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BIOS Weather Station – Mac Software Update 8 January 2011

Posted by David Wilson in Mac, Weather Station.
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I had received notification of problems with the Mac BIOS Weather Station software. That lead to an investigation and some tangents, actually a major tangent which involved re-writing the underlying USB code to be much more compliant with current standards. During the process of debugging and testing I believe I’ve discovered what the actual issue is that people have been encountering. So two items of good news really:

  1. The USB code has been re-written for future compatibility and other projects (major bonus really)
  2. Identification of a timing issue, exposed by todays faster hardware

The Mac Weather Station software sends an initialisation sequence to the device. It would seem that if this is performed too fast something goes wrong and the set up is incomplete. Quite simply an existing code delay needed to be increased and the problem solved itself. My guess here is that over the last few years as we’ve all replaced our computers with faster ones this little code delay has gotten slightly faster and eventually hit the break point for some.

So, I have a new version of the Weather Station Software.

Download Link.

Note: This software should run on mac OS 10.5 and above (it has been tested on 10.6.6).

– David

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TrafficCamNZ – Usage tip #5 5 January 2011

Posted by David Wilson in iPhone.
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Map

The Map tab allows you to view the traffic cameras, where GPS coordinates are known/loaded, against the geographic background of Earth (I don’t think it would work on the Moon!). The further zoomed out the coverage area is, the less pins are shown on the map. As you zoom in, more pins (cameras) for that location are revealed). You can move the coverage slider to zoom in or out, or you can double tap to zoom in and normal pinch actions to zoom in/out.

The screen below shows a close up of Las Vegas. Each pin is a camera.

Taping on a pin will bring up the name of the camera and it’s URL along with a thumbnail of the current camera image (this may take some seconds to retrieve depending on your network connection and server response). Clicking on the triangle to the right will bring up a new screen showing the camera image full screen and trigger a new image to be retrieved.

Full screen camera image. If you want to refresh the image, click on the refresh icon button in the top right hand corner of the screen. To return to the map screen, tap the button in the top left of the screen.

The Map screen also provides a way to add new cameras by clicking on the + button in the top right hand corner of the screen. This brings up the camera editing screen. Complete your entry, tap the save button and you are returned to the Map screen.

Help – I cannot scroll off the end of the Earth!
Yes this is an issue. the Map has a hard wall on or about the international date line – you cannot scroll over this. To get closer to your specific destination you need to scroll left/right and zoom in on your target.

Shifting pins!
You can tap and hold a pin (it will turn red and appear to be “picked up”). Now that you have it in the air, you can move your finger and pin to another location and let go. This will be the new location for that camera, the GPS coordinates are updated accordingly. On the other hand if you know the specific GPS coordinates for a particular camera, you can edit the camera details via the Library screen and save the updated camera.

– David

TrafficCamNZ – Usage tip #4 5 January 2011

Posted by David Wilson in iPhone.
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All Images

This tab allows you to quickly scroll through the library of cameras and see the images that are available right now for each camera.

  • Images are not cached.
  • Images are retrieved from their respective servers every time the camera is scrolled onto the screen.

If you want to refresh a camera image, simply scroll it off the screen and back on – this will fetch a new image from that cameras server – if one is available.
You can scroll through the library very quickly. Doing so will request each image from it’s server and could use a substantial about of network traffic if you are on a Telco carriers network rather than WiFi. Also retrieving lots and lots of image could slow your device down as there is no limit on the number of images queued for retrieval – there is however a network timeout so some retrievals could fail.
if you scroll too fast for the images to update, then as they are retrieved they could show in in places meant for another camera. if that happens on a camera listing that you know is wrong or suspect is wrong, scroll the image off the screen and back on to trigger the image refresh.

Searching
As in the Library list, you can also search in the All images list.

At the top of the list of cameras is an area where you can key in a camera name or URL, full or partial of either. after you tap the search button the results are shown. To clear out the search, tap the x to the right of the search field and then press cancel – this will result in the full list of cameras being shown again.

Getting through the camera list quickly
As distributed the list of camera descriptions have been prefixed with short abbreviations for country/city names [AK] – Auckland, [FR] – France, [UK] – United Kingdom. The library of cameras is sorted based on the description field. The first 5 characters of the description are used as a reference/quick index with that list being presented on the right hand side of the screen. You can tap on those letters to get quickly to that point in the list of cameras.

– David

TrafficCamNZ – Usage tip #3 5 January 2011

Posted by David Wilson in iPhone.
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Library (aka Camera List)

Taping on the Library tab will show you the list of cameras that TrafficCamNZ has. The library list of cameras is loaded by the application when it launchers from a file contained on the device. if you wish to edit details of any of the cameras (names, URL’s, GPS coordinates, wether to feature on the main screen or not) you can do so by finding the camera in the list and taping on it. This will take you to the camera screen where you can edit and save the changes. Tip #1 covered adding a new camera, these are the same details you cane edit.

