Posts Tagged ‘geotagging’

GeoURL Service

November 16, 2009

GeoURL

I found that Geotagging my WordPress blog posts has some utility even before WordPress release features that use the information.

GeoURL has a directory of goecoded web sites (pages?). GeoURL describes itself as

… a location-to-URL reverse directory. This will allow you to find URLs by their proximity to a given location. Find your neighbor’s blog, perhaps, or the web page of the restaurants near you. GeoURL is listing 4,896,702 sites.

It has a tool to add a geotagged web page to their directory and then list web sites that are located nearby. I think the reasoning is a bit weak: there are better ways of locating restaurants aren’t there? It seems like a solution running around seeking a problem to solve. But that’s okay – many things started out like that.

So I tried introducing my first geotagged WordPress post to the service to see what it would find.


You can click on any of the thumbnails above to see a full-sized picture.

  1. The “ping form” for GeoURL is at http://geourl.org/ping/. You only need to add the URL of the web page that has been geotagged.
  2. Press “Submit” and wait.
  3. If everything goes fine you’ll see this. You can click on “see your neighbors” and see:
  4. This list of sites that GeoURL thinks are close to me. The way they state Bangkok addresses is strange. That’s probably for the same reasons that Jeff Friedl’s Reverse Geocoding for pictures in Lightroom is so problematic – inconsistent address formats around the world.

You can check the results by clicking


GeoURL
That was a good exercise but it is of limited use. I will be interested to try the tools that WordPress introduces to support geotagged web pages.

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Geotagging My Posts

November 14, 2009

I just signed up for a new WordPress feature that lets me geotag my blog posts and comments.

I’m a fan of geotagging all the pictures I take and even trying to geotag other interesting pictures I find so this is a natural extension.

I have updated my user profile on WordPress to include the approximate location of my apartment in the Din Deang district of Bangkok. The Thai word “ชานเมือง” below is “Chanmuang” – a road close to the apartment. It’s not the mailing address but it is close enough.

My WordPress Location

My WordPress Location

I can disable that location being stored for each post. That’s most use for somebody posting from a mobile device. I am old-fashioned and generally post from my computer at home.

I don’t think there is anything to prevent me from lying about my location.

When you edit your user page WordPress can try to detect your location automatically. It failed in my case even though I responded Yes to a request from Firefox to allow the request.

My little Feedjit widget is good at locating my location-based on my IP Address (at least to the granularity of “Bangkok, Thailand”).

I do not see any concern about revealing the approximate location on my apartment on my photos or my blog posts. I live in a large apartment block guarded by aggressive Thai security professionals.

Apartment SecurityIf anybody takes exception to one of my posts then they won’t be able to get near me. I am usually cautious about privacy. If I lived in a single family home I would be more reticent.

WordPress says that the geocoding is not human-readable yet. I think they are hoping that lots of their bloggers will register their locations. Then they’ll be able to launch some more interesting services as they explain on their help page here.

I guess they’ll only add geocoding to posts made after I enabled it. This will be the first one. I looked at the page source to find out what all this talk about

Geotagged posts getting marked up with the geo microformat, geo.position and ICBM meta tags, and GeoRSS and W3C geodata in feeds. All of this stuff is “machine readable”, not “human readable”; it’s hidden from view.

entailed. I found two new tags at the very end of the header:

<meta name='geo.position' content='13.769588;100.569959' />
<meta name='ICBM' content='13.769588, 100.569959' />

I can’t keep up with all these acronyms. I found out that the ICBM tag isn’t directly related to Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles but is a reference to the GeoURL service. However, historically there is a connection: see here.

If I get people from Flickr or Nikon showing up outside the apartment because I’ve said bad things about them I will only have myself to blame.

Geotagged Photos to EveryTrail (2)

September 4, 2009

Here’s my “simple” method of getting geotags from my photos into a form that EveryTrail accepts. See here for why I need to do this.

