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When Seakayaking and Programming Meet

August 12, 2012

I did never expect that seakayaking would intersect with my SW Engineering side but it has happened recently. A few of us, after a day’s paddling were talking about how hard it is to teach the Greenland roll. This manoeuvre, which returns you to an upright position after capsizing in the kayak, is a complex body movement that can be hard to learn and hard to teach. At the core of it is the fact that it is contrary to the instinctive reaction of the capsized paddler wanting to get their head above water as soon as possible. That alone is the most common cause for a failed roll.

As we were discussing the techniques Rob, who is a senior instructor, suggested of maybe developing a program on the IPad to use its internal gyroscope and accelerometer as a feedback tool to teach this movement on dry land before attempting it in the water. Now the geek in me really responds to such a suggestion and so I decided to investigate this further. First impressions showed that there are several options to implement a feedback tool, the IPad being one of them, Microsoft Kinect and maybe even the Wii being contenders.

I have to start somewhere and I decided to use the opportunity to learn about Cocoa programming. I set down a path to follow over the next few weeks:

  1. Learn Objective-C
  2. Learn Cocoa Programming on the MAC
  3. Learn IOS programming on the IPad

Step 1 has been completed and I have made good progress on step 2. As an avowed TDD follower I selected an appropriate goal, which is to port the TestLink adapter to OCUnit, the Mac’s unit testing framework. It took a few days but tonight it finally started working, reporting the results of its own Unit Tests to Testlink.

It will take a few more days to review how to package this module. Unlike the NUnit and MBUnit approaches, the Xcode based unit testing is a bit more raw and hence will require more detailed instructions for others to be able to use it.

Once that is done it is off to step 3, IOS programming. Unfortunately I will have to shell out $100 for Apple to allow me to actually run an app on my Ipad….

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