Web page updates

by Mike Linnen 6. July 2006 22:44
Web page updates

Added the ability for the blogger to receive emails when a new comment is posted to a blog entry.

Added the ability to contact me by email via a contact form.

Day 2 of USFA Nationals

by Mike Linnen 4. July 2006 14:01
Day 2 of USFA Nationals

Day 2 of Shawn's participation in the USFA Summer Nationals was on Monday 7/30/2006.  Check out Day 1 at USFA Nationals for some previous results.  Also check out the pictures that I posted that were taken during our trip. 

Wake up call at 5:30 am was surprisingly on time.  We headed to breakfast at 6:25am and then we hurried to the lobby to request out car.  How many valets does it take to find your keys you ask?  Well more than two.  After a 12 minute wait I headed in the room to assist in the search.  I searched high and low and finally found them laying on the floor.  Meanwhile Denise stood anxiously starring at her watch as the time we were supposed to check into the fencing tournament arrived.  We hurried on to the World Congress Center and fortunately when we arrived at 7:15am there was no line.  So Shawn checked in for his much anticipated saber event, hurried to base camp to wait to be summoned to the "Piste" (fencing strip).

Shawn's saber event had 97 other fencers.  The initial seading based on previous tournament results placed Shawn in 58.  This meant he fell pretty close to the middle of the other fencers.  After the pools are completed the seeding would be re-evaluated and Shawn would be matched up with his first Direct Elimination opponent. 

The pools started at 8:50am and completed at 9:40am.  Shawn fenced 6 bouts during the pool.  Shawn won 1 and lost 5 bouts.  Most of the bouts were very close and Shawn made them very exciting.  His last bout was where he earned his win.  Shawn used a fencing technique called the line to lure his opponent into a failed attack and then he scored by striking on the opponet's right side.  This worked for 3 of the five points during this bout.  The final score of this bout was 5 to 1 with Shawn as the victor.  Shawn moved up one spot in the seeding after the pools were completed.

After the pools the Direct Elimination (DE) tournament began on strip 44 of the venue.  Shawn's opponent was a little shorter than he was which was an advantage by reach for Shawn.  The DE is a best 2 out of 3 bouts that are 5 points each.  Shawn started off with the first bout on a win that was 5 to 3.  Very impressive start!!  The second bout went to Shawn's opponent in a 2 to 5 loss.  It was going to have to go to the 3rd and final bout to determine who was going to advance to the next round.  This sure makes a parent nervous watching your child get so close to winning his first National DE.  But Shawn ended up coming a little short on the points and he lost the bout 5 to 3. 

Well we once again are very proud of Shawn at how well he did in the USFA Summer Nationals of 2006!  He showed so much determination at doing his best and being a real winner even if he did not advance into the finals of the tournament.  Shawn had a lot of fun doing this tournament and we can all expect to see him at the next Summer Nations that will take place in Miami, Florida next year around the fourth of July. 



Pictures of the USFA Summer Nationals posted

by Mike Linnen 4. July 2006 13:26
Pictures of the USFA Summer Nationals posted

I uploaded some pictures of the Fencing tournament for anyone that is interested.  For right now I don't have a good way to allow for comments to be left on individual pictures.  So leave any comments about the pictures on this blog entry.

Day 1 of USFA Nationals

by Mike Linnen 2. July 2006 00:28
Day 1 of USFA Nationals

Well day 1 has come and gone.  We started the day out arriving at the Georgia World Congress center in Atlanta at 8am.  We immediately made our way to the armory to check Shawn's fencing equipment.  First off Shawn's borrowed Epee fencing mask failed inspection.  So off to the vendors in search of a new mask.  Fortunately at these events the vendors have some good prices that make buying equipment a little more enticing.  So we went ahead and purchased a couple more body cords, a lame, cuff, and an epee mask.  Ouch!! there goes 200 bucks.  Oh well it would of been 250 if we done it mail order. 

Next we inspected the freshly purchased equipment and had no issues in the armory.  Everything we needed to complete for the event was done now so all we had to do was wait for the pools to start. 

