Archive for the 'GPS' Category

'RogerSWhen I first encountered the Nokia Internet Tablet, I thought, “Gosh what a great e-reader!” I've

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used each NIT as an e-reader but I learned what it's great at is, well, doing the internet thing. As its name suggests.

I thought GPS was a natural win. The big screen made maps easier to read than on most dedicated devices. Still, I used my tablet for email more often than GPS.

The voip calls with visuals blew me away. Except no one with a tethered connection bought into cam-calling.

The 770, the N800, the N810 — these were all complete computers! They meant I didn't have to lug around a laptop just in case I had real work to do. But I did most of my real work on a real computer and my wife never got the hang of using a NIT. My son's friends found the iPod Touch easier for surfing and he never cottoned to it.

With its touch screen, I didn't need a keyboard, but I liked the N810 keyboard. The keyboard made apps easier to port anyway.

And Flash! Once it became clear that “internet” meant surfing without sideways scrolling, email, and videos on YouTube, the internet tablet excelled at giving me the internet.

Well, excelled in lots of circumstances. Without a cell-plan data connection the walkaround web had no impact on NIT users. The Apple iPhone has a minuscule segment of the smartphone market but generates 50 percent of mobile web use. Apple's genius wasn't in the interface but in browbeating AT&T into affordable web access.

Does the Nokia Internet Tablet have a real future? We have a $200 netbook and it's easier for conference notetaking than an N810. I have an Amazon Kindle 2 and I can get books for it that aren't available for FBReader on my NITs. Half the cars have GPS built-in now anyway. So what's the sweet spot for the Internet Tablet?

Doh!. The internet, same as it's always been.

Except these days, “the internet” means Twitter, too. With multi-tasking so I can tweet full-screen and use multiple screens to follow several hundred people (in more than one group). With keyboard and touch-screen and audio and photos too. And from anywhere I might be, um-m, walking around.

I can tweet from a phone now, thank you very much, but making sure it fits is no piece of cake. Tweeting means editing down to 140 characters without having to struggle. And reading (following), tweeting and surfing simultaneously? Hey, where's my computer again? At least Maemo was built for us to do more than one thing at a time.

I expect there will be lots of cellphones released this year that have keyboards and screens of a satisfactory size and cameras. Just having good specs won't draw much attention. But if the next NIT can ace the Twitter test and fly the Flash flag, it'll be very much in demand.


Marcelo (aka handful) of INdT has announced that the new version of Carman is coming August. Carman is an on-baord diagnostic analyzer for the internet tablet that lets you monitor and detect problems on your automobile by accessing the data stored on your car’s on-board computer, the same data that service technicians use.

The new version gets a user interface overhaul and uses the same graphics library of Canola. A Trip Report feature has been added that lets you graph your trips so you can find the fastest and most econimical route, based on engine stress. It also adds simple navigation using maps from OpenStreetMaps.

Enjoy some screenshots below. You can find more at Marcelo's blog.






My reminders look like this: Michael's birthday in three days and Time to leave for dentist appt. They're entered in a calendar app. They're triggered when I arrive at a particular date or time.

But what about when I arrive at a particular place?

Since I have GPS in my Nokia N810 Internet Tablet, why can't I get reminders that look like this? — About to pass Home Depot. Need to get electrical tape.*

Or: One block from dry cleaners. Pick up Jill's sweater.

Come on now. We have a full-fledged computer system at our beck and call. Call Jim as soon as you get back from lunch should only activate when I return to work in the lunch timeframe and Pick up milk at grocery only when I'm passing the deli in the evening, on my way home.

You know, that GPS in the N810 has got to have way more use than we're making of it.


* This isn't a new

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idea. More than two years ago, I wrote a post about Geominder, an app that runs on Series 60 phones.


When I wrote last week that we need a people-friendly GPS, I really didn't have any idea how this might work.

I just know that we need something that works better than the people-unfriendly GPS that we have now.

I have thought about the domain-name registrars and domain-name servers of the internet — every website gets a specific device-friendly numeric IP address but people don't use those numbers. They use the URI. (Well, think about it: is way easier to remember than

Why don't we do the same thing for GPS locations?

Why can't I put in a name and have a GPS name server (GPS-NS) look up the specific latitude and longitude the way it works with the web?

OK, it shouldn't be slavishly the same. I live in Montclair, NJ, and I would want some parameter to default to “locations near Montclair” when I put them in. So I could enter “Starbucks” and a star would appear at 572 Valley Road, without my having to enter “Starbucks-Montclair-ValleyRoad”. And, yes, Starbucks Corp. would register the “Starbucks” GPS the same way it registered “”. And just as that site has a “” page, it could set up the names for each of its locations.

And, heck, maybe I have to download the GPS-NS table to my device and update it daily or weekly. Maybe it's extremely detailed only for a specified area, not the whole world. So I can put in “Golden Gate Bridge” or “Sugarloaf” because those are level-1 locations, but not “Starbucks-Brazil-Rio de Janeiro-Ipanema”. (Unless I say, “Get me Brazil too.”)

I expect software would let me filter results too, so that if I entered a name like Xanadu that is used in different states/countries in different types of business, I'd see only the few possible entries — the restaurant near me and not the surfboard designer in San Diego, the clothing store in Milwaukee or the restaurant in Baltimore.

Well, just thinking aloud . . .


As I've posted before, something went awry when Fedex delivered the N810 I ordered. It never arrived.

After a week, I persuaded LetsTalk to have Fedex reimburse them for the lost package. They did, and the replacement N810 got here Tuesday afternoon.

