Hobby project: Build360Tours

Introduction

During fall 2019 I was working remotely from Thailand for a month. In this period I met some people that were making a living while traveling by maintaining their own business. One of the guys asked me what cool stuff I had been building over the past years. Something that came up first was the 360 tour I (or actually we) had built for Vensterworks (a startup I was in with a couple of friends). Unfortunately the startup diluted due to diverted interests and we all decided to stop. We decided to open source the 360 tour software, but until now it was just biting dust on Github.

It made me wonder if I could use this 360 tour software in a side project. I thought a interactive 360 tour builder would be nice project. There are quite some of these builders available online. Ranging from very high end all-inclusive with images including 3D data like Matterport to some smaller providers like Lapentor where you simply upload 360 images and build a tour. Build360Tours would then aim at the lower segment of the market comparable with Lapentor.

Geen fotobeschrijving beschikbaar.

Functional

Product website and user registration

The product website (build360tours.com) is a WordPress website promoting all capabilities of the tour builder application.
Before being able to start building tours, users need to register with an email address and password. Directly after that, just login and start building.

Tour builder

In the tour builder 360 photos can be uploaded and connected by adding arrows in each photo. Just like in Google StreetView, a walkthrough tour can be created this way.
Additionally, branding can be done by adding a logo in the left-bottom, adding a camera overlapping image (if the camera is visible in the photos) and adjusting the preferred color scheme.

Tour presentation

If the tour is ready to be shared there are two options:

  1. Embed the tour in a website (example below)
  2. Share the direct link to the tour

Technical

The tour builder is built in A-frame combined with Meteor framework. Meteor handles both the frontend and backend and is based on NodeJS. A-frame is used for rendering the 360 images and objects in a 3D context.

Roadmap

For now there is no clear roadmap, because I’m in doubt if I can get the project to grow as much as I would like to.
Build360Tours is promoted on Capterra, which happens to lead some traffic to it and resulted in about 15 user registrations over the past year.

Hobby project: HIIT buddy (mobile app)

Introduction

HIIT stands for High Intensity Interval Training. This a well known type of training where you do a streak of exercises with a brief moment of rest in between.

HIIT buddy helps as an audio guide to execute such a training. It’s not a unique app at all, there are loads of apps in the App store. But I always wanted to publish a mobile app in the App store and my girlfriend Fleur started doing HIIT workouts using her phones stopwatch. So if I could build an app for this I would have her as my first user.

HIIT logo

Functional

No user registration

For now the app doesn’t have user login, so the created workouts are bound to the device the app runs on. A benefit is that theres no need to register before using the app. Downside is that app content is also bound to that particular phone, a new phone will mean loss of workouts that were made. To fix that, I’m planning to add a user login part.

Prepare workout

The app allows to create multiple workouts. Each workout can have multiple exercises which can vary in duration. A workout can have multiple rounds, which will repeat all exercises with x seconds rest in between.

Workout execution

Once the workout is fully prepared, it can be executed. The audio guide will give instructions about what exercise to do and show an on screen counter with the total workout time and time until the next exercise.

Technical

The app itself is built with Flutter, which makes it easy to develop for both Android and iOS phones. Persisting workout and exercise data is done through a REST API built in PHP and the Symfony framework. The audio guide utilises the Text-to-Speech client of Google for creating the voice commands.

Roadmap

  • User registration
  • Sharing workouts
  • Workout catalog with predefined workouts
  • Exercise instructions
  • Executed workout history

Download the app

Cover art

HIIT buddy
View in Play store | View in App store (not available yet)

Remote work Thailand

Sawasdee krab! (‘Hello’ in Thai)

As pictures speak more than a thousand words, I decided to just create a photo/video compilation  and write a little text with it.

Earlier this year I was in Bali for two months, to do a combination of work and travel.
In Bali I was together with Sven (my brother) and Fleur (my girlfriend). After my return home, the concept of working remotely stuck with me and I really wanted to do another trip. So I decided to take some action. 
Destination: Thailand (Bangkok and Chiang Mai). I chose this destination after using the website www.nomadlist.com. It’s a website that shows all places around the world with all sorts of ratings regarding working remotely. Chiang Mai and Bangkok are both high on the overall rating list.

After getting allowance from my employer to go, I planned 1 month Thailand.
As I expected.. it a great experience! Chiang Mai and Bangkok were indeed perfect locations to work remotely. I think the ease of living in both places is the thing I enjoyed the most. Nice weather (30C+), great and cheap food all around and very good facilities to work. And outside working hours I could do some tours and get to know Thailand a bit. What more do you want?..

I’m certain this won’t be my last remote work trip. I really like the mix of my life in the Netherlands and these remote work trips for a couple of months a year. Looking forward to the next one already!

Anyway I hope you’ll enjoy the compilation, it’s only 2 minutes as I didn’t take a lot of photos/video’s.

