How to Install OpenStreetMap Maps onto a Garmin GPSr

Garmin provide many types of maps for their devices but each costs quite a large sum of money. Thankfully in recent months this process has become a lot easier for the end user to do. This short guide will explain where to find the correct map file and how to install it using a Dakota 10 GPSr, a Mac and Garmin"s free software.

OpenStreetMap

The OpenStreetMap project provides map data for a large amount of the world for free. Even though the project is community edited – its still an excellent free map to use on your portable GPSr device. If you take a look at the list of maps available on the OSM site (located here for the UK) you will see how many different people are providing packages/data files that can be used with Garmin devices.

Find Your New Map

The choice I made for UK maps with contours and routing is the maps created by user "Talkytoaster" and can be found at his website. At the present time the latest file is "101105" and the filename is "101105-UK+Contours-Routable.gmapi.zip" which will be a file compatible with Garmin"s MapInstall software on the Mac.

Install using Garmin MapInstall

Once you have got your file downloaded (which is probably a few hundred MB) then unzip the file you downloaded. You can plug in your GPSr and run the Garmin MapInstall software on your Mac. Follow the process on-screen and after a short time it’ll be done. Reboot your GPSr and you’ll notice that while its loading at boot time you’ll have a piece of text that says "OPENSTREETMAP".

Tweekly.fm Premium

In the coming weeks I’ll be pushing out more features to the site. This involves adding a new level of service to the site and changing the way that some features work to accommodate this. In short, I’ll be adding a premium level services which will comprise of the following features:

Premium Benefits

  • Extended Profile Data (Up to 10 Artists & Top Tracks)
  • Choose to Publish Top Artists or Top Tracks
  • Customise update output, such as counts, names and hashtags
  • Sync your Twitter/Facebook friends with Last.fm (only users that use tweekly.fm at present)
  • Administrate comments on your profile
  • Contribute reviews of your favourite bands for our new weekly recommendation blog
  • If an update fails for whatever reason, we’ll email to let you know why
  • Knowing that you’re helping the service continue and survive

 

Changes to Standard/Free Accounts

  • Comments on your profile will become read-only (inappropriate flagging will be possible)
  • Removal of hashtags from outgoing updates
  • No email alerts

The cost of a premium upgrade is still being decided. At present, I’m looking at around $16 USD/year. I’ll also be adding multiple languages soon too so that you may use the site in your native language.

Tweekly.fm Moves to MongoDB

Over the past two days I’ve been making a lot of changes to how tweekly.fm operates and functions for both users and myself. We no longer user MySQL for the majority of the site because concurrently, it just couldn’t handle what we were throwing at it very well. By moving over to a NoSQL alternative (in our case, MongoDB) we can now support a lot more users concurrently and processing over 35,000 updates on a Sunday no longer brings the service down the a slugs pace.

One of the main problems that I had was debugging when users had problems with the service. During the move over to MongoDB I’ve added a whole host of logging integration points to detect when an interaction succeeds or fails. It will now be logged to our logging store and the most recent log response will be stored in your user record and visible on your settings page. This will help identify when something does go wrong, where and why it does.

I can’t stress how important it is that you confirm your Last.fm account too. When you go through this authorisation process I get a token back to access your play data on Last.fm which I can then user to pull your data even when your account is protected. Its also a lot more failsafe than just having a legacy Last.fm username set – although for the past two months its been mandatory. There was also a slight bug that happened with a subset of protected accounts which has now been fixed too. I’m quite confident that your play data will be pulled correctly every single time. You can manually update your accounts play data by visiting the ‘Publish Now’. You don’t need to actually push an update out, just visiting the page will update your account.

The next change affects your personal tweekly.fm URL. Twitter users will now be found at http://www.tweekly.fm/twitter/dordotky and Facebook users will get their own URL at http://www.tweekly.fm/facebook/501640297 which functions in the exact same way that the original tweekly.fm user pages. Facebook users will also get a short bit.ly URL. Comments will return to these pages shortly.

The Facebook issue of cutting off updates has also been fixed with a new version of the processing engine that builds updates for users. You shouldn’t see an errors like that again. Shared play counts, artist data and comments will return within a few days. If you notice any problems or something doesn’t work as expected then please do let me know.

Why GeoCaching.com Needs an API

An all too common sight with the iPhone ApplicationA lot of what I talk about these days seems to be Geocaching related. The concept of Geocaching has long been around and at present the biggest central location of cache information is at geocaching.com which is owned by Groundspeak. The website, applications and tools are pretty average to use and no real changes have been made to the way that users interact with the site for a long time. The iPhone application is clunky at best and is a difficult to use at times. The reliability of the application over mobile connections is also questionable. All of the caching data is held by Groundspeak and although premium members can retrieve data via Pocket Queries (multiple caches in a single GPX/LOC file) and single file downloads (one cache per GPX/LOC).

There is no public API for developers or users to use. There is no systematic way other than scraping to fetch cache data – and this is against the terms of the site and services. There are many good reasons why Groundspeak should introduce a public developer API. It makes no difference if it is licensed and paid for, developers will still use it and it would boost the bottom line for Groundspeak.

