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Nuno who?

Nuno™ Navigator is named after the 15th century Portuguese explorer Nuno Tristão. This Nuno was one of Prince Henry’s most valued and trusted captains. And this Henry was none other than Henry the Navigator, arguably one of the fathers of modern navigation.

Nuno is notable for his explorations of the West African coast which helped established Portugal as a leader in the emerging colonial world. Previously no one had attempted to venture out to this region which had been dubbed the Ocean of Darkness. Many terrifying myths surrounded it with claims that monsters swam in the seas and the overhead sun made the seawater boil. If a ship was lucky enough to survive these hazards it was only a matter of time before they would reach the edge of the flat world and plummet into the abyss. Nuno was only marginally perturbed by this but did realize he was going to need a good ship.

Typically the vessels used for long voyages were slow, heavy and not very maneuverable. This was no good. Nuno wanted an agile boat that could sail up rivers. Fortunately Henry stepped in with his newly designed Caravel sporting a dashing lanteen rig. Later this type of ship would be used to discover America and become the exploration vessel of choice but first of all Nuno took a prototype to Africa.

His first trip was to Capo Branco. The furthest any European had been beyond Rio de Ouro and a significant step across the Ocean of Darkness. Now I should mention at this point that although Nuno was heroic in many ways that one of the reasons he was doing this at all was to catch slaves. This sort of thing was quite acceptable back then (or at least it was mostly acceptable by most people except the slaves) so we will try to not let it distract us from the good bits which are about navigation and exploration.

imageNuno did three subsequent expeditions each time pushing further south and pushing the limits of exploration and navigation. Beyond Capo Blanco was the Bay of Arguin. On his third expedition he reached the border of Senegal and announced that he had discovered sub-Saharan Africa. With his fourth and final expedition in 1446 he got south of Cap Vert and may have discovered Guinea-Bissau. There is some debate about this. However, wherever it was that he actually rolled up, there were also a lot of poison arrow wielding locals. They justifiably took exception to the slave thing and promptly killed Nuno and his crew.

So bold, innovative, adventurous, pushing the limits of technology and a great navigator. We like all these things. Many years ago we named our professional navigation system after Henry the Navigator so it seemed appropriate that our next generation system should be called Nuno.

The Wikipedia article on Nuno is a bit dry but informative.

These days Nuno has a couple of statues to his credit. A naval frigate was named after him and he has appeared on Portuguese coins and bank notes. My favorite is this article explaining how an abandoned statue of Nuno was found after the war in Guinea-Bissau and moved into the city. I will visit this one day and in the meantime can anyone send me a photo of it that I could post here?

The Nuno License REvisited

P7062614We discussed software licenses in general a while ago. This was followed by a blog which explained how the license for Nuno works. Now that the UK version of Nuno is launched we are keeping the license mechanism pretty much the same but it seems worthwhile to run over it again. Just what does it cost and what do you get?

Software licenses can be a bit of a minefield. With Nuno we have tried to keep everything simple and sensible. We are also trying to provide a deal which is fair, understandable and does not contain any ‘gotcha’ clauses that mean you end up paying more than you expected.

The US version of Nuno sells for $100, the UK version sells for £120 inc. VAT. The UK version costs a bit more because we need to add VAT and also because we have to pay for the chart data. Here is how it all works. UK prices are in brackets (like this) and include VAT.

Summary

For an initial outlay of $100 (£120) you can have a license for a state of the art navigation system and a one year subscription to full support and update services. After a year you can choose to renew your subscription for a further $50 (£60).

If you want to know more; keep reading.

How to buy Nuno

On the Nuno website you create an account and pay for Nuno with your credit card, debit card or PayPal. This gets you a license to use Nuno and a subscription for a year.

How to get Nuno and Install it

You may have already downloaded Nuno to try it out before you bought it. If not you can download it now. This will be the very latest version. As soon as Nuno starts up on your computer it will ask you for your account logon credentials. This is the same email address and password you used to create your account. Nuno will use these to activate over the Internet. Once activated Nuno is fully functional.

You can have Nuno installed and activated on two computers at the same time. This is so that you can have one PC for route planning and another, maybe a laptop, for use at sea.

