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Old 08-22-2007, 01:06 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Bonjour tous, hello all

I work for VIA Rail Canada away from home on the road and travel across Canada between Toronto, Vancouver, and north to Churchill for a living. I'm very new to both GPS and smartphones.

Less than a month ago, I acquired an 8100 through Rogers after explaining my need to the rep for GPS in remote areas, and was told not a problem... this device will suit you fine instead of other offerings from Palm, HTC, and HP.

BB maps, Google maps, Wayfinder will all work but my best bet will be TeleNav...

So I purchased an external receiver (Qstarz 32-32) and hit the road on my next assignment...

Interesting.... the first 2 recommended programs "died" as we left the suburbs and lost reception, only to pick up again 24 hours later when reception kicked in again approaching Toronto....

I contacted Wayfinder and was told the same will happen if I purchase their product.

So I called TeleNav customer service with fingers crossed, only to be told the same....

WOW! Talk about feeling screwed without even being kissed from Rogers....

I then contacted Canada GPS. GPS Solution Centre for Phone, Palm, Pocket PC and Laptop. Bluetooth GPS, CF, SDIO, USB GPS. TomTom, Destinator, iGuidance, Odyssey, fugawi & Wayfinder mapping Software. and "Tony" told me about "SPOT" with it's pre-load map capabilities...

Sounded too good to be true!

I tried the demo version which is very limited due to the time limit, so I pulled out the credit card and bought the full version with high hopes....

Only to find out that most maps that are sold (ie GEOTIFF.... etc) are only supported on the Windows Mobile platform and Palm OS.... the Java platform is not available....

The "SPOT" rep I then contacted proceeded to tell me that maps in the "worldfile" format are the only ones that can be pre-loaded.... otherwise I have to use WMS...

Which takes me full circle....

Twice you-know-what and still no kisses....

Not wanting to part from my crack-berry, I contacted Rogers for help only to be given an apology and a $100 dollar rebate towards a HTC TyTn....

I then called RIM and the csx rep I spoke with said he only knows of TeleNav and it's triangular formation that offers GPS... he was unaware of any other programs for Blackberry that provide this service...

Unreal....

Grrrr.... I've grown to love my 8100 and don't want to part from it but my work requires GPS outside of reception areas.... and I'm not a big fan of Microsoft.

Is my only option changing phones?

Or does anyone have any recommendations on how to purchase and pre-load "worldfile" maps onto my 8100....

Or even prehaps I've missed something here and you can fill me in...

Thanks for your help in advance.

C
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Old 08-22-2007, 07:55 AM   #2 (permalink)
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There are no real GPS solutions as of yet that put maps on the SD Cards, so you need to get a different device for now. RIM needs to open up access to developers to the GPS and sd Card etc and I a not sure the carriers will like that. I have a pretty thorough page on my tips site on GPS.
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Old 08-22-2007, 08:42 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stinsonddog View Post
There are no real GPS solutions as of yet that put maps on the SD Cards, so you need to get a different device for now. RIM needs to open up access to developers to the GPS and sd Card etc and I a not sure the carriers will like that.
I don't think access to the SD Cards and/or GPS are what's holding offline maps back, because that is already accessible (I already use the APIs that would be required in bbTracker).

In my opinion there are multiple factors:
  • Know-How: It's hard to get navigation right
  • Processing Power: Doing it on the server is more managable
  • Selling Stuff: Server-Based navigation can be used for better copy protection
  • Map Data Licensing Terms: The producers probably have special terms for the map data, where they have to pay less if it's only streamed and not stored on the client
  • Updating: Traditional Standalone GPS do offline maps, but they are not particulary good with updates
  • Market: Producers of traditional Standalone GPS units still want to sell their hardware and if offline maps become available for smartphones, then this will get much harder.

I'm sure that some reasons are missing and I might be wrong with some of them, after all that's just my opinion.
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Old 08-22-2007, 08:51 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by saua View Post
I don't think access to the SD Cards and/or GPS are what's holding offline maps back, because that is already accessible (I already use the APIs that would be required in bbTracker).

In my opinion there are multiple factors:
  • Know-How: It's hard to get navigation right
  • Processing Power: Doing it on the server is more managable
  • Selling Stuff: Server-Based navigation can be used for better copy protection
  • Map Data Licensing Terms: The producers probably have special terms for the map data, where they have to pay less if it's only streamed and not stored on the client
  • Updating: Traditional Standalone GPS do offline maps, but they are not particulary good with updates
  • Market: Producers of traditional Standalone GPS units still want to sell their hardware and if offline maps become available for smartphones, then this will get much harder.
I'm sure that some reasons are missing and I might be wrong with some of them, after all that's just my opinion.
Great info. I was under the impression that access to the SD cards was more limited and now of course with ATT messing with the GPS that changes the dynamic but we will have to see how that is implemented.
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Old 08-22-2007, 09:20 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Keep your BB and purchase a small handheld/pocket size GPS unit like the Mio Digiwalker, the new Michelin Unit, or other full GPS unit. If you want, you can ditch the external receiver (or use it for GPS mapping with you BB when you're in coverage areas).

I don't see why you need to change phones.

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Old 08-22-2007, 10:04 AM   #6 (permalink)
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You might be able to try Mapquest Navigator. They might have a version that can fit on your phone.

It will preload the necessary maps for your route when you enter it. Then if you leave coverage area, the maps continue on. Just stay on the route or else you lose functionality.

Hope that helps.
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Old 08-22-2007, 06:41 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Thank you all for the info and quick replies!

Much appreciated!

