Thursday, May 22, 2008

New Trial: Location on the Web

I have just uploaded another small test suite for enabling geo-tracking on the web. This is similar to the Carnegie Great Student Run demo, but I plan to have it individualised for several people so that each can update their location - and show it on a web page. In the image below you can see my current location as it is in the database (earlier problems re. updating have been solved now). This is a "live" IFRAME showing Google Maps; as I keep updating the position and the software, the image actually will change.

Since my first entry of this blog entry I have dobe a few modifications: the refresh is automatically triggered, depending on the time the user last had updated the location. Over time, the icon fades slowly away when no location updates are received. The icon color depends on the category of the user - this is to prepare for future collaborative work. The icon blinks when the updates are from GPS within the last 5 minutes.

A smaller version of this map is included in this blog here in the left column under "My Location".

Stay tuned for more news!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

2nd event: "Mini Marathon"

Right now the second of today's run events is on: a 1.25 km "Mini Marathon".
They are running right now, should be finished any time.

The tracking experiment went very well.
Paul Hartshorne, Simon Crossley, and Sean McCabe were tracked by their mobile phones. Sean's phone/GPS seemed to provide only rarely updates, but the two other devices sent their locations in regularly, so one could watch as the icons moved across the run.

I realised that I might have made a mistake in plotting the run course: the runners were sometimes a bit off and run where there was no track marked on the screen. I had taken the course from the official Great Run website, but that might have been an older version (or I might have left off a few corner points).

In the course of the testing I also uncovered a small problem re. the icond redraw - which is now solved. Now I can add a bit of functionality. Great would be to record the whole track... is no problem, but I had not implemented this as I did not want to run out og memory and storage space during the run.

Overall, it was a great success, I think!

First Runner in: 15:33

the first one just came in, I did not hear the name... but quite a good time for the 5000 m distance: 15 min 33 sec.

Great Student Run - Update

Just now I am sitting in my office, hacking on the StudentRun website and trying to experiment with a few last second changes.
This is now the very first time that there is more than just a simulation running... Three people are currently live on the screen.

This site is also shown on the Leeds Millenium Square Big Screen.

There is a delay: many more people registered for the run last minute, and there are still long lines at the registration destk. It is now 10:30, and the run should start... but it will be delayed until 11:00.

I will now head out onto the run course, to take a few pictures and shoot some HD video. You might see me on the web cam... :)

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Northern England Heritage

Here in Northern England is the cradle of industrialisation. The train line Stockton-Darlington was in 1825 the very first train line for steam traction of passenger trains, and steam power was used in many factories.

The bases of this was the coal which was mined across a wide areas in numerous mines. Nowadays, the mines are almost all closed - only 7 mines are still open. The n the whole area. The National Coal Mining Museum of England, located near Wakefield, is a very interesting remnant from those mines. It is still classified as a working mine, and special safety precautions apply. Miners at this mine now work as tourist guides, and accompany tourist groups when they descend down into the earth.

The lift goes only do a depth of about 100 m. Other mines go up to 2400 m deep. But still, it is quite an experience, to be down there in total darkness, coal around, the danger of Methan gas present, and to hear about the stories from past times and heavy work.

Another interesting site is the tunnel of the Huddersfield Narrows Canal under the Pennines. Completed in 1811, the Standedge Tunnel allowed ships to cross the Pennines, hereby linking the UK East and West Coast. The tunnel oppened again a few years ago, and now tourists can go on a 1/2 h boat ride into the tunnel, or can cross it by themselves on a few days during the week. Takes up to 3 hours to fully cross the mountains, from Yorkshire to Lancashire! The train line from Leeds to Manchester passes near the canal in a parallel tunnel - after its opening in 1845 the canal was no longer important and fell into decline.

And finally there are still steam engines around, to be seen in action once a month. Many of the old factories (mills) have closed down and are either abandoned or torn down. But at the Ellenroad Steam Museum they preserved the central mill steam engine for visitors to look at. Impressive when the big wheel is rotating around fast, and the steam pushes the metal beams back and forth!