We’re in.

We pulled up at the Holiday Inn in Dartmouth about an hour ago. Just dropped the luggage in the room, went downstairs and grabbed a bit of munchies, and then came back up so Dennis could crash. It’s 10:35 here. I’m going to get some sleep too. Hopefully, I can convince Dennis to write something tomorrow.

The sorry state of GPS on the Mac

Like most Mac users, I’m a zealot. I love my Macs, so when I find something that they can’t do well, I’m frustrated. GPS software seems to be one of those areas.

All I wanted was a nice, simple piece of Canadian, street navigation software that supported GPS and would do voice directions. Well, I’ve been searching for several weeks now, and the only software I’ve found that might do it is Route 66.

I haven’t tried it because I haven’t been able to get a copy in Ottawa. [Of course, you basically can’t get any mac software in Ottawa, but that’s the subject of another rant.] Given the rather negative comments I have read about Route 66 (terrible ui, buggy, the cheapest possible port of the windows version, etc.) I’m not willing to buy it before trying it, and there didn’t seem to be a demo version available.

I did buy MacGPS Pro which claims to be “the ultimate Macintosh mapping software for GPS communication”. This may actually be true, given the state of the industry, but it certainly wasn’t what I was looking for: manual waypoints, maps cost extra, no route planning. Basically, it was a total bust. This might be useful if you were doing marine navigation, or some such, but it’s not for road travellers.

I haven’t found anything else for the Mac that looked promising. Part of that is because I am looking for Canadian mapping info. There seemed to be a couple of other choices if you were going to be U.S. only.

So, I tried looking for palm software instead.

I wanted to get TomTom, but it doesn’t look like they sell the “software only” version any more, or if they do, it wasn’t clear from their web site. I asked a question on their tech support pages, but haven’t gotten a response.

After much googling, I found Mapopolis, which is close to being exactly what I wanted. I find the map display to be somewhat ugly, but it has all the features I want. There are two issues with it, however:

  1. As soon as I connect the GPS to it, the HD light on my LifeDrive starts flickering constantly. This continues as long as the GPS is connected. Given that the intended use would be for 8..10 hours of continuous driving, I don’t imagine my drive would last very long. The guys at Mapopolis are aware of the problem, and are looking at fixes (before you write to me: yes, I am running the latest version).
  2. One of the tech guys at Mapopolis claims that there are very few BT GPS solutions that work well with the Palm.

    Most do NOT work reliably with the new Palm architecture. Only the MC BTGPS we sell from our website and the Globalsat 338 have new microcode that handles the Palm LOOKAWAY.

    Needless to say, I don’t have either of those, but an MG668 instead.

So where does that leave us? I found a copy of Microsoft Streets & Trips for Windows, and I’m running it on VirtualPC. It still doesn’t do voice navigation, but it has maps of everywhere I wanted to go in Canada, reasonably good route planning, and a professional looking GUI. Connecting it to the GPS was trivial, and I have proven that it all works together well. Given that we’re leaving this week, that’s likely to be the best I can do, but man is it frustrating.

Oh, well.

Update (14:46): TomTom got back to me. Apparently, you can order just the software by calling them directly. Unfortunately, it’s $150 (probably US), so I guess I’ll have to see if anybody in Ottawa stocks TomTom gear; that’s too much money to just buy it based on reputation alone.

I know. I know!

I realize I haven’t been posting lately. Things were busy at work and blah, blah, blah…

Since we’re going to be traveling out east next week, I’ll be experimenting with posting while I’m away. Hopefully, I’ll even get some pictures up.

Dennis and the Pepsi Fac- I mean Ipod Mini

Well… There isn’t alot to tell here, but it was a day to celebrate! First of all, it was the the night after the last day of school so I was already pretty happy and celebrating as dad brought home tidings of pizza and Pepsi, he also granted us a new movie to watch! After the movie I checked under the pepsi cap and there was FREE IPOD MINI staring right at me! I had won 1 of 10 000 of those beautiful ipods! Ok, this is getting boring, let me start over:

It was the last day of school, but our teacher wouldn’t let us leave! It was hopeless! We wouldn’t get out of the class until September! The irony! The pain! The suffering! Suddenly, some kid got mad and turned all green like the hulk, he didn’t really look as scary though. The teacher went to get him a barf bag. As soon as the two of them were gone, the class tried the door, it was blocked with a chair or something. So I found a vent and single file the class squeezed through. While we were in the vent we thought we escaped the teacher and all was well but we were wrong. As I turned the corner we ran into a Mouse-Monster!!! Some unlucky kid in the back of the vent smelt like cheese. Poor guy didn’t stand a chance, as the mouse went into his pants to find the cheese, he burst out laughing and couldn’t stop. The rest of us made it out fine and went home to our familys… And a T.V.
On my way home I saw a news man that looked like some actor from the movie ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’ who said that the last of the five of the golden rubber things under the Pepsi caps had been found, they anounced the winners of a trip to the Pepsi Fac- I mean an Ipod Mini. I was sad so I bought a pepsi anyway. Just as I opened the pepsi the man went on on how the last person had been a fraud and the last cap was out there, I checked under the cap and I WON! Some 15 year olds saw and started to take it from me but some other guy pushed out of the way, he shouted “RUN KID RUN!” So i did. As I was running home to tell my beloved parents some wierd guy started singing some song, it sounded kind of like this: Cause he won a golden PepsithingthatsrubberunderthebottlecapyouknowwhatImean! The song wasn’t to good. I ran faster.
The End

Mom’s Away

Well, Mom went away to Knitting Camp in Wisconsin yesterday. Alas, Dad the dogs and I are on our own, wrestling with the vacuum, braving the laundry, and scrubbing the dishes. Man, do I miss mom! Mom should be back late on Wednesday, and I am counting down the days until I have to make my bed again.

Night 1:
Last night was a thunderstorm so our Rottweiler, Sunshine, was scared to death. (She was found in the wild before we got her from the Humane Society.) She was huddled in my bed until sometime after I fell asleep. Sunshine’s son, Lucky, (He seems mostly German Shepherd and part some other dogs) isn’t scared of anything though, he probably doesn’t even know what he should feel. He would just stand in the rain, get wet and then come inside. Other than that there isn’t much else to tell, so I’ll just leave it at that for our first night without mom.

Night 2:
Well, for night #2 I got to stay up later than usual as Dad and I went to a party sort of thing for the opening for the 6th Harry Potter book. Since The Harry Potter books can’t sell until midnight the store was ready to open but the doors didn’t until 12:00AM. Of course the second we showed one of the people that works there our pre-order form she said “Oh, you’re the Wilsons? We love Debbie.” (lol- laugh out loud) From Bookstores to Knitting and Quilting stores, everybody knows my mom!
(Once again, my dad read the entire book the next day.)

Eclipse 3.1 is out

Eclipse R3.1 is out the door. Actually, it went yesterday at around noon. I just checked the downloads page and we’ve gone past the 200,000 mark. Wow.

Update (August 8, 2005): We crossed the million download mark last weekend. Forty days. Wow!

Palm, the LifeDrive and the Universal Keyboard

Well. I picked up the LifeDrive yesterday. It has a very nice screen, and is reasonably fast when it wants to be. I am definitely seeing the issue that others have described: frequent pauses as it accesses the HD. I don’t think this will bother me in the longer term, but it will take some getting used to.

I also bought one of the Universal Keyboards. I honestly think this is the nicest of the Palm keyboards yet. Very usable, with a full 4 rows of keys. The only issue is it’s quite heavy. Probably not enough to stop me from keeping it in my bag, however.

Ad astra per aspera