Trimble has launched an updated version to their venerable Geocache Navigator software. The new version has moved the app from it’s roots as a first generation smart phone application to a touch screen aware smart phone app. If you are a BlackBerry user you will want to read CacheMania’s review of the new version of Geocache Navigator.
A couple weeks ago (July 20), a new app quietly popped up in the App Store by Pi-Soft Consulting. These are the guys who brought us the Wherigo player for iPhone which later became Groundspeak’s official Wherigo App for iPhone. The new app is called GeoBeacon …. it enables another technology that is used for geocaching, namely Garmin’s Chirp beacons.
The $1.99 app requires you to purchase a $80 Fisica key before you can use it. These are sold as Wahoo Fisica (pictured above), or you can also get the one from Digifit. This adds the important Ant+ technology to your iPhone, since the iPhone doesn’t have it built in. Once you have the app and the Fisica key, you simply open the app and use it to locate … or even program a Garmin Chirp. I have seen the Fisica key at Mountain Equipment Co-Op, might be a good spot to check before you import one from the USA.
The app can read a Chirp, program a Chirp, plot Chirp waypoints on a map. It’ll show you all the details including the number of visitors and when the last visit was, plus the run time and battery condition. One nice touch is the app will store lots of Chirp data rather than overwriting it immediately like the Garmin units do if another beacon comes in range.
The Fisica key is also useful outside the GeoBeacon app, so don’t feel like you’re spending $82 just to find a Chirp cache (though it is less than the average Garmin GPS with Chirp costs). I also use the Fisica key with my Garmin Heart Rate Monitor to keep track of my runs with RunKeeper.
Here’s a few screen shots from the app:
Garmin’s OpenCaching.com site is nearing another milestone – the ability for third parts apps to edit (or delete!) geocaches and logs via the OpenCaching API.
If you’re just interested in geocaching, not writing apps, that’s pretty much all I need to say. The ability to edit logs on the fly is coming, and soon you will be able to log caches in the field without going to the web page.
If you’re a developer, this is where things get interesting. You will need to use OAuth for your app to gain access to the API. Garmin admits this is a tricky thing so they’ve set up a test server at test.opencaching.com. This is a spot where you can test writing data to the site without worrying about creating bogus data – they reset the site once a week actually.
Thanks cachemania for the tip
Mapquest for Android can also use OpenStreetMap data to boot, so you also get access to trails, traffic/police warnings and other user contributed data, and maps for international areas Mapquest doesn’t cover. If a street is missing, you can add it on the OpenStreetMap site.
While Android devices in the USA include free turn-by-turn navigation, international users (including Canadians) are often left out in the cold. The app is also useful if you travel to an area not covered by the built-in navigation app.
From the Android Marketplace Description:
FREE voice-guided, turn-by-turn navigation app for AndroidFEATURES:
• Absolutely FREE – There’s no trial period, subscription, or upgrade necessary. You get all these capabilities absolutely free!
• Voice-Guided/Turn-by-Turn Navigation – Your phone speaks to you, telling you when to make a turn.
• Voice Search – Speak your destination or your search, for hands-free input.
• Place Map Toolbar – Look for restaurants, coffee shops, gas stations, etc. with one 1-click.
• Auto Re-route – If you take a wrong turn, it will your route will be automatically adjusted your route to get you to your destination.
• Walking & Driving Directions – Choose to walk or drive and we’ll give you the best route either way.
• Live Traffic Flow/Incidents – Extensive coverage that’s updated every 5 minutes, to help – to keep you on time.
• Map Rotates in Orientation of Travel – So your map is easier to read (with ability the option to lock to north up).
• Satellite Maps, CitySearch Reviews, and more!
• OpenStreetMap (OSM) Map Setting – User-sourced maps can provide unique local perspective and detail.
• Bug Logging for OSM – Standing in front of a new building? Report it to the community and they’ll fill in the missing pieces.
• Bug Logging for OSM – Identify trouble spots in the data for an enthusiast to update, improving the maps.
• International Maps – Automatic OSM maps for international users, so you can– allows users to take MapQuest abroad.
Last week, Garmin issued an update to their Basecamp Product. This update addresses recent changes to the .LOC file format, and some bugfixes. Basecamp is a free product that works with Garmin’s line of GPS units.
Changes made from version 3.1.2 to 3.1.3:
- Added support for handling changes to LOC file format.
- Improved error handling for various map issues.
- Improved error handling for overlay issues.
- Changed default name of BirdsEye Imagery created from other user data to reflect name of selected item.
- Fixed issue where the basemap from the GPSMAP 78s was not displayed.
- Fixed issue where Topo Australia map was not displayed.
- Fixed issue where the Worldwide Aviation Basemap was not displayed correctly.
- Fixed issue with changing selection after removing waypoint from route.
- Fixed issue with deleting routes that span the Anti-Meridian.
