Further update on geolocation

Avid and regular readers of this blog – I know you’re out there somewhere – will have picked-up that I’m rather interested in geolocation, tracking and using tools and widgets to broadcast location. I can’t imagine why anyone would be interested in “Where I am?” apart from my colleagues in Cardiff who’re always asking whether I still need an office, so it’s really just a throwback to my former life as a geographer. One that brings ever more warm recollections.

So that’s the rather feeble justification over. What have I done now! Two things. Firstly I’ve implemented Navizon on my laptop and enabled it to update Fire Eagle using WiFi or cell information [now defunct]. I misinformed a colleague the other day on this one. It is possible and does work! You can also configure it for your Blackberry (alternatively you can use BBTrackr [now defunct] to do the same thing). I’ve not chosen to do either of these – you’ll see why later. I like Fire Eagle, it’s a repository which stores my location and then allows applications to draw that information and display it on maps – normally Google Maps. Currently I’m using blogloc [now defunct] to do that and the outcome is displayed in the sidebar alongside.

Note [19 May]: there’s a new Google Latitude Sync app [now defunct] that seems even better at updating Fire Eagle than any of the others so far tested.

The other development I’ve just implemented is a new extension to Google Latitude [now integrated into Google maps] which enables the information captured from cell-phone location to be displayed in live-form on a Google Map. The first use of this was to share geolocation information with your Gmail Chat “buddies” and for the select few who I have in my contact list this was a nice feature and caused us some mirth as we compared our movements across the city. The extension is to allow code to be implanted in a web-page, or for a widget to be aded to your blogger pages. So now (if you had access to my blogger account), you could see where I am. [Unfortunately, this feature is currently not working in WordPress, this blog – still investigating why that is 🙁 ]

As a postscript, I’m working on another blog which will be dedicated to this subject and my travels, and when public I will put a link in the sidebar to that site.

How did he do it? How did HE do it? HOW did he do it? We all want to know

The facts are these. I bought a Garmin nuvi 255w GPS device to accompany #duettovan on its travels. [Note to self, next camera must have in-built GPS.] Since then, when time has allowed (and not much of that just recently – that’s another story) I’ve been looking at how the device stores its GPS tracks and how I can surface them on the blog. First attempts were with the Garmin GoogleMaps connector, and I still haven’t given-up on that, but lets say, it hasn’t been that straightforward. In fact … I’ve yet to see a map produced that way, but I will persevere. Since then I’ve been poodling around and it wasn’t until I found this excellent resource page at topografix that I began to make progress.

From the list of resources, I came across GPSVisualizer which validated the GPS files I had been trying to upload, having previously downloaded them to the #MBP. [You can read them direct from the device too, but that doesn’t appear to me to be the best way of using the tool.] This is a really cool site, and for anyone interested in digital mapping it’s worth a long hard time looking at what can be done. To save the map you’ve created, or display it on your blog/website requires some further coding to be done and to get an api key from Google Maps. I could of course do that, but that’s a retirement task :-).

Having created a map, for now the best way forward for me is to make use of another Web2.0 application called EveryTrail which allows you to load and save the GPS track, to upload photos to go along with the track, to then embed the map and statistics inside a blogpost and re-play the track. The only thing I haven’t got to work yet is the EveryTrail GPS Connector for Garmin, which is a Windows app (which I’m of trying to use from the Parallels desktop on the #MBP). I’m sure I’ll get that working one day – maybe it’s the virtualisation that’s mucking things up at the moment. [UPDATE – Have now got he upload direct from the Garmin working – using the current.gpx track into GPSVisualizer and saving direct into EveryTrail – having previously logged into EveryTrail as grandecheese.]

Finally from the EveryTrail site you are able to replay the trip on Google Earth by pressing the Download KML link. Great fun! Anyway here’s the prototype for the first trip recorded this way …


Widget powered by EveryTrail: GPS Geotagging

… for a better map (unconstrained by the frame of the blog) more you’ll have to try this link.