad 2 and Android devices and a Lite (free version) can be downloaded from the App Store or Android Market.

Rather than having to recognise barcodes or other visual tags, such as special AR markers, it can recognise objects and images in the real world and superimpose content associated with that object on the display screen.

Simply pointing the camera in your mobile device at an image will enable you to view an Aura associated with that image.

Auras are augmented reality actions - such as a photo or video overlaid on a static image, a movie clip overlaid on a specific geographical location or an animation overlaid on a cereal box.

It may be easier to watch a video that demonstrates the type of things that can be done


You can easily create your own samples using the application. See how in the following video.


Details of Aurasma can be found at their website


The Google+ Project

by Mick 0 Comments

Google has introduced the Google+ Project which is it's latest offering in social networking.

In the past they have made various attempts to enter this area with products such as Google Wave, and Google Buzz which both failed to attract the necessary worldwide enthusiasm to compete against the likes of Facebook and Twitter but will Google+ be more successful this time ?

The chances of success appear to be greatly improved and the project combines some of the best features available from Facebook and Twitter in an easy to use format.

In brief, the currently available features include:

  • Circles - allow you to create named groups of people. This feature allows you to share different information with different groups of people. Initially, 4 groups are provided Friends, Family, Acquaintances and Following although you can create additional groups as required.
  • Stream - similar to the Facebook news feed. You can also filter the stream so that you only see the posts associated with a particular circle.
  • Sparks - a feed of content gathered from across the internet on any topic you define.
  • Hangouts - enables you to create a video chat with up to 9 others at the same time.
  • Huddle - a group messaging feature but only available in the mobile version.

To get a better idea, watch one of the many videos made by google


I also came across the following document Google Tips and Tricks which you may find useful too


The Google+ website is at:


The Google+ project for mobile devices is at


Qualcomm Augmented Reality (QCAR)

by Mick 2 Comments

The Qualcomm Augmented Reality (QCAR) SDK helps to create Augmented Reality (AR) applications for mobile devices and is now available for iOS devices.

It can be downloaded from the Qualcomm Developer Portal (although you will need to register first if you don't already have an account) at


The SDK enables applications to superimpose virtual 3D objects onto the view displayed from the camera of the mobile device providing the ability to mix virtual 3D objects with real world images.

It includes support for image targets, frame markers, multi targets and virtual buttons. An Extension for Unity is also provided.

To get an idea of what this is all about, you can watch a video of a simple application developed using this SDK


Find out more about Augmented Reality at Qualcomm from the developer portal at


iOS 5 - Coming Soon

by Mick 0 Comments

Over 200 new features are incorporated into the next version of iOS 5 which is due for release in the Autumn 2011. See all the details prior to the release at


New features include:

  • The Notification Center allows you to manage all your notifications in one place
  • iMessage is a new messaging service for all iOS 5 users that will allow you to send unlimited text messages from your iOS device to anyone else with an iOS device.
  • Newsstand organises your newspaper and magazine subscriptions in a separate folder for quick access
  • Reminders is a system for managing your to-do lists. Reminders can be location base so that you can receive an alert based on your current location . They are alo integrated into iCal, Outlook and iCloud and will update automatically on all devices and calendars.
  • Twitter is integrated directly into iOS 5, for direct tweeting.
  • The camera has various new features including single tap exposure and focus locks and you can simply press the volume-up button to take a picture.
  • You no longer need a PC or Mac to update your device, as you can download iOS software updates directly.
  • Thers are also numerous improvements to existing applications such as the Mail and Calendar apps, Games center, wi-Fi synchronisation and AirPlay

You can watch a video about iOS 5 at:


OS X Lion

by Mick 0 Comments

OS X Lion is the next version of the OS X operating system from Apple.


It introduces more than 250 new features some of which appear very similar to what you can see on iOS devices.

In summary, some of the available features include:

  • Improved support for Multi-touch gestures, as long as you have a multi-touch trackpad, ( is the Apple Magic Trackpad https://www.apple.com/magictrackpad/ supported ? )
  • Full-screen apps
  • Mission Control which shows a view of everything running on the machine and improves the navigation between them.
  • Launchpad for arranging and managing your apps.
  • New and improved mail system
  • Autosave feature
  • Resume - reopens an app exactly as you left it
  • AirDrop provides the ability to send and receive files wirelessly with no need for cables between devices.

Available for $29.99 (£20.99) but only as a digital download from the Mac App Store


Kinect for Windows SDK (beta)

by Mick 0 Comments

The eagerly awaited SDk for developing applications using the Kinect game controller with Windows PC applications is now (finally) available.

The Kinect for Windows SDK is a programming toolkit for application developers.

It allows access to the Microsoft Kinect device connected to computers running Windows 7.

Previously, access was possible using a variety of toolkits developed by a number of different sources. Now Microsoft Research are providing an offical toolkit to enable developers to build applications running on Windows 7 that have full access to the capabilites of the Kinect.

The SDK Beta is intended for an audience of experienced developers who want to experiment with Kinect sensors as input and imaging devices on Windows-based PCs. Many early-adopters are eager to use Kinect sensors to explore possibilities for natural user interfaces (NUI). The SDK is not intended for use in consumer environments and is not licensed for production use. Use of this SDK is expected to be in a laboratory or test-bench setting or in a classroom

A commercial version is expected to be released at a later date.

Kinect drivers for Windows 7 provide support for

  • The Kinect sensor's microphone array as a kernel-mode audio device that you can access through the standard audio APIs in Windows.
  • Streaming image and depth data.
  • Device enumeration functions that enable an application to use more than one Kinect sensor that is connected to the computer.

The SDK also provides a Natural User Interface (NUI) API which is a set of APIs that retrieves data from the image sensors and controls the Kinect devices.

Full details and download(s) available from


Happy Programming


Xcode 4 and iTunes

For others who may experience a similar issue

I'd just got my iPad 2 and connected it up to my Mac machine running the latest Mac OS X v 10.6.7 and started iTunes as instructed.

Things seemed to be going fine through registration and setup when I received the abrupt warning

iTunes was unable to load dataclass information from Sync Services. Reconnect or try again later.

iTunes did, however, recognise that an upgrade to iOS 4.3.3 was required and proceeded with the download.

At the start of the iOS upgrade, however, I got the equally strange message

iTunes could not backup KML System's iPad because the backup session failed.

Tried all the usual things, checked iTunes version was up-to-date, rebooted machine, etc. etc.
Was there a problem because I had Dropbox running ? (this didn't seem to be a problem)

How about trying the 'Restore to original settings' ? (This did proceed to install iOS 4.3.3 on the iPad but the same messages persisted and sync would still not work).

Was there something wrong with the iPad ? (brand new too! - but no, the same problem was apparent with my 2nd Generation iPod Touch which produced the same messages when plugged in).

To cut a long story short, it appears that installing Xcode 4 will corrupt an existing installation of iTunes in some way. The solution is simply to reinstall iTunes!!

Lo and behold, the problem went away after a re-install of iTunes and all is back in working order with syncing and backups working as per normal.

ps I came across an interesting topic on the Apple Support Communities which discusses the same issue and contains some additional steps which may be required if a simple re-install of iTunes fails to resolve the issue.