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GPS obsessed

Sunday
26 February 2017

Cheap Flights To will map you a frugal route to anywhere

cheap flights to Cheap Flights To will map you a frugal route to anywhere

Cheap Flights To is a great mashup that enables users to find the cheapest flights to more than 6 million destinations across the globe.  It has a simple design and setup and is powered by a variety of APIs including: Geonames, Google Maps, Google Earth, Panoramio, Wikipedia and Google Ajax.

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GOOG-411 now lets you hear maps

phone GOOG 411 now lets you hear mapsIn a bit of a play on synesthetic perceptions, Google has found a way to enable us to hear maps by way of its GOOG-411 service.  If you haven’t used GOOG-411 before, it’s a local business directory accessible via your phone when don’t have an internet connection with you.  And while the service is handy, it’s not always the best solution for those looking for a business in a new city.

So to correct this, Google has also added the nearest street intersection or nearest adjacent street to the usual address and phone number information.  This’ll help users orient themselves without the use of a visual map.  Google says that the intersections will be available in United States and Canada, derived by an algorithm written on 20 percent time by Google employees in New York and London.

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Travel Honey GPS key fob will find your car and guide you home

travel honey 227x300 Travel Honey GPS key fob will find your car and guide you homeThis isn’t the first GPS location finder, AKA mall parking lot car finder, we’ve seen but it is one of the most feature-rich.  Dubbed the Travel Honey and sold by Chinavasion, this particular locator uses red and blue lights to indicate proximity to your vehicle.  But it doesn’t just stop there.  Travel Honey also functions as a USB dongle, serving as a fully functioning GPS navigator when hooked up to your PC.  Think laptop in car here.  Furthermore, it’ll store all of your locations in a text file which can be extracted later on to do things like geotag photos.  Not bad for a $54 GPS key fob.

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Garmin Forerunner 310XT review

garmin forerunner 310xt Garmin Forerunner 310XT anointed King of GPS training tools

Wired magazine had a chance to take the new Garmin Forerunner 310XT for a multi-sport test and were blown away.  The sport watch which uses GPS to track your runs and rides combines all of the features of the Forerunner 305 and Forerunner 405, but as the reviewer points out, “adds so much more to the equation that it feels like a breakthrough device rather than an upgrade.”

The Forerunner 310XT is also a wireless wonder via its ANT+ technology.  It can connect to sensors on your bike to measure power output, connect to a footpod to measure steps, connect to a heart rate monitor, and also synchronize your exercise information to your computer or to Garmin’s Connect sharing site.

Wired
says the Garmin GPS watch is the “king of training tools,” with an easy-to-read display and the ability to track more metrics than you can think of.  Its heart rate monitoring is pretty basic compared to dedicated heart rate monitors, but unless you’e a pro athlete this shouldn’t be a biggie.  In the end the Garmin Forerunner 310XT scored a 9 out of 10.

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Google Maps API v.3 big on speed and mobile compatibility

markerclustereradvanced Google Maps API v.3 big on speed and mobile compatibilityGoogle has finally outed version 3 of its Google Maps API with a firm focus on mobile compatibility and speed improvements.  It’s been significantly revamped from version 2 due to problems with latency, so mashups created in the current API release will have to be re-coded.  Version 3 is an early release, still in its Labs phase, so there are a few things to work out.  Here are the major changes from the Google Geo Developers blog:

  • Chrome and iPhone Safari mobile added to our supported browsers. Your mashups will also work on Android-based phones with the recent update, but you may notice some issues, like the “View/Save Image” dialog showing unexpectedly. We’re working with the Android team to fix this and improve the end user’s experience in interacting with the map. We could’ve waited until it’s perfect, but we really wanted to get an early release in your hands and start getting feedback while we fix up a few remaining issues.
  • No keys required. You can now copy ‘n paste code easily or embed in RSS readers, for example, without getting key errors.
  • MVC-based architecture. This allowed us to significantly reduce the size of our initial JavaScript download. We found it to be simple and powerful.
  • Default UI is enabled automatically. We’ll provide default UI controls and behavior (and we’ll update them) so your mashup can keep up with the latest and greatest changes we make to Google Maps. Of course, if you’ve got customized controls you’re happy with, you can disable the default UI updates.
  • Namespaces. Everything is always in the google.maps.* namespace and there is no “G” prefixed variables in the global scope.
  • Geocoding API has been overhauled based on the feedback we’ve received with the existing implementation over the past three years.

There’s a big push toward mobile phone compatibility with Google Maps API version 3 which is great.  I’m really looking forward to seeing how mashups will evolve in the mobile space.  Version 2 will continue to work just fine and be updated even after version 3 gets an official launch, so no rush to re-code unless you’re looking for faster map rendering.

Here’s the reference and documentation.

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1020 Placecast joins with Alcatel-Lucent to provide location-based brand advertising

placecast logo 1020 Placecast joins with Alcatel Lucent to provide location based brand advertisingLocation-based advertising is still a nascent industry, but I’m convinced that it will soon become mainstream.  One of the better known players, 1020 Placecast, a provider of an LBS ad platform, has teamed up with Alcatel-Lucent to offer mobile operators and advertisers an LBS service that delivers ads based on location.