This morning, a neighbor from another street dropped off the original and merely mis-delivered package. Like Tuesday's, this was an unassuming brown cardboard box about 11″x11″x9″ with nothing blaring “Fabulous electronics inside!” to alert the unwary (and only a 10-point-type return address indicating the shipper). So eleven days after receipt, my oblivious neighbors opened the package and only then realized it wasn't some low-priority content intended for them, but someone else's darling toy.

(Well, that's what it looks like. I've already been asked by one stranger if my N810 is an iPhone.)

So now I've got to arrange this baby's return.

Makes me

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wonder — wouldn't it be frustration-removing if somehow the shipping could have involved GPS, with a specific location identified as the drop-off spot? Then I (or the diligent shipping researcher) could have quickly retraced the errant deliveryman's steps and retrieved the original package on day one.

For that matter, how come we don't have central GPS reference points that would help locate places? You know, like “the Empire State Building is at 34th and Fifth, so you go up about fifty blocks to get to the Met” only in GPS terms?

I'll tell you why, it's because the numbers are technology- and not people-friendly: “The Met is at latitude 40.776073 and longitude -73.964338 and the ESB at latitude 40.75319, longitude -73.985646″ has too many numbers to allow us to get a handle on the locations.

You know, I already have 1-866-59NOKIA permanently etched in my memory. (That's the LetsTalk phone number.) And 1-800-GOFEDEX. See where I'm going here?

The whole web experience is built upon the understanding that is way easier to remember than

At one end, we've got street addresses, at the other latitude and longitude. What we really need is a friendly GPS, something in the middle that has a logical structure to it and a way to make the key pieces stand out without renaming 34th Street “40.750 Way”. Or wait, maybe I'm wrong about that. Maybe the Empire State Building does need to be rebranded “750 Empire State” so its universal locator number is part of its identity. After all, I know how to locate “1010 WINS News” on the radio because its frequency is part of the brandname.

Then maybe my house would be located by being +50N and -17W from Montclair's Central Location Referent (the CLeaR point), and even that Fedex deliveryman wouldn't have left my package at +51N-12W without worrying about whether mine was the house next to the blue house or not.


My good pal, Matt Miller, The Moble Gadgeteer blogger over at ZDNet, gives a good demo and detailed instructions on how to tether the Nokia N95's integrated GPS and modem with the Nokia N800 Internet Tablet, all via Bluetooth.

Basically, you need the Symarctic ExtGPS (beta) app installed on the N95 which will allow other

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devices (mac, pc, linux included) to use its GPS, a data plan to have the N95 connect to the internet, and Maemo Mapper. What is interesting is that both the GPS and modem are working together via one (or maybe two) Bluetooth connection(s) to the N800.

Thanks Matt!

Read Matt's full writeup.


Over at, Dean Takahashi points out that GPS devices topped electronic sales on Black Friday, the big shopping day after Thanksgiving:

Two years ago, the devices that get their location fixes from global positioning system (GPS) satellites cost $1,000. But the cheapest ones now have broken the $100 barrier and many are now competing on a variety of features. GPS devices were the No. 1 electronic purchase on Black Friday, up sixfold over

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last year in unit sales. The average price was $189.

Another indicator of how useful people find location info, and another point underscoring Nokia's logic of incorporating GPS into the Nokia N810 Internet Tablet.


I've used the Nokia-branded external GPS with the N800 Internet Tablet, but I pretty much only did that in the car and headed somewhere.

So I'm a bit mystified by the reports of poor GPS performance in the N810. Some of these are for “I was moving around indoors” situations which I never tried.

Here's what promethh wrote yesterday in the ITT forums:

I can usually keep a 5-satellite lock on a bus or near a building window. I can usually keep a 7-satellite lock when driving my Xterra or Forester. Acquisition times when warm/hot (near/at last location) have been 30sec-2min, and 2-6min

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when “cold” (unknown location)

Um-m, up to 6 minutes to acquire one's position? (OK, from 2 to 6 minutes.)

Is this something that can be improved by software? Or will it only be fixed by a change to the hardware (eg, doing something with the antenna)?

Or is this a non-problem that isn't going to interfere with real-world GPS use?


Bloomberg News reports (in its entirety, via the San Jose Mercury News):

TomTom, the world's largest maker of car-navigation equipment, will use Google's maps program so customers can send addresses for shops and restaurants to their devices. Users can search for business addresses through the Google Maps site and then send that information wirelessly to a navigation device with a click of a button, the Amsterdam-based company said Wednesday in a statement. Drivers can then view that information on the device's map and save it. TomTom is adding features to stay ahead of rival Garmin.

I hadn't thought about the advantage a device like the N810 Internet Tablet has in this regard, with both Google Maps (or any map site) and the GPS available in the same device.

But I guess a “send this address to the GPS” seems like a useful feature. What would it take for someone to work that up?


The New York Times has a GPS focus in its Circuits section today — ten articles about GPS devices, free-standing and built-in, from accessories (solar panel charger) to innovative use (pet locator) to data-tracker (think: where did I take this photo?).

Hundreds of column inches. Not a word on the Nokia N810 Internet Tablet, by the way.

One article describes one family's use of GPS in cellphones to help monitor their children's whereabouts. It mostly describes Sprint's $10 monthly Family Locator service (Verizon has something similar).

When Mr. Gray uses the service, he turns to his computer and clicks on the Sprint Web site to locate either child. “Within about a minute, an icon appears on a map showing where the phone is,” he said.

The story goes on to quote Charles S.

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Golvin, an analyst with Forrester Research. The location services complement “one of the main motivations adults have in giving their children cellphones — to get in touch with them in an emergency.” And GPS ties into this because, he notes, “it's a comfort to have a bit more information.”

Parents may find an N810 a better present, if only because it combines location and internet calling with a full range of computing. And it seems to me that cam calls are bound to be more frequent and more reassuring on an internet tablet than using the costly telecom alternative.




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