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GPS Tracking for the Rest of us…

June 23rd, 2009 | Category: cypher-sec.org

Many feel the pain of losing a valuable device (such as an expensive cellphone).

Many don’t want, can’t afford or simply don’t feel the iPhone is worth the money, but would love the feature capability of tracking down their device when left somewhere like a bar, restaurant or cab.

First off (I love all my Mac stuff, so I’m NOT a hater)… despite what people think of my “devil’s advocate posts”. :P

On with the info: I personally use and prefer my Nokia N95, of which has had many functions the iThing brought out through “marketing” before and for a while now as well as doing some of them much better. ;)

One of those is the ability to track your device live and in the background, using it’s GPS, A-GPS or wifi. I ran into this 1st company while looking for a way to record my runs and biking times and trails. The application I started with on Symbian is by a company called 3DTracking. There product is great! It’s light on the processor, runs in the background, starts at boot (without the new handler’s knowledge and has features such as speed, direction and gps sat connection info, live tracking (obvious) recorded tracking, use of internal GPS or bluetooth GPS and distance in Miles or kilometers. The site you would track your device from (for free) is http://free.3dtracking.net and you can view it from nearly any device with a browser available today (although the site is built more for a computer screen’s size).

If you have a Symbian OS and want to give this a try, head on over to their site… I’m sure you will like it.

And, for those that don’t have an iThingy or a Symbian Device, you can always use Google’s Latitude (which works on many more devices than the above two and has been out longer then the iPhone’s app/function also. (I have to plug that since so many think the iThing is a god send that existed no where before “marketing”).

Anyway, with Google’s Latitude, you have the same features that 3Dtracking has (mentioned above) less speed (so far). Additionally, it’s viewable on just about any device for that “live tracking need” where “presently” you can’t view the live tracking info for an iThing from another iThing. And, like 3DTracking you can set the Latitude function of the google Maps app on your device to run in the background providing you with the same up to the date info you would need to find where your expensive device has walked off to.

It probably goes without saying, but (like any electronic or antenna based device)… you need a few things for this to work; power (to power the antenna and device so it does not die mid-search) and well, the correct antenna(s).

While you can use google Maps Latitude or 3DTracking from many mobile devices (including computers)… without cell coverage or an auto connected wi-fi hotspot, it cannot update it’s location info and thusly won’t be as “accurate” since that data could be delayed and reported when a connection is available to upload it’s location. So, THIS is where you will have to pay the cell company for data or hope the cell phone is in a location with wifi and your device was previously set to just latch on to an open network.

Keep those things in mind, you’re going to need a data connection (cell or wifi) that can report back the position of the device whether it’s found with the built in GPS, AGPS or wifi antenna(s).

And, if you think the iPhone can do these things without a data connection or visibility with the sky, think again. GPS is satellite based, and if you’re in poDunk (spelling) with no cell coverage and no wifi, in a covered storm hole the device can’t report back yet where it is, much less triangulate (which requires cell service or wifi hot spots) or “pinpoint” using GPS (not AGPS “triangulation”).

That’s a separate note, but in case your curious, AGPS is “assisted” global positioning. The A in assisted triangulates using cell or wifi connections to speed up GPS searching and or provide you with approximated location data while the GPS satellites are connecting to your device.

Hope that helps in your search to be like or beat out the iThings of the world. ;)

Below are two shots I snapped from my ‘puter using both 3DTracking and Google’s Latitude on my N95 at the same time. You can see how close they are (I’m across the street in a building). That is relying on week GPS (since I’m in the building) and Assisted GPS (triangulating me using cell and wifi locations). But both within… oh, 50ft of me.

Please let me know your thoughts and if this story or the noted items are helpful to you!

3DTracking’s PinPoint (click to see larger)

3DTracking

Here is a shot using Google Earth with 3DTracking and yes, it too is live!  So cool!
I’m in a brick building with no windows, (goes to show how well the wifi/agps/cellular triangulation works)!

googleEarthLive

Google Latitude’s PinPoint (click to see larger)

GoogleLat

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Google (gMail) Video Chat…

November 13th, 2008 | Category: conference,gmail,google,gTalk,video,video chat
It’s been a long time coming, after all, we’ve had video conference / chat since before the internet, skype has it, AIM and MSN has/d it… however, after trying Google’s gMail Video chat, I must say, I’m impressed.Installation was near instantaneous, and almost completely behind the scenes. I had no idea it was installed (most likely a few seconds later) when I had clicked the “Install Voice and Video Chat” button, as it wasn’t until I wondered what was going on, and moved my browser out of the way that I saw the completion dialog box behind chrome.      

That was nice and quick, just needed a more obvious confirmation.

As for usage… well, nothing seemed to really tell me that the settings are within the “chat” portion of your gMailsettings“, but that wasn’t to hard to figure out.      

I started off like this… installed, hmmm, what do I do now? Friend IMd me… oh cool, an opportunity, within the browser (gMail),

gMail Settings
I started chatting and then clicked “video and more”, Video and More
this enabled a smaller turn up (kinda like a clock rotation / pop up)… once I did that, it was then blatantly obvious to click “video chat” or invite the friend to video chat.My chat-hort was unaware it was out yet, so we had an audio conversation at first… smooth and easily understood. I was on a wired connection and he wi-fi at $bucks and once I told him the great news, he immediately clicked on the red text at the top of his gMail or iGoogle page that said, “| New! Video chat |” and his download was as instantaneous as mine.      

