Have you attended a local user group meeting lately? I have recently attended a WE-DIG meeting in Redmond, Washington and here is the inside scoop on what was going on. The meeting started with a short feature titled " What`s News" which is intended to provide a brief update on the most interesting embedded and mobile news. Paul Yao from Ultimaco Safeware Inc talked about the 3GSM trade show in Barcelona, Spain where Microsoft announced Windows Mobile 6 as well as three new Windows Live services. Then he gave a quick update on the Project DrumStix, which is a group project focused on porting Win CE on a Unix device. This project was originally started sometime in 2005 and the six members that are currently working on this initiative moved to Win CE 6 last July. Paul showed the next generation DumStix board with Win CE 6 running a Hello World program. Then he wrapped up the session with some images of local attractions including Mount Rainier.
The main event was a presentation titled " Where In The World -- Location-based programming with Windows Mobile and Virtual Earth " featuring an Intermec Windows Mobile device and Microsoft’s Virtual Earth. Ron van der Putten started off the meeting with GPS overview and providing details on communicating with GPS receivers and tying it all into Virtual Earth. Ron is a software engineer for Intermec who likes to play with GPS devices in his spare time. He shared his GPS Tracker application which is a small managed mobile app that tracks his movements as he is driving, captures the location data, creates a mobile web page that is uploaded to the web server and then displays his driving path on the Virtual Earth map. The application uses different colors for different speed ranges as well as indicates when the vehicle was parked, includes all stops and duration of each stop. Once the data is uploaded to the web site, the Xbox controller was demonstrated as one way to navigate the map and follow the recorded path.
As part of the main event, Dwayne Lamb from Visual Byte Inc also provided a high-level overview of the Virtual Earth development tools and interactive SDK that is available to developers. Even though VE is not available to developers on the mobile platform, developers can still come up with creative solutions using mobile devices to record and capture location data as was demonstrated by Ron and his GPS Tracker application.
In the future, there are plans to have one additional segment added to the meeting called Code Corner and the goal would be to share useful technical tips and sample code around a specific area of interest each month.
WE-DIG meeting presentations run from 6:30 to 8:00 pm followed by a social gathering with Pizza that provides members with an opportunity to network and share their experiences after the presentations. Meetings are held once a month at Microsoft Campus in Redmond, Washington. WE-DIG was originally created in April 2004 by a group of MVPs that got together at Starbucks (where else) with a goal to create a user group centered around building an embedded and mobile community and providing a place to share ideas and experiences. After a few months of planning, the first meeting was held in September of 2004. Because of its proximity to Microsoft, the group tends to get a lot of support from Microsoft Product groups and representatives of those groups often come out to the meetings to share the latest in mobile and embedded news.
The group has about 500 members with 150 of them located in the Seattle area and the board is also actively working to help others establish similar user groups in other locations. You can get more information about this group at http://www.we-dig.org and sign up for future meeting notices. The next meeting will be held on April 4, 2007 and the main event will be a talk on Windows Mobile 6.0 Connection Manager . So, check out WE-DIG and join in fun!