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— urbantick

June 2009 Monthly archive

An upcoming very promising application for the iPhone is the oldMapApp. It is a simple application that let you flip through some old maps. But not just that these are simple scans, they are all geo referenced and layered on top of new online maps. The layers transparency can be adjusted and let your compare now and then. For map freaks and location enthusiasts this will be brilliant. Google does offer a similar thing with the 5.0 version of Google Earth by using the timeline. The oldMapApp does, as the name suggests, offer old historic maps, whereas Google offers only access to old satellite imagery, back from when they started Google Earth.
To browse through the history of a place and follow development patterns is very much a detective game and can reveal a lot about the identity of a place. Also elements of collective memory can be found, so keep our eyes open. The application does use the location information from your phone so it now’s where you are and can display the information in connection to the historic maps. Using the newly build in compass in the iPhone 3GS it even know which direction your are looking.
Old Map App uses a modified version of the excellent open-source route-me mapping framework. Modern maps are courtesy of Open Street Map, which is creating an open-source map of the world.
At the moment, this means in the preview, the app offers only scans from the New York region, dated from the 17th to the 19th centuries. We are of course hoping this will be extended before the release, but for now enjoy the preview:

Found through MapRoom.

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There are lots of different possibilities of GPS data viualizations. For your joy I have put together a not comprehensive list of examples. The variety is striking and so is the range of software, although oft I have not been able to find out how it is done. Different examples of GPS data visualizations is a list of animations but also a list of approaches. Some animations have featured earlier on this blog, other are new, as the intention is to show variety and not completeness. If you have some good examples yourself or know of some, please post in the comment and this showcase of examples will grow lager, contact can be found here.

GPS drawing Week_13 Top Vormstudie from Rnul Interactive on Vimeo.
Software unklnown

GPS Path Demo v0.4 from Finn Rudolph on Vimeo.
software vvvv

Park Drawing from Jeremy Wood on Vimeo.
software unknown

UDtwoMonth_London from urbanTick on Vimeo.
software Google Earth

by derxon2003 on youtube – software GPLIGC/openGLIGCexplorer was used for visualisation of GPS track data. The avi was encoded with mencoder/mplayer.

GPS Art from gallo1 on Vimeo.
software unknown

GPS Movies [Saint-Denis 2005] from Dz on Vimeo.
software unknown

gps_indymarathon from urbanTick on Vimeo.
software mathematica

by ARS on Google Video – software unknown

by ericrodenbeck on youtube – software unknown, using cabspotting data

Cabspotting vs SRTM from kns von Rhein on Vimeo.
software unknown, using cabspotting data

by OSM for ecourier, better version on ecourier.co.uk – software OpenStreetMap

OSM 2008: A Year of Edits from ItoWorld on Vimeo.
software OpenStreetMap

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Garmin® Announces Rugged, Waterproof Foretrex® 401 and 301, Wearable Navigation that’s Easy to Use in Tough Conditions

Garmin has announced this week a new model for its Foretrex family. It has been a really long time since the Foretrex 101 and 201 where first introduced. They where really good devices and probably some o the first handheld GPS that where actually useable. And they still are.
The Foretrex is the GPS device I am using so far in the UrbanDiary project and the set of them is still performing quite well. Although I have recently compared it to the new Forerunner 405 that I have two test devices for, is a lot better in terms of GPS signal reception the 201’s still work well.
So there are high expectations for the new models and whether the big step forward that the first Foretrex did can be repeated will reminds to be seen. But lets have a look at what Garmin writes about these models.

