Friday, December 31, 2004


Geocaching Find Milestone: #300

I finally got around to completing my 300th find on on the last day of my first complete year of caching. The family visited Enchanted Rock State Park which is only 90 minutes from San Antonio. What a great day and a very interesting park. We will definitely go back someday to get the rest of the caches in the park.

Thursday, December 23, 2004


Introducing Whereabout CityMAP

Well the time has come and here it is, the first edition release of a custom maps for Magellan GPS receivers. The first CityMAP to be featured is San Antonio, Texas (Bexar County). This CityMAP was created from publicly available GIS data (from the City of San Antonio) that includes a complete street network, streams and lakes as well as park, theme park, university, downtown parking lots/garages, and military base boundaries.

In addition, the data set has a number of points of interest (POI) features such as golf courses, missions, libraries, public schools, hospitals, clinics, police and fire stations to name a few. All POI features can be toggled on/off from the map display at any time. Most of the features include auxiliary data records that provide additional information. For example, if you move your cursor over a Theme Park boundary and press the enter key and data panel is displayed showing the address, phone number, and website address. All the features are included search groups which allow any feature to used in a GOTO search (i.e., show the nearest golf courses and select one to act as a goto point).

This data is provided absolutely free but if you would like to make a small donation to support the creation of additional CityMAPs please use the Amazon Honor account link to the left. Donations will be used fund the purchase of 3rd party translator software (mainly for future Garmin Map support) and additional hosting fees for the data files. The general plan is to create additional CityMAPs for Austin, Dallas/Ft. Worth, and Houston, adding Topo data, and including even more POI data. The ordering of these (or additional ones) tasks will mainly depend on interest levels received. So provide feedback please!

Tuesday, December 14, 2004


TerraCaching - A complement or replacement of

I found out about a new site for GPS treasure hunting this week and got myself a couple of sponsors so that I could join the group and figure out how it will play with the other geocaching related sites out there. Here are my initial findings:

This is not a replacement site for (et al) but is intended to be a high quality cache site. The site is designed for people into cache ratings, personal statistics, and quality caches not quantity. The community rates everything and if cache rating gets too low, it could be removed from the system. Your membership can also be removed under extreme conditions (i.e., your 2 sponsors stop sponsoring you). Your two sponsors will approve all your caches and you will approve caches of the people you sponsor. It is different but could be a good complement to the other sites if it really does hosts quality caches (both physical, mental). It is also expected that caches would be original to terracaching and would not be listed elsewhere and vise-versa.

It has a ways to go as far as user interface (site is 2 months old) but it could be a really good addition if it is truly meets it's mission of hosting more than "cookie cutter" caches.

It also looks like they are embracing the GPX format and user defined queries (i.e., pocket queries) are in developement. Also since this is SkyDivers site it looks like we already have the new cache alert tool integrated. You also can be informed of new users in your area (e.g., miles from your home coordinate).

A bunch of the more creative cache hiders have joined the group so we will see where all this leads...


Geocaching: Scavenger Hunt Turns Deadly from


Friday, December 03, 2004


Custom GIS Data on Magellan GPS Receivers

I've been spending way too much time working on uploading public GIS data from the City of San Antonio into commercial GPS receivers by Thales Magellan. So far I've been able to load topographic (i.e., contour lines) data from TNRIS (Texas Natural Resources Information System) , vector line layers for streets, rivers, and polygon layers such as park boundaries and downtown parking lots. I have taken about a half a dozen point features and created POI's (points of interest) that can be searched (i.e., where is the closest bus stop). The POI features have been interesting because they have a separate data screen so you can display as much information about the POI as you like (i.e., phone number, web site address, number of parking spaces, etc.). Having all this information on the screen slows things down a bit so I'm currently working on turning off certain information when you are zoomed out too far on the display screen. As soon as I get that looking good I'll post a link for the datafile which can be loaded onto Magellan brand GPS units.

It is also possible to do this for Garmin series of GPS unit but I probably will work on creating data for other Texas cities on the Magellan platform first. Austin would probably be the next city I try (probably after the new year unless people have a lot of interest in San Antonio). I'm also interested in creating turn by turn driving instructions on the GPS. This is possible and the San Antonio data set will support it, but No one has figured out how to do it yet.

Before I started Whereabout LP, a couple of co-workers of mine thought we could create a company that would make custom digital tourist maps of select cities for cell phones and PDA's that have location technology built in. That concept ever got off the ground but in a very small way this is kind of a proof of concept for that idea.


Whereabout LP Wins Contract with NASA

Some of you know that I left a good paying job last spring to start my own company ( Well I'm happy to report that Whereabout won a Small Business grant for NASA. You can read a summary of the proposal Whereabout submitted at:

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