Saturday, September 30, 2006

FutureLab, Celestron, TeleAtlas

FutureLab is a non-profit that is making available for schools Create-A-Scape. The package, based on original work developed by a research arm from HP in Bristol, UK enables students to produce "mediascapes".

Or narratives with images, sound and GPS data. The whole package includes the necessary software and hardware. From ElectronicsWeek.

Celestron announced a new series of telescopes with GPS technology.

"The CPC Series' internal GPS receiver automatically downloads the date and time from orbiting satellites and pinpoints its exact location on Earth."

TeleAtlas will be providing map data to Nokia according to article from InformationWeek. Check the video at the bottom of the page showing how TeleAtlas produces map data with its mobile mappers. Nice PR.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

News Bag

Gothamist attacks again: Flickr based images of New York City maps in great pieces of work.

GPS as bait: it might work, or not.

Some more on the newest GPS satellite in orbit.

And be prepared:

Solar flares will probably get you lost if you haven't found yourself till then...

HSDPA & Nokia N95

A-GPS or true GPS right now seems almost a moot point. But transfer speeds to enable fast map data, tracking & so on fits well. So today ALK the maker of CoPilot software has its Managing Director, Michael Kornhauser given an interview that help put things into perspective.

HSDPA is the keyword here. Which translates to High-Speed Downlink Packet Access.

It seems that EV-DO is being pushed harder in U.S. (Qualcomm developed) but worldwide deployment of HSDPA is far ahead. The idea to push for some other protocol only helps keep companies like Nokia out of the U.S. market.

Things do sound as targetting Europe and that's fine because they are way ahead in consumer awareness. But it is surprising to see the amount of devices supported. Specially those currently targetting the american consumer.

On a side note, demos and trial versions would be nice to have.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

N95 & Indy

Nokia launched something that is worth giving a note about: the newest member of their NSeries, the N95.

[Update: This BW article says that Nokia will use a GPS "transceiver" chip from Texas Instruments. In that case, it will depend on PDE server backhome.]

It says "integrated GPS" but nowhere to be seen the chip that makes that happen. So I'm guessing it uses Assisted GPS for now. It would be their first model with true GPS.

The good thing is that you get the maps acquired through the acquisition of gate5.

In another news, GPS World pointed to Indy pilots sharing their cars position, velocity and other stats while in the race through GPS with technology developed by the Canadian RaceF/X.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Today's News

Boeing launched GPS2R-15, the second from the "Replenishment" series with sucess from Cape Canaveral, Florida. According to the Decatur Daily:

“Once online, the satellite launched Monday will be the 30th operational GPS satellite. The GPS2R-15 is replacing a satellite launched in 1992.”

Dash unveils its GPS product at PC Magazine.

This site has very good descriptions about how GPS satellites operate. Which complements this panel of GPS manufactures at the now online “Earth Observation Magazine”.

Sirf co-founder on CNet

CNet published a two page interview with Kanwar Chadra, co-founder and currently VP of Marketing for Sirf (disclosure: jeepx owns Sirf stock).

Mr. Chadra points to the intereoperability of Navstar and Galileo with their products, geolocation search API’s and the Xmas season for navigation gadgets for cars. He also mentions how Japan has 3D maps of its cities.

Privacy, Tags, Georeference

Slashdot brought up Jelbert Geotagger, a piece of hardware that will get your current location into your photos. Privacy concerns fills the thread. Certainly more expensive than a cheap dedicated GPS unit, a digital camera and some software.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Where are we headed?

Yes I know, tons of ways to answer it.

But did it ever occured to you to ask where exactly is our Sun headed to?

As in looking for the actual direction of the Solar System...

And if you decide to look for youself, here are good directions (take into account that the dates are not for 2006 moonless nights).

BTW, going up the Ecliptic by Equinox today.

Weekend News: Nokia toolkit, Wired on Gizmondo

October issue of Wired goes graphic novel on Gizmondo's meltdown (the promised game console equipped with GPS). It also includes a two-page article on the growing dominance of TeleAtlas against the giant NavTeq.