Image by Garmin

Finally Garmin builds in a USB connection, so far the 201 still works with a serial connection. It seems to spot all the features that the previous model had, including sunset and sunrise, fishing and hunting times. There are some new features though. These are an electronic compass and a barometric altimeter and of course a new high sensitive GPS receiver. Also the 401 model will allow transferring data wirelessly to other devices. It will hopefully be based on the ant technology so that the device can also communicate with a computer.
In terms of storage and capacity the device surprisingly has not improved. It is still the 10’000 points per track and 10 tracks, plus 500 waypoints. It is a lot but since every little gadget is increasing its storage capacity it seems odd that this one doesn’t. This is of course not an argument, but a hint. Telling from the images, the screen will be still black and white without the function of adding a contextual map. Which is all right, as the screen quality is good and if you want a coloured feature map you probably buy another device.
Also telling form the description there will be no longer a model with an internal battery. Both models 301 and 401 will work on two AA batteries, with is a shame. I know there are issues with charging an internal battery whilst you are out and about but having only AA option really has the danger to it to produce a lot of battery waste. There are solutions to the charging problem out there ranging from solar chargers to tiny wind turbines and pull strings that work for a series of other devices with internal batteries and since this new model now has an USB connection his will make things in this respect much more simple.
In term of size and weight the new ones are around 20% smaller while still fitted with the same screen size. This is an improvement, as many of my participants using the 201 have mentioned in the feedback, that the device was “a bit chunky”. In terms of weight the new 401 is slightly heavier with 87.3g compared to 78g of the old 201. This is surprising, as the overall size has been reduced.
The direct comparison on the Garmin website between the 201 and the 401 can be found here.
So all in all exciting news but it is a little bit disappointing to see how little the device has improved over at least six years. But as said earlier it remains to be seen how the device actually performs. Prices are on the Garmin page at $200.00 for the 301 and $260.00 for the 401. There are not yet any prices for the UK.
It is advertised on the Garmin blog as “Versatile new Foretrex units perfect for military use or some family fun”. This is a big leap between the two and although we know this is where the technology is coming from the two don’t go well together.

Image by Garmin

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Following the election results from last Friday large-scale protests are under way in Iran since the weekend. On BBC journalists guess they are the biggest demonstration since the 1979 revolution. They guess, because journalists are no longer allowed to work and cover stories related to election and protests.
The Government seems to have restricted services on Telephones, SMS and Internet. Protesters and Iranians from all over the world have taken to Twitter to communicate and report on what is happening. Also on youtube the videos documenting scenes and rallies are huge. Twitter has reportedly delayed its maintenance, which would have meant for the site being down during the day for Iranians, as found on ITworld. It appears that Twitter is down in the UK at the moment at 2009-06-16 22h05. This might not mean that it is down in Iran. We’ll hear about it in the news.
It is amazing how quick location based information is generated and within almost the last year it has become normal in the internet to have all the information georeferenced on a map.
Some fist mashups, found on programmableweb and googlemapMania, have emerged others will definitely follow, when the newspapers get round to actually start mapping some information.

A mashup with Twitter mesages by mibazaar click to access

And a mash-up with clips from YouTube by mibazaar click to access

Mashup by 20min.fr click to access

If you know nothing about Iran, the BBC has put together some helpful information, in maps and in text on latest events and in text on historical events.

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A series of video tracking clips by Jeremy Wood. Great visualz, but not sure how it is done and processed. It sais GPS but it looks more like video tracking…

by Jeremy Wood and Hugh Pryor

Dog Drawing from Jeremy Wood on Vimeo.

Jeremy Wood is working with GPS for a long time and on his website GPSdrawing.com he shows an extensive archive of his personal records and works using GPS. There are some great drawings and writing to be checked out.

Image by Jeremy Wood – Location: N51° 52′ 14.3″ W3° 27′ 36.4″ Brecon Beacons (2.1 km SW from Pen Y Fan), Wales
Time: 16/07/02 (09:41:07-10:29:14), Track Length: 4.169 km, Average speed: 3.5 kph, Method: Foot
I lost the fight to finish the off the dragon in the time available, it remains half emerged from the side of a hill.

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I gave a talk today at ARUP London about my research on cycles and rhythms in the city.
The talk was titled Shaping Cities, from the body rhythm to urban morphology. With this title, it brings together the different aspects of scale in the research, ranging from natural body functions to patterns of movement in the city.
Along this key terms such as memory, identity, time and orientation are explored and visualized with examples from the work featuring on this blog, ranging from PLY365 to UrbanDiary.


