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.
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".
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:
- 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.
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.
A 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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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:
- I’d Like to Contact the users of my application:
- 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.
I was asked earlier this year to take part in an Open Data survey to see how data was being used. The survey was performed by Tim Davies. You can find the report here or a summary here.
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.
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.
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.
As many of the regular readers of this site and my Twitter account will know, I’ve very much integrated GeoCaching into my daily life. Just like pringles you won’t be able to stop once you’ve started. GeoCaching is a very simple premise that is similar in principle to the old idea of letter-boxing. You can sign up at geocaching.com for an account an begin looking for GeoCaches in your area straight away. You will need some form of GPS receiver such as a Garmin. This article provides a little information on how to find a GeoCache and the best ways to hide your own caches.
Finding a GeoCache
When attempting to find a GeoCache there is no particular set of rules that you need to adhere to. The following is a list of how I’d recommend you start looking for a GeoCache.
- Look for something out of place, or something placed deliberately as its extremely difficult to make a hide look natural.
- Be aware of the container you’re looking for, look for a gap or hole that the container could fit in.
- Caches are often covered in leaves, rocks, sticks or a camouflage bag.
- If you’re new to GeoCaching, then read the hint provided, look at the photos posted and read recent logs of the cache to see what other people have said when looking around for it.
- Have a little patience. Sometimes it can take a while to find a cache, even experienced GeoCaches will have times when they don’t find a cache quickly.
- Try to be discreet. You’re often in public areas and no one wants caches to get trashed/muggled. At times, you will need to use stealth.
How to Hide a GeoCache
After you’ve made your first finds you’ll have a better understanding of what makes a great GeoCache. I usually recommend that people consider hiding caches after they’ve made 50 or so finds as you have a better knowledge of the sport. The list below provides some tips on placing a GeoCache and things to avoid doing.
- Cross check your co-ordinates with other devices. iPhones and smart-phones do *not* provide good co-ordinates under any form of tree cover. If you have difficulty in getting co-ordinate accuracy, please note this in your cache listing. People won’t mind, they just want to know the right areas to search and finders are happy to post their co-ordinates.
- Make your cache hide as natural as possible. If you’re using rocks at the base of a tree, or sticks in a rock formation then it will be too easy for the GeoCachers to find.
- Holes make great hiding places.
- If there is more than one way to approach your cache, make sure you’ve hidden it from all approaches.
- If you need to use a lot of camouflage then consider a different location.
- If its on the bank of a waterway, use “East Bank” for descriptions and hints. Using “Its on the other side” is almost useless in these situations.
- Try to get permission before placing your cache. Places like Peak District, National Park, Forestry Commission are all happy to give permission for caches. They just like to know where they are.
- Try to place caches in areas of interest that people will enjoy seeing. Would you like to go here yourself?
- Remember, people love a challenge. Be inventive.
- Don’t forget that you need to maintain a cache. If for some reason you can no longer maintain it, say so and usually someone is happy to adopt it.
- Wear long trousers and take gloves as you’ll most likely encounter nettles and hawthorns.
- Always take a drink/bag of crisps with you, you’ll nearly always be out for longer than you expect.
If you have any other tips or comments then please add them in the comment section for others to read.