It details the sale of GDT and how the group helped move the company forward.

California passing legislation on GPS tracking: "SB 1178, sponsored by Sen. Jackie Speier, D-San Mateo, [...] makes permanent a pilot sex-offender GPS program."

Second from the new-generation of GPS satellites from Lockhead Martin to be launched Monday.

Tools

Nokia announced the release of Carbide c++ based on Eclipse. "Developed in cooperation with Symbian". Care was taken to provide a migration path to users of the previous toolkit provided by CodeWarrior.

As in their toolkit, Carbide offers three product levels: Professional, Developer and the free Express. Previous users can upgrade from CodeWarrior 3.1 offers to the corresponding ones in the Carbide toolset.

Carbide c++ 1.1 Professional and Developer are now available in the same download, requires registration for product key generation.

RAD

Carbide c++ Professional includes an User inteface designer for the SWT based graphical library.

RAD Tools were introduced by Borland with products like JBuilder with RAD standing for Rapid Application Development.
The free version, Carbide 1.0 Express wasn't updated since touched last at Feb 21, 06.

For Java development also based in Eclipse there is Carbide.j 1.5, available for free.

There is also a Visual Studio 2003 .NET plug-in available (I believe it is free), notice the version because there is currently no support for the newer VS 2005.

Installed base

Just notice that we are talking here in 39 million devices running Symbian OS and still according to the PR, "during the first half of 2005, more than 14.5 million devices were sold to more than 200 network operators worldwide."

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

GPS News Day

Good one so far. Precious article at "The American Spectator" [which is way too much into the right for my taste but to the point on this particular issue] talking about bad and distracted driving versus conscious and hopefully blessed if you try.

[Which means multitasking like in a video game by shifting attention targets while taking a ton of metal around town. Which is saying if you are young enough to fire all your neurons while commuting... ]

Eric Peters at some point says:

"Any suggestion that driving is in fact a privilege to be earned rather than a right to be conferred is met with violent opposition -- from teens to AARPers to everyone in between."
Get the whole piece to understand where GPS fits into this.

Another interesting piece comes from NPR. A very clever explanation of GPS equipped phones, like the Nextel models and the different remaining breed of Assisted-GPS devices. Mologogo and Smart Agent mentioned as cool examples of LBS product & use.

And at this same blog on a previous post learn how to install a midlet, or Java J2ME app to your Nextel/Motorola phone. Finally, if you still think some more of this Assisted-GPS deal requires a better understanding check: Want to understand Assisted-GPS? and for privacy issues Can you Track me now?

NPR article also mentions "Fun with GPS" author's Don Cooke.

Semantic Web & Location Data

Tim Bernes-Lee is talking today at Terra Future 2006 about "the future of location information". CNet's article on the event shows that Bernes-Lee has been geotagging.

The discussion will cover "the semantic web and the growing importance of geographic information. " More about it at the Ordnance Survey website.

Nokia buys Gate5 GPS software

This one I forgot to post. Check article on InternetNews about gate5 sale.

Monday, September 18, 2006

deCarta drills down in Developer Conference

Remember Telcontar? Now you can call them deCarta. And if you want to figure out how to use their DrillDown servers and services it is time to register ($250) for their Developers Conference:

October 4-5, 2006
Mission Bay Conference Center at UCSF
San Francisco, CA

Google Map of 1675 Owens Street,San Francisco, CA, 94143, USA
(Mission Bay Conference Center at UCSF) reachable through BART

Trolltech GreenPhone

Want to code your own phone?

Check out the picture at News.com of a Open Source Linux cell phone running Qtopia interface and readily available for developers.

Not free, you will need to fork a considerable amount ($695 for the Community version). GSM, GPRS, mini-USB, Bluetooth, check the specs.

But according to News "there are currently no plans to include GPS". Hum... but you can use one through its BlueTooth interface, so that's not a biggy.

