Tag Archives: G1

Android AT&T autopay bulk email copyright customer service data plan freedom of speech geotagging Google Google Docs Google Maps Google Spreadsheets iphone mobile apps My Tracks publicity rights Python user experience

Adding GPS tracking to your Android phone with Google My Tracks

Did you see the squirrel? I’ve recently switched over from my iPhone to an HTC Dream phone running Google’s Android operating system, otherwise known as the G1.  One of the main reasons I switched was because my older iPhone didn’t have a real GPS, and the cell-tower triangulation just didn’t cut it in many parts of the country.

Google just released an app that makes the GPS really useful, called My Tracks.  I’m not the first to write about it, and there’s a pretty thorough review at AndroidGuys, but I thought I’d share my first experience.  This is also an excuse to post more pictures of my cute kid on my supposedly technology-focused blog, since she came along for the walk.

To use My Tracks you’ll need to download it for free from the Android Market. Once you have it installed it’s just a matter of starting up and hitting the menu button and then Record Track.  You can put your phone in your pocket and forget about it while you hike or even surf the web and use other apps – it will keep running in the background.  Multitasking is another advantage that Android has over the iPhone.

Here’s my walk with my internet-famous firstborn:


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It’s fairly accurate, and you can even tell which side of the street I walked on most of the time. Mountain View is no metropolis but walking near tallish buildings downtown did seem to throw it off a bit. I promise I was not staggering from side to side as I walked down Castro Street.

You also get summary data about the duration, traveling speed, and even elevation changes of your trip.

On the trail at Rancho San Antonio The best thing about My Tracks is that it uses Google Maps and makes it easy to share your route with people. One note – you’ll have the click the little down arrow button on the map screen and choose “Send to Google…” before it shows up in your “My Maps” list in Google Maps. To embed the result in the blog post (like I did above), click the “Link” link in Google Maps and you’ll get code for an iframe.

You can also share some route details with Google Docs but to be honest I was hoping for more data – I’d like to get the point-by-point GPS data so I can use it to automatically geotag photos. I am an obsessive geotagger on Flickr but it’s just too time-consuming to do it manually if the data already exists somewhere. You can access Google Docs spreadsheet data with Python, after all.

Another similar Google product I haven’t signed up for yet is Latitude – I’m not so much worried about privacy as I am unlikely to be traveling around enough for it to be interesting at this point. Athena likes to go for walks but we aren’t roaming too far yet.

The Biggest Reason Not to Buy an iPhone: AT&T

Not happy with AT&T right now AT&T owes me $650.

Before I go on, keep in mind that the standard disclaimer applies, and I am writing from the perspective of a frustrated AT&T customer.

My wife and I both have iPhones. I just happened to check my AT&T wireless bill online, and it turns out that AT&T has been overcharging us since March. Apparently when Ann got her phone and we went to a family plan, they added a data plan for her but removed the data plan for me. No one knows how or why. You’re not supposed to be able to get iPhone service without the unlimited data plan

I’ve run into bugs and frustrations with the iPhone before, but bar none, the absolute worst problem with the device is the service from AT&T.

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No Baby News, Yet

I was hoping to have some exciting news about the newest addition to the Morrison family (as well as the subject of our huge internet baby name poll). Unfortunately the baby has it’s own plans and schedule. In the mean time, I thought I’d point out a couple of interesting Google-related articles and ask a question:

  • Google voice search is out for the iPhone, although for some reason it’s not at the App Store yet. Once it’s out, all you’ll need to do is load the app and say what you’re looking for, and Google will find it for you. Very cool. And some reporters are pointing out how cool it is that Google is still developing apps for other platforms while we have our own, the Android operating system seen on the G1.
  • Some sports and political figures in Argentina are suing to stop search engines from returning results for their names. That’s right – if you want to know anything about Diego Maradona, your search will return nothing but a message about a court order. This is, of course, a ridiculously backward take on copyright and publicity rights that flies in the face of logic and freedom of speech. Imagine going to a library and demanding they find and scissors-out every reference to Babe Ruth. I love Argentina, but any legal system that would let this sort of thing go on is pathetic.

And finally, here’s my question:

  • What the best way to send out a massive email to about 1,000 people? So many of the voters in the poll included their email address that I’m wondering if a gigantic CC: list is the way to go. Any ideas?