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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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iphone 3G, pleeease.

July 11th, 2008 | Category: Apple,AT&T,ATT,GPS,HSDPA,iPhone,live stream,qik,voip,Wi-fi

This is silly, just silly.

I have to agree with Leo Laporte (of twitlive.tv) and many related to the industry when It’s said that you may be wasting your money if you let “At this time” screw you into a contract for a partially functional (based on definition) device!

Leo’s been online (live) since the first Apple store opened in New Zeland, on Friday July 11th, 2008 convering the launch of the 3G iPhone! And, although I don’t have his following, I have been re-streaming Leo’s audio for those that can’t view it, but want to stay connected via audio only. (my live stream on the right menu). This has been nice for those who only have their mobiles or capable of a .pls stream.

Just as a plug for me and Leo, (as it’s my site)… I re-stream Leo whenever he’s online, for those interested in a mobile version at a lower bit rate for ease of cellular streaming.

But…, the title of the post is really, “iPhone 3G, pleeease.”

So far this is what we’ve learned about the new iPhone 3G.

1. It’s got GPS (but it seems to act more like triangulation) the kind that google maps uses for mobile devices. Hmm, not turn by turn… seems that’s what GPS is mainly used for.
2. It has 3G (thus the title). However, as it’s been repeated, 3G is really (At this time) only available in Major Metro cities (and not even all of them). In fact, there is more wi-fi coverage across the globe than 3G, so you decide which you’d rather use and (NOT) pay for?
3. Apps, Shmaps. Software is cool, but many other devices that have many other cooler and “completely functional” hardware have been open for development for a long time!

These seem to be the 3 most noted changes in the launch of this new device (and the apps don’t really count) since the software version 2.0 enables new apps on the old iPhone, and if you can install Google Maps on the old iPhone, then your “triangulated” GPS has been available since it was installed. Sooo… it seems 3G is the only enhancment. No?

Personally, I’d not get screwed into a contract, and rather have the immediate option to buy the device and plug my own/old sim to work. Sadly, Apple descided that was not a good idea (for who knows what reason)?

In addition to all this, with all the activation problems, (servers down, etc.) Apple and or AT&T “At this time” are sending people out of the stores with an inactive device. This may just lead to some never activating it “under contract”. Rumor has it, it only took approx 3 1/2 hours to unlock it yesterday (Via someone in New Zeland). This of course won’t take long to get into the wild for everyone to use, and thusly, if you have a device that is unactivated (opposed to activated forcefully in the store)… you may just be able to unlock it and pop in your existing sim.

Hmm, I’d love to know the numbers on that one.

If you don’t need the cellular, just get an iPod touch, install a VOIP client and use wi-fi for phone calls. :) Hey, at least your coverage would be greater with Wi-fi. ;)

One positive thing I can say, even though the new iPhone STILL does not have video recording (built in) (as I understand it), a company called qik.com will allow you to do just that, and live at the same time. So, if you’re one of the secondary “early adopters” of the newest iPhone, don’t fret completely, it has one improvement. (oh wait, the old iPhone can do qik too). DANG!

Thoughts, if Apple and At This Time are going to go into a shady @$$ deal like the last and this one, things really need to work, immediately! No? Or, was it your intention to have many unactivated devices in the wild?

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Microsoft Says it Will Spend All its Money Anyway

May 23rd, 2008 | Category: John C Dvorak,tech5
It’s snowing in California? Ballmer says MSFT is going to spend $50 billion one way or the other. Yahoo is not a strategy. Carl Icahn worried a deal will never happen. Vista user account control are confusing says MSFT exec. XP SP3 corrupting the registry says Symantec. HP is now taking over the server business from IBM and Dell. RedHat software is greener. So what? Google slaps Microsoft. I’m just joking when I say the oceans are being carbonated by the CO2 in the air. I suspect the iPhone will have GPS built-in or have a bluetooth gizmo nearby. tech5
Click to listen:  

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Many no longer care about privacy…

Why are so many still complaining about privacy? Do we really have it anymore? Have we ever? (subjectivity and life…)

lightpole, locr, 3Dtracking, locationTagger, and brightKite… are just a few free small software programs for those of us that love being tracked (marked) on our mobile devices, by everyone we know AND don’t know in todays ever growing online social networking society, and there are plenty more out there.

