Wow, I’m way overdue for a blog entry! I’ve been pretty busy lately and there’s a lot going on in the Bisque world, as well in some of my side projects.
Since my last post, we have shipped TheSkyX for the Mac at MacWorld, and TheSkyX for Windows since then. These are of course the student editions without telescope control. I’ve had the opportunity to test telescope control on my Mac at both the Winter Star Party, and my own local astronomy club’s star party shortly thereafter near lake Okeechobee. The skies down there rival those of the keys actually… anyway I bear witness that telescope control is coming along, and as soon as we get enough scopes supported, debugged, etc etc. it’ll be out. In the mean time go ahead and get the Student Edition and kick the tires a bit. You can always upgrade to the Serious Astronomer version later.
In other development news, I recently finished our Mac desktop widget. You should see it soon, we are “beta testing” it right now, but I don’t think there are going to be any big issues. You can now get a star chart on dashboard via our web interface. The design philosophy was simple, just show what’s up tonight and make it as easy to use as possible. We purposely did not try to cram TheSkyX into a little bitty window in dashboard…. Someone has already tried that, and most of us think it’s really out of place. Like trying to cram a jet engine under the hood of a pickup truck. That’s not really what widgets are for. We show off our product, if you want something more sophisticated we hope you come and buy the full package… and no annoying scrolling ads at the bottom either ;-) Software Bisque sells software, not web clicks.
Just today I finished adding support for Logitech’s 3D space navigator to both the Windows and Mac versions of Seeker. This is an awesome device for flying around and navigating 3D space. It definitely makes up for not having joystick support on the Mac. It’s actually better than a joystick in my opinion. It’s definitely easier to fly around with in the dark too when your giving presentations or demonstrations on a projection system.
Another new feature coming in the next patch is “momentum”. Now, when you click and drag if you let off the mouse button while dragging, it’s like starting a spin operation. You basically can easily create an animated orbit just by “flicking the mouse”. This is somewhat akin to what Google earth does, and a few people have asked for this. Now that I’ve done it, I like it. There is more to come along this front, but a lot of this sort of thing comes from just trying different things and seeing what feels best.
There’s a lot of hub-bub in the Mac community about the iPhone SDK, and this has not gone unnoticed at Bisque. We were considering porting the desktop widget to the iPhone as a Web app, but decided against it. What people really want (from what I can tell monitoring the various mailing lists), is TheSky Pocket Edition on the iPhone. Yeah, we’d love to give it to you too ;-) There are several ways we could do this; unfortunately none of them are cheap or quick. It’s going to be a substantial investment if we are able to make it happen at all. We are at least looking at the possibility though. I have the SDK and am doing quite a bit of R&D outside of my Bisque hours (we are actually setting up an iPhone programming lab at the school where I teach OpenGL programming). If it’s possible to do this and still put food on the table (a nice way of saying we need to make a profit), I’ll definitely be championing the idea here. There are a lot more variables to making these sorts of decisions than most people realize, so it’ll be some time before we could possibly announce anything either way. The desire is certainly there however.
Finally, we will be at NEAF again in Rockland NY the weekend of April 26th. Stop by our booth and say hello, maybe buy some software too ;-) I always spend more money at these things than I should (don’t tell my wife!). The best part of traveling with Steve though is he knows where all the best Sushi places are!
04-08-2008 11:49 PM