We know from personal experience how hard it is to keep a weblog regularly updated with fresh content, and that's only in one language. Imagine our surprise when we ran across Filip Verhaeghe who doesn't just publish an interesting and informative Mindstorms NXT blog, he does it in
three four languages!
Filip's website, appropriately titled "bnxt.com" since it is 150% focused on the LEGO Mindstorms NXT robot system, is obviously a labor of love. The website design is clean, sharp, and extremely well laid out (much better than Robots Dreams actually). And, Filip makes sure that the content is always relevant, timely, eye-catching, and well thought through.
A lot of websites just rehash news, often posting only direct passages from other sources. In contrast, Filip takes the time to think about what he's posting, to figure out what it means and why it would be interesting to his readers, and to add his own perspective and take on each news item.
He certainly has the background and experience to offer informed opinions across a wide range of robotics, as you can easily see from his self-descriptive paragraphs below. And, he's experienced robotics on both the designer and consumer/user sides of the fence - which is a big asset when it comes to producing a weblog like his.
In addition to his 'news' section, Filip has also created sections devoted to reviews, a Wiki-Constructopedia, and a frequently updated blog section. He's given us permission to republish a few of his blog articles that apply to robots in a more general sense rather than only to Mindstorms. You can expect to see the first article that covers Bluetooth connectivity and robot control, appear here soon.
What kind of person would put out the extra effort and time to publish a website like bnxt.com? Here's how Filip describes himself on the website -
Note: Filip doesn't specifically give the robot name below when he mentions that he worked on the development of "... a robot for the toy industry, ...". But we know which one he's referring to, and we're trying to convince him to write up the story for all of you to enjoy.
I learned how to program software when I was eleven, back in 1982, on a ZX81. Back then, the PC was new on the market. Hard to imagine that today. I also have loved building stuff from Lego for as long as I can remember. I didn't have a lot of Lego Technics, but I built all sorts of things with the few motors I did have. Besides Lego and computers, I was also fascinated by space exploration and artificial intelligence. It appears not much has changed since that time.
I graduated from the University of Leuven (Belgium) with a Master degree in Computer Science, with a thesis on "Learning in Behavior-Based Autonomous Mobile Robots". I started to work for the software multinational LogicaCMG and studied Master in Artificial Intelligence (MAI) at the same time. Unfortunately, I did not complete my thesis for MAI, because my work became too time consuming: I was promoted to project manager within the Space division. I lead a project VR-MCS, that created a virtual reality interface to control the European module ("Columbus" of the International Space Station (ISS). After the VR-MCS process, I moved to Toulouse (France) to work for EADS on the design of the on-board software of the Rosetta deep-space exploration satellite. Rosetta is now flying, and will catch up with a comet which is so far the tail hasn't formed yet, gently set down a lander and keep orbiting it as it flies toward the sun.
In September 1999, I founded a company called Robonetics in Ieper. Robonetics focused on building intelligent robots. Robonetics was a member of CLAWAR, the European Network for Climbing and Walking Robots. Robonetics built a number of research robots, including a window cleaning robot, a robot for the toy industry, and a robot that starred in a short movie. I intend to rebuild some of these robots using Lego Mindstorms NXT, and publish about that on this site (with building instructions). Robonetics did not have sufficient sales, and with some customers not paying, we unfortunately went bankrupt.
In May 2004, I founded Self-Star, a company focusing on business process monitoring and operational efficiency of large companies. That may seem like a big jump, but it essentially uses the same software techniques as robots. The approach is based on a specific variation of multi-agent system theory, and draws on the latest research in real and artificial intelligence. Self-Star works for larger businesses, and gets funding entirely (and successfully) on its own revenues. Self-Star was named after "Self-*" which is short for self-discovering, self-monitoring, self-healing, self-optimizing, self-configuring, self-protecting, etceteras.
In January 2006, during CES 2006, I first learned about Lego Mindstorms NXT. That got me excited enough to start this website.
And that's it for the professional career stuff. On the personal front, my wife Leen Beselaere is a child psychologist, and I think she's really amazingly good at it. Well, I'll better get up to speed on some basics myself: we're expecting our first child in September!
Oh, we almost forgot to tell you. The three languages that parts of bnxt.com are published in are English, Spanish, and Portuguese. And just a few minutes ago Filip wrote to us that he’s added Dutch!