Monday, February 19, 2007

SpaceNavigator and airport customs

As a result of the Google Maps mashup contest organized by OJOBuscador and Google Maps Spain, I have had the opportunity to visit Googleplex. During one of the meetings I received a cool present from Peter Birch (PM of Google Earth): a SpaceNavigator, a 3D mouse device. Needless to say that it works great with Google Earth. Thanks Peter!

The device is highly sensitive, with movements of a few degrees/few millimeters (you won't be tired using it) and the more you get used to the six degrees of freedom it offers, the more you appreciate the smooth movements that you can easily do and the possibility to perform actions in Google Earth simultaneously without stopping repeatedly to change the action type.

With SpaceNavigator you can literally 'fly' inside canyons and amongst mountains. I'd recommend Yosemite National Park and the Grand Canyon as good places to practice :). I've used it a lot lately while working in the new features of Wikiloc for Google Earth.

The only downside: airport customs. I have to say I got as many blank-faced WTF-is-this looks as anyone could want. In San Francisco airport they asked me to open the box and after a while of examining the 'thing' the policeman said...

And this is...?
A kind of 3D mouse -I replied
A mouse uh?

Back in Heathrow airport in London, where they have very strict security measures lately, the same situation happened: weird faces staring and fingers pointing to the X-Ray panels (I'm not kidding), me saying “It's a mouse device...” but that time they even asked me to plug the thing in my laptop and use it. Luckily, I already had the drivers installed and everything went fine :)

Frankly I understand perfectly the security measures since the device is small but its weight to size ratio is huge since it's made of solid metal (zoom out is performed by pulling up the control) and the aspect is more of a detonator than a computer device or mouse. So expect that situation if you travel with such devices onboard. Perhaps from now on in San Francisco or Heathrow you'll hear something like 'everything's ok, it's just another SpaceNavigator'... :)

If you want to read more and even see some videos of SpaceNavigator in action, visit Stefan Geens or Frank Taylor posts about the subject.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Dynamic overlays in Google Earth / Capas dinámicas en Google Earth

[Versión en Español mas abajo]

A few months ago I wrote about how you can use Wikiloc to visualize your GPS tracklogs and waypoints overlaid on third party imagery and maps in 2D on Google Maps and later on how to do the same in 3D with Google Earth. Regarding the latter, I'm glad to announce that from now on those 3D overlays are dynamically updated to a better level of detail when you zoom in. You get detail only when you need it, thus saving bandwidth and resources to you and also to the Web Map Service providers registered in Wikiloc (14 at the moment) that offer those additional image layers.

This new feature of Wikiloc, together with the Wikiloc's KML Feed, work only with Google Earth version 4.0.2737 and up (you can download it here).

If you want to check it out by yourself follow these steps:

1- Open for example Porcupine Rim mountain bike ride in Wikiloc.

2- Click "More Maps" (upper-right area on the map)

3- From the servers list that appears, click on the WMS server "TerraServer USA WMS - Topo Maps"

4- Up next click on "3D View" next to the 'More Maps' button and open the KML file with Google Earth.

5- Once in Google Earth, fly closer to the ground and you'll see the Topographic map updating to a better level of detail.

The following video shows off the process but since the quality is quite bad (Google Earth and CamStudio is too much for my laptop), I encourage you to check it out following the steps above :)


Hace unos meses escribia un post sobre como utilizar Wikiloc para visualizar tus rutas y puntos de interés GPS sobre mapas e imágenes de servidores WMS externos en 2D sobre Google Maps y posteriormente como hacer lo mismo en 3 dimensiones con Google Earth. A partir de ahora los mapas e imágenes externas que visualices en Google Earth aumentan automáticamente de detalle al acercarnos (zoom in). Obtienes el detalle cuando lo requires, economizando ancho de banda y recursos tuyos y del proveedor de servidores WMS registrados en Wikiloc (14 hasta el momento) y que nos ofrecen esas capas de información. Por cierto, no he podido hacer funcionar SIGPAC para toda España y por eso ya no aparece en la lista; lo seguiré intentando)

Esta nueva funcionalidad, y también el feed KML de Wikiloc, requiere de la versión 4.0.2737 o superior de Google Earth (puedes descargarla aquí).

Puedes probarlo tu mismo siguiendo estos pasos:

1- Abres por ejemplo ruta de bici de montaña por el Puigmal.

2- Clic en "Otros Mapas" (parte superior derecha del mapa)

3- De la lista de servidores WMS que aparece, haz clic por ejemplo en "Base Topogràfica Catalunya 1:50000"

4- Pincha en "Ver en 3D" al lado del botón de 'Otros Mapas' y abre el fichero KML resultante con Google Earth.

5- Ya en Google Earth, aproximate a la ruta y verás que el mapa topográfico se va actualizando a mejores niveles de detalle a medida que te aproximas.

El siguiente video muestra el proceso pero es de muy poca calidad (Google Earth simultaneamente con CamStudio es demasiado para mi portátil). Seguir los pasos de arriba te llevará menos tiempo que ver el vídeo y lo podrás apreciar mucho mejor.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Buscar por tipo de actividad / Search by outdoor activity

[Español] Tal como muestra la figura de abajo a partir de ahora en Wikiloc puedes buscar rutas y puntos de interés del tipo de actividad que desees, bici de montaña, senderismo, alpinismo... Para ello haz clic en el icono de 'todas las actividades' (el del simbolo de asterisco) de la barra de búsqueda, selecciona el tipo de actividad que desees del panel que aparece y clica en 'Buscar'.

[English] The screen shot below shows a new feature of Wikiloc that will allow you to search GPS tracklogs and waypoints of your preferred outdoor activities, be mountain biking, ice climbing, hiking... to check it out just click on the 'all activities' icon (the one with the * symbol on it) from the search bar, select the activity you wish from the panel that appears and click 'Search'.

Regional government chooses Wikiloc!

I'm proud to announce that the Consell Comarcal del Baix Empordà, a regional government agency from Girona (Spain), has chosen Wikiloc as a way to show off and promote the fourteen mountain bike trails that they maintain around the region.

To see what this region offers to be chosen as a preferred place to live by people like Michael Schumacher (F1 world champion) or Lance Armstrong (who has his European training headquarters in Girona and so do several of his US Postal Service team colleagues), you can visit CCBE or Girona web sites.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Search GPS tracks and waypoints with Google Earth

I've just added a new feature to Wikiloc: a KML feed for Google Earth that let you explore the world discovering GPS tracks, routes or waypoints while you fly around in 3D. Basically think in a 3D browser for Wikiloc.

If you want to check it out by yourself just open Wikiloc's KML Feed, fly to an area of your interest and stop moving for about 2 seconds, if there are GPS tracklogs and waypoints within the area you're viewing, they'll start to show up.

If you click on the icons you'll see elevation profiles, images and descriptions for the track or point of interest.

It's beta (of course) so please let me know whatever suggestion you have or things you like or dislike, that will help me evolve this feature to a better one for all of us. Thanks!

[UPDATE]: This link is no longer active since you can access all the trails in Wikiloc directly from Google Earth, +info: