Monthly Archives: March 2016

Team Spotlight – Abi Brownlee

Next up for our Team Spotlight is the wonderful, stunning, amazing –  Abigail Brownlee          (can you tell I write these?)

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Ready for the eclipse from the office window!

Who are you and what is your role at Linknode?

I’m Abigail Brownlee (Abi) and I’ve been with Linknode for nearly four years, however I have been working with Crispin, the MD, for just over ten years now. My title is Client Management, but I have a variety of roles within the company, from client, project and support management to tender writing, web design and financials – a girl of many talents!

What is your favourite thing about working at Linknode?

There are only 8 of us in the company. We are a small team yet with big ideas. I love all the guys – being in a tight team is great and we get a great sense of achievement when we do a new release, or find someone new to wow with our technologies! We collect “awesome’s”

If you could switch your job with anyone else within Linknode, whose job would you want?

If I was to switch jobs with anyone, it would be Rufus. His experience and expertise in building and managing the technologies we use is second to none. Of course, I’d need to swap brains with him too, as I’ve no idea how he does what he does. Very clever dude! – plus he got to go to a Xamarin convention in Atlanta..! pfft.

What is your proudest moment at Linknode?

My proudest moment is ongoing and yet to come. We were granted funding from InnovateUK to work with Heriot-Watt University to design and develop UrbanPlanAR – a solution that enables architects, developers etc to visualise their plans in an urban environment. So in layman’s terms, what will that building look like once it’s built – but being able to actually see it as you stand at the site. Another ‘awesome’ technology – and we’re half way through the project. We’re set to release the full commercial solution in a years’ time, and I am proud of our achievements so far, and excited by the prospects of it.

What do you like to do when you’re not working?

I like hill walking. Hanging out with my fiasco, sorry fiancé, teenager daughter and my massive puppy dog.

The walking thing has stemmed from doing the Cairngorm Challenge a few years back. Since then, I’ve climbed various Munros – including Ben Nevis, done the Caledonian Challenge Hike, and am planning to do the West Highland Way this September. Feel free to send me plasters and snickers.

Wee tipple after WINNING the Cairngorm Challenge!

Do you have an office nickname?

George’s wife, Kathryn, once called me a Geek-herder – which is kinda cute, and very apt. Being the only woman in an office full of geeky computer guys. No-one calls me that though – I’m sure a couple of them have called me Mum!!!

What did you want to be when you were growing up?

The first thing I remember wanting to be was a fighter pilot. “Top Gun?” I hear you asking! No – more down to my older brother having a collection of Warfare magazines, and finding myself bored and looking at all the pictures of the pretty planes.

Then, I wanted to be a lawyer, then be in a punk band, and then be a graphic designer.

I appear to be none of these!

What’s the last joke you recall?

I crashed into the back of a car at a red light the other day. A dwarf got out the car and said,

‘I’m not happy’.

So I replied ‘Which one are you then?”

Linknode Pie Face !! from Linknode Ltd on Vimeo.

VentusAR v4.4 Released

Over a busy Easter weekend, we released VentusAR v4.4 into the app stores. This release includes a lot of performance features to make the app faster and clearer to use.

VentusAR_TurbineRotationSpeeds

For Android and iOS this release includes:

  • Realistic turbine rotation speed based on blade length
  • Distraction free mode for video and public display

For portal users this release includes:

  • Configuration options for turbine Max RPM settings
  • Performance improvements for custom terrain services
  • Transmission project improvements for managing and editing transmission projects.

Please see the full release notes for Android, iPad and the Portal

The answer is blowing in the wind

How many times have you gone out to a site visit  – where more than likely – it’s pretty windy!

You have your ring-binder full of wirelines, constraint maps etc. – you’re breaking your back trying to carry it, and your papers are flying about all over the place! Sound familiar? Well, we can help!

With VentusAR, you can download all the PDF’s you need from the portal, and have everything in one place, on your tablet.

It’s pretty simple to do and can save you a a lot of hassle.

How to:

  • From the Portal (portal.ventusar.com)
  • Choose your Project
  • Scroll down to Reference PDF Files
  • Choose the relevant pdf you need and Begin Upload

image 1

 

  • Open VentusAR on your tablet
  • Open the relevant project
  • Click View More Info

Capture

  • The list of all PDFs will be shown

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  • Choose the PDF you want to be able to access and a window will be shown giving you options of how to store the file. Here we Copy to iBooks

image 4And that’s it.

