Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Maps and mobiles

Avian GPS
Originally uploaded by 4tunate1
We interrupt our normal program...

I have a few more posts I want to make about the Scottish Learning Festival and TeachMeet but I found a new trick that I can do with my camera phone and wanted to share it now while I was still ridiculously pleased with what I discovered I could do. :-)

I have not made an EduFlickr post for some time (something I'll need to put right soon) but over a year ago I talked about geotagging. It has become easier to geotag photographs, for example Flickr allows you to place a photo on a map, but I still find it fiddly. During the summer however, I bought a version of TomTom that runs on my PDA and uses Bluetooth to connect to an external GPS unit. I thought this would help with geotagging and to a certain extent it does. I used it a fair bit while on holiday in Bath (see for example this view over the cricket pitch at Norton St Philips). What I did was use TomTom at the location I took pictures and noted the latitude and longitude from the GPS. While this was easier than fiddling about with online maps after the event, it was still a pain because I couldn't find a way to export the location data from TomTom. What I had to do was write down the position myself beside a label that I hoped would remind me where I was when I took the photo. As I said, easier than messing about with online maps but prone to errors and still more fiddly that I would have liked.

What I wanted was a way to automate the process as much as possible, or at least a way to export the GPS data electronically so I could copy and paste the geotags into Flickr. I know that some cameras are beginning to appear that have GPS built in but a quick check on Google confirms that they are still unusual and expensive... besides I already have a GPS unit and a perfectly adequate camera.

I was very pleased therefore to discover this article on the Avec Mobile site: The Easy Way to Post Photos with Geographic Coordinates on a Map. It does exactly what it says on the tin. Brilliant! Stunningly brilliant even! It uses the Shozu service (which I've used a bit before, e.g. Science Cow) and makes use of Shozu's GPS feature - something that I wasn't even aware existed. What's the matter with the Shozu people? They should be shouting about this feature from the rooftops! It's still not perfect, but it's as close to perfect as I'll get for free with my existing kit. Now when I want to geotag a picture, I'll just take a second picture with the cameraphone and let Shozu geotag it. Then, later on, I can replace the cameraphone photo with the photo from my camera - which will inherit the geotags from the low-resolution version. Have I said before that this is brilliant? :-)

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Mark said...

Hi there
Thanks for your wrapup of ShoZu :-) we're glad you like the geotagging feature. We show this off at many trade shows where we exhibit our product as well as in our press releases and it always gets a great reception. But if you know of other communities where you think I should be "screaming from the rooftops" then I'd love to hear about them :-) We are always open to new suggestions.


David said...

Hell Mark

You chaps are good.

The only suggestion I would make is to put the GPS feature on the first "Share-It page of your site... but that's just me. I suppose it is a bit of a specialist interest. :-)

Mark Jambas said...

FYI we went live with a brand new site just recently with this very reason in mind! So definitely hearing ya there.

If you're digging the advanced features of ShoZu, wait til you see what we've added in v3.3 just around the corner ;-)