How many people know where you are, even if you have no clue WHO they are?

What about the ever popular GPS devices so many now have in their car (built in by the manufacture or portable) to help them find that restaurant or prevent from being late! I’ve also started seeing a few more (nothing new) Public Service Announcements regarding young individuals not really thinking about what they post online (as if this is different from talking to a stranger ;) like we did before computers) but another easy, near softwareless manner of giving away who you are, your location, etc. Granted you need a network connection at least (without sneakers). Can you actually stop using these things and still be an efficient (un-shunned) active member of current society?

Consider this, even though you can prevent remote individuals from marking you at any specific moment with these applications turned off, just try and ask someone who relies on it or loves it to “turn it off and find a place by human interaction or looking at a fold out paper map”… they’ll probably flip and think of so many ways they can’t do it without their precious toy (or how it’s SOOOO much easier with it). :(

Keep in mind, even if you periodically play (not just leave the marking app on for every drop of juice your devices’ battery will give you), you still make a virtual trail of every spot you’ve been and very easily where you live, work, play, etc. by simply using a tracking or marking application as intended (including but not limited to: online shared photos, (my blog), instant or short messages, email, etc…) This, in itself is like “talking to a stranger”.. you’ve told someone (unknowingly or not) multiple times where you’ve been, that becomes a little stalkerish, no?

In the past (and still present for some)… Being tracked by anyone, including “BigBrother” has been a horrible fear. My sister is one of those that believe the devil will be on your door step if you embed an RFID chip “the mark of the beast (a digital 666)” in your body. What would a priest do if they found an RFID chip under your skin (on your head?) Hmmm, seems a bit like a digital version of “The Omen” better, be careful.

I now have an RFID in my Passport, in my office door’s key card, possibly my license, and who knows what other things I have that have not been “obviously” brought to my attention (products on shelves. etc.)

Honestly, I think being a cyborg is a pretty cool idea, and technically feel that with all my gadgets, (aside from them not being embedded) are darn near installed in me, as much as I can’t seem to live without them! You know… the naked feeling if you leave “it” behind?

Still, few seem to think (sit and really try to understand) the act of “chilling“, the added stress, a life speed limit (how fast you have to (or can) go now that you have this “whatever” to help you along. Or, where the data goes, and where it’s stored when they pop online and actually utilize these services to find a local store or destination or just tell your buddy (net or real) where you are, will be, have been, a photo you just took, your last random thought, etc.

Read that last paragraph really fast, or, copy it to a text to speech reader and speed it up, go on, you can do it, it’s ok to use technology to help you out, we do it every day (now)… but at what cost?… after all, nothings free.

Society as a large group (not a whole) has obviously accepted (and continue to accept) these devices (technology) for the benefits they provide, (and as many things in the past) have managed to squeeze their way into our lives (or should I say, slip and sneak), causing us to let go of the feelings originally associated with the fear, panic and privacy concerns we might have initially felt. Is this not a survival instinct “fear”? Are you numb(ing)?

So, what about the “privacy” or “analog” or “human interaction” of it all? Have those words (their definitions) become as ancient as the paper map we held or drew with ink or carried to show our neighbor or hid to protect a private treasure? Do those of us that utilize such services like maps online, digital services or mobile destination location devices care any longer who’s watching where we are going, where we have been, our related “friends” or social contacts… and the permanent date/time stamp made on the ever growing and less expensive storage databases available today?

Keep this somewhere in the forefront though… what happens if the energy disappears?… the energy that makes it all work? for now, we’re not 100% powered by everlasting sources.

I realize this kind of story might cause some thoughts of panic in those that are far on the side of fear, but for the rest, (like my Analog blog) who are even the slightest bit techie and or way overboard (like me)… perhaps, just perhaps, take a moment, and give some thought to, “where is the traditional art of communication, formality, and human interaction (with people, paint, texture, analog, survival, overall “skills” going) where is it going with you or has it left you? If you can’t answer that question or even take a moment to ponder it, just turn on your marking software, we’ll figure it out just by watching you. ;)

This is just a part of my brains thought process. Sometimes random, possibly deep. Not meant to freak anyone out, or belittle or set aside, just social 1’s and 0’s that came from analog atoms in my head. This is one measure to get it out, help me contemplate it further. Do what you will with it, just don’t yell at me, I need to decompress.