Wrapping up the Bali adventure

Two days ago I arrived back in the Netherlands. Of course I’m happy to see everyone again, but to be honest.. If I could, I would jump on the plane back to Bali in an instant. But oh well, who wouldn’t?

During the last weeks I was together with Fleur. We made Canggu our home base and from there made trips to the North of Bali, the Islands Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Ceningan and later also the East of Bali.

Nyepi day

The day before I left back to Holland it was Nyepi day. This is Balinese New Year. In advance of Nyepi, there are a lot of ceremonies throughout the island. One of these is Ogoh-Ogoh (the day before Nyepi). The Balinese perform a parade with large self-made devilish looking creatures and afterwards burn them to scare away the bad spirits. After that on Nyepi day, Bali is completely shutdown. Everyone is required to stay inside, no lights are allowed, airport closed and even the internet was closed off for a day. Amazing how something like this is possible in 2019. It is said, the reason for this is to let the bad spirits believe Bali is deserted and no one is living there. The Balinese use Nyepi (aka Day of Silence) to overthink last year and think ahead about next year.

This time I’m not going to write much more than this and let the photos and videos speak. I made a photo/video compilation of the complete trip:

Chilling in Canggu and blown away by Nusa Penida

The first three weeks in Bali have literally flown by. Life is good in Bali!
Good weather (despite the fact that it’s rain season), delicious food, amazing nature and very friendly people. I’m so happy and thankful that I still have 5 weeks to go here.
Last 2 weeks were great, I’ll try to share some of our experiences and add some photos with it.

Canggu got us hooked

After we stayed in Kuta the first week, we went to surfer village Canggu. We were immediately caught by the relaxed vibe. Everyone is minding their own business, but at the same time very friendly and helpful if you need something. I wouldn’t mind living in Canggu for some time longer.

On one of the weekend days, Sven and I took a surfing lesson at Perencak beach. I’ve had a surfing lesson back home, but in general the sea in Bali is a lot rougher than in the Netherlands. So this was quite a different experience. After an hour Sven and I both had some successful waves rides (but still pretty much near the shore and just standing up and going straight towards the beach). We were about to go for a second time, but arriving at the beach found a sea that was at least twice as rough compare to when we had our surfing lesson. So we wisely backed out and watched the pros do their work that day. We’re planning to go surfing again when we come back in Canggu later this week

For our working days we found a nice cafe/coworking place, District Canggu. A basic working space with good internet and a nice view on some rice terraces. It provided us with all we needed to do our jobs.

Sneak peaked Ubud

With Canggu as base, we decided to take the scooter to check out Ubud. Ubud is a town located among the rice paddies in the inlands of Bali. Where Monkey Forest is one of the highlights you can’t miss. We didn’t visit Monkey Forest yet, but passed by it. Enough to catch a glimpse of some monkeys crossing the streets.

One of the monkeys freely living in and around Monkey Forest
We also visited the Tegenungan waterfall surrounded by the green wilderness.

We’re staying in Ubud until Thursday this week and will explore the area in the coming days. Our first impression of Ubud is positive. Nice restaurants all over, streets are quite busy but not as crowded as Kuta.

Weekend trip Nusa Penida

Nusa Penida is a beautiful island near Bali. From several beaches in Bali fast boats take people from and to Nusa Penida. As we came from Ubud, we drove an hour on the scooter to Kusamba beach and took the fast boat (+/-30 mins) to Nusa Penida.

We were told the island would be an amazing experience, although roads would be horrible in some parts, we were advised to rent a scooter. So we did. Yes, some parts of the island had some hellish roads. So if you don’t have too much experience driving a scooter, think twice before attempting to reach the highlights by scooter. But anyway, most of the roads were perfect and crossing the island in and on itself was an amazing experience!

Beside all great viewpoints Nusa Penida has to offer, theres also the unique opportunity to go snorkling with Manta Rays. We got up early and left at 7:00AM for the trip. And we had success! It was a magical experience.. The Manta’s of at least 1,5m by 2m seemed to take pleasure in heading straight onto you and just turning away at the last moment. Unfortunately we don’t have any footage ourselves, but to give an idea I’ve included someone else’s YouTube video.

One of the biggest undertakings during our trip to Nusa Penida was climbing the ‘stairs’ to Kelingking Beach. Looked from above Kelingking has a t-rex looking shape. It is possible to descent to the beach by a path made out of wooden sticks and carved out steps. Some parts are really steep and some climbing is required. It’s quite a challenge to do this, so I think 95% of the tourists don’t go down. There were also no boats at all, which made Kelingking Beach a very secluded and quiet place.

Kelingking viewpoint

I’ve included two videos, one of the climb on Kelingking and one of the sea down at the beach. By times the waves certainly got to 3-4 meters of height. Sven and I were both swept away by it multiple times, which was pretty funny.

Sven is returning home on Saturday and Fleur will join me next week on Wednesday. I’m really looking forward to the weeks to come. A lot of things to do here!
Thanks for reading, see you all soon!