Green dots vs. Red dots – what are these?
In the screenshot shown below you can see that each camera has a red dot next to it except the camera [AK] N3 Northcote which has a green dot. The green dot simply means that the you (or the program defaults) has selected the camera to appear on the Featured screen each time the images re refreshed.

Searching the Library
At the top of the list of cameras is an area where you can key in a camera name or URL, full or partial of either. after you tap the search button the results are shown. To clear out the search, tap the x to the right of the search field and then press cancel – this will result in the full list of cameras being shown again.

Getting through the camera list quickly
As distributed the list of camera descriptions have been prefixed with short abbreviations for country/city names [AK] – Auckland, [FR] – France, [UK] – United Kingdom. The library of cameras is sorted based on the description field. The first 5 characters of the description are used as a reference/quick index with that list being presented on the right hand side of the screen. You can tap on those letters to get quickly to that point in the list of cameras. It is important to be consistent in the set up of your descriptions so that you can remember where the cameras are filed and allow you to easily navigate back to the camera as the main library now has more than 5000 cameras listed. On the other hand – you could always search for the specific camera you are after.

Deleting cameras
It is possible to delete cameras from the list. This is done by taping the edit button at the top of the screen, then you tap on the minus sign next to the camera you wish to delete and finally tape the delete button (see the screen shot below).

Adding Cameras
Adding a camera is done through the Library, or the Map screen – this will be covered in another tip, and is done by clicking on the + (plus) symbol at the top right of the screen.

– David

TrafficCamNZ – Usage tip #2 3 January 2011

Posted by David Wilson in iPhone.
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Preferences
Preference options in TrafficCamNZ are provided to enhance the functionality of the application. The enhancement options are:

  • Automatic Refresh
  • Auto Detect
  • Camera Updates
  • Predictive Mode

Only one of these can be selected at a time – Auto detect, and Predictive mode.
To return to the “default mode” where only the favourite images are displayed, ensure that Auto Detect and Predictive modes are off.
Both Auto Detect and Predictive mode rely on the GPS in your device, if you are having problems please ensure that location services are enabled for TrafficCamNZ.

Automatic Refresh: this mode when turned on will, as the name implies, refresh the images on the main screen every 1, 2, or 3 minutes depending on which automatic refresh rate you have selected.

Auto detect cameras: this mode utilises the GPS in your device to determine your location and then select the cameras, in a radius from your current location. You can select how far away the cameras are by moving the slider across the screen. As you move the slider, the number of cameras within the selected range are shown on the screen. Selecting this mode will turn off the other mode (predictive).

How do you use the Auto Detect mode?
– This mode will only work if the cameras in your area (that TrafficCamNZ knows about) are loaded with GPS coordinates.
– For those that are only interested in cameras around them and not other parts of their country or around the world, you may prefer this setting as it will show you the cameras in the defined distance from your current location.
– Changing your location will change the cameras that are displayed on screen if those cameras move into or out of the currently detected range.

Camera updates: Every seven days TrafficCamNZ will check to see if a update to the camera list is available. The location on the internet that is checked for that update is shown in the preferences screen shot below. The update process is automatic, there is nothing you need to do.

If you wish to build your own camera XML data file for import, or use this as a method to bulk import additional cameras, then this is the area of the application that will import the XML file. The format of the XML file can be obtain from the author or you can determine it from the existing file. The buttons perform the following functions:

  • XML Merge: Load the data file from the web location and merge it with the existing camera data file on the device
  • XML Load Only: Load the full data file from the web location – start as a clean list – do not merge with the existing camera data file on the device
  • Delete cameras, reset to built in list only: Delete the existing camera list on the device, then load the applications built in list of cameras (about 300). if after this you want to load the full list, tap the Merge XML button to load the full data file from the web location.
  • Create an e-mail, attach the camera file: this will set up an e-mail for you to send to anyone (yourself, me, ??). Attached to the e-mail will be an XML formatted data file of the current camera data file off the device.

Predictive Camera Mode: This mode too uses the GPS in the device together with some more information from you about how you would like things configured to then predict which cameras you are likely to be ahead of you and then display those cameras on the featured screen. The formula used is known as “Dead Reckoning”. This is what the input parameters mean:

  • Minutes Ahead: Based on your current rate of travel (speed) how many minutes ahead do you want the application to search for cameras i.e. traveling at 60Km per hour, in 30 minutes you will have travelled 30Km – so the application will look forward from your current location 30Km for cameras.
  • Angle: Looking straight ahead 30Km for the next cameras can be an issue when the roads are not straight and you might not be traveling in a straight line to your destination anyway. So the angle (25 degrees as shown in the screen shot) is used to go either side of the imaginary straight line and that triangular area is searched for cameras.
  • Samples to use: The direction you are determined to be traveling in is based on a number of GPS samples. So getting the Predictive mode to “kick in” will take a little bit of time depending on the number of samples that have been acquired and how many samples you want to base the prediction on.

