Ideas for Sting simulations

Buzz

Ideas for Sting simulations

Usually when we demo Sting most people can think of a simulation or two that they would find useful, and we’ve collected quite a few of these ideas over the last few months. We’ve turned some of these ideas into the simulations you can find on our demos page. But I thought I’d post some of the other cool ideas that people came up with below. Here they are, in no particular order:

Of course this list is evolving all the time, and a couple of the ideas will require new features or interactivity, but we are always open to developing such functionality if there is a demand. Please let me know if you’d like us to prioritize any of these, or if you have your own simulation idea!

Sting in two minutes

I mentioned earlier that Yellowjacket was selected as one of the showcase companies for the Startup Calgary Launch Party. The event was held last Wednesday and we had a steady stream of visitors to our table since there were over 350 attendees. Jason Zeiler, Victoria MacLean and the rest of the Startup Calgary team did a great job organizing the event, and big congratulations are due to all of the award winners.

Prior to the main event I had the opportunity to pitch Yellowjacket’s software to some A100 members, and I thought I’d post the pitch below as an example of how the bullet points on our home page convert into two minutes of words. Thanks again to Startup Calgary for the opportunity!

Our simulation software makes it easy for anyone to animate a diagram. Most of you have probably tried to explain an idea using a diagram with circles and lines and arrows and a lot of hand-waving. Wouldn’t it be easier to explain and to understand if the objects or data in the diagram moved around at the appropriate times? Our software lets you do that without any programming – you just need to draw and use pop-up windows to make it work. Anybody can do it, anybody can afford it.

The product is a drawing program like Microsoft Visio or Paint. You just add objects to an editing canvas, then you can draw out a path for any of those objects, then when you press Play the objects move around according to how the paths were drawn. Since it’s a simulation you can trigger actions like speed changes or pop-up text based on what else is going on when it’s running. When you’re done, you can save the animated output to a video file and upload it to the Internet.

Consider a hockey coach. He’s standing there trying to explain a practice drill to a bunch of 12-year-olds using a diagram with squiggles and dotted lines going everywhere. It would be way easier for him to animate that drill ahead of time and say “hey, go to this YouTube link and watch this video before our practice tomorrow”. A hockey coach can do that right now with our software. Any sports coach can do it.

A sports example is easy to understand, but this is actually general-purpose editing software. It can be used to animate diagrams for almost any industry. It’s a new product so we’re looking for users and feedback. There’s a free trial download with lots of demo simulations available. I’d love to show you the software – last week there was a cool description of it as being an “imagination sandbox”. Please stop by our table for a live demonstration.

A big thank you

I just wanted to post a public thank you to several people who helped out at some recent trade shows and other events: to Carl, Kristine, Paul, Pierre, Mark and George – your help was very much appreciated!

Tech Showcase review

Yellowjacket was an exhibitor at the annual Tech Showcase hosted by Innovate Calgary yesterday at the Alastair Ross Technology Centre here in Calgary. The venue was packed with over 30 companies exhibiting and an estimated 400 attendees. It was our first in-person event since our public beta release so there was a little bit of scrambling getting our brochure, banner and other materials together in time.

We thought we had a very positive response to Sting and the people stopping at our table ranged from potential customers (including some of the other exhibitors) to reps from government funding agencies and people interested in networking and partnering. Since our software provides a cross-industry (horizontal) platform for creating simulations we could usually find a demo that interested people that stopped by. Often this meant jumping from a telecom network to a hockey drill to a model railroad sim we’re working on. But it seems like the variety of things we were able to do caught the eye of a number of people.

Innovate Calgary is a non-profit and they and the ARTC provide all kinds of business incubator-related events and services. I’ve attended many events there over the last couple of years, including free one-on-one consultations and lunch-and-learn sessions. If you are involved in any kind of tech-related startup in the Calgary area you should check them out.

Yellowjacket selected as Startup Calgary showcase company

Every year Startup Calgary hosts a Launch Party that showcases ten local tech startups, and this year Yellowjacket was one of the winning companies chosen from over 40 applicants. Check out the Startup Calgary news release and please consider attending to check out all of the companies and show your support!

Animating history

The editors at ActiveHistory.ca have kindly published a guest post I wrote about how Sting can be used to create simulations for history education. Check it out!

New YouTube channel for hockey drills

Some readers may be interested in the new Yellowjacket Hockey YouTube channel, which contains videos of animated hockey drills. All of the animated drills were created using our Sting Playmaker product and are based on drills in Hockey Canada player development practice plans.

There are currently only a few drills completed, but there will eventually be six drills for each age group. You can click here to see playlists that group the videos together by age. You can also visit this page of the Hockey Canada website for the original printable version of the practice plans and drills for each age group. Note that the simulations for the drills aren’t currently available but we’re working to make them available for download on a dedicated hockey page.

Curling simulation

I attended the Sprout Up startup event here in Calgary on Wednesday and was speaking to a few attendees about our respective products. One advisor from Innovate Calgary mentioned that she would find it interesting to be able to create a curling simulation (for the sport, not the hair styling product). There is a lot of strategy in curling and I thought it would be interesting to give it a try.

Sting Playmaker doesn’t have nice graphics built-in for curling but the ice sheet is simple enough that I was able to create a background using Paint.NET. I then added some customizable circle objects for the stones, and drew out the paths for the first few stones that might get thrown during an end. The end result is pretty basic but you should be able to get an idea of what could be done for curling. You could also pre-position some stones in the rings and add some pop-up text if you wanted to animate and analyze a particular game situation.

In any case, I created a video file for the simulation and uploaded it to YouTube; it is now available here. The bonus if you watch is that you’ll get to choose from a great variety of curling iron videos offered by YouTube when the Sting video completes.

If there is interest I’d be happy to discuss getting some custom graphics developed for curling (backgrounds, players, stones, etc). Just send an email to info@yellowjacket.ca.

A business transition

Sting has been under development for some time now, and a while back I made a deliberate choice to concentrate on finishing a usable product before I spent too much time on business issues. There are both benefits and pitfalls in trying to build a business before the product is ready, and some earlier experiences made me want to avoid the pitfalls this time around.

Software development is an enjoyable job if you have the right mindset. There is a real sense of accomplishment when you can see your ideas actually working in the product. Fixing bugs isn’t quite as fun but it can make time fly during the workday. And in a small business like Yellowjacket there are generally enough mandatory non-software activities to add some variety and keep things interesting. Website and graphics work, legal stuff, taxes, and working with contractors and testers to name just a few things.

The latest release of Sting marks the start of a pretty big transition from primarily working on the software to primarily working on the business. There will always be ongoing development work but building a successful company comes down to being able to successfully market and promote your product. This is the world of search engine optimization and customer support, press releases and Google AdWords. I expect this phase of the company will last a few months, and then we’ll evaluate again to try to figure out the best way to proceed. Please watch this blog if you’re interested in seeing how things unfold.

Version 0.6.1 released

Yellowjacket has just released Sting v0.6.1 Beta, which includes a variety of usability improvements and bug fixes. Thanks to those who provided feedback for our previous release. Please visit our Download page to get the install file and try out the latest software.

Follow

Blog

Twitter

YouTube

News

Testimonials

It's an imagination sandbox!

Jason Zeiler, Startup Calgary

Have you tried Sting? Send us your feedback, we'd love to hear what you have to say!