Sunday, November 25, 2012

Adding markers that shows picture in Google Maps

Previously I posted a blog about putting pictures in Google Map. It requires the pictures to be geotagged. What if you have a picture in Picasa but does not have geotagging? Here is how to go about adding bookmarks into Google Maps that shows a picture.

Assuming you are using Chrome for this purpose. Open Picasa and navigate to the picture you want to add to Google Maps (Gmaps henceforth).  Right click on the picture itself and choose "copy image url" ("Copy Image Location" in Firefox"). On Gmap, create a marker. Add a title. On the "Description" choose "Rich Text". You will be presented with a list of icons just above the text box. Choose "insert image" (icon that looks like a picture). On the URL input box, just "paste" (CTRL_V). Click "OK" and you get your picture as a marker.

The default markers have a "Camera" icon. Use that instead. Just click on the icon after you placed a marker. It is on the top left corner. Scroll down and you can choose the "camera" icon.

If you are more venturous, You could add your picture as icon. While choosing the icon, you can click on "Add an icon". On the URL prompt just "paste" again. I would not advice to do this as pictures are not icons. Moreover, you don't really see much of the picture when it is squeezed into an icon size.

Friday, November 16, 2012

GPS on mobile phones

GPS devices used to be specialized device that could be used for finding your location and to navigate from point to point.

Another use of it is for sports enthusiasts to record their workouts. It can record tracks, altitude, speed, and duration.

One other use of GPS is to GeoTag Gif files in what we called Exif information. You don't have to remember where you took the pictures. They remember it for you. There are applications that could show you the exact location where the pictures were taken.

When Android included it in its design, every Android now comes with GPS. The default use is Google Maps. It showed the location of the Android in maps. The camera in Android has the ability to GeoTag photos you take.

As time goes on, more and more developers wrote apps that make use of GPS. There are now numerous apps that is related to GPS.

One use of GPS in Android has evolved such that somebody else can track your Android from their mobile or even web. It can be user initiated or remote requested tracking.

User initiated tracking is usually the user that manually or automatically send the location information to another user. This is primary used for informing the remote person on your location. Automatic sending of the location information is used for sending the information without the user's intervention. Sometimes it is even done without the user's knowledge.

Remote initiated tracking is usually done with the app already installed in the user's Android. Some developer even use the rights of user's Google account to install the tracking app remotely and to set various functionality like GPS, Wifi, BT etc to on or off. They can even wipe your phone clean remotely. Scary huh?

Let's just concentrate on our GPS tracking business. With the app installed, remote monitoring person can simply use email, internet access or SMS to remotely control the Android to send out the location information via the same or another channel.

Not all Android users subscribes to mobile data. This is especially true for Prepaid Card users. Therefore, certain app are specially written just to use SMS as the controlling channel. Usually it is done by sending to the Android a certain predefined code word. The app inside the Android will be activated and will send back to the remote person the location information as a SMS. It is usually in url form so that remote person can click on the url in the SMS and view the address in Google maps or browser or which ever app that could read the GPS format.

What is the use of having another person know your location? It actually have a number of users. It is primarily used to find out the location of the Android or the person using it. This means that if you lost your handphone, you can actually send a SMS to the phone to locate it. If it is the person that is your interest, it is most probably for tracking/finding the whereabouts of your spouse, children, colleagues, old folks, pets or just between friends.

Some social/business app even use the method to track a group of people and display all the tracked information in one map.

Do you know that there are actually many Android users that does not know what is the use of the GPS? By turning the GPS on, it actually saps your battery. If you don't have a need for GPS, turn it off to give your handphone a bit of extra juice to last the day.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

How to show pictures along tracks in Google Maps

I have a number of pictures in Picasa. All of them have been geotagged. The maps in Picasa can show the pictures but it does not have the route that I have gone through while taking the pictures.

Sports-Tracker app did allow the showing of the routes with the pictures. I was thinking in the same line and thus was scratching my head as to how should I go about doing it.