You can install Nuno onto a new computer. If you are lucky enough to upgrade your computer then remove Nuno from the old one, install it on the new one, set up your logon as before and you are away. Use the Import/Export facilities to transfer your overlays.

During the next year

The subscription is valid for a year and entitles you to the following:

You will be able to use our chart updating service. This is basically just one click to update all your charts.

You will be notified of any updates to Nuno.

Occasionally we find bugs or problems in the code. More often we want to roll out a bunch of usability and implementation improvements. You will be able to download, install and use the new version of Nuno with these fixes and improvements.

In the next year we are planning to add several new features including AIS support, S63 (commercial, encrypted ENC), auto-helm and a rolling road (whatever that is). You will be able to download, install and use the new versions of Nuno with these new features. Recently we added support for Active Captain to Nuno and all registered users got this as a free upgrade.

If you encounter any problems or have any issues you will be able to contact us directly and probably have your question answered by one of the programming team.

After a year

The subscription expires in a year.

At the end of the year we will invite you to renew your subscription. This will cost just $50 (£60). If you renew your subscription then you can carry on with all the good things I have just described for another year.

Expired subscription

You can still use Nuno. It is yours to keep and use whenever you want.

If you ever lose your copy of Nuno you will be able to log into your account and download a fresh copy.

You can still update your charts but not via the update service. You will need to download updates directly from NOAA and then install them manually.

You will not be able to upgrade Nuno. Activation will be frozen at the latest version on the date that your subscription expired.

Small Print

This prices are all correct as of July 2011. We reserve the right to alter them at any time. This does not mean we are going to suddenly start charging a fortune but it does mean that there may occasionally be some changes to account for inflation and the likes.

Elephants in Marine IT & Electronics

18aMarine IT & Electronics (MITE) is a bi-monthly journal published by The Institute of Marine Engineering, Science & Technology. The Institute is an august professional body. Established in London in 1889, they claim to be the leading international membership body and learned society for marine professionals. Over 15,000 members worldwide.

Certainly they get my vote because they have been reading the Nuno™ blog. The other month we were ruminating on big screensand Kevin, the editor of MITE, picked up on this to produce a very nice article interestingly entitled "How to fit an elephant on a 19-inch screen” for the June/July edition.

Nuno™ Know How

Imagine your computer just crashed. Maybe you don’t need to stretch your imagination too far for that. They crash, they run out of battery, they get unplugged and sometimes they are simply switched off. The thing is, in this imaginary scenario, that you need Nuno back up and monitoring the route you are still trying to follow. No problem. Start Nuno. It comes back up just as you last saw it and everyone can get back to what they were supposed to be doing in the first place.

Ahem. Did you see what just happened then? Nuno went back to work like it is supposed to. Maybe I should mention what didn’t happen. You didn’t have to reconfigure the GPS connection. You did not need to reload charts, open a file, recover your route, change a setting or anything. It just worked. Whenever something is changed in Nuno it gets written to the hard disc. Sounds simple but many computer programs don’t do this. Instead you get questions like ‘Do you want to save your file?’. With Nuno we figured that being able to restart easily was a really useful feature so we built it in right from the start.

imageRestartablilty (I may be making up words here) is a big reason for needed multi-level undo and redo. This is a lot less simple. Well, it is simple to use but a real bitch to write the code for. Thing is, without the document style ‘file’ and ‘save’ if you accidentally delete all your work then it is gone forever. And that is not a very friendly thing for a program to do. So instead we implemented the ability to ‘undo’ your last change, or the one before that, or any change since you started Nuno. You can also ‘redo’ any changes that you undid.

 

For even more restartability you can get Nuno to start as soon as you power up your computer.

This method is the same for XP, Vista and Windows 7

First get a copy of the Nuno Navigator shortcut:

  • Click on the ‘Start’ button
  • Click on ‘All Programs’
  • In the list which appears scroll to ‘Nuno Navigator’, left click to expand
  • Select ‘Nuno™ Navigator 2011’, right click, choose ‘copy’.

Then open up your Startup folder. This is where you put shortcuts for any application you want to start up as you log on:

  • Click on the ‘Start’ button
  • Click on ‘All Programs’
  • In the list which appears scroll to Startup, right click and click on ‘Explore’.

