Date

I recently reported on an application called FieldHelper, that I saw at Clever Collections. FieldHelper inspired me to buy a data cable for my GPS (a yellow Garmin eTrex). The cable’s not a great success, I went for a USB version off eBay and it only works on Tuesdays and only on the Windows box at home, no luck with the Mac so far.

Anyway, I took the GPS on the regular Sunday morning ride with the Toowoomba Bicycle Users Group. This group is friendly easy-paced and lycra-optional, not a racing pack. The original plan was to try to use FieldHelper to synchronize the time data on some photos with the GPS track so I could show them on a map with little flags, but the camera I took thinks it’s main calling in life is as a telephone and it doesn’t seem to have added a proper timestamp. Still, I was able to import the tracklog via GPSBabel, load it into Google Earth, export as KML then upload into Bikely. I know that’s a bit complex, but we’re doing this in the name of automation our aim is to make it all much easier.

Here it is, an interactive map.

If you click on the title at the top of the map it takes you to Bikely where you can do stuff like see the elevation profile of the ride (click on Show / Elevation profile to see that we climbed 471m and apparently ended 8m below where we started, which may be to do with me editing the log so it doesn’t start and end from my house).

To make this happen, Ron Ward added a feature to ICE, along the lines of the hack I did to include CML in posts.

As this is the first time out, I had to do a few steps:

  1. Visit the map at my Bikely account.

  2. Click on the Share / Display this map on your blog or website link.

  3. Copy and paste the HTML code they gave me into a new file. (And edit the code to work around a Firefox bug with empty elements.)

  4. Copy the file up to my website. (I only had to this ’cos of a limitation of ICE that will be fixed soon, in the future you will just save it in ICE).

  5. Capture a screenshot of the map and paste it into my document, to serve as the print rendition.

  6. Link the screenshot to the online version of the map.

When that’s all done and I look at the document in ICE it includes the interactive map in my web page while using the screenshot in the PDF. This is a really useful generic mechanism for including inline web stuff, could be used for lots of things where you want a live version for the web and a dead version for print.

Too complicated?

What we’ll do to make this work better in future is use the forthcoming ICE plugin system. All you will need to do is drop the tracklog from the GPS into ICE and it will make both a print-renderable map and the code you need for a live map. The same plugin system will work for stuff like CML, and countless other data driven visualization tools.


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