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The topic of cycles covers a great range of scales. This could be ranging from body functions like the pulse to daily routines weekly repetition of free days to yearly celebration of festivals and goes all the way up to live cycles or careers. A lot of aspects of life are cyclical and there is continuous repetition.
A surprising category is the subject of sport. Talking F1, there are a number of careers of great drivers that are not linear. A great example is Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton’s careers. A big up and down and kind of unpredictable sequences. Button started of almost ten years ago as a promising driver, but hasn’t really won anything until this season. Hamilton on the other hand has won the title world champion in his second year, but is nowhere in his third.
There is a lot of talent involved, but a large part is also routine and practice. This applies to all areas of excellence. It does need the right format to fit the particular field, but then it takes time to build a confidence and routine. Some people claim it to be around 10’000 hours of practice to turn someone into an expert.
On the golf course things are similar. Online at History shots I came across this great visualization of the major performers on the PGA tour. If you are familiar with this sport from Hagen to Woods will tell you something, if not don’t worry just look at the curves and lines of the visualization and you’ll understand the joy, sadness, hope and tragedy of a great variety of careers.
Image from Historyshots

“Cycles of Greatness is a fascinating map of the history of all the great golfers over the past 90 years. From Hagen to Woods, it’s all covered; the amount of information is stunning. Any fan of golf will certainly enjoy this print.” Patrick Gleason, P.G.A. Professional
Image can be bought on the website directly, It is properly sourced, with a long list of golf references …!

Image from Historyshots detail

Interesting are how the careers are interwoven, as the rise of one player means the fall of some others. In the special zooms integrated on the main map, these details of tour rivalry are shown and it visualizes how these ups and downs are connected.

Image from Historyshots detail

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The tube strike in London did go ahead and is in action since yesterday 19h00. Operation on all tube lines is disrupted. But actually some lines have a service.
What a surprise the Northern Line has a good service since morning. It was the first line to be open, but during the morning other lines opened.
Staff at Euston kept a map to inform passengers what service is available. At around 10h15 already a number of lines operate a very delayed and interrupted service.

Image by UrbanTick

The clip starts in Tufnell Park where little is to see from the strike impact, as the Northern Line is in good service. Only buses coming down towards Kentish Town are jammed. There are obviously a lot of commuters on the bus who usually take the tube. At each stop a number of people ask the driver for advice and information on where the bus goes and how to get to certain places. On a normal day on the bus, hardly anyone speaks to the driver.
Same at Mornington Crescent, tube station is open and not busy. Towards Euston it gets busier and a lot of people are walking down the street, as road is jammed with buses. Euston runs a taxi service with a special taxi marshal, and the queue reaches through the big entrance hall.
Other tube stations are deserted and ticket offices closed.

UTtubeStrike_090610_HD from urbanTick on Vimeo.
music from mp3 unsigned by
Andrew Bowsher & The Sceptics (Experimental)
A man at one with his bedroom

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A major strike on the Tube in London is announced for today. From Today Tuesday 19h00 to Thursday 19h00 there will be no Tube services in London if the strike goes ahead as announced. This will mean that thousands of commuters and travelers will be forced to search for alternatives.
We already had this once this year. The heavy (12cm : ) snowfall from February 2nd brought a major disruption to London’s transport network and an extra day of for thousands of Londoners. This event was covered in posts here and here.
And again this disruption will change the rush hour for two days. Maybe everyone will be using the riverboat service, as the Major Boris Johnson has arranged for all of us to travel for free.
We’ll see how London and Londoners will manage the situation. In terms of routines it will definitely be different.
Transport for London promotes cycling and walking; this is the cheapest option for them. Walking maps are available from the tfl.gov.uk site. The maps are not very good and hardly any better as a normal tourist guide. Maybe another project would actually be a bit more successful here. The shortwalk project is aiming at promoting the information about distances between inner London tube stations. While doing some research the people behind the project discovered that sometimes it is actually quicker to walk than squeezing into the tube. A nice map visualizes this.

Image by shortwalk

Other option is to plan your journey as a walk on walkit.com or even Google Maps could help you find the shortest route…

A micro blogger community has formed and collects a variety of suggestions and options to beat the strike. A good collection of them is available on TimesOnline. Unlike with the snowfall in February, people seem to be determined to get in to work tomorrow. We’ll see how it goes and whether or not Londoner can make it again a positive disruption of their weekly rhythms.

First Images start to emerge on the web, Image from Canary Wharf. A new central London transport map on Flickr, click for details:
Image from carltonreid’s photostream

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