All your files in one handy, small, lightweight and windproof place.

If you would like to learn more about features within VentusAR, please get in touch at hello@ventusar.com or give us a call on 0141 559 6170

Team Spotlight – David Hughes

Next up for our Team Spotlight is our newest member of staff – Sales and Business Development Manager David Hughes

Who are you and what is your role at Linknode?

I’m David Hughes – I am the  Sales and Business Development Manager at Linknode and have been here since August 2015.

If you could describe working at Linknode in three words, what would they be?

Educational – I have learned a lot over the last 8 months about an industry I knew very little about. I now can’t pass wind turbines or transmission towers (which I have noticed seem to be a lot) without offering my expert opinion on them – much to the annoyance of whoever I am imparting that wisdom on.

Interesting – a bit of a cliché I know – but no 2 days are ever the same. The changing landscape of the renewables industry has led us to look at new industry sectors to move into – which means understanding new market sectors and the requirements for businesses within those sectors. Learning to engage with people on new topics in new ways is helping me to engage better with prospective new clients.

Technological – I love gadgets and technology – and always like being up to date with technological advances. Since I have started I have been involved in some Virtual Reality Hack days and experiences – with more potentially in the pipeline for the future – which has peaked my interest. I have also seen our software engineers take gaming technology and transfer that skill and knowledge into practical uses within VentusAR (though I would argue against anyone that says that launching birds from a catapult at buildings isn’t practical). This has certainly opened my eyes to the potential for the software moving forward.

If you could switch your job with anyone else within Linknode, whose job would you want?

This is a tough one.
George and our software engineers are extremely intelligent and skilled guys – and having that skill and knowledge would change my career path and would open new doors moving forward.
Abi has great project management skills and planning – which has always been one of my weaknesses – so having that would definitely improve my day to day work.
Crispin is a gifted academic – something I always wanted to be but seeing as I’m 99p short of a pound – was never going to be a successful choice.

After all that I think I’m under-qualified for everyone else’s job and might struggle to keep my own!

What is on your wish list for the next 10 years with Linknode

We have a product that has a lot of potential to adapt and grow – not only in a rural capacity but also with the urban environment. My aim and goal is to establish Linknode as forefront of visualisation, with our software being used across all stages of the planning process and for VentusAR to become an industry requirement in future. I also see a shift towards Virtual Reality being our next step to help enhance communication of developments whilst moving with technological advances.

What is you favourite line from a movie?

It’s a close run thing between two – both of them that appeal to my warped sense of humour:

All right… all right… but apart from better sanitation and medicine and education and irrigation and public health and roads and a freshwater system and baths and public order… what have the Romans done for us?

 Or

 “Never rub another man’s Rhubarb”

If Hollywood made a movie about your life, who would you like to see cast as you?

The Mrs says I look a bit like Gerard Butler – and I was once asked by a girl who was selling me my sandwich for lunch (true story!!!) if I was related to him,  at which point I had to break her heart by saying no – so I guess he would be the prime candidate for such a varied and intriguing character. However knowing my luck he would be invited to film his new movie “Easterhouse has Fallen” so the only guy available to fill the role would be Johnny Vegas!! Every cloud has a silver lining though – as I’m sure a cameo from Monkey would add an extra $0 to the box office figures.

What is your hidden talent?

This could be up for debate but I have always fancied myself as a bit of a singer. If there is a karaoke I’m guaranteed to be up there singing anything from Frank Sinatra to Stereophonics – there really is no end to my talents.

I did once visit a recording studio for a session a few years back – where I recorded my hit record “One for My Baby”  – including 3 classic renditions of “Mack the Knife”, “Ain’t that a Kick in the Head” and “One for my Baby”.

Needless to say it didn’t make the charts or i-Tunes, in fact I don’t even think my Gran bought a copy which was a bit of a poor show. Soon after that the girl I was seeing also split up with me. Some people just aren’t cut out for stardom I guess!!

AGI Scotland – 2016

Last week (16 March 2016) was the annual AGI Scotland event in Edinburgh.

Location is key to Linknode’s business – making information more relevant, accessible and understandable. The Association for Geographic Information is the profession for spatial scientists, geographers and GIS professionals and the Scottish program matched this variety. A couple of my highlights are below that resonated with our operations:

HES

Diana Murray spoke from the newly conglomerated Historic Scotland and the RCAHMS, forming Historic Environment Scotland in late 2015. HES have a vast array of georeferenced data exposed with services such as CANMORE. Digital provision has made the data more available – and hence more valuable. Diana explained how innovation in GIS and heritage is a key driver for the better understanding of data in order to make sense of the past. Linknode’s work in projects such as HistoryLens and with UPAR is 100% onboard with this vision.

