26 July 2011 18:25
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.
Nuno 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?
27 November 2010 19:10
The Nuno Navigator team are ecstatically pleased to announce the release of Nuno 2.0. This marks the end of the beta trials. Many thanks to all the people that took part.
Nuno has come a long way since we started. This release includes many improvements:
- Track Log. See where you have been, and save useful bits for later.
- Anchoring Mode. See seabed features only when you need them. More.
- Chart Overview. Makes moving around the chart easier, and shows you more information about the charts themselves. More.
- Quick light recognition. Hover over a light on the chart and see a graphical display of its characteristics. More.
- Data Import and Export. Save your tracks, routes and places as GPX data or KML (Google Maps). Load data from lots of sources into Nuno Navigator.
In addition there have been the usual bug fixes and lots of minor improvements which just make Nuno easier to use.
Chart updating is better and faster. A single button click is all you need to keep your charts up to date. In fact you can even set this to automatic and Nuno will download updates whenever they are needed.
Position input is better. Nuno will find your GPS automatically and display the ship position, course and speed. Improved filtering means that the display is more accurate and will not jump around.
You can quickly create a route plan, just a few clicks on the chart, and then follow it using the dedicated route monitor window. This tracks your vessel and displays course information, distances, cross track error and so on.
Did I mention the search bar? It’s pretty good. You can type in a place name and Nuno will display a list of matches and partial matches. Click on one of these and the chart will fly you straight there. You can also type in a position as a lat/lon or even as a range/bearing from the ship.
One of my favorites is the the pencil line. You can attach one end of this to the ship and it will move as the ship moves. Very handy for keeping an eye on the range and bearing to something.
Nuno is available at the absurdly cheap price of $100 for which you get and indefinite license to use Nuno and a one year subscription (worth $50) to chart updates, Nuno updates, support and other good things. More.
20 May 2010 12:21
My company, CherSoft, has just launched a new product called Nuno Navigator. This is a whole new direction for us. Sure we have written lots of marine software before but this time it is different, this time we are trying to sell directly to our end users. Previously, by which I mean the last 15 years, we have mostly just operated business to business. We wrote the software and someone else would sell it. Sometimes they would use their own badge and branding and sell it as their own. This is quite normal, much of the software you use is not written by the company on the box. One particular company even attended a lavish ceremony and dinner to accept an industry award for our software. We only found out about this much later.
Working as a back office company has quite suited us for quite a while. It meant that we could get on with writing software which is what we like best. It meant that we didn’t have to get too involved with things like sales and marketing which was fine too because we didn’t really like that too much anyhow. Of course there was a down side. We spent a fair bit of time worrying about contracts and specifications. We spent far too much time quibbling about how to write the software or what it should do or what it should look like. So all the time there has been that temptation to strike out on our own and actually create a software application start to finish that we can call our own.
Anyhow, we’ve decided to step out of the shadows and face the harsh and unforgiving glare of end users directly. This is a bit daunting but hopefully we are not completely unprepared. The code is pretty solid, we know a fair bit about marine navigation and we have cobbled together a website. Well ok, I know there is a bit more to it and that is what this blog is about. I’d love to say it will be a ‘how to’ on launching a new software product or a better navigation system but the reality is that we’ve still got a lot to learn and a lot to find out. So instead it is going to be ‘stuff’ with a vague theme of things associated with software and navigation. I guess it is also going to be about facing the great and wonderful public directly and probably about some of the things that happen to us along the way.