[Update: LinuxLookup has a review on the Greenphone SDK from Trolltech]

Monday, September 11, 2006

Geotagging with the Magellan Explorist

If you read back when I start writing on GPS about a year and half ago, I didn't have in my mind the two basic functions one should look for in a GPS unit (back then I was distracted by moving maps, color and high res screens). Now I would look for:

  • battery longevity and
  • tracking capabilities

That’s it.

I told myself (and you) that I wasn’t going to learn another UI, I wanted to hang to some sort of common interface, for me at least. PocketPC and Windows Mobile seemed like a good platform at the time.

Power Hunger

PDA hardware sucks juice at an enourmous rate. I did try the 1,500mA battery extender for the Toshiba e755, but stuff as usual won’t perform if built with materials costing below a certain price point.

I tried to replicate that with software on a power hungry platform and failed miserably.

I will start making use of GPS now on a dedicated gadget, a dedicated tool instead of multiple options of none.

Explorist

The Magellan Explorist 210 is (Thales/Magellan cheapest model) currently selling for about $150 (S&H included) at RedOrbit. Simple, B&W, low-res but it has everything one needs for navigation. Period.

It has no expansion for SD Card but has 22Mbytes of internal memory, from which about 20% gets used by its firmware. It can hold 2,000 waypoints, 1,500 more than the cheapest Garmin (old entries get replaced by new ones if you ran out of space). It has a rugged body in live colors.

I already let it drop from the bike (yes, they do sell a bike holder for about $40 bucks) and just got a barely visible scratch. Thales got bought recently by Shah Capital Partners which hopefully knows what they got on their hands. It is good stuff.

With this I’m giving up color, resolution, screen size and a “common” user interface for 18 hours of use on 2 AA.

The Explorist is a well designed product (still missing dedicated Mac packages) that includes a Geocaching Manager and a software package to read/transfer data from its own MapSend topographical and street level maps.

You get a basic map data with the model itself. I can see highways, city names and where the water should be. For another 75$ or so you can get a CD with 3D Topo images of the whole US (or unlock the DVD with maps that ships with the product). You can zoom down to 100 feet on its US BaseMap.

I like the response time of the digital compass, because I never got anything even close with any combination of GPS card and software on the PDA. It obviously uses the GPS data to tell time and it has a very basic and easy to follow sequence of commands.

By plugging its USB cable to a PC running Windows you see its internal memory as a directory structure from where you can drag and drop text files ready for use by any ASCII editor.

GeoTagging

After riding for a while in Capitola for some pictures during its Art & Wine Festival I could grab the .loc file from the the current tracking session or Active Trace log. The plan was to geotag the pictures I was taking with the location data from my track.

Software can batch process a whole image directory looking for pictures taken within a given time interval. You need to convert the original .loc file to .gpx format/file with GpsBabel.

The minimalist Grazer then will edit the EXIF headers of the matching pictures with their corresponding latitude, longitude and altitude. You can see the results with the freeware Exifer (the author asks for a postcard for registration).

Now I can upload those images to Flickr or some other site with geotagging capabilities and a map interface.

[Update: According to this post, you can turn on "Read GPS data from Exif header" on Flickr by going to this link, after that new photos while uploaded should have their location info extracted and used. I can see the Exif data for a particular photo including GPS data. So far I haven't been able to use that data to place a photo on their map.]

[Update 2: A workaround involves providing GpsTagr with the corresponding .gpx file based on which your Flickr photos should be geotagged, that did the trick of setting up the location for each picture and displaying them on a map. Remember to sync the camera clock with your GPS time.]

The search is over. Let the real work begin.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Almanac Data, GPS Supplement

GPS World publishes at each issue "The Almanac" with orbit data and resources on Active GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite System) crafts.
If you have a chance, grab a copy of the British-born “PDA Essentials” and look for the smaller paper size supplement called “GPS Advisor” towards the end. A dedicated GPS magazine for consumers is trying its waters.