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A weblog designed to share Geography resources with students and colleagues

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Playing with the new toy

Categories: Geography General
I bought a Blackberry Storm recently, as I've been looking for a phone that's got built-in GPS, has a decent camera and a good web browser. I thought about an iphone, but I had to pay for the handset and the tariff was dearer, plus I didn't think the camera images looked good enough for what I wanted to use it for (although I still think my Sony k800i takes slightly better photos than my new phone). There were a lot of useful applications for it, but I just liked the look of the Blackberry for me. I downloaded a couple of applications for GPS at the weekend and have been trying them out.
I used Everytrail tonight for part of the journey when driving with my kids to pick up my wife from work. I turned it on from my sisters house and stopped it, I'm ashamed to say, at McDonalds for a bite to eat before going on for the pick-up. On the phone it was very fidgety, and despite the touch screen working perfectly during normal use of the handset, with this application, it was like using a non-callibrated whiteboard-the touch was all over the place. I was, however, impressed when I got the track onto the web at home. On the website, there is a map with the track and the elevation, speed and distance by its side. Further to this, you can then visualise your journey again by playing it back.I didn't stop (Chicken nuggets happy meals were being demanded), but had I taken a photo, the image, I'm pretty sure from my reading, would have appeared along the track where it had been taken. There was also an option to download a kml file for Google Earth, which you can see in the image at the top of the post. Overall, this is something that I think would be really useful for documenting fieldwork easily. Incidentally, the phone is also set to geotag photos so that if, for instance, I uploaded a picture to flickr, it would automatically give its location.
The other application is map my tracks, something I blogged about before and wanted to use for such a long time. This allows you to view a persons track in real time, which would be great for getting students interested in maps (Noel Jenkins did something similar using his iphone). Unfortunately, I lost patience trying to get by log in on this, which seems impossible. The dashboard on my phone for this application was just so rigid, and I could put in my username, but not my password. I might try a re-install as this worked out a few of the initial problems with Everytrail, but this was so disappointing as I'd been looking forward to using this so much. Does anyone know other applications for GPS which might be worth a look?
Finally, with a tenuous link as I've been talking about both Noel Jenkins and maps, Noel's recent post on Digital Geography has highlighted the availability of OS maps in Google Earth, which is fantastic news for the classroom- no more fighting with overlay sizes!


At 10:01 pm, Blogger Dan said...

Kenny, We optimized this app for Blackberry Curve and haven't begun to work out the kinks on Bold or Storm. It sounds like you're making it work, though, so we're happy about that. About Google Earth, your content is automatically mirrored to Google Earth, so you don't even have to download the KML. You'll need to enable the EveryTrail Network Layer in Earth, though. Then by zooming in to the approximately location of the trip itself, you'll see our logo, and you can click and go from there. Please let us know more about how we can help you. - Dan

At 10:41 pm, Blogger Kenny O'Donnell said...

Hi Dan, thanks for the comment. I read a while ago about the google earth layer on digital geography, but forgot about it when playing around with everytrail myself, so I'll take a look. Like I said, once I managed to fight with the touchscreen, the application worked perfectly in the phone as you can see from the screen shots. Definitely something I'll be using a lot more of, looking forward to getting out on the bike and taking some photos along the way to try out.


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