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OruxMaps Lets You Go as Far as Your Mapmaking Skill Takes You

OruxMaps Donate,
a mobile app from Jose Vazquez, is available for US$2.62 at Google Play.

OruxMaps

Have you ever considered becoming a cartographer? It’s not as hard as you might think.

I’ve been trying out OruxMaps, a map viewer for Android that functions two ways. One
mode is online with the usual suspects like Google maps, OpenStreetMap, and so on;
the second and more intriguing method is offline with maps you’ve created yourself.

Creating your own maps, while not hard, is a project. The basic concept is that you take
a paper map — someone else’s or your own — and scan it to a PC as an image. You then
calibrate that image with known geo-reference points that are understood by the map
viewer and its GPS.

Trip-ups stem from the fact that the Earth is round, while electronic screens and paper are flat,
so you need to come to grips with projections. There are hundreds of different types of datums.

Another issue is that there are multiple ways of entering the calibration data, all subject to interpretive error. Plus, there are obvious copyright concerns if you’re using someone else’s map.

I’ve been experimenting with desktop tools like OkMap, which help the 21st century mapmaking process.

The App

Jose Vasquez’s OruxMaps Donate is $2.62 in the Google Play Store. There’s also a free
ad-supported version that you can try.

This app is a real mapmakers app. I’ve reviewed other map apps for LinuxInsider, including classy
Backcountry Navigator, but none of those that I’ve seen thus far provide the map-geek flexibility of OruxMaps.

Online maps supplied with the app include Google and OpenStreetMap, as well as Chartbundle US
Aviation, Google Earth and niche maps like OpenPisteMap.

I counted 36 different maps, including multiple overseas maps like UK Multimap and German Hike
Bike — part of the OpenStreetMap project. All of the included maps can be cached offline.

Among OruxMaps’ features: ability to display your position in 3D view; relief maps; trip
computer; multitracking for following your friends; sharing position; barometer support;
and multiple-route displays.

Neat tricks include an on-map night mode switch to dim the map and preserve night vision, plus heart-rate Bluetooth support.

Waypoint management is extremely comprehensive, with photo-waypoint functionality
and geocache-specific settings.

Making a Map

I was able to load a map of a section of Southern California that I had created in Gian
Paolo Saliola’s OkMap for Windows, as well as one that I had made using the OruxMaps
desktop conversion tool. They look fabulous — just like commercially available online maps.

However, they both unfortunately got placed in China, within the app’s scheme of things.
Same latitude — different continent. This was due to a datum mismatch totally unrelated
to OruxMaps and due to my inexperience with Universal Transverse Mercator (UTM)
datums. I won’t bore you with the details. Suffice it to say, I need to read up on it some
more. It is a project, after all.

However, I was able to create waypoints within my maps, which was highly satisfying — despite the fact that they look as though they’re on the wrong continent.

Greetings From China

Mapmaking has been an important part of mankind’s development, and I recommend a
sojourn into mapmaking for those interested in how we got to where we are.

This is one of funnest projects I’ve gotten involved with through an app, and I’m looking
forward to getting the datum mismatch figured out. I intend to create a map and use it in
OruxMaps for a spring Southern California desert road trip.


Patrick Nelson has been a professional writer since 1992. He was editor and publisher of the music industry trade publication Producer Report and has written for a number of technology blogs. Nelson studied design at Hornsey Art School and wrote the cult-classic novel Sprawlism. His introduction to technology was as a nomadic talent scout in the eighties, where regular scrabbling around under hotel room beds was necessary to connect modems with alligator clips to hotel telephone wiring to get a fax out. He tasted down and dirty technology, and never looked back.

Facebook testing new Timeline design

Facebook is testing a series of changes to the current Timeline design.


(Credit:
Screenshot by Lance Whitney/CNET)

Facebook users may be in store for some design tweaks to their Timelines.

The popular social network is testing a revamped layout for the Timeline among select users in New Zealand, a spot where Facebook typically tries out new features.

The new layout sports a single-column for all the posts and updates on your Timeline, according to a screenshot obtained by The Next Web. That by itself would be a welcome change from the current double-column layout, which has always struck me as confusing and unnecessary.

With your status updates and other posts on the right, an “About” section appears on the left with bits and pieces from your profile. The years appear all the way on a right sidebar, where you can jump to a particular year just as you’re able to now.

Another image caught by TNW shows a new feature in the form of a status update, this one from BuzzFeed.

Clicking on the link in the update opens the associated Web page, as always.

But a new “Like Page” button can take you directly to BuzzFeed’s official Facebook page. This tweak seems designed to help people more easily find the actual Facebook pages of different businesses and organizations.

There’s no word on when, or if, this new Timeline might pop up for other users. Assuming the test phase goes well in New Zealand, Facebook will undoubtedly start rolling out the Timeline tweaks to the rest of the world.

CNET contacted Facebook for comment and will update the story when the company responds.

Marc Benioff is still in a buying mood

(gigaom.com) — Salesforce.com, which hasn’t exactly been shy and retiring on the acquisition front over the years, plans to keep right on buying companies and technologies it needs to bolster its marketing and support services push.

“We need to buy more marketing companies. We want to be the company you turn to for sales, service, marketing and the platform,” CEO Marc Benioff told analysts on the company’s fourth quarter earnings call Thursday afternoon. “We want to grow organically and via acquisition.”

For its fourth quarter, the company reported a loss of $20.8 million, compared to a loss of $4.1 million for the same period last year.

Marketing technology has become a hot spot over the past few years. Salesforce.com ponied up $326 million for Radian6 (social media monitoring) in 2011 and then $800 million for Buddy Media (social marketing) to buy both mind share and market share. But rivals have also spent big — Oracle bought Eloqua a few months ago for $871 