A few weeks ago I was thinking about some of the wonderful places I’ve seen briefly but never revisited. It struck me that with widely available Internet connectivity,many of the places I journeyed to physically when I was younger might  be experiences that could be reimagined, at least partially, via the power of the Internet. I’ve always been a space buff (which was the incentive to build my two recently release NASA related apps) and I’ve also had a lifelong fascination with Archaeology and Natural History, the Oceans, and just about anything historically related to the world we live in. In my opinion, the collections housed by the Smithsonian Institute and its diverse programs was a natural choice for a Windows 8.1 app. Nothing can replace an in person visit to all the Smithsonian venues (time consuming for sure and travel/expense involved).

The various Smithsonian web sites offer more details and information, but again, there are multiple sites and entrances to all of this superb content. I envisioned a hub based experience with galleries for home users that captured a small part of the experience for home users and the result is my newest app, ‘Smithsonian at Home’. Ten galleries are included which will update as the Smithsonian adds and changes content.

From the Home screen main menu, ten galleries are available, the Smithsonian Photo of the Day Gallery, Smithsonian Travel Magazine, SmartNews on Technology and Space, SmartNews on Science, Latest News, Smithsonian Exhibitions, Wildlife, SmartNews History & Archaeology, SmartNews Arts & Culture, and the current Smithsonian Photo Contest. Select any tile from the Home screen to visit a gallery. All galleries are scrollable via touch or a mouse.

home screen

Galleries will show an image, caption, date added, and if available, brief description. Beneath each gallery item you will find a link to the original content on the web hosted at one of the Smithsonian web sites. Here are some screen shots of a few of the galleries:

Photo of the Day

photo of the day

Latest News

latest articles

SmartNews History & Archaeology

smartnews history and archaeology

Please download at http://apps.microsoft.com/windows/en-us/app/smithsonian-at-home/4b6402c4-5939-42a8-bc83-07715f1b6555 and let me know on Twitter @barbbowman if you like it!


I’ve been on an app spree, in case no one noticed. I’ve been using Microsoft Project Siena to build apps of late (in case my readers haven’t noticed) and my latest creation, NASA Multimedia News is now available in the Windows Store. Seven sources/feeds are available, including three video podcasts. Information is updated as NASA updates their content.

From the Main menu, you can select a feed:


Here’s one of the Video Cast galleries, which all work in the same manner. They are scrollable with touch or mouse. Tap the video window and select Play or hover with your mouse and select Play. Tap again to pause and then scroll to the next item in the Gallery.


Here’s one of the News Galleries, scroll horizontally to view older entries.


earth observe news


NASA Image of the Day Gallery:




You may have noticed that when you view someone’s Flickr Photo Stream that the link to the RSS feed for that user no longer appears, as you can see in the screen capture below.

flickr homescreen

It turns out that RSS and Atom feeds are still present and available, but you have to do a little sleuthing to find them. To find the Flickr RSS or Atom feed for that user’s page, access the View Source function in your browser. (In Internet Explorer, right click, then select View Source). Then, search for RSS or XML. You may have to use Find Next if the string found is not what you need; the result you want looks like this:

search for rss

As you can see, both RSS and Atom are indeed present in the source for the page.


For the RSS feed, use the content that looks like href=/services/feeds/photos_public.gne?id=39027292@N00&lang=en-us&format=rss_200and and convert to http://flickr.com/services/feeds/photos_public.gne?id=39027292@N00&lang=en-us&format=rss_200 and test in your browser. You should now see the feed as shown in the sample below:

verify rss works in browser

Now that you’ve found the RSS or Atom feed, there are many things you can do with it. If you are a developer, you can use the feed to pull in photos via RSS for an app. Using MS Project Siena, you can easily pull in the feed using REST, as shown in this example:


use in siena app

Of course, there is no guarantee that Yahoo! will continue to offer these feeds, but since there are so many apps out there developed over the years that use them, it is unlikely that this functionality can be pulled without disrupting the community.


Thanks to everyone who provided feedback. I’ve done a couple of iterations and the feature complete version of Space Images from NASA is now available. The version number (Charms, Settings, About from inside the app) will display V1.1.0.5. If you have an older version, you can manually check for updates in the Windows Store. There will be another update soon but it is cosmetic only.

New in this version:

The Home screen for the app now includes the content from “On the Station” –
the latest news from the International Space Station in a gallery (both text and

NASA Astronomy Images and Space Images from NASA’ JPL are pulled via a behind
the scenes Bing search and no description/caption is available, however, you now
can display the source image in Modern IE by tapping or clicking an individual
image in the Gallery. The browser will launch and fetch the image (some of these
are quite large and will not appear instantaneously).

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