I Am Here: One Man’s Experiment With the Location-Aware Lifestyle

Matthew Honan's I Am Here: One Man's Experiment With the Location-Aware Lifestyle article in the Wired Magazine details his experiment with geo applications on his location-equipped mobile devices (iPhone and Android):
I wanted to know more about this new frontier, so I became a geo-guinea pig. My plan: Load every cool and interesting location-aware program I could find onto my iPhone and use them as often as possible.
From this experience, he highlights some of the social and security issues that confronts a person who is very "geo-online." The article has references to various geo-applications for the web and mobile devices. It's a good reference article in the proliferation of geo-applications.

GPS on a Mac

I have been doing some GIS noodling on my Mac recently, since it is an Air and very nice. So, what can you do without parallels on a Mac? Lots. The new QGIS with Grass plugins is great, but if you want to just get your hiking points in and overlaid on an image, you can use GPSbabel. Also free (with suggested donations though, and it is a good thing). You can download your waypoints, tracks and routes from your Garmin (I used a GPSMap 60CSx) with GPSbabel (use the GPX format) and use the GPS plugin in QGIS to easily map them. But, going the other way? that is more difficult. I used GPSbabel with csv format (x, y, id) and uploaded an important route to my Garmin. I was feeling all adventurous until a colleague sent me this link: ben sinclair's site: how to use a garmin with your mac which sorts it all out for you.

Radar vs GPS: GPS Wins!!!

 A 16 year kid got a speeding ticket for 62 in a 45, but the GPS tracking device in his parents put in the car showed his more accurate speed, first the court ruled against him, but when the "expert" realized the GPS was accurate to 1mph of the speed, they overturned it. http://hothardware.com/News/Speeding_Radar_Gun_vs_GPS/

GIS, Public Participation, and Marine Conservation

NYtimes has a very cool article about environmental groups working with California fishermen to establish "no-trawl zones." Apparently the group Oceana sued the National Marine Fisheries Service for not setting aside adequate habitat for some bottom-dwelling species, which resulted in a court-ordered release of specific geographic fishing data. From the article,

When it was accepted as the preferred alternative, the court granted the environmental groups access to proprietary information about the trawl tracks that fishermen follow. Fishing captains are required to record their exact locations using global positioning system monitors from the moment they lower their nets until they haul them back onboard. Often covering up to 20 miles in a 6-to-10-hour tow, those tracks provided a precise picture of fishing and a key to the solution the National Research Council had recommended. Scientists at the Nature Conservancy and Environmental Defense overlaid the tracks on maps of underwater features like canyons and ridges, home to a wide variety of species vulnerable to nets.

Apparently environmental groups used this data along with data collected from interviews with the fishermen themselves, to create new conservation zones that would both preserve critical habitat without excluding fishermen from their livelihood. I think this is a neat story in a number of ways. The use of GIS for for conservation in the real world is exciting, as is the power of private organizations and private money in effecting large scale change in land management. Can anyone dig up any more papers on this? The NYTimes doesn't really cite its sources. Here's a related NPR story, and a Nature Conservancy press release. Oh, and a map!


Road rage = emotions + location

The New Scientist has an article in their blog about an artist who is mapping people's emotions. Basically, he's got people hooked up to simple arousal sensors on their skin and has those sensors plugged into GPS units. From there, he aggregates stress levels across a number of people. Perhaps even cooler, he's allowed the people with the sensors to tag what they were doing or how they felt at certain points. Check it all out at the project's site to download and view the data via Google Earth.

New ultra-sensitive GPS chip

There are a few new GPS receivers on the market with the spankin' new SiRFstarIII chipset. This new chip allows for fast time-to-first-fix (TTFF) and is sensitive to very low power signals -- so low, in fact, that some claim GPS reception indoors and even better reception under canopies and in dense urban areas. Some of the new receivers on the market that include the Garmin GPSMap 60Cx and the Bluetooth Globalsat BT-338.

WAAS on the MOVE

WAAS, that set of wonderful satellites that greatly improves our GPS accuracy, will be experiencing some changes. For the next two months (until the beginning of April 2006), the company that owns one of the WAAS satellites will be moving it westward. From the article:

WANDERING WAAS: SATELLITE TO RELOCATE One of the geostationary satellites carrying the FAA's Wide Area Augmentation System (WAAS) signal won't be so stationary during the next 60 days. Satellite owner Inmarsat will be repositioning and re-aiming a satellite, shifting coverage to the west. The move will have no effect on the vast majority of GPS users. That's because most pilots use just the basic GPS signal, provided by the U.S. military. "But there may be times during the next two months when WAAS won't be available for precision vertical guidance," said Randy Kenagy, AOPA director of advanced technology. "That means you should check notams to make sure that LPV (lateral precision with vertical guidance) approach will be available when you want it." See AOPA Online.

Basically, this means that the vertical accuracy may not be stellar for the next two months. After that, my guess is we'll have better WAAS coverage here in the Wild Wild West (but that's just my speculation).

Stronger GPS on the way?

Does anyone know anything about the US Chamber of Commerce's recent announcement of L2C GPS capabilities on the way? I've been searching for some extra info for a bit, and it seems that there's at least one satellite up there broadcasting on this band. Are there actually more? What's the time table? To summarize, L2C is to be the civilian version of the military's L2 frequency, which is transmitted at higher power, meaning better reception under cover, through walls, in cities, valleys, etc. There's a pretty decent summary here