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I’ve been Qiking like crazy…

I need to do a video comparison of the recordings my Nokia N95-4 8GB NAM does on it’s own (stored locally) and those that Qik.com allows me to stream at its highest quality.  I tell you, if the qualities are anywhere near the same, Qik will be most likely replace my local video storage all except for those moments I just can’t stream.  :)  I recently recorded my bike ride utilizing numerous functions of my phone to get a real good test of things.

I received my wind powered (solar backed up) charger and mounted it to my bike.  Once that was on, I turned on my devices GPS (using free.3dtracking.net) to record my ride, I turned on the music so I’d be have something to pedal too and utilized the front camera of my device to stream via Qik’s mobile audio/video streaming service!

I tell you, this just rocked!  Not only did I start off with less than a full battery, but, I road for an hour (recorded for 59.30 minutes) and used all those things the entire time.  Once I stopped, and unplugged my device from the wind powered charger I still had 4 bars.  The wind powered charger did exactly what it said it would, and streaming on the lower end of Qik’s service was great.  Using all those things without a charge station of some sort would really put the drain on your battery and it would be dead in less than an hour (I’ve tested this just by recording using qik.com (not playing music or using GPS, just recording on qik).)

I was most likely on AT&T’s 3G (HSDPA) service the whole time, and never saw a (delay indication).  Granted I was not always looking, I’ve managed to drive with it and have no delay indicator.

I streamed up to qik, recorded the entire time, (the screen stays lit while recording with qik) and as we all know, screen activity reall drains a battery.  I was constantly pulling a gps signal from a min of 9 sats, and uploading my position every 30 seconds to track using free.3dtracking.net and playing the music.

All in all, I’m very impressed with all the features mentioned above.  The Nokia N95-4 8GB NAM rocks, Qik.com rocks, free.3dtracking.net rocks, and so does thinkgeek.com’s solar and wind powered charger!

How will I ever make this “analog thing” work?  :(

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PocketCaster vs Qik Live Mobile Streaming…

Well, I can’t really do a VS.. but the title makes you look. :)

Reason I can’t do a comparison at this point is ’cause no matter how many times I sign up for QIK, I get the same, “we’ll let you know when were ready for you’ type of statement. It’s actually kind of annoying. So, I went with Comvu for software called “PocketCaster.” PocketCaster is a similar service that allows you to stream from your mobile device (in my case the Nokia N95-4 NAM).

So far, it’s a killer app. Simple install, simple usage, and (for a live mobile stream where most devices are not capable of that yet), it’s not to shabby. :)

I can stream using my front cam (the smaller lower res one) or the main (back) cam which still seems to be compressed for the upload, but again, still cool and convenient.

Again, it’s LIVE, not pre-recorded! :) I have all the connectivity options, wi-fi, standard cell data connection, GPRS, 3G, EDGE, HSDPA as well as the ability to store the file locally or remotely for that “pre-recorded” archive. :)

Quality options range from 24kbps to 160kbps, of course I set mine to the highest.

It also has a GPS location functionality, which I assume will let viewers know exactly where you are. Now that rocks. My first test was indoors, so I did not bother testing the location function, but will let you know how that goes.

My second, third and fourth tests were outside on a walk from home and after viewing the archived footage and hear/rather seeing the IMs my friend in the NL was sending me (while I was narrating and strolling home in the rain) touring them a bit around Seattle, were, “this is just amazing!!” Streaming over wi-fi was great at home, but over 3G and EDGE it worked beautifully, which is a nice thing considering a walk down the street on a router (wi-fi) does not get you very far (no hand off like a cell tower). Thusly I was very happy to see how well it did over standard cell connectivity. :)

The one thing I wish was added was the “always ask” feature the N95 typically uses for data connectivity… as you have to manually set your connection option, which can be annoying to have to go in and change if you’re not near wi-fi.

Over all, my first few tests are way cool and super fun. Now, if I could only get an account and software for quick for a better comparison!

The embedded player was slowing the blog load, so I removed the embeded player and added a link to the right column.  Or, here.  :)

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Nokia N95-4 8GB NAM review…


This is a great product, superior to the iPhone by far!!

I’ve wanted an N95 since the first version came out, and I’m happy it’s only better with the newest NAM version with a built in 8GB card.

