Saturday, October 10, 2009

iPhone, as a Business Handheld

Being a SAP consultant, I do need to be available regardless of location or time. Having a reliable mobile phone is a MUST in this industry, but there is much more to have, today.
My email is pushed to my handy each second, as well as calendar entries and contacts. If it were not enough, I do receive my Skype notifications in a similar manner, too. Should a client of mine want me to look at his/her screen for instant assistance, it's OK, the built-in VPN app let's me enter any local network, and RDP or VNC is brings any remote desktop to my screen. In the meantime, I can chat to the client via GSM, of course. I can even accept invitations for Webex conferences - screens come through the Internet, while voice is transmitted via GSM. But enough from accessibility. Using the map application, I can search for nearby ATMs, pharmacies, or whatever business - no matter where I am. And if all these still could not fulfill the requirements, I can still share the internet connection of my phone with my laptop so that I work on from my desktop... and keep on using my phone as if it was not in use at all

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Case study - 3D Globe in HTML5

HTML5 brought some exciting new tools for web developers. To me, the most appealing ones are the canvas tag, and the geolocation API. With canvas, you can create graphics rendered right in the browser, just like with SVG, but in a standard HTML environment.I have played around with this new tag and created a demo to display geographical coordinates on a 3D sphere. Have a look:

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

CANVAS - a piece of Apple for your browser

I used to wonder why there is still no support for Adobe Flash on iPhone... However, since OS3 is capable to run HTML5 code, this is not that painful anymore. The new standard of HTML contains, among others, a new tag, namely the "canvas". Using this, you can create incredible graphics, even in 3D. The demo above is just one great example. Just move the mouse over the pics and enjoy the animation! I can't wait to read the introduction of the new release of my favorite web apps utilizing HTML5, eg Picasa, Google Earth, etc. Even Google Maps might get much more efficient, since we don't need to download map tile images anymore - the browser might draw it itself!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

HTML5 and the GeoWeb

HTML5 is here, merely supported by all popular browsers, including mobile ones like the Safari on iPhone. This new standard is a huge step toward turning the web into the ultimate platform. Complex applications that needed native code for each operating system can now be replaced with platform-independent web applications. Just think of Google Earth - you can really have it in your browser.
Considering my favorit area of web development, the GeoWeb (meaning social web apps with geospatial contents), what are the benefits of HTML5? Let me mention only two of them
1 - The "canvas" tag lets you manipulate vector images from scripts. Have a look at this example
2 - The geolocation API lets you reach GPS data right from the browser. My favorite web application of this kind is the Latitude from Google. The image in the top left shows a screenshot of Latitude running in the browser of an iPhone
So, now we can create even vector-map applications with GPS support simply in HTML!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Handling oversized spreadsheets

Oh yeah, those log files with hundreds of thousands lines... Apart from the latest Excel release from MS, you can't handle them at all. Being an SAP consultant, I face this problem frequently. With no MS Office on my notebook, I had to find a work around to open and edit log files longer than 65536 lines. Instead of MS Office, I use OpenOffice 3.0, which is available for Linux, too. The solution is easy, but you should keep in mind some small tricks listed below:
  • Create an OpenOffice Base database, set it's type to "text database". You will need to select a folder containing the oversized log files as texts. This database will not read data from the text files, but create a reference to them as virtual tables
  • Create another OpenOffice Base database, this time with standard type
  • Drag and drop the virtual table from the text-type database to the standard one. This will take a while, depending on the size of data in the text file. To my Intel Core 2 Duo with 2GB of RAM, 300k lines in a single column took around 1 minute to copy. Do not change anything at this step (eg the name of the column in the standard table); to me this led to endless calculations
  • Once you have the data in the standard table, save the database. Now you can edit eg the column name. It is recommended to add a simple name (no spaces, etc), otherwise you queries might fail later...
  • Create a query to remove unnecessary data - maybe you get the net record count under 65536, so that you can swith to a spreadsheet manager, namely OpenOffice Calc. Save the database containing both the data and the query
  • Drag and drop the query into the upper left cell (A1) of an empty worksheet in OpenOffice Calc. This might a few minutes again
  • And, you are done: edit your data in the spreadsheet as you like!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Athena is back

Campagnolo invites all to say hello to Athena, the youngest groupset equipped with 11-speed gearshift. The name Athena is not new at Campagnolo, earlier there was a predecessor positioned just below Chorus. Being a believer of Campy, I am waiting for hearing more about the latest reicarnation of the legendary racing equipment provider. Pricewise there are not too much info available, however, most likely a Bianchi T-Cube with the new Athena will be available far cheaper than € 4000

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Route Planning with Elevation Profile

Did you know, that you can even calculate the elevation profile when planning a route with Google Maps? Isn't it at least as important for a cyclist, as the length of the route? I was surprised to see the elevation graph of a bike trip along the Adriatic seeside, having almost the same amount of total ascent like crossing Switzerland from Bodensee to Zermatt, through some of the highest mountain passes of the Alps...
So, how to get the elevation profile of a route? Today, Google does not provide an integrated solution. However, the information basis is public, called SRTM. We just need some further free web services to complete our latitude and longitude data with altitude values. Let's see the step-by-step guide:
  1. Plan the route with Google Maps
  2. Export the route to a KML file by copying the URL of the plan using the Link option, than pasting it into the cool and free
  3. Copmlete the KML with altitude data by uploading the KML generated in step 2 into
  4. Save the new KML that already holds altitude values for each waypoint of the route
You can visualize the elevation either at gpsvisualizer's, or at
But, how accurate is this SRTM model? Actually, I did a test. I took a GPS track log already containing altitude data, then I let
overwrite the altitude with data from SRTM. The total elevation of the original file was 1270m, while the one profiled by SRTM shows 1370m.
The difference is less than 8%. That's fair, I believe. See both diagrams above