Fencing time came around real quick.  Shawn went into his first event a bit on the nervous side.  That was understandable because the last time he competed in an epee event was last year at the Atlanta regional's.  We had a number of problems with his epee weapons.  A fencer is supposed to have two weapons.  Right before each bout the weapon is inspected for the proper tip spacing, and compression rating as well as electrical connections.  If any of these fails the fencer gets a yellow card.  If a fencer gets more than one yellow card he could have points taken away from him.  So the fencer needs to fall back on his second weapon.  Shawn ended up with 3 failed weapons across 7 bouts.  We need to work on getting him to inspect his own weapon before entering the fencing area.  Needless to say he ended up with one red card which ended up with a point against Shawn. 

Shawn fenced 6 bouts in the pool for epee.  He lost the first 5 bouts which discouraged him in a lot of ways.  Then he had a little longer wait before his 6th bout so he had some time to think about his mistakes.  Shawn's opponent in this last bout was about a foot and a half taller than him.  This kid had some serious reach over Shawn.  This was not going to be an easy bout for Shawn at all.  But this did not discourage him he ended up with a 5 to 4 win and we were all very excited.  Even Shawn's coach was a little surprised that he was able to pull off such a good win. 

Well the pools ended and now it was time for the direct elimination tournament to begin.  Shawn's first opponent was another kid that seriously looked like a 17 year old rather than a 12 year old.  This kid was almost 2 feet bigger than Shawn.  In the direct elimination tournament the fencers do 3, 5 point bouts.  The first fencer that wins 2 of the 5 point bouts advances to the next round.  The first bout went to Shawn's opponent in a 5 to 2 loss.  But this did not discourage Shawn, he went on to beat his opponent in a 5 to 3 win.  So now it was getting exciting, both fencers won one bout each and they were going to have to fence a 3rd bout to determine who should advance to the next round.  Shawn fought hard in this last bout but he ended up a little short and lost 5 to 2.

Well we were very proud of Shawn for doing so well.  He showed some great courage in doing his best.  And above all he had a lot of fun.

Check out Day 2 of the USFA Summer Nationals for more information on Shawn's progress in the event.



Shawn Linnen to fence in the Summer Nationals

by Mike Linnen 29. June 2006 16:05
Shawn Linnen to fence in the Summer Nationals

Well it is getting close to the Summer National fencing event that my son Shawn is competing in.  The event is being held at the Georgia World Congress center in Atlanta. This is a huge event. There are over 4,000 fencers competing! It is the largest group of fencers in the nation. This is the event Shawn has been training so hard for (I hear a rocky theme song somewhere). There are 40 fencers from his school that are competing as well.

Shawn will be competing in the Y12 Epee event on Saturday and the Y12 Saber event on Monday. He will be tossed in a pool of other fencers to fence multiple 5 point bouts.  The better he does in these bouts the better he will place in the single elimination tournament.  Once in the single elimination he has to win 2 out of 3, 5 point matches to advance to the next round.

Epee fencing is all about speed and precision. The idea is to stab your opponent before he stabs you. Any part of the opponent’s body is a target. You can even stab him in the shoe if he sticks his foot out to close to you. This may sound a little easy to the untrained couch potato but you have to remember that the opponent can use his weapon to ward off your attack. Often times the bouts are on the defensive side just waiting for the right opportunity to lunge for the attack. This particular event has not been Shawn’s strongest but during his last tournament in Atlanta Georgia he did very well even though it was his first time fencing Epee. So we anticipate an even better performance from Shawn this time around.

Saber fencing is also about speed but focuses on slashing your opponent instead of stabbing. The target area is not so open like Epee. You can only strike the head and upper body including the arms. The opponent’s weapon can also be used as a defense mechanism to stop attacks. Shawn has improved significantly in fencing saber. It is truly his strongest and most well liked weapon to fence with. We believe Shawn will do very well in this event.

Well wish Shawn some good luck!!!

Shawn Fencing



Added the ability to leave blog comments

by Mike Linnen 24. June 2006 13:28
Added the ability to leave blog comments
I added a feature to allow for user comments.  I used a CAPTCHA technique to keep the spam down to a minimum.  Spam was always a problem in my .Text blog.

Added Blog Statistics

by Mike Linnen 23. June 2006 18:25
Added Blog Statistics
Added some blog statistics on the home page.  Currently I am only tracking the number of blog, comment and trackback entries.  Later I might add more statistics or allow the numbers to be constrained by some start and end date so I can see numbers for a specific time frame.

