Monday, May 5, 2003

Nifty GPS Software

I've had a GPS for years - it's a fun toy even though I don't use it much any more.

One of the great things I like to do is to hook it up to my computer. This has several
uses. For example, I can mount the GPS on my mountain bike, take a ride, and later
download the coordinates as a text file. Of course, a series of numeric latitudes
and longitudes isn't particularly illuminating, but it's a matter of minutes to pull
it into Excel, and from there into MapPoint.

If you've never used MapPoint before, you're missing out. It's part of an MSDN subscription
(can't remember what level), so it's free if you're already paying for that. It's
basically like the online version of MapPoint, but local, so performance is way better.
And it goes well beyond the simple route plotting capabilities of the online version
in terms of number of stops, choosing which routes to follow (e.g. avoid toll roads),
and other things. You can even import information into it from Excel, allowing you
do to things like plot a GPS track on a map.

There's direct GPS integration, too. MapPoint will display your current position on
the map if you have a GPS connected that can do NMEA (most of them). I've used this
from time to time to figure out where I was in a strange city. But since it requires
looking at the laptop screen, it's really not appropriate for use from the road.

Well, the other day someone mentioned Delorme
Street Atlas
. Apparently, this thing works much like MapPoint, but it will actually
speak directions to you! "Turn left ahead." That sort of thing. According to their
website, you can even talk to it. As in, "Where
am I?" And it'll answer. I haven't tried it, but I've heard from at least one satisfied

Very cool - I want one.

No comments:

Post a Comment