Networks

Some great conference planning led to back-to-back presentations from the Canal & Rivers Trust and Network Rail. Both manage thousands of km of linear networks for leisure and transportation. 17th to 20th Century infrastructure is now managed by 21st Century mobile workforces, apps, 3D data and visualisation to increase efficiency and reduce downtime of complex services.
Some great examples of use of the data were given, but only scratching the surface of the big data being continually collected.

Google

Ed Parsons, who I worked with back in the last Millennium, is the Geospatial Technologist at Google and always hosts entertaining and thought provoking discussions.
With the interconnectedness of all things (IoT), and location, Ed asked what new services are we prepared to offer up our privacy for? As well as a suitably respectful discussion on philosophy of the late Douglas Adams.

And Finally

Rollo Home from the Ordnance Survey entertained with the observation that in space we struggle to orient well-defined frames of reference. In sci-fi the problem of “space and the y-axis” is always ignored as the very entertaining link explains!

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For more information on the AGI, and the future of GIS and BIM, I recommend a review of the newly published Foresight Report.

Team Spotlight – Stewart Fullerton

Next up for our Team Spotlight is another of our software engineers –  Stewart Fullerton.

Who are you?

I am Stewart Fullerton

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What is your role at Linknode and how long have you been working here?

I’ve been working as a Mobile Development Engineer at Linknode for nearly 4 years. I specialise in building Android and Windows Phone apps as well as developing commercial websites. I work in a team of 5 developers on Linknode’s products like VentusAR, Album Flow, HistoryLens, MyStory and 3DTry.it. I am also responsible in building and maintaining the company’s websites, a few examples are ventusar.com, historylens.co.uk and urbanplanar.com.

What are the technologies that you use?

At Linknode we make the most of cutting edge technology in software development, the piece of software that we use frequently is Xamarin, which allows you to create IOS and Android apps using C#, part of Microsofts .NET Framework. Other technologies that we use are SignalR, WCF, MonoGame, Google Cardboard, MVC, Azure , Jquery and many others.

What is your proudest moment in Linknode?

I think my proudest moment came in 2013 where our main product VentusAR was at its prototype stage and we focused more on consumer apps. I was responsible for the development of Album Flow, an app that allows you to browse your music using a flow of album art. The Windows 8 version was submitted to a contest it was placed in the top 10 apps and we won prizes as a result.

How has Linknode helped you in your career development?

Before I joined Linknode I came from a web background, already fluent in web development, database design etc so I was looking for a job within that industry. I was however very intrigued by developing mobile apps as I felt that smartphones and tablets were the way of the future. 4 years later I have new commercial experience in developing apps and I also get the opportunity to use my old skills in web development.

What do you do when you are not working?

I am a keen music photographer which I have been doing for almost a decade now, I work for many music publications covering concerts from all over Scotland. If I’m not doing that I’m either chilling in the flat or out with friends.

Any random facts you could share with us?

Cows drink milk……… oh wait….

What’s the last joke you recall?

Two fish are in a tank, and one says to the other “How on earth do you drive this thing?

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Assessing buildings onsite

Since 2012, VentusAR has enabled users to conduct onsite visualisations and assessments of onshore wind, solar and grid connections.

Our latest buildings feature will provide users with the ability to assess the developments of buildings and houses. We describe this as assessing the impact of rural developments. (We have another product we are building to allow users to assess urban developments – see UrbanPlanAR.com for details).

Assessment mode using the camera feed

Assessment mode using the camera feed

The development work to enable the visualisation of buildings to be assessed within VentusAR has now commenced. Once this feature is live, it will provide our clients with a few key benefits:

  • Save time during design process – Quickly create a 3D overview of the project and check sight lines and symmetry etc.
  • Save time while onsite – Check how visible a development will be from anywhere – as quickly as pointing the iPad and taking a photo.
  • Engage the public better – Take the tablet to a member of the public to show what the development would look like from their house.
  • Increase the chance of a successful planning application – VentusAR visuals aide better communication with the Planning Authorities.
  • Costs less than the price of 3DSMax and a trained operator.

