Tag Archives: gps

Android App: SmartTraining CodeUnit 20 JAN 2012

Although you wouldn’t say it by the look of me, I do actually do a fair bit of exercise and training. Because I’m loathe to spend a lot of money on training aids, I was looking for a low cost or free pedometer for my Samsung Galaxy Ace Android smartphone when I came across the SmartTraining App by Japanese developer awwa.

It is a free, simple to use pedometer app that makes use of both the accelerometer sensor and the GPS capabilities of your phone to keep track of the duration of your training, the number of steps taken (configurable stride length), the distance travelled (for accuracy, ensure you have a GPS lock, indicated by the satellite icon with a green tick in the top bar next to the exercise type icon), the number of calories burned (configurable weight and exercise type), as well as the average speed travelled.

Your sessions are saved in a list which you can revisit to compare, you can graph each trip as well as view the map courtesy of Google Maps functionality.

There are a fair bit of configurable settings you can play around with, as well as the ability to export your data to a number of sources.

After using it for a number of weeks now, I have to admit that I find it quite a useful application for tracking my progress, and the fact that it is such an easy to use application is a definite plus.

Whilst there are one are two little rough spots which I would have preferred to be more polished in design and interface, overall this app works really well and does exactly what it says it does, making it well worth the effort of downloading and giving a spin if you are in the market for a free pedometer app.

As per usual, to install simply search for “SmartTraining” in the Android Marketplace, and follow the steps from there! :)

Related link: https://market.android.com/details?id=com.awwa

Android App: GPS Status & Toolbox CodeUnit 24 OCT 2011

One thing that annoys me about the Android phone is that there isn’t a built in way to check the status of your GPS unit on the device – in other words you can never be sure if the damn thing is working or not, has a fix, or is just trying to direct you to the nearest coffee shop.

Thankfully developer EclipSim has taken the time to come up with a brilliant Android App that is yours for free, is stunningly simple in execution, but literally tells you everything you ever wanted to know about all the sensors packed into that remarkable little device you currently hold in your hand.

GPS Status & Toolbox (more commonly referred to as just GPS Status) basically grabs all the readings from your phone’s sensors and then displays them in a compass and data table form, constantly refreshing so that you can see exactly what your phone is getting up to. Amongst the data it reveals is GPS Position, Signal Strength of Satellites, Accuracy Level, Speed, Acceleration, and Bearing.

This information is then packed into a compass with both magnetic and true north, a leveling tool, and of course the data list. The display is quite configurable, giving you different color options that are suited to different light conditions, and a slew of unit formatting options and settings which should cover every possible user imaginable.

An absolutely essential tool in my opinion, simple, effective, well thought out, and more importantly, one that does everything you could possibly need to feel secure that your device is functioning like you need it to.

And did I mention it is free? (Ad-supported, but nothing a click of the donation button can’t solve.)

Search for GPS Status in the market place to download and install!

Make the Circles Bigger! My Life 19 MAR 2010

As I write this I sit with my head in my hands experiencing the deepest of shame. Let me tell you where I was around 19:00 on Monday evening: Sitting in McDonalds Tyger Manor, consoling myself with a Quarter Pounder Deluxe meal and speaking to Chantelle on the phone. But hang on a minute, you find yourself ask me – “Aren’t you meant to be at karate practice on a Monday evening, starting 18:30?”.

Why yes, that is exactly where I was meant to be. But let me tell you my story of woe. First, it all started out with simply dreadful traffic trying to escape from Westlake through to Muizenburg. However, this was only the beginning because as I got to the giant circle connecting to Baden Powell, I finally saw what was causing the long delay – a fire engine with its red lights flashing, indicating that the coastal road was now well and truly closed. Bugger.

So forced back towards the M5 direction as were the rest of the evening’s commuters, I discovered that my detour route that would take me around the closed off section of Baden Powell was also blocked thanks to a pedestrian that had been run over earlier, his body still lying under the tarpaulin and the cops cordoning off the area. Double bugger.

Right, no problem though, I reckon if I just head up to the M5 and connect on to the N2 it will take me home, though I’ll most likely miss karate now thanks to the heavy traffic flow. So out came the TomTom GPS and I sat back frustrated, listening to the radio in the hopes that someone on air could cheer me up. Nobody did.

But it gets worse you see. Confident in my own navigation abilities (you see the mistake I made there?) and realising that the TomTom will charge better if I turn it off, I flicked the switch on the GPS and turned over to manual mode, happily cruising along the fairly traffic-free M5 until I found myself happily driving down the… N1.