I would have appreciated an included expansion card slot, as I will quickly use the 8GB if not for applications for music and movies, but it’s acceptable.

I am very happy that it has all the needed freqs for the US both voice and data, which really make the experience of making calls or using the net all that much better.

The GPS freakin’ rocks!.. to bad the free 6 month plan that shows on the box is really only 1 day. I’m not willing to pay for GPS navigation since most cheaper units come with it for free. So, I turned to a better java application to replace Nokia’s pay GPS (not once by the way, but monthly) called amAze GPS, it has all that Nokia’s “maps app” offers and more.

The 5MP camera and near DVD quality video is the best, no other all in one device offers something that high (yet).

The video out is nice, although it seems to show at the phones resolution, not ntsc resolution or higher (320×240 I believe, so the images are jagged or pixelated on TV)… so I might use it for a full on movie, but it’s nice for surfing on a bigger screen or watching things like YouTube, (included) etc. where my computer (already attached to the HD TV is not on, not sure how that would happen. ;)

I could go on and on, but over all, Nokia has always provided an excellent working and well built product, and I’m VERY happy I went with their newest N95-4 8GB NAM. I don’t know what cause me to stray.

As for mobileCityOnline, their service was great. I admit, I had been burned online before, so was skeptical when I placed the “pre-order” since their orders kept getting pushed back by the manufacturer or shipped in smaller quantities, but the customer service was great in respect to keeping me informed and the natural process of their specific business with outside manufacturers… so that made me feel good. As for their shipping, can’t say it was more than prompt. I paid an extra $10 bucks for next day service, and as soon as the device came in their warehouse, sure enough it was next day I got it!!! Now that is excellent!

I would recommend this product and mobileCityOnline for it’s purchase. Hey, it saved me several hundred from the manufacture or Nokia store price! :)

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amAze gps for my N95


Well, even though the box my new N95 came in advertised 6 months free nav, it lied :( I got a day.

So, (as always,) not desiring to pay a stupid license fee, ‘specially for a typically free app when hardware is purchased, I set out to find just that, a free app that gave me nav for free (not just the sat
connectivity feature).)
Well, gotta love google and O.S. developers, ’cause with one search, “free N95 gps app” I came across amAze gps.

The first nice thing of course is it’s free!

Second, it’s java so it works on more than just Symbian and with external (bluetooth) gps as well as the phones built in gps.

Third (bonus) it has built in / again free voice nav, something my first thought for an alternative “Google Maps” lacks, but has sat./hybrid mapping, COOL!!

Fourth it has the sat./hybrid maps, like what Google Maps has but the built in N95 maps app does not. It does use your cellular or broadband connection to grab the maps, but most of us with this kind of toy have an unlimited data plan or use neighboring wi-fi from the sidewalk as we navigate our way down the street anyhow. ;)

Fifth it has a “gps location weather app”! Way cool! It’s kinda like lookin’ at your fancy in car, outside temp info and it’s location based, so no more guessin’ the zip or city. ;) Like that’s hard, but also a functionality option anyhow.

Those are only a few of the awesome things this powerful yet small app can do in addition to the basic gps/find your way/navigation things any standard gps should do but without all the extra costs involved with buying voices and maps, sheesh!

Fun, Fun!!

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Nokia N95-4 8GB NAM (North American Model) shipping…

Well, I finally heard from MobileCityOnline that my device is in stock and should be shipping within the day.

I’m way stoked as I feel this is (in my opinion) the best multi-purpose device out there yet.

Multi-purpose is for those of us that hate to carry more than one device around to do most everything.

This Nokia N95-4 8GB is not just a phone… it’s a full on PDA, in addition to having a well qualified 5MP camera, near DVD quality video recorder, GPS with A-synch capability, music and movie capability, wi-fi, GSM/GPRS/3G/HSDPA connectivity along with the standards like bluetooth A2DP for full stereo music control and entertainment, a normal headphone jack (not the stupid micro jack you see in most phones now a day), an accelerometer, and so much more.

Lastly (before I give this device a serious run over when I receive it and review the heck out of it)… Nokia’s proven this line of devices 3 times over (being the 4th in the “NSeries”) as well as many other excellent products, and are so ahead of the game in SDK capabilities we can only imagine the possibilities of what we get and what lies ahead!

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