These benefits will be delivered across the following features:

  • Choose 3D models from a library of buildings (pitched roof house, flat roof house, block of flats, barns).
  • Enter user configurable height, length and depth.
  • View a Fly Through to show the buildings in the context of the landscape.
  • Use My View to show what the development will look like on screen, using the real-time camera as a live background. Either in assessment mode showing outlines, structure and visibility or realistic mode with appropriate texture and detail.
  • Easily share photos and videos of what the development is going to look like.
Wireline Photomontage

Wireline photomontage of a building assessment

This work is due to be completed mid 2016. If you are working on designing or assessing buildings in a rural environment, we would love to hear from you and get your input to help define the product.

Please get in touch by emailing hello@ventusar.com or calling 0141 559 6170. We can come and show you what we are up to, how we can improve your assessment processes and save you money!

Team Spotlight – Ryan Welsh

Team spotlight time – let me introduce you to our newest and youngest member of staff – software engineer Ryan Welsh.

Who are you?

I am Ryan

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What is your role at Linknode and how long have you been working here?

I have been working as a software engineer for just over a year. My role in the company is iOS developer, for our flagship product, VentusAR. My work involves adding new features to our game engine.

What has been your favourite project at Linknode?

My favourite project was undertaking a bespoke task for Natural Power. It involved combining VentusAR’s virtual reality mode with an external sensor system to create a useful tool for monitoring wind farms. I learned alot from this project as I completed it on my own, and several areas were new to me.

How has Linknode helped you in your career development?

I have been flung in at the deep end several times and been sent off to carry out research in a particular area to gain an understanding of the best approach needed to implement a new feature. This has enhanced my skills, not only in programming, but in design documentation and research. I am also given large feature projects to work on which are different to the next, so I am never really repeating tasks.

If you could describe working at Linknode, what would they be?

Friendly, Challenging, Rewarding

If you had to eat one meal every day, for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Chicken and chips

What books are at your bedside?

The Walking Dead

What did you want to be when growing up?

A fireman 🙂

Ryan_working

Team Spotlight – Crispin Hoult

We have been blogging for a while now – technical stuff, industry news, product features.

We decided it’s maybe time to do something a little more personal, and let everyone know who we are – all of us!

We’ll all be answering various questions over the next few weeks and you’ll get to see who actually works at Linknode and what we get up to. We’re starting with the boss man! Enjoy!

Who are you?

My name is Crispin and I set-up Linknode five years ago in May 2011.

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We have a great team here so my technical abilities are less in demand now, but I still look after some key accounts and legacy solutions – as well as developing the R&D side of the business, strategic relations and the exciting realm of corporate governance.

What has been your favourite project at Linknode?

My favourite project is always the next one – trying to see over the horizon as to what is technically possible by using our current platform as a stepping stone to greater understanding and integration with our business domains.  Once they are market assessed, funded and passed to the technical team I keep a close eye but only as a surrogate parent.  The projects are nurtured and developed by George’s team.

If you could switch your job with anyone else within Linknode, whose job would you want?

Minh has a geospatial background and the ability to problem solve challenges with new technology.  Whilst I may be too old to adapt to some of the new tools that the development team use, I would like to have the capacity and skills to do what Minh does.

What is your proudest moment at Linknode?

We are now onto three Linknode babies and one engagement.  Working hard for the company is important for the team, but at the end of the day we are creating opportunities to support people in their personal lives as well.  Seeing how each member of the team moves through their own lives is something I am abstractly proud of facilitating in some small way.

Whats your favourite line from a movie or song?

Although I (heresy) prefer the Kirsty MacColl version to Billy Bragg, this is one of my favourite lyrics that manages to mix a combination of astronomy and poetry:

I saw two shooting stars last night
I wished on them but they were only satellites
It’s wrong to wish on space hardware

What books are at your bedside?

There is always a big pile of books waiting to be read, currently not helped by staying in a cottage conversion project without mains electricity for a bedside light.

I have two cycling travelogues, an adventure travel diary from Amazonia, at least three books on maps, a couple of permaculture guides, at least one autobiography and two business management books.

What did you want to be when growing up?

No surprises that I wanted to draw maps!  And I still do cartographic authoring sometimes, but now our drawing is visualisation in a way I could not have imagined in an era where our school computers ran at 2MHz with 32Kb RAM, several 1000 times less powerful than my mobile phone.

The REAL Crispin...!

The REAL Crispin…!