The service, which will be opt-in for end users, will leverage Alcatel’s Geographic Services Messaging Platform to track users’ location and set up territorial geofences.  If a user passes into an area where a message can be targeted, Alcatel’s servers pull the relevant ad information from 1020 Placecast and push it to the user.

Users who opt-in will be able to choose specific brands from which they’d like to receive ads, likely in the form of text-messaged deals, so they’re not constantly plastered with irrelevant advertisements.

As far as I know, there hasn’t been a committment by any wireless carrier to use the new service yet.

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Microsoft Bing Maps: Virtual Earth, Live Search Maps no more

bing logo Microsoft Bing Maps: Virtual Earth, Live Search Maps no moreMicrosoft Live Search Maps has been re-branded as Bing Maps in one of the worst name change flubs in history.  All kidding aside, the new name is part of Microsoft’s new search engine launch today (the search engine is also called Bing–details here), and also includes a renaming of Virtual Earth, now called Bing Maps for Enterprise.  At least the MapPoint Web Service and Photosynth will remain under the same names.

The name may be horrible but the good news is the features and APIs will remain the same for both Bing Maps and Bing Maps for Enterprise.  I’d really like to know where Microsoft came up with the name Bing though.  For some strange reason it brings to my mind…toilet paper.  Why is that?

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Nixie clock with GPS

I’d never heard of a nixie clock until today, but now that I’ve seen one I’m thinking of making one myself.  Created by combining IN-14 nixie tubes and a serial GPS receiver, nixie clocks–and this one in particular–maintain a retro sci-fi look while keeping impossibly accurate time.

nixie gps clock Nixie clock + GPS receiver = incredibly accurate, retro time teller

This one, selling on Etsy for US$400, consists of tubes bought from a hobby shop in Eastern Europe, a serial GPS receiver and custom acrylic casing.  It can display time in 12/24 hours, has programmable functions for daylight savings, on/off times and battery backup.  Just plug it in to a 12 Volt wall socket and you’re ready to go.

Check out more pictures after the jump.

nixie gps clock 2 Nixie clock + GPS receiver = incredibly accurate, retro time teller
nixie gps clock 3 Nixie clock + GPS receiver = incredibly accurate, retro time teller

nixie gps clock 4 Nixie clock + GPS receiver = incredibly accurate, retro time teller

nixie gps clock 5 Nixie clock + GPS receiver = incredibly accurate, retro time teller

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ATP PhotoFinder Pro: A low-cost, simple-to-use photo geotagger

photofinder pro ATP PhotoFinder Pro: A low cost, simple to use photo geotagger

ATP’s new PhotoFinder Pro is probably one of the best on-paper digital photo geotaggers I’ve seen.  While I’ve yet to try it, I’ve heard good things from the most of the blogs discussing it so far.  The PhotoFinder Pro doesn’t require any software installation or ackward camera add-ons.  All that it requires is for you to sync the camera clock with its timer, pop your SD, Memory Stick, or MMC card reader into the camera, and carry the PhotoFinder with you while you’re out snapping pictures.

Like the PhotoFinder Mini, the PhotoFinder Pro continually tracks time and GPS coordinates so when you’re done taking pictures, you pop in your memory card and the times and locations of all your pictures will sync.  The geotagger is compatible with most of the major photo-sharing sites on the web including Picasa, Flickr, iPhoto, Google Earth, Panoramio, Locr, Google Maps and SmugMug.

Despite its vast array of great features, not to mention its high level of usability, the best feature of the ATP PhotoFinder Pro is the price: $119.  Definitely sounds worth it to me.

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Pelago slashes headcount, discontent behind the doors of the Whrrl creator?

whrrlv20story 300x103 Pelago slashes headcount, discontent behind the doors of the Whrrl creator?Pelago, the maker of location-based mobile social network Whrrl, has become the latest startup to layoff staff in response to the economic downturn.

In a statement to TechFlash, Pelago chief executive officer Jeff Holden said the company made a “modest staff reduction” to “provide the multiple years of runway this economic situation will likely require.”  Holden refused to say how many staff were let go, but TechFlash reports rumors of 20 percent.  Exactly one year ago when Pelago raised $15 million in venture capital, the company employed 40 people and planned to double that number.  Before the layoffs it’s unknown exactly how many Pelago employed.

Recently Pelago announced Whrrl version 2 which has a decidedly different flavor from the first release.  The new version emphasizes real-time storytelling between friends, augmented by location, and in a previous article I said I was impressed with the concept.  But judging by the conversation the TechFlash article generated, it appears not everyone is particularly happy with it.  Mainly for the reason that it’s not well understood; a problem that lies directly with marketing and management.

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised then, that so many of the commenters are less than happy with the performance of chief executive Jeff Holden, formerly a vice president at Amazon.  Plenty of the commenters described Holden as “arrogant,” “not very social,” and prolific at “alienating employees.”  There is also mention of the extremely high attrition rate at the company.  According to one commenter, only 10 percent of Pelago employees last longer than a year.  What’s going on behind the doors of Seattle-based Pelago?  And why do so many people seem to have a problem with Jeff Holden?  Is it really that bad?

If you have any information regarding this story, I’d love to hear from you.  Just shoot me an email at justin at gpsobsessed dot com.

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