Yesterday evening, we held a very interesting VBUG user group meeting at Maidenhead. This was made possible through the support of Sybase so many thanks to Steven Dunn for providing us with the venue and refreshments.
During the first part of the meeting, Dave from Sybase gave us a demonstration of what to expect in PowerBuilder 12 and also a glimpse of the next release of DataWindow. The key technical features of these products include support for WPF and tight integration into the Visual Studio IDE. For those who have never used DataWindow, Steve made the point that the major benefit of the product is productivity. As an illustration, Dave mentioned the ‘code shoot-out’ contest during the VBUG conference last year where he created a CO2 monitoring application in just 6 hours. For anyone wishing to purchase DataWindow, Steve has kindly offered a discount for VBUG members.
In the second part of the evening, Peter Eagling gave an excellent session on robotics. In the past, Peter has taken part in the BBC program Robot Wars and holds the world record on the robot that does the furthest long jump.
The session began with a discussion of what a robot is and included discussions about Asimovs and Tildens robotic laws. The picture below shows Peter’s latest creation. This eight footed robot has a microprocessor on each foot. Plastic gearing is used which works very well at absorbing any knocks. The ‘rules’ for each foot are persisted in a SQL Server database.
Overall, the talk gave a very good insight into the world of robotics and illustrated the multi-disciplined nature of the field. You must have an aptitude for mechanical engineering as well as software skills to create a good robot.
The topic of Microsoft Robotics Studio was briefly covered but hopefully, Peter will come back at some point in the future to talk more about the programming aspcts of this subject.