In the Explorer window you have just opened , right click and choose ‘paste’.

The Nuno™ Navigator 2011 shortcut should now appear in the Startup folder. It will start automatically when you log on.

Great British Nuno™

Why is Britain called ‘Great’. I kind of quite like it, but isn’t it a touch odd? Why don’t we do this for other countries? I mean ‘United’ States is ok if a bit functional. But how about going the whole hog such as Marvelous Mexico, Fantastic Canada or Affluent Switzerland? A more serious minded colleague tells me that technically the country is called ‘The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland’ which as country names go has got to be about as long and pretentious as they get. Apparently the ‘Great’ bit was introduced to distinguish it from the, presumably less great, Brittany (which is now part of France). Alternatively ‘Great’ has its origins in 1707 when Britain became greater by incorporating Scotland. None of this has anything to do with Nuno except that we like to say ‘Great British Nuno’ and sort of imply that the ‘great’ bit is somehow connected with the Nuno bit.

Nuno 2.3 with UK charts is now launched. This really is UK and not just GB because these charts go all the way around Ireland. Check out the coverage here. Here’s how it works. When you download the Nuno installer it does not come with any charts at all. So when you run the installer it will ask you whether you want to use the US or the UK chart data sets.

Nuno_Type

 

  • If you want to change your mind you will need to uninstall Nuno and then re-install it.

 

  • If you have purchased a license then you should choose the chart set that corresponds to the license.

 

 

 

Installation finished. Fire up Nuno and you will see there are no charts installed. The World Vector Shoreline will be there but that’s about all.

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Next job is to go to the support pane and hit the Update button in the ‘Chart data updating’ section. This will go an fetch a complete set of charts; either the UK or the US set depending on your choice while installing. This will work even if you are using Nuno in the trial mode.

Fetching the charts may take a while, there are quite a lot of them.

While you are at it you may as well hit Update for the ActiveCaptain data. This is really quite small and won’t take anywhere near as long.

 

Once the clunking and whirring has finished all your data will be up to date and you are ready to go.

weymouth

Happy sailing. If you get a minute, please tell us what you think about Nuno.

Using Nuno™ in the UK

Wouldn’t it be great if you could use Nuno™ for UK waters? Ok, not great for everyone, but pretty good if you happen to be sailing around the UK. So, good news for UK sailors, we’ve got a set of charts for the UK.

After months of intense negotiations with the UK Hydrographic Office we have secured a deal to use ENC charts for UK coastal water. This is the same chart data as would be used by an ECDIS. Now of course Nuno™ is not an ECDIS, if it was then it would be very clunky to use and we’d charge you a fortune. Instead Nuno™ is easy to use and very cost effective. That may sound like vaporous sales talk but consider that this same set of ENC data, 485 cells, would cost you thousands if you bought them for an ECDIS. We are only going to charge you £120 (inc VAT) for all those cells plus the magnificent Nuno™ Navigator application. That has got to count as cost effective.

Here is what the coverage area looks like:coverage

ActiveCaptain has pretty good coverage:ac in uk

All the usual chart features are there:usual

The chart data comes with this disclaimer:

"Chart material has been derived in part from data that has been obtained from the United Kingdom Hydrographic office (UKHO). The UKHO does not sponsor or endorse the product and the UKHO and its licensors make no warranties or representations, express or implied, with respect to the product. The UKHO and its licensors have not verified the information within the product or quality assured it. © British Crown Copyright, 2011. All rights reserved.”

Updates will be available every three months or so.

Nuno with UK data will be out in just a week or so. Watch this space.

Version 2.2 Update released

There were a couple of nagging issues that we felt we had to fix so we have released a small update.

This update fixes the following issues:

  • Application Support Center reports that a new application version is available even when the application is already up to date
  • Chart updates may be missed if you stop Nuno while it is updating
  • Application sometimes fails to exit if you try to stop Nuno while it is updating

ActiveCaptain in Nuno™

If you have never heard of ActiveCaptain then go have a look here www.activecaptain.com. ActiveCaptain is a lot of useful information, really an awful lot of information and now you can get at it through Nuno™. Have a good look around the website and while you are there set up an account. It is very easy to do and it is free.

