Tuesday, April 24, 2007

My Alps on Google Maps

Finally, Google Maps can find my shared contents, among others the ALP summit log! I have been waiting for the crawler of Google to index my kml files so that the info I have published is now available to anyone on the Internet! You can give it a try by querying for e.g. "Dent du Géant near Italy" - this is an incredible peak among Europe's 4000-ers, near Mont Blanc. Don't forget to chose "See results from the web" at the bottom of the search result tab - this is the gate to the user contents. My kml files with climbing info (including topos, track logs, detailed map overlays, recommendations, etc) are on the list, too!

For the uninitiated, You can create and publish your location-related stuff using the My Maps tab of Google Maps

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Selected trekking routes @ My Places

There used to be a link at My Places to Trekking paths from the very beginning, however, the link has just been set to live. It is dedicated to recommend some great routes to those looking for fine one-day-long adventures. At the same time, the ALP summit log has been completed with the tracklog of the Gamsgartlgrat-climb

Google to become the Ultimate Mapping Service

Nowadays, the most of the navigating solutions operate on the client side, eg. on your PDA or GPS handlet. Typically, You buy the navigation software and a set of maps. Some of the biggest trades of this kind are Tom-Tom and via Michelin. Day by day, your "static" map expires, more and more details get obsolete. So You need to look for some map update, for which You likely have to pay, too. These maps not only loose their up-to-date accuracy, but require strong processor and other hardware elements to handle the large size of data. Is it a good solution? Do You really need to keep a cow if You want a glass of milk? Having a look at the newcomers, with client-server architecture, I am not sure at all.

What does client-server architecture mean when speaking about mapping solutions? There is a small application on the client (e.g. Your PDA or cellphone), with on-line connection to a server. The client application is responsible to get position data (from an outer GPS receiver, or from the carrier), and to send it to the server along with requests like route planning to a particular destination. The server receives these info, calculates the route, and sends back a small map tile covering the current position, and some coded instructions that the client turns to speech navigation ("at the next corner, turn right"). This architecture allows access to the latest maps, and enables dynamic stuff to take into account, like the actual traffic situation along the route. Much smarter, isn't it? To be correct, client side solutions might be completed with TMC services - traffic info transmitted on radio frequency. With this stuff You can at least be alerted when Your route is likely to jam, and the application may start recalculating the route. But You still have to buy huge maps that get expired day-by-day. And the client of a client-server solution is typically so small that any newer cellphone is able to run it. Check it out at www.nav4all.com, or www.wayfinder.com.

I assume now You can feel the trend of how personal navigation evolves. But what's next?

Google has extended the functionality of their mapping solution to web search-based services, and provides free client software for different mobile platforms (J2ME, Palm, Win Mobile) to reach their service. You just visit http://google.com/gmm on your device, and soon You have the proper client application in your hands. With this small applet You can perform web searches to find the location info You look for. It is not only streets, sights, hotels, but dynamic contents from the Internet (like open hours, places recommended by others, etc). The greatest thing is that Google not only delivers the web to your mapping client, but provides free tools to publish individual location contents (favourite routes, placemarks with pictures, etc), that are subject to search, as well. So the range of valuable location info is growing every day, as people share their data by using the My Map function of http://maps.google.com or with Google Earth.

Apparently, it is our common interest to share our kml files and become a part of the Community

Monday, April 9, 2007

Back from Schneeberg

Have a look at the new pics here!
We had a very good time - as usual, when the weather lets us do so. In 2-3 days I am going to post some excursion routes to My Places, as well as the complete track log of the Gamsgartlgrat from the parking place to the top and back to the bivaqplace. Following one of these two routes You can either have a whole day walk or an exciting high-alpine climbing on my favourite mountain, Schneeberg. For those of you not keen on bivaqing, my tip is the Edelweiß Hut (see the previous post of this blog, too). The stuff is very nice, just like the prices. Three of us stayed there one night in a four-bed-room, and we payed 85€ including the dinner, some beer and the breakfast, too. I'll leave a placemark on the tracklog showing both the bivaqplace and the hut

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Greetings from Edelweiss Hut...

... on the North-side of Schneeberg, Austria. Every time I return here I feel like coming home. Find the hut here: http://maps.google.com/maps?q=47.792091,15.814981



Sunday, April 1, 2007

The PDAs of tomorrow

Earlier I used to believe in Java, a bit more exactly Java to Micro Environment (J2ME). This technology was dedicated to be the bridge between the different mobile platforms (Symbian, Palm, Linux, Windows mobile, etc). How? There is (or at least should be) a so calls Java Virtual Machine (JVM) for all the operating systems (OS) to enable the J2ME applications run. So the architecture is simple: You have a device with a specific OS, with the proper JVM installed. Then You can take any J2ME application, and run it on your device, just like the applications specific to the OS of your device. This is a common interest of both the provider of the OS and Java to create and distribute JVMs and let as many user have it as possible. It is rather promising to see the developing power that creates J2ME applications, and many of them for free!

I could still believe in it, if I had no bad experiences with the different JVMs. For example, the JVM for Palm OS simply does not support bluetooth (the JSR-72 API is missing), though a lot of Palm devices are equipped with bluetooth radio. Once the JVMs are not providing the same environment, J2ME applications cannot be absolutely universal anymore.

So I am changing my mind right now, and the new direction is Javascript.

Javascript has not too much to do with Java, it is rather a program language used by the web browsers. In this case, applications are reached via the Internet, instead of the PDA, and it is the web browser that runs them, rather than the operating system. Such web application is e.g. the Google Maps, or any of the individual applications using the Maps API from Google, like my one. No matter whether You watch these pages from a Mac with OSX operating system, or from a PC running Windows. It is the web browser that runs this web applications, and the best web browsers all support Javascript (Safari, Opera, Firefox, etc.). Unfortunately, the browsers of the PDAs are currently not strong enough to support complex Javascript codes, but, thanks to Apple, soon we'll have one on the market: the Apple iPhone.

And, once a PDA browser is generally able to handle the web applications, we have got the universal solution that is independent from operating systems. There is no use to develop applications for the different operating systems (the same product for J2ME, Symbian, Palm, Win Mobile, etc.) so that as many users can use it as possible. Internet access is a MUST for each PDA maker, so there will most likely be no PDA without a web browser.

So, probably the PDAs of the future will have the following mission: a robust OS with a full-featured web browser