When predictive mode is used the “Image Source” on the main screen is updated.

  • Favourites – displayed as Red: Not the mode selected in preferences – favourites displayed while waiting for location data
  • Favourites – displayed as Green: Normal operating mode – no other preference settings chosen
  • Location Services – displayed as Green: displayed when image presented are based on current GPS location
  • Predictive – displayed as Red: Predictive mode is on, images shown are based on current GOS location, speed, time, angle, samples

How do you use the Predictive Camera mode?
– This mode will only work if the cameras in your area (that TrafficCamNZ knows about) are loaded with GPS coordinates.
– Safely mount your device (iphone, iPad, iPod touch) in the vehicle you are traveling. Ensure that you pre-configure the mode you wish to use. Drive. As updated data is available, your images are refreshed. You need to ensure that you have a mobile data plan or some other mechanism that will permit your device to retrieve data from the internet while traveling.

– David

YouTube Video Channel – dgwilsonnz 3 January 2011

Posted by David Wilson in iPhone.
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Summer holidays are great.
Summer holidays with a camera that does HD video are great!

Creating movies with iMovie bring those holidays right back. The trailers are short and fun to share with family and friends.

The “scripted movie” feature in iMovie is genius! – Apple brilliance and very well implemented. The hard work is done for you – you can maintain your focus on content!

Now I’d like more scripted movies, perhaps 2-3 minutes in length so that I can tell a longer story.

Check out what I’ve made here…
http://www.youtube.com/dgwilsonnz

– David

TrafficCamNZ – Usage tip #1 3 January 2011

Posted by David Wilson in iPhone.
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Adding new cameras
TrafficCamNZ accesses images on the internet via a web address or URL (e.g. http://somesite.xyz/image.jpg). These images are provided by the individuals/companies/government organisations that set up the cameras. Adding new cameras into TrafficCamNZ is easily accomplished once you know what the specific camera URL is – finding this is the hard part. Some web sites make this easy, others make it really hard.

The simplest method is to find an image on a web site http://www.htsgroup.net.nz/transit/ right click on an image and select “copy image address” or “open image in new tab” (this example performed with Safari). In the new tab you can see the image address. This is the address you use in TrafficCamNZ.

With the URL you need to add a Description – this is so that we can find the camera when we want to edit it, turn on Feature on Main Screen – this will display the image on the front screen after the application starts up. Note that yup to a maximum of 19 images will be displayed (as you scroll the images left to right). Set the display Order/Sequence by putting in a number, starting at 1 – you choose the number, the images are sorted in that sequence. if you don’t put a number in the application will start randomly numbering the images as they are displayed from 100. If you know the GPS coordinates (Latitude/Longitude) for the camera even better as this will allow the camera to be placed on a map view – if the camera is where you are located now, you can tap the button to capture your current location. Tap the save button at the top of the screen.

After the save, the added camera will appear in the list of cameras. The green dot to the left means that this image has been requested to feature on the main screen.

Tap on the camera, it’s details are shown on the screen. Scrolling down will reveal the image retrieved from this URL. Any cameras you add or edit in this way can be e-mailed to me by clicking the button E-Mail Author. That way I can incorporate your updates in the next update to the main camera file for everyone.

Now when you tap the featured tab at the bottom of the screen and press the refresh button, your screen should look something like this. And note that our image is displayed first because I set the sequence number to 1.

Next time I will write up something about the preferences. There are a lot of options built onto the preferences and you can use them while traveling (if the cameras in your travel area have GPS coordinates).

– David

2010 in review 2 January 2011

Posted by David Wilson in iPhone.
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The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meterβ„’ reads Wow.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

About 3 million people visit the Taj Mahal every year. This blog was viewed about 58,000 times in 2010. If it were the Taj Mahal, it would take about 7 days for that many people to see it.

In 2010, there were 12 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 85 posts. There were 15 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 7mb. That’s about a picture per month.

The busiest day of the year was April 10th with 389 views. The most popular post that day was BIOS Weather Station BW976.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were archive.atomicmpc.com.au, tuaw.com, en.wordpress.com, itunes.apple.com, and getdigital.de.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for usb missile launcher software, usb rocket launcher software, usb missile launcher software download, usb missile launcher driver, and missile launcher software.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.

1

BIOS Weather Station BW976 March 2008
47 comments

2

USB Missile Launcher – 1.4e Release February 2007
33 comments

3

USB Missile Launcher – 1.4d Release – DreamCheeky Support December 2006
32 comments

4

Windows Missile Launcher December 2006
51 comments

5

USB Rocket/Missile Launcher testimonials December 2006
31 comments