 

Uses of an API

By opening up the data to developers, better applications can be created and users get choice. Choice is a very good thing. You only need to look at the enormous amount of Twitter applications that have made the ecosystem flourish and people can decide to use an application that provides them with the features that they want and less of what they don’t want.

 

Pushing Innovation

This fuelling of innovation can only help Groundspeak increase its revenues and expand Geocaching to a bigger audience. The more people that are using the API, site and products can only enhance what Groundspeak have to offer. Using the example of Twitter clients again, products that have implemented good ideas and functions often get copied: as the famous quotation goes “imitation is the highest form of flattery”. The problem with this is that at the present time Groundspeak are merely stagnating Geocaching for developers and in turn the end user.

 

Implementation

Any public facing API needs to be controlled in access and usage. This is to prevent aggressive over use and people not abiding by the terms of use. Leaning towards Facebook and Twitter’s APIs who both have very good usage policies and methods of dealing with over use by rate limiting, you can see effective throughput can be efficiently handled and scaled.

 

Free Use or Premium

The other side of providing the API is the cost of covering running the service. Access to it could be funded by providing to premium users only. If access if provided to premium users only, even without an increase in price the bottom line for Groundspeak would improve and a lot more users would pump money into the ecosystem by purchasing third party applications that would require premium memberships.

 

GCE:Standard

Any implementation of an API would likely provide either XML or JSON. An extension of this could be a new multi purpose format for cache information exchange, perhaps a new GeoCacheExchange:standard.

T-Mobile Customers Can Now Use Orange Too

Earlier this year T-Mobile announced that they were merging with Orange. This didn’t matter too much to most at the time but its changed a little now. For a while they’ve been testing network sharing and its now live for customers to use. If you’re on T-Mobile you need to first text ‘Yes’ to 2121. This will switch your account to use both networks and whichever has a signal. You’ll get a text back saying that your account has been changed. Remember that at present if you’re a T-Mobile customer using the Orange network you only get 2G, not 3G so things like YouTube won’t work (unless you’re jailbroken and forcing it to).

I’ve tested it myself and it works flawlessly. If you’re an iPhone user you will need to make a few change to your settings. Goto Settings.app, click ‘General’ then ‘Network’ and turn on Data Roaming. If you want to force your phone into using Orange, click ‘Carrier’ and change to Orange (or T-Mobile Orange if its called that for you).

Twitter API and Email Addresses

One thing that appears to be a recurring theme on the Twitter API development mailing list and in the IRC channel of Freenode is the question of getting access to a users email address. I’ve always found this frustrating and have never seen a good reason why a users email address should be given out via any API method. The following list contains the reasons that are most often given when you ask why an email address is desired:

  1. I’d Like to Contact the users of my application:
    See below.
  2. Auto-Notices & Spam:
    Not a chance.

It really is that simple. If you need a users email address then provide a settings page and ask them to enter it. Don’t think you can systematically fetch it from the API because you can’t, more to the point: I don’t think you’ll ever be able to.

And that’s a good thing.

Kippa’s & Code

This weekend marked the first GeoCaching event that I’ve been to. “To Cache a Kippa” was held at the Keele University KPA and they placed ten new caches around the campus that we got a few first-to-finds on. It was really nice to meet fellow cachers and share stories about being out caching. We have met a few other local cachers while being out like Mick and Mandy. I also speak to a few cachers quite often and it was nice to be able to put faces to names on Saturday evening.

Of the caches that were placed around the campus, none were really difficult to find and as I said – we managed to get three first to finds. We ended up with quite a large group of about twenty cachers with us that we let on a merry dance around Keele woodland. Hopefully a lot of other people visited my library cache down there and took some books from it. I did drop a few BookCrossing books at the KPA too, which were Jeremy Clarkson, Have I Got News For You and Football, etc.

The only other caching we did this weekend was in Eccleshall where we completed “The Eccleshall Tour”. Nothing particularly of interest here but it was a nice couple of hours out on a pleasant autumn evening.

New Code

FourSquare I’ve added a few new pieces of code in to my GitHub repositories. I’m currently working on the FourSquare automation script. I’m also putting together a class to interact with the Prowl push API. It will provide PHP applications with the ability to push notifications from their apps/sites quite easily. There is also a few other bits and pieces. I’m also looking at forking Chirrup and moving it on to support both the streaming API and OAuth too.

Luds Church

For a long while now I’ve been visiting a place in the Roaches called Luds Church. From Gradbach to Luds Church is a good 15 to 20 minute walk that you would take, the only people you used to see on your way is at the old mill which is now a Youth Hostel. In winter the chasm is beautiful to the extreme with stalagmites and icicles hanging down all over and the peacefulness and tranquillity usually associated with an actual Church.

Luds Church was recently featured on the BBC television programme Secret Britain, as well as being published in numerous newspapers both in Staffordshire and Derbyshire. On our along the path we encountered so many people that it almost felt like a different place. A part of me felt sad for the area, knowing what the increased tourism was going to do to the paths, the Church and its surroundings. The amount of people that asked if the Church was close by, expecting an actual Church was sad to hear.

I can only hope that people are conscious of where they are and don’t trash it.