I'll be sure to check out your tips page Stinsonddog, and Saua, you bring up some good thoughts as to why us BB holders are still awaiting pre-loaded SD-GPS to be fully developed.

Quote:
Originally Posted by tomtheguitarguy View Post
Keep your BB and purchase a small handheld/pocket size GPS unit like the Mio Digiwalker, the new Michelin Unit, or other full GPS unit. If you want, you can ditch the external receiver (or use it for GPS mapping with you BB when you're in coverage areas).

I don't see why you need to change phones.

tomtheguitarguy
I see what you are saying Tom, and I considered this option before I went ahead with the purchase of my 8100.

The main reason why I decided not to go this route is because I wanted to simplify and reduce what I carry on me while working. I already need to wear a flashlight, id-acess card, multi-tool, keys, and a Motorola radio on my belt.... plus my BB.

Thank god when I wear my suit jacket, it covers most of these items up...

Adding a small handheld/pocket size GPS on top of this would just be too much... I already dis-like wearing my BB in it's holster and would rather carry it in my pocket, however, I have found with past phones they do tend to get banged up a little (from helping in the baggage car or leaning on them while performing certain duties) or even slightly damp (from helping in the dining car).

Why would I need to carry it on me at all times and couldn't just place somewhere and get it when needed?

Our trains are between 18-32 cars long... 1/3rd to half a mile long and carry a few hundred passengers. I"m always on my feet walking between these cars, performing my job duties and each trip is 4-5 days on the road.

The main reason why I took up this project is because we are constantly looking at improving safety upon our trains as well as improving our passengers experience.

Lets say we are in an unfortunate accident and are unable to communicate with the engineers due to them being injured. I need to know exactly where we are located so first response teams know where to find us and don"t loose precious minutes "trying" to locate our position (as mentioned earlier, we travel through various remote areas). Specialized topographic maps with the railway and mile markers would be key for this.

Or we are travelling around some body of water, point of interest, etc. and passengers would like to know what said feature is, where we are, you name it.... I'd be better positioned to provide an accurate answer.

Having a single, handheld device with topographic maps, GPS capabilities, voice, web-acess, e-mail (plus some MP3's/a movie to enjoy during my rest period included to boot ) would be just perfect, instead of having to carry 3-5 separate ones in my grip.

Dlpisgreat, thank you for the insight. I'm going to check it out.

Once again all, thank you for the replies and info!

C
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Old 08-23-2007, 02:04 AM   #8 (permalink)
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If you know in advance which area you travel through and don't mind doing some preparation, then TrackBuddy (TrekBuddy - J2ME application for GPS tracking) might be right for you. It does not do navigation and does not download tracks. What it does do, is show pre-installed maps of the area. You've got to find or prepare those maps on your own, 'though.
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Old 08-23-2007, 10:28 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by viarailcanada View Post
Thank you all for the info and quick replies!

Much appreciated!

I'll be sure to check out your tips page Stinsonddog, and Saua, you bring up some good thoughts as to why us BB holders are still awaiting pre-loaded SD-GPS to be fully developed.



I see what you are saying Tom, and I considered this option before I went ahead with the purchase of my 8100.

The main reason why I decided not to go this route is because I wanted to simplify and reduce what I carry on me while working. I already need to wear a flashlight, id-acess card, multi-tool, keys, and a Motorola radio on my belt.... plus my BB.

Thank god when I wear my suit jacket, it covers most of these items up...

Adding a small handheld/pocket size GPS on top of this would just be too much... I already dis-like wearing my BB in it's holster and would rather carry it in my pocket, however, I have found with past phones they do tend to get banged up a little (from helping in the baggage car or leaning on them while performing certain duties) or even slightly damp (from helping in the dining car).

Why would I need to carry it on me at all times and couldn't just place somewhere and get it when needed?

Our trains are between 18-32 cars long... 1/3rd to half a mile long and carry a few hundred passengers. I"m always on my feet walking between these cars, performing my job duties and each trip is 4-5 days on the road.

The main reason why I took up this project is because we are constantly looking at improving safety upon our trains as well as improving our passengers experience.

Lets say we are in an unfortunate accident and are unable to communicate with the engineers due to them being injured. I need to know exactly where we are located so first response teams know where to find us and don"t loose precious minutes "trying" to locate our position (as mentioned earlier, we travel through various remote areas). Specialized topographic maps with the railway and mile markers would be key for this.

Or we are travelling around some body of water, point of interest, etc. and passengers would like to know what said feature is, where we are, you name it.... I'd be better positioned to provide an accurate answer.

Having a single, handheld device with topographic maps, GPS capabilities, voice, web-acess, e-mail (plus some MP3's/a movie to enjoy during my rest period included to boot ) would be just perfect, instead of having to carry 3-5 separate ones in my grip.

Dlpisgreat, thank you for the insight. I'm going to check it out.

Once again all, thank you for the replies and info!

C
My suggestion was based on your statement that you were already carrying an external receiver, so I was suggesting ditch the receiver and carry the external gps. NO "extra" stuff, and always available GPS.
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Old 08-23-2007, 01:24 PM   #10 (permalink)
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As a small consolation, in the event of an emergency, you would still be able to find your lat-long even though you are out of data coverage area and have no maps available, to the emergency response teams.

(I'm assuming radio contact if out of data and cellular range).

Late add: you'd be able to find your lat-long on an 8800 but I am not sure with an 8100 + puck; since the 8800 has a refresh option for the gps on a built in menu. Leaving what I said above intact, someone can correct me if I'm mistaken in the case of 8100's with external pucks.
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