By trial and error, I found in Picasa a link that says "View in Google Earth". Clicking on it actually create a kml file in my local directory. It then occur me to import this into the maps that I create in "My Places". When I did this, the pictures actually showed in the map exactly as in Picasa's map. Clicking on the picture icons will show a larger picture as a pop up.

First go to your particular album. Click on the "View Map" at the bottom right hand corner. When the map with the pictures are shown, click on "View in Google Earth". A KML will be saved in your directory.

I then export my route as "tracks" gpx. Using, I converted it to kml and imported this also into the same map I created earlier. And what you know? It appears exactly as in Sports-tracker.

Even if I do not have the GPS track recorded while in the trip. I could easily create the tracks by manually plotting the route. It worked just fine.

With the pictures and the route. The next thing is to add Markers where you can state when you were at that spot and a description of the spot. This makes a perfect Trip Logger record.

A word of caution. If you have way too many pictures, your map will become paged thus spoiling the fun. See my earlier post about showing such paged map in one place.

Finally, you may have to delete the "description". Google may complain that the string is too long. Anyhow, the html cannot be displayed properly thus deleting it is always a sensible thing to do.

You may want to put titles in Picasa for individual pictures. It will be imported as marker title.

Cycling in PCN

PCN is the short form of Park Connector Network by Nparks. It is a trail for walkers and cyclists. Some of it are actually off road trails for hikers and mountain bikers. Some of the scenery along the route are spectacularly nice.

Although there are plans to have a Round Island PC. At this moment it is still not yet complete. That does not stop me from using it for round island cycling.

I have put in some effort to retrace the existing PC in PCN on Bike. It showed the routes as well as information that is of interest to cyclists. It also contains temporarily routes that goes on road to connect between the PCs.

I have plotted a round island route which uses mostly PCN routes and some part on road. This is the route in MapOmeter Round Island mostly on PCN. I will be going on the route next month.

I really hope the round island route will be complete soon.

Saturday, November 10, 2012 distance in Metric

It is very irritating to see imperial distance measure system every time you check the distance in Google Maps. There seems to be no way to set locale.

Actually there is. Just switch to Google Maps in a country that uses Metric system. For example I use instead of

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Displaying routes and Markers in Google Earth

I used Google Maps to define routes and Markers. Only problem with it is that the Markers and routes are related. Upon creating hundreds of Markers and routes, Google Map start to truncate the list and make it into two page. This caused discontinuation of my Markers in relation to the routes. There is no way to show all the data at once.

One way out is to use Google Earth (not the browser version) to display. However, I noticed that there is a bug. Some of the routes have remarks. If you move the mouse over it, it will change to an arrow and you can click to view the comments. The bug caused some of the routes to stop showing the remarks.

The solution is to convert the KML to KMZ. I go to to do the conversion. Upon opening it in Google Earth. Everything worked just fine.

One guy suggested to do it in Google map itself. Just copy the KML address in the Google Map page. Open a new google map then paste the link into the search. Perform the search then copy the link address by clicking the link icon. Paste this in a new tab then book mark the page. It sure feel stupid just to view my own creation in this way but it worked. The whole list will appear in one page.

It is mighty weird that by posting the link in Facebook, the link will fail unless you convert it into a short URL. The conversion facility is in the link window itself. Just check it and you get the short URL.

Since I am an advocate for one touch easy access, it is deemed very low efficiency for me to create the link through the various steps every time I want to share a map., Thus, I created a custom map to do that. gmaps.js programmer provided this excellent library to create custom maps with various features.

What I did is simply remove the unnecessary elements from the html and modified the style to show the map full page plus replacing the sample KML link with the KML link of my map. I don't even have to post it on line to test the html. It is much slower to display the map. But it sure kills the boredom of generating the link to the map. I could even put all my maps in a selection list and share all the maps in one single map selecting page.