Yup, I’d forgotten to crossover onto the N2, meaning I was now well and truly on one hell of a detour. Cursing my bad sense of direction and memory, I whipped out the TomTom and calculated that the quickest way to recover from my error would be to do a u-turn via the Sable Road offramp at Century City and then head back towards the M5 and hop onto the N2.

No problem, I took the offramp, did the turn and headed back along the N1 towards the M5 turnoff only to be stopped dead in my tracks in a long line of cars that literally seemed destined to be stuck in that lane forever. Cursing my luck (and bad sense of judgement), I pulled out of the M5 turnoff lane and headed up higher in the hopes to work my way back down towards the N2, only to die of shock when I realised that the offramp I took was one that took me towards Paarden Island, in other words the complete opposite direction of where I wanted to be!

And TomTom wasn’t helping either. At this stage the GPS was trying to force me to turn left in a right-only lane road, meaning I was now well and truly stuck, driving to Milnerton along the coast. Bugger it! By this time I was nearly in tears and so decided Fuck it, I’ll just take the bloody N1 and drive it all the way through Bellville and then head back home that way, which I did, but not before the route to get back on the N1 took me all the way up towards Cape Town again.

And so, running out of fuel, feeling very sorry for myself (never mind furious at my own ineptitude), I pulled off into Bellville, put in fuel, gave a woman begging at the side of the road with her baby R20 in an attempt to make me feel better about myself and then pulled a pitstop maneuver at Tyger Manor, where I chowed my sorrows at McDonalds while listening to Chantelle laugh hysterically to herself as I recounted my shameful tale to her.

I tell you, not even good old Creme Soda could cheer me up.

Oh, and to top it all off, I was forced to come to a screeching halt by slamming on my breaks in order to stop for a lost Rottweiler that decided to cross the road in front of me. Needless to say, I was not impressed when I finally walked into our pad just after 20:00 the evening!

Sigh. I really am the world’s worst when it comes to sense of direction, aren’t I?

Even with one of these, I'm still lost! :(

*sniff* *sniff*

TomTom Where are You? CodeUnit 29 DEC 2008

TomTom ONEThe awesomeness, the awesomeness, the awesomeness. Oh where do I begin I ask you? So for those of you who don’t know, this year for Christmas, under the leadership of Chantelle, the combined Lotter and Montgomery clans all pooled together and bought for me my very own GPS unit, the TomTom ONE (series 3).

This little handheld unit of pure magic must surely be one of the most awesome of gadgets ever made by man I tell you! Compact, ingenious in design, intuitive and simple to operate, amazing satellite connectivity, customizable and just so damn cute, my little TomTom has now become my number one friend, ensuring that I, Craig Grant Lotter shall no longer get lost… EVER AGAIN!

TomTom itself is a Dutch-based company that started up in 1991 already and have since gone on to win a number of consumer awards for their easy to use GPS systems and pretty damn good navigational algorithms, as well as their pretty affordable pricing schedules across most of their product line. Add to that their clever community-based focus and HOME project that allows for a centralised manner of updating one’s overall map as well as adding user-submitted POI and miscellaneous items such as traffic camera locations and minor map updates, the product certainly has a pretty solid base to stand on.

My first action after opening the box was to hook the unit up to the PC, where it self-installed its required software package and then guided you through the various processes of updating your unit to its latest version, including latest GPS software and firmware as well as the latest copy of your local map. A clever little trick also is its weekly-updated QuickGPSfix service that essentially allows your unit to estimate where the closest satellite will be on any given day of the week, meaning that satellite signal acquisition is just SO much quicker!

From there on it was straight into playing with the unit itself and I am absolutely amazed at just how many settings and options one can twiddle with to produce the customised results that one wants at times. All the usual GPS options are available and the TomTom comes preinstalled with a number of nice voice and POI selections as well.

The actual unit itself comes across as fairly rugged and fits into the palm of one’s hand pretty comfortably – which could come in handy if one ever wants to use its built in ‘walk to’ functionality. Similarly, the sucker cup attachment for the car window works like an absolute charm and the GPS unit fits pretty snugly and without hassle on it. The device comes bundled with car charger adaptor as well as a USB connector cable, meaning that you don’t need to still go out and buy all these things extra, though there are the usual array of extras such as carry pouches and more advanced car mountings that are available for purchase directly from TomTom itself.

So far after a couple days worth of use, my little TomTom ONE has yet to let me down, leading me directly to the spots I’ve inputted and then safely navigating me home. Honestly, what more could one as direction-bemuddled as I ask for? :)