We were off, with the install there was not even a need to restart the conversation, it just worked, immediately! Now that is seamless!

I made a few adjustments in the “Camera” settings drop down, and it immediately changed in the chat session I had going… no hang up, no reboot, no hassle at all, it just worked. Again, SEEMLESS!

Google, I must say, it’s an impressive addition to the already easy and clean gTalk (chat) function already available. NOW, I want to see it available as a mobile application (and please don’t fall into the iPhone only trap, at least make it for Symbian devices as well.  Otherwise I’ll just continue using Fring and qik.com for video confrencing on my Nokia N95-4 8GB.  ;)

Oh, and on a slightly sadder note… I have two PPC macs, and this does not work on PPC.  :(  So, I was restricted to using it on my PC, since I don’t have an intelMac.  :(  I feel like I’m being left out with fewer apps being made for PPC.

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Photoshop for Mobile Phones? God, why?

September 25th, 2008 | Category: John C Dvorak,tech5
T-Mobile lifting the 1GB limit on Android phones. China phonies up rocket launch. Ridiculous. Oldest rocks on earth found in Canada. Slingbox Pro-HD released. Dell finally going to LED backlights in laptops. Is this taking forever or what? Dell also says things are looking up. HP laying off 9300 people overseas. Craig Mundie says the cloud is the future but won’t say why. Visa plans applications for Google and Nokia phones. Adobe Photoshop for cell phones? Cripes. EFF suing USA. tech5
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Smart Grid to Kill Cloud Computing. Ha.

September 24th, 2008 | Category: John C Dvorak,tech5
Android phone news never-ending II. Look for new term: "Radical Openess." New phone will unlock your car (and everyone else’s?) No indictment on the Sarah Palin hack. Sun’s solar winds hit 50-year low. SanDisk story about its new music distribution scheme keeps coming. NBC will rig set-top box for GE TV. Hmm. Microsoft has its own bus lines. IBM on the no short list. What a crock. Hubert Chang says he was a founder of Google. Cloud computing term is going to be replaced, you watch, with "Smart Grid." tech5
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GE Getting Back into the TV Biz

September 23rd, 2008 | Category: John C Dvorak,tech5
Android phone news never-ending. I’m sick of it. Hadron Collider shut down until the Spring because it is too cold in Switzerland. Email hacker continues. Creative Suite 4 rolled out by Adobe. GE getting back into the TV business with Internet-ready TV with Blu-ray. Xohm to roll out in Baltimore. I’m baffled about sharing books online. Lots more blog according to experts. Passport snoop might be thrown in jail. Windows 7 getting a head start on ruination. Cell phones to be recycled. Start-up helps your find what you are not looking for. What? I already get that. tech5
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Huge Microsoft Stock Buy-Back Coming

September 22nd, 2008 | Category: John C Dvorak,tech5
Google Android to cost $199. Already too much PR for this thing. Palin hacker found by FBI. So why can’t they track down serious online scammers? Track them down! Large Hadron Collider shut down for two months. Geez. Dubious World Federation of Advertising protesting the Google-Yahoo deal? Microsoft pushing big iron? Meanwhile the company is doing a $40 billion buyback? Wow. HP doing an $8 billion buyback. Apple sold 5 million iPhone 3G in 3rd quarter. Pentax camera trying to make a comeback. tech5
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Will Google Buy Yahoo?

September 18th, 2008 | Category: John C Dvorak,tech5
Microsoft in the news over various reports about what they are going to do with their odd advertising campaign. John Hodgman clone coming. IBM going extra fast towards 22nm. Nobody has even done 32 nm yet! Rainn Wilson headed to Microsoft meeting. Oracle profit skyrockets, look for Tech rally. Hadron Collider not working. Google in love with Yahoo. eWaste a scandal. nVidia does big layoff. Amazon into a new content business. EFF sues Bush over wiretaps. tech5
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Brad Pitt Big Malware Lure

September 17th, 2008 | Category: John C Dvorak,tech5
Google Android secretly shown in London. Pics of phone all over the net. Company buys Valve software to develop games for the phone and online. Brad Pitt now the top malware lure. Sarah Palin more popular than porn. Meanwhile her email was hacked. NY to add RFID to drivers license. Luckily it is optional. Canon doing DSLR with 1080p movie capability. Nice. Xbox360 tops in Japan. Congrats. Kodak rolling out an OLED wireless photo frame. tech5
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Games are Good for Teens?

September 16th, 2008 | Category: John C Dvorak,tech5
Google-Yahoo deal to be eyeballed by US Justice Dept. Android phone launch coming soon. The latest Pew research indicates that games are good for you and good for teens. Apple doing its own processors. The beginning of the end? As of today social networking trumps porn on web searches. New Blackberry hype beginning. Microsoft and Cray to do a Windows Supercomputer. I want a Cray desktop. HP doing huge layoff no thanks to EDS. Mozilla EULA to change. Tech stocks in the dumper. tech5
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EU Probing Google-Yahoo Deal

September 15th, 2008 | Category: John C Dvorak,tech5
Tim Berners-Lee starts new foundation. EU probing the Google-Yahoo deal. iPOD apps store getting flak. Big deal. Crappy Microsoft ads getting some good PR. Spammer released over First Amendment rights. DRM crappy on Spore so people are stealing DRN-free version. Some are shocked that employers check Facebook. Of course they do. HP doing its own Linux. Windows 7 beta due within 8 Weeks. EBay having issues. tech5
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