Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Closing some loose bugs

Looking for PPC packages for review I hit a few road blocks and a good find. Fugawi has a demo available but it doesn't include the PDA version in it. Teletype was recently acquired and also doesn't provide trial versions and finally TomTom Navigator only offers upgrades for existing customers in its website.

UTM based PocketQuads from ProSurv offers 30-day trials and targets surveyors. Its companion Windows PC application is Prosurv Imaging. If you are interested in visiting Yellowstone & Grant Teton there is a special edition for these parks with corresponding topo maps.

These packages support USGS DRG's and let you import NGS Datasheets for their benchmarks data. You need to use the Windows version (Imaging) to break down a large .tiff image file into smaller .jpeg images before transferring them to the PocketPC.

Prosurv Imaging can load .tiff files (NAD 27 or 83 from USGS) with corresponding .tfw in the same directory. The idea is that you have a job and its corresponding image data set to their respective UTM zones. There is no default project, you need to explicitly create one. I tried my best to follow the directions, converted NAD coordinates to UTM zones using Jeeep.com and after several tries I finally got a map to display in the PocketPC but it wasn't calibrated to the right area.

What I don't get is why do I need to provide extra information if a .tfw (which is supposed to provide enough georeference) is already being used. In any case these packages seen to expect users that know what they are doing and when you try "unexpected" actions you will run into one too many bugs particularly with the PPC version. So I gave up trying to make the georeference images work. Plus both packages could make use of a less colorful and a bit more standard user interface.

The GPS parsing (which seemed amazingly fast unless it is only 2D) is provided by Frason Software the same developer of quite interesting GPS and map related packages like a Coordinates conversion tool and GPS Gate, a package that allows you to share the same COM port used by your GPS card to more than one application through the use of virtual COM ports (trial version available for download). It is worth a click.

The one find was ArcPad from ESRI, a company that is almost synonymous with Geographical Information Systems (GIS). I'm still waiting for the Evaluation CD (ArcGis Desktop) to create my own maps so I will hold a bit on a review of this package. Plus GIS opens a whole new chapter in this area and deserves some good research and care.