Real Time GPS Tracker Part 2

I wanted to show you how Real Time GPS Tracker works when you go to the web site and view the map during a run. But while the web site dispays a series of actual points during the run, it does not maintain the information in a method that allows it to be replayed.

Using Real Time GPS Tracker to run the Winnipesaukee River Trail between Franklin and Northfield New Hampshire. When I go to New Hampshire on business I always like to run the Winnipesaukee River Trail at least once. It is a nice six mile “out and back” which is an old train route. I have documented in in pictures before. This time I tried a little experiment using Greenalp Real Time GPS Tracker, a little utility that I have been playing with recently.

Since I cannot see where I am running, while I am running I wanted to make a movie of the run… which is also what I wanted to post on the blog to show how Real Time GPS Tracker works.

First I logged onto the Greenalp web site, and set up all the tracking information. I verified that as one of the two allowed map overlays I had loaded was for the “WRT”, then went to the map page to verify the overlay was visible. NOTE: If you have not sent any information from the phone app to the server the map appears blank. This makes it hard to determine what will happen in the next steps. So allow the phone to send your location, then you can turn it back off.

You may want to change the zoom factor on the map to capture more, or less, detail depending on the length of the run you are planning. You can make the map full screen and zoom in so you can see the entire overlay of where you will be running, if you are using an overlay. If you zoom in to far, the map will self center so you will be able to see the point, but it may cause unwanted jumping around of the screen. Conversely, if you zoom out to far the track is so compressed you will not be able to see where the run occured in any detail.

The next part of this was figuring out how to make a movie of the run. While I could have easily done a screen dump during the entire run I was concerned it would create a huge file that would be a)boring b) difficult to download. What I wanted to do was a “time lapse” movie. So, how to do that was the next challenge. After much searching I ended up using two programs I already had 1) Snagit and 2) Windows Movie Maker.

http://www.techsmith.com/snagit.html

http://windows.microsoft.com/is-IS/windows/get-movie-maker-download

After much experimenting I found that SnagIt does not directly capture time lapse movies, even though it says it can do this. NOTE: If you know how to do this please let me know the secret! So I created a new profile to take automatic screen captures every X seconds. It must also have automatic file naming activated. After testing it a couple of times I felt I had a workable solution. I let it run awhile taking screen captures to see how large things were going to get. Once I had about 100 individual screen shots saved as .png files (other types can be used.) I wanted to try creating a movie. I fired up Windows Movie Maker and imported all the screen captures. I drug, dragged… moved all the files into the time line and then played around a little bit with the transistion effects, basically cutting the display and transistion to as short as it would allow me to. This resulted in about a 40 second, 90 megabyte movie. (This is higly dependent on screen resolution, capture size, file type, frequency, etc.) Then i used the “create movie” to make a movie. (.WMV) Success! Worked great.

So, last night I was able to get out to the “River Trail” for a run. Before I left the hotel I started the app on the phone, I logged onto the Greenalp web page, pulled up the map, and then screwed up. I did not allow the phone to send the location (hence the note above!) and then I did not zoom in the way I meant to. Anyway, I did my run, got back to hotel, stopped SnagIt. Created the movie, and ready to post it on the blog.

Tracking a run with Real Time GPS Tracker
It appears I lost GPS signal a couple of places, even though the Garmin watch never did. The track has a strange leg in it over to Mount Cardigan, which is a place I have run before, but don’t know why it would show up on this map.

Anyway, if you are looking for a way to track runs, but especially for others to see where you are running in real time, this is working great for me. The whole movie thing was just an experiment to see if I could capture a track to show what it looks like here on the blog. It is not something I plan to do on normal runs, where the Garmin 305 combined with Sport Tracks does a better job of recording “historical” data.

Enjoy

George

Adding an overlay into Real Time Tracker

Been playing around with this, and found how to add an overlay.
Seems like it has a lot of possibilities, especially on known routes such as established races.
If you run with a GPS watch, you can probably make an overlay easily from the watch data. I did one below.
Save the file as a KML.
Add it to a directory on your web host.
Put the URL to the KML file in the Real Time Tracker set up “Custom Map Overlays”, like this.

Adding a KML file to Real Time Tracker

Adding a KML file to Real Time Tracker

The go to the Map page, scroll around the map until you find where the run is.
You are ready to go. I need to get out and try this soon. I am hoping it will add a track right on top of the “planned course”. I see this as really useful when out of town running a race so others can watch the progress. Actually even if they are at the race, they can track on a smart phone to see right where I am at, like coming to an aid station, or nearing the finish line! Pretty cool!

A favorite trail run overlay KML.

A favorite trail run overlay KML.

The Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon route created as a KML file and added to Real Time Tracker.

The Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon overlay KML

The Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon overlay KML

Big Brother Watching? To much info, or a cool program?

I have been searching off and on for a way to let people know:

    a) Where I might be running when I am traveling, and if I am out in the hills somewhere maybe an idea of where I could be found if I don’t get back within a reasonable time.

 

    b) During a race where I might be at on the course so people know when I may be at a chosen location.

I tried a number of different ways, none seemed to be what I wanted.. there are programs that let you send the current location via email or SMS, but they did not do what I wanted. Some only have “fences” that can be programmed to let someone know when you get to a certain place, which is nice, but by the time I get to the end it is to late to let the person know.