Next job, fire up the new version of Nuno™. If you don’t have the latest version of Nuno then go and get it. Your subscription entitles you to free updates so you should make use of it. There is a link on the Support Center pane to download the latest version or you can just go straight to the website. This is just one of many improvements and additions we have planned for the near future.

Hit the ‘Show’ button and select ‘ActiveCaptain’. Type in your ActiveCaptain login details and you are good to go.

image

Here is what the logon screen looks like. Easy stuff.

Once you logged on you will see a bunch of extra symbols on the chart that look just like the markers on the ActiveCaptain website. Click on one of these to bring up a whole bunch of useful information.

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Keeping the ActiveCaptain information up to date is easy too. Go the the Support Center by hitting ‘Show’' and then selecting ‘Support Center’. Press the Update button. That’s it. Updates are pretty small and fast. They are also quite frequent – this information is being constantly improved and added to.

image

We are very happy with the tie in with ActiveCaptain – what do you think?

The Moon Application

Large mobile app tile

 

  • Where’s that darn moon?
  • Am I in danger from lycanthropes?
  • If I go down on one knee will she be able to see the romantic moon behind me?
  • If this only happens once in a blue moon then when will it happen again?

 

 

 

The answers to these and many other lunar questions can be in the palm of your hand with the Moon application from CherSoft. This is a Windows Phone Application which we have just launched.

We’ve had fun building this application. The core code is the same astronomical algorithms as used in Nuno™. With these we can calculate the relative positions of the earth, the sun and the moon. And with that we can calculated what the moon will look like, when sunrise will be and a bunch of other useful things. The algorithms are based on the work of Jean Meeus, a Belgian Astronomer specializing in celestial mechanics. In particular his book ‘Astronomical Algorithms’, first published in 1991, was a great guide to getting the code right.

First problem was that the code is in C++ and we really needed C# for the Windows Phone. It may be possible to use C++ on a phone but it did not seem a natural fit so we decided to bite the bullet and port it into C#. This actually proved to be reasonably painless. C++ and C# are really quite similar. Not so close that we could do a mechanical translation but not so far that we couldn’t use the same basic approach and organization.

The way to create User Interfaces on a Windows Phone is with XAML. As you can probably guess this is a type of XML. That is just a mechanism. The import concept is that the visual aspects can be developed almost independently of the underlying code. It is really quite clever, and powerful, and fast. We found we could really concentrate a lot more on getting the appearance just right without having to spend a lot of time messing with code. Of course being programmers we did mess with the code if only to see what was going on. But not as much as we usually do.

Panorama

 

End result is our shiny new application, cunning titled ‘Moon’ and available in the Windows App Store right now. Moon application can tell you exactly where the moon is:

  • Altitude, Azimuth, Distance, Illumination
  • Next phases
  • Rise and Set times

 

 

 

This is one end result. Another is that we have been looking at ways that we can use some of this stuff in Nuno™. First off we could have a phone app associated with Nuno™. What would this do? I am not sure. The screen is a bit small for viewing charts but that is a possibility. How about an app which would act as a route monitor? It would warn you of the next approaching waypoint and tell you about the course to steer. What would you want on a phone?

wp7_152x50_greenYet another end result is that we may start using XAML in Nuno™. You might not actually be able to spot this but watch out for some niftier bits of UI and controls. In the meantime go and check out the Moon app. It only costs $0.99, it has a trial mode if you don’t want to pay anything and it does Blue Moons.

Weathering the Storm

IMG_0330We are always happy to have visitors at the CherSoft offices. Today we got to meet ‘Storm’, a 10 week old German Shepherd.

Naturally we were keen to show him around and make him feel welcome.

 

Emily explained some of the basics about Nuno.

 

 

IMG_0346

 

Storm evaluated how Nuno performs on a laptop while also checking out just how robust the keyboard was.

Does this count as animal testing?

 

 

 

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Mitsi, the CherSoft guard dog, discussed life at the office and explained some of the career options for a smart German Shepherd in the modern world.

 

 

 

 

 

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We offered him some tea and attempted to pose a situation that we could have labeled ‘Storm in a teacup’.

 

He had other plans.

 

 

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Only puppies can really do the ‘lost puppy dog’ look properly.

 

 

 

 

 

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In puppy terms, it was a long day.