A history - Where did wifilapper come from?

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Joined: 06 Jun 2012, 12:09

20 Jul 2012, 22:51 #1

2009 - Did the lamest day with a loosely-combined 2-car team, with one based in Waterloo (where I live), one in Belleville, first heard about ChumpCar (which was going to run a race in Canada in 2010).
2010 - Did the Shannonville race with Johnda Deere, which is a team made of fairly competitive people. Decided that since I could generously be labelled "useless" around cars, I was going to write a laptimer to help the team out. Got a 2002-vintage palmpilot with GPS, somehow managed to get the SDK for this device which had been out of production for 7 years, and made a very simple laptimer. WifiLapper users would recognize several components - it had the speed/distance graph, had 3 splits points (one for start/finish and 2 intermediates), and made its users pretty happy. I stopped racing with Johnda after 2010, but was happy to hear that the palmpilot was a critical element of their pre-race checklist. In late 2010 I decided that you could do waaay better with one of these newfangled "android" phones and bought one, but I didn't have time to do development for a while. You can read a bit of the history of the palmpilot app here
Early 2011 - Around February I had the time to port the old palmpilot code to Java. When it was finally ready, I stepped outside into the -25 day and stood in the parking lot of my apartment complex for 30 minutes waiting for a GPS signal. As it turns out, Rogers had locked out the GPS capability of the phone unless you pay them for a data plan (that's right, they're charging for access to free US military satellite signals. arrrrrggghhh), so I kinda put the project on the backburner for a while since I'm too cheap for a data plan. However, much of the code in LapAccumulator.java still persists from this day.
Late 2011 - A friend of mine on Johnda Deere got an android phone and a data plan, and didn't mind me testing out my crazy laptimer plans on his phone. After a few weeks of testing I had gotten the basic laptiming and data transmission features hammered out, and modern WifiLapper started to take shape. The original Pitside was actually just a console window that spat out laptimes as they happened. If I wanted to test something, I had to call my buddy over or go to his place. This problem birthed 'test mode', which did everything except generate realistic data. Over the course of the winter, I kept being bored and Johnda kept requesting new features to make things more convenient. By mid-January 2012, it was clear that I had a pretty solid app that people might actually want to use. With much googling, nobody in my circle of racing friends had actually found anybody else that did data transmission for less than several thousand dollars. It looked like I could make a decent amount of beer money.
Spring 2012 - I launched WifiLapper on the store, and started name-dropping it on the 24HoL and CCWS forums, as well as started an adwords campaign to promote it - remember, at this point I was trying to make $5 per app, so I was trying to be a non-spammy marketer. AdWords was a huge disappointment for a variety of reasons. I may post about that later.
May 2012 - I sold my first (and only) copy of WifiLapper for $5! Later that month was the first race contested with WifiLapper. It was a mixed weekend - one car blew up 2 hours in, and one car had its transmission fail 45 minutes in on both days. However, it did prove at least that data transmission from racing cars to the pits was possible, though there may be driver issues on some phones that make it less reliable.
June 2012 - After $200 in adwords spending, I gave up on trying to market the app for money and just made it free. Later that month, someone requested that I make it open source, so I did.\
July 2012 - First submission from someone that wasn't me! Jawillis made great improvements to the pitside HTTP pages.

So I guess that's it, for now.