When the 0.1 Version of Your Software Better be Good...

Yesterday was the first home game of the Telekom Baskets Bonn, a team in the first division of the German Basketball League (BBL). Before you even think of a comparison to the NBA or let’s say some other European leagues keep in mind that other sports like soccer, ice hockey and handball draw much larger crowds. In Germany, basketball games played in front of audiences of around 3000 up to 8000. This is my 10th season working for the team as the second DJ. My work includes preparing music and sound effects (cutting, (re-)mixing, recording sound bites and player’s voices, etc.) and writing the software used for playing some of the music.

Another thing I have to explain is that while the Baskets have a medium-sized budget compared to other teams in the league, we’re not exactly a rich club. So everything not directly related to paying players and fixed costs is done on a very tight budget and the level of professionalism we achieve is mostly the result of a lot of people working very hard for very little money or - in my case – a season ticket for my wife.

Only a few weeks ago the sponsor decided that two back projection screens would be a nice thing to show their image trailer and commercials on. So we got the screens, the beamers, a notebook and two clips on DVD we should play… and the rest was up to us.

We collected ideas, one guy whipped up a couple of good looking PowerPoint presentations, another one came up with a Flash-based solution for showing scouting data, and we had some other clips we wanted to show. What was missing was some software that would combine all this together in one solution – that’s what I did. After burning some midnight oil (after all, there’s a day job and some other stuff to do) and some frantic last-minute coding my software – called RemoteCanvas – had its big moment yesterday. A dashboard-like app communicating with a viewer app covering the whole screen, I had it running on a single notebook yesterday, but as the name implies it’s intended to be used across a network. Things went pretty well, but of course I was pretty nervous during the whole game as one thing you don’t want to happen is something going wrong on two large projection screens in front of 3400 spectators…

There’s a lot of work left to do and I have two home games coming up the next weekends, but when things calm down a bit I’ll blog about a thing or two I’ve learned during the development of the software.

Here are some photos of my workplace near the sideline:

20061008_LaptopMania 20061008_TwoScreens 20061008_ScreenShot


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