Finally I came across “Real Time Tracker”, by Greenalp. This does what I have been looking for!

    a) it is free!

 

    b) it sends constant position updates, directly to a map, not just the link to a map.

 

    c) it can be put right here on Kazology.

 

    d) it can send text msg if you want it to.

 

    e) it is very configurable as to frequency of recording way points, and also when it transmit the data to the server.

 

    f) it WORKS! which at least one program I tried did not… I had to pull the battery to get it to stop.

 

    g) it also can do overlays, which I have not done yet, but sounds pretty cool, especially for races. I believe you can add a KML file of a route previously run and recorded, or for some bigger races a downloaded map of the course. Then when the Android is transmitting it shows not only the current location and track taken, but where on the course you actually are at any given time.

 

    h) it saves the last recorded route until a new one is started. The duration is configurable.

 

    i) it allows tracking of multiple phones. Maybe 3-5 standard, more as a paid service.

 

    j) you can create friends to share with, or wide open.

Check out the last, or current run!

Free real-time tracking. Free GPS tracker. Show your location live on Google Maps. Free for your Android phone.

This is particularly useful for runs when I am away from home so people can track if I am running or in a ditch. It can also be used during races to see where I am on the course… or pretending to run while I am sitting in a bar somewhere.

Recommended!

Until Real Time GPS is false,
George

Strike Two!

Well, I would like to run the New York Marathon. Problem is, I am not anywhere close to being fast enough to get a guaranteed entry based on time. So… I have to enter the open lottery and hope for the best. This is okay, but does present a couple of issues every year.

Once you sign up you do not know results until the end of April. This means if you want to do another fall race you either have to sign up for it or take a chance the race is not closed by the end of April. Or, if you sign up, then get accepted into New York you have to decide to try and run both, or forfeit one of the races. Such a dilema.

So I took the safe course and signed up for the NYRR lottery, (Race on November 4) and also signed up for the Toronto Waterfront Marathon. (October 14)

The results are in and (drum roll) I did not get into NY via the lottery this year. (Nor did I last year.)

NYRR Not Accepted (again) in 2012

NYRR Not Accepted (again) in 2012

 

 

 

 

 

On the good side, I am now two years into the three year guaranteed entry system. I signed up in 2011, which is the last year you could start this program.

NYRR Guaranteed 2014

NYRR Guaranteed 2014

So, if I sign up againg next year, 2013, and do not get in I can make definate plans for 2014. That works for me!
See you in Toronto!
Until the lottery is guaranteed,
George

An Amazing Time at Marvins Marvelous Mechanical Museum!

We had seen an article about “Marvin’s Marvelous Mechanical Museum” in a “Things to Do” book. It sounded interesting, but we never got around to visiting it.
Well, we finally did, and the panel of experts all agree, it was worth the time!

It is not a far drive up to Farmington Hills from Ann Arbor, so we left about noon, stopped for some lunch and got to the museum about 2 pm.
Marvins Marvelous Mechanical Museum
I was surprised, there was no entry fee. I expected to pay a few bucks just to get inside.
When you open the door and walk it, it is a smorgasbord of sights and sounds for the senses to feed on!

I suggest you use one of the picture links to view the entire photo album so you can see what I mean!

Towards the end of the visit a nice person was standing between some machines just sort of watching. I realized this was Marvin in person. I said “Hello” and he immediately struck up a conversation. He wanted to show us the “Tic-Tac-Toe” playing chicken, which I think is one of his favorites from the literature and advertising I have seen.

Marvins Marvelous Mechanical Museum

Marvins favorite Arcade item?

 

Marvins Marvelous Mechanical Museum

At the end the chicken will reward you with a nice post card

Marvins Marvelous Mechanical Museum

I can only still imagine what this did… I did not try a quarter to see it in action.

Marvins Marvelous Mechanical Museum

Some things are just better left to the imagination.

We spent several hours roaming around the place. It is not huge, but it is packed, and I do mean packed, with interesting articles from the rafters to the floor, and every nook and cranny in between.

If you are in the Detroit area, and Farmington Hills with a few extra hours take time to stop by and see this place!

Until the final quarter is played,

George

 

2011 Running in Review

A brief summary of what happened in 2011, and earlier in some cases.

If it had not been for the very cold and snowy January and March in 2011, I think I would have put in the most miles for any year so far. Nevertheless, it was close.

The miles put in for the long runs in preparation for the Marine Corps Marathon on October 31, add the miles up in June, July, August, September and October!
Running Stats 01

In December we joined Anytime Fitness and even with the December chills got in some decent mileage on the treadmill. Starting to do more cross training not also, which I hope will pay off in 2012.

Overall mileage by years since I started in 2008.
Running Stats 01

Since I began walking/running I have worn a pedometer. It downloads to the PC so it is easy to track totals over the years.

So… it’s a lot of steps to get to 8 million plus! Note that I do NOT wear the pedometer during normal daily activities, only when I exercise. If I work it all day, including work, I am sure the daily total would be significantly higher.

Running Stats 01

 

Will continue to track just to see how it goes. Maybe make a goal of 1,500 miles in 2012. Need to get what, 125 per month then, doable, but not without some real work, especially when you look and see I only hit that number four months in 2011!

On the plus side, the lower miles means the knees won’t wear out quit so quickly!

Until all the fallen arches rise again,

George