Added the ability to get trackback pings

by Mike Linnen 23. June 2006 15:31
Added the ability to get trackback pings

I added in the ability for my site to receive track back pings.  The pings get logged into a database table.  I only allow one trackback per Url and Blog Unique Id.  I also added the ability to only allow trackbacks if the Url is really referencing the blog identifier it is attempting to ping.  This should hold down spam some.  I still need to do the following around trackbacks:

  • Add in the ability for this site to ping other sites. 
  • Add the ability to remove trackbacks in the admin pages
  • List trackbacks on the Blog Detail page
  • Add the ability to show a count of all trackbacks 

Completed tutorial 1 and 2

by Mike Linnen 22. June 2006 00:49
Completed tutorial 1 and 2

I just completed the MyTutorial1 and MyTutorial2 tutorials for the Microsoft Robotics Studio.  I used the Lego RSX 2.0 hardware for the tutorials.  I noticed a couple things that stumbled me for a short time.

Problem #1
When you launch the tutorials from the visual studio IDE the services never seem to communicate with the RSX.  I was able to get the service to work using the DSSHOST executable passing in the manifest file.  So I looked at the parameters that the IDE is passing to the DSHOST when you debug and it was using the contract command line option instead of the manifest option.  So I changed it to use the manifest and the service ran fine.

So change the command line debug argument -contract from:

-manifest:"C:\Microsoft Robotics Studio (June 2006)\samples\

And you should be able to launch the service from the IDE

Problem #2
On tutorial number two there is no step to add in the legorcxmotor service to the manifest, so the service never gets started correctly when you run the application from the IDE.  So add the following to the MyTutorial2.manifest.xml file:


Overall I found the two tutorials informative. I at least got my feet wet with using the framework. I might try a few more tutorials before I attempt to write a driver for the BX24.

Microsoft Robotics group?

by Mike Linnen 20. June 2006 10:25
Microsoft Robotics group?

Wow, did you know that Microsoft has a robotics group?  I just noticed that they released a Microsoft Robotics Studio.  I am downloading this technical preview now to check it out.  This to me is a huge leap for the robotics industry.  Putting the power of Microsoft development tools to build robotic applications is a win win solution.  I finally can merge my two passions of software development with Microsoft technologies and building robots!  I am very excited about this project.  Make sure you check out the Channel 9 video about the group.  Keep an eye open for your favorite robot somewhere in the background of the video.

Some projects the group is working on.

Key features of the platform

  • Concurrency and Coordination Runtime (CCR) - An asynchronous messaging library that makes managing state changes easy to the developer.
  • Robotic remote control via a web browser
  • Scripting robotic commands via jscript to create complex robot movements
  • Multiple hardware platforms.  Currently supporting Lego Mindstorms (RSX and NXT) and fischertechnik.
  • Support for 8, 16 and 32 bit processors
  • Separating state from behavior
  • DSS - A services layer
    • Support for service contract programming where multiple input or output devices can be used by simply altering what device is bound to the contract.  Example:  A contract could be established that controls the robots movement.  A keyboard device could be bound to the contract to provide the input that moves the robot.  Or a joystick device could be bound to the contract to provide the input to move the robot.  The point here is that support is in place for a pluggable architecture or re-usable components.
  • Subscribe publish model that allows for a lot of autonomous agents to react to state changes.  This promotes a decoupled environment.  You can create a published event like bumper touched and later build a component that subscribes to that event and reacts to it.  There can be multiple subscribers to the event. 
  • Model simulation - You can model your environment and run your software without any hardware.
  • Since the applications are service based you could distribute services across multiple machines. 
    • Example if I create a service that monitors my door bell and expose the service to the public you could subscribe to my service and perform some action when my door bell is rung.

Well I could go on and on about this new platform but I want to get started on using it.  I will first go through the tutorials to gain an understanding of how it works.  Luckly I have a Lego Mindstorms RSX kit.  After the tutorials are complete I will try extending the services to support a BX24 bassed hardware device.

About the author

Mike Linnen

Software Engineer specializing in Microsoft Technologies

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