[ Garmin Basecamp ]
You bought a Garmin GPS (probably handheld) and now you’re looking for maps for it. While Garmin’s Topo Canada is a great product, it’s also $150.00. Lucky for you, there is an alternative (if you are prepared to give up the 3D DEM topo shading):
A few years ago, Dale Atkin, the geocacher known as Ibycus did the Canadian geocaching community a great favour. He released a Topo map product for Garmin GPS units based on the Canadian Government’s free topo data. This is a free map, won’t cost you a thing outside the bandwidth to download it and a blank DVD. If you make use of the project, you might want to consider sending him a donation though.
He also released a Topo USA map product but I’ll be concentrating on the Canadian one here. Back when Dale started his project, the maps were hosted on his server and you would download them from there …. but due to the overwhelming popularity of this project he had to stop hosting it there. Now, it’s a bittorrent download – note this is 3.5 gigabytes, and will take some time to obtain.
To get started using these maps, you will need to obtain two pieces of software (one you may already have):
You will need to have a copy of MapSource. If you already own a Garmin map product, chances are you already have it. If not, here’s a little trick to getting a free copy of it:
Next you will need a Bittorrent client. I use the official one.
Once you have Mapsource, and Bittorrent, you can use Bittorrent to get the map data.
The torrent links can be a real pain to locate, so I have posted a few of them here. dfx updated the tracker links with improvements, so I’m linking to his version for the download:
- Bittorrent Link for Ibycus Topo 3.2, courtesy of dfx
- Bittorrent Link for Ibycus Topo 3.2 for Mac computers, courtesy of dfx*
*These instructions do not cover MacOS but I included the link for completeness
Once you open the .torrent file, you’ll be asked where to save them and it will begin downloading. Note, due to how bittorrent works, you’ll also be sharing it to other people. That’s how the process works. The download process will take anywhere from hours to days depending on your connection speed and how many people are sharing the file when you request it. It took me four hours to download my copy on a 10Mbps link.
After a long while, you will have a file: IbycusTopo32.iso. Using your favourite DVD burning software, burn this image to the DVD. You can usually just double click the IbycusTopo32.iso file to start this. You want to actually open the ISO file in your burning software – don’t just copy the file to the disc, that won’t work.
When you’re done, you should have a disc with a few files on it:
Find the file called “IbycusTopo.exe” and double click that one.
You’ll be asked if you want to install Ibycus Topo, select “Yes” to proceed with it
You’ll be presented next with a licence agreement. This is where you agree that the responsibility for using these maps are yours alone, Dale doesn’t offer a warranty and it’s up to you to watch where you’re going when using this map on your GPS. There are, in fact, known inaccuracies. Blame the Canadian Government for those.
Pick a place to install it (I recommend you leave this at the default setting) and then hit next.
This next step takes the longest, as it copies 3 gigabytes of data to your hard drive. This would be a good time to go fetch a coffee. Perhaps fetch it at that coffee shop around the corner with the LPC micro….
You’ll eventually be greeted with a dialog box that tells you the product is installed.
Take the DVD out of the drive and put it in a safe place.
Start up MapSource, then pick “Ibycus Topo 3.2″ from the pull down at the top left. You can now view the map in MapSource, or send it to your GPS using the usual methods. We’ll cover sending maps to your GPS in a future tip.
Garmin has released an update to their POI loader software for Windows. This software lets you take locations and add them as “Points of Interest” to compatible GPS units. Most modern Garmin devices support this feature. While these “Custom POI’s” are not editable on your device, it does allow you to load many, many more locations on the device than the Waypoints or Geocaches feature does. For example, in the image above I used POI loader to put 21,000 geocaches on my Nuvi 265. With this latest update, Garmin addresses a couple sore spots like file names and large GPX file loading problems.
Changes made from version 2.5.4 to 2.6.0:
- Added ability to specify a custom POI file’s name
- Added ability to handle swapped lat and lon values in CSV files
- Fixed issue with multi-line CSV files not being read correctly
- Fixed issue with extended ASCII characters in CSV files
- Fixed issue with reading large gpx and csv files making the application unresponsive
…. and the Geocaching.com update train keeps on rolling. This one is for geocachers who cache with a Windows Phone 7 device. This one is a little different – they updated the site instead of the App for these fixes, so you don’t need to run out and download anything.
The forum post says it all:
* “Hide my finds” now only hides you’ve logged as “Found”.
* Log in issues have been corrected.
* Pocket Queries are working.
* Connection issues have been resolved.
* Archived caches no longer show up in searches.
Got an iPhone? Hate Sudoku puzzles?
Well, Google has an app for you! Today’s update of the Google Mobile App for iPhone now adds a Suduko puzzle solver to the application. Literally, all you need to do is start up the Google Mobile App, aim the camera at the Sudoku puzzle in question and tap “Solve”. Within a few seconds Google will take all the work right out of that Sudoku puzzle you just encountered at stage 3 of that diabolical multi. No word on Kakuru puzzles yet though.
This addresses the memory leak problem from iOS 4.2 (and 4.2.1) that caused the app to be very laggy. According to the release notes, it also corrects issues with the app locking up when being restored from background or lock.
There is another issue with usernames with apostrophe’s in them that is corrected.
If you’re running iOS 4.2(.1) on your device, it’s a pretty good idea to run this update. I used it for my geocache outing tonight and it does seem quite improved.