I keep all my photos in a Lightroom database. My principal camera, the Nikon Coolpix P6000 adds geotag information to the photos whenever it can. For photos that aren’t geotagged I use Jeff Friedl’s add-in for Lightroom.

EveryTrail accepts tracklog information in a format called GPX – GPS Interchange Format. It’s XML with a defined schema. I found that I can use the LR/Transporter add-in for Lightroom to export a file in the correct format.

Here’s a screenshot of the LR/Transporter screen I use.

LR/Transporter Export Settings

LR/Transporter Export Settings

There is a standard header that defines the file then a line for each photo giving the latitude, longitude and date/time. Finally there’s a standard footer.

There’s no need to export a file per image in LR/Transporter – the summary at the end suffices.

You don’t need to export the actual photos – you can use LR/Transporter to export the metadata in this format my selecting “Export Metadata Using LR/Transporter…” from the Lightroom “File…Plug-in Extras…” menu.

Note that if you use Jeff’s GPS plugin you must write the shadow GPS data back to the file’s EXIF using the instructions in the add-in.

Here’s an example of the file produced by LR/Transporter:

GPX File from LR/Transporter

GPX File from LR/Transporter

The only problem is that EveryTrail expects dates to be in mm/dd/yyyy format and this export is in dd/mm/yyyy format.It would be great if LR/Transporter let you specify the date format.

It’s easy to do a global edit to change that before presenting the file to EveryTrail.

Notepad ++ Date Replace

Notepad ++ Date Replace

You wouldn’t believe how much easier this is than the multi-step approach I tried before using two file format converters. Thumbs up to LR/Transporter!

A Walk in the Park

August 21, 2009

I’ve worked out a process to create trips on EveryTrail using the geocoding information from my camera. I’ll write another post on the process I developed.

Here’s the trip I described here – a walk around Benchasiri Park in central Bangkok.

A Walk in Benchasiri Park, Bangkok at EveryTrail

EveryTrail Benchasiri Park Walk

EveryTrail Benchasiri Park Walk

Map created by EveryTrail: Share and Plan your Trips

The Big Draw of a GPS Run – NYTimes.com

August 20, 2009

The Big Draw of a GPS Run – NYTimes.com.

I have been plotting maps of my travels on Picasa Web using the geotagged photos from my Nikon Coolpix P6000 and geotags that I added to pictures I took with other cameras.

For example, here is a map of a walk I took around Benchasiri Park in Bangkok.

PicasaWeb Map 2009-08-03 2

There’s a lake in the middle of the park but the Google Map does not show it.

I never thought of planning a route as a piece of art and then “drawing” it with my pictures such as is described in this article. It’s a nice idea, although I’d probably end up under a tuk-tuk or falling into a canal as I tried to follow my planned route precisely.

I looked at the site EveryTrail that is mentioned in the article. I was thinking of plotting my trip from Bangkok to Mahachai, Samut Prakan by train. I noted that they only have one Thailand train trip in their library. Wow, something new I can play with!

However …

EveryTrail’s assumption is that you have a tracklog file produced by a portable GPS unit. I don’t know the details but I think it is fundamentally a text file that includes a date / time and a lat/long pair.

With EveryTrail you import the tracklog and they plot it on a map for you. Then you can add photos later.

But I don’t have a tracklog, I just have the geotagged photos. Thus it’s hard for me to use EveryTrail. They give users a third option of plotting the route by hand, but where’s the fun in that?

It would be great if the Nikon Coolpix P6000 produced a tracklog. It only tells you where you are when you take a picture. GPS units produce tracklog entries continuously. That’s how the PhotoTrakr works.

Now, if the Nikon Coolpix P6000 was an open system, perhaps running Android, then I could get an app that enhances the camera’s functionality. But no, the Nikon is a closed system so that isn’t an option. Annoying.

The other approach is to make a tracklog from a set of geotagged photos in Lightroom.

I can use the LR/Transporter addin to process a set of files and write a summary file with the GPS information. It does not understand Jeff Friedl’s shadow GPS data, but it’s an Export plugin. Thus I can use Jeff’s “GPS Injector” to put the data into the file for LR/Transporter to extract.

Then I have to use a couple of utilities to get the file into a format that EveryTrail understands. I am experimenting with a utility called “GPS Utility” that will read a CSV file and export a file in GPX interchange format.

Then I can import that to EveryTrail and Bob’s your uncle!

Cyclographing with the PhotoTrackr « The colorful wolf

August 18, 2009

http://rheide.wordpress.com/2008/09/06/cyclographic-with-the-phototrackr/

PhotoTrackr

This looks like a neat toy for Geotagging if your camera does not support it. You carry the PhotoTrackr around and it records your location. You then mate that with the pictures you took and their software geocodes the photos, interpolating as necessary.

Carp: Why not PhotoTracker? Did Flickr start the habit of omitting a perfectly respectable letter ‘e’? The have Organizr and so on like it is their trademark.

I wonder if it produces a track log that is compatible with Jeff Friedl’s Geocoding Plugin for Lightroom. I am lazy to use new software if I don’t have to.

PhotoTrackr is made by a company called GiSTEQ, based in Brea, California. They have five models ranging in price from US$99 to US$169. It appears they don’t have a distributor in Thailand – the nearest is Singapore.

The device has a vibration sensor that switches the device on when it senses movement. Otherwise it is in sleep mode. They claim Time to First Fix (TTFF) of less than one minute from a cold start. That’s a lot better than my Nikon!

Of course I don’t need the device – I always take my Nikon Coolpix P6000 with me and I can geocode pictures taken with other cameras with reference to the geocoded ones from the Nikon. That is a bit of a pain and this solution would be easier but I have other things to spend my money on.

One possible issue is that according to the comparison chart on the GiSTEQ site here only the two most expensive models support geocoding RAW files.

The GiSTEQ site links to a very detailed review from PocketGPSWorld.com. I found this picture of the device in use amusing. I think the author bought his clothes on Sukhumvit Road.

PhotoTrackr in use

Another GPS Enabled Camera Released: Digital Photography Review

August 14, 2009

Samsung unveils CL65 wireless compact with 1152k LCD: Digital Photography Review.

Great! The more cameras that are released the better tools there will be out there for managing and displaying geotagged pictures.

I like the little tweak that

The ST1000 will display the city name and region on the camera’s LCD screen, providing users with a real-time display of the location where they’re taking a photo, as well as a handy reference for when they are reviewing images on the camera’s LCD screen.

It must be a reverse geocode lookup to a server or have a database on-board. I’d like to see how well that works in practice. Having “Bangkok, Thailand” on the display is nice but it would be better to go down a level to the khet (district) – Din Daeng in my case. When I was out yesterday I was on the border between Wang Thong Lang and Lat Phrao and I would have liked to have known.

However there’s no standardization on how that is displayed worldwide which is, I think, why they limit it to the city. Jeff Friedl’s GPS plugin has a lot of trouble with this. That reminds me: I must write to him with examples of where I think he makes mistakes with Bangkok addresses.

Maybe the internet connectivity of this camera is useful. In contrast with my Nikon Coolpix P6000 which only works with Nikon’s proprietary site My Picture Town. I have never tried it. Restricting the camera thus is a waste of precious recources: grams and cubic millimetres. They had to find space for a full sized ethernet jack as well as writing a while load of software to connect the thing.

I am suspicious of the Samsung’s ultra compact design with its folded optics. I will be very interested if DP Review do a full review of the camera.

I Never Went Outside the Station

August 4, 2009
Whoops!

Whoops!

I took a short photograph trip around Hua Lamphong Station again today. I cannot resist wheneven I am in the neighbourhood. I had a coffee at Black Canyon and then wandered down Platform 5.

When I plotted the pictures on the PicasaWeb map I see that three showed me on the nearby expressway. All were taken inside the station and I guess the roof distorted the signals or something.

I thought it was amusing. But the message is clear: never use a consumer camera’s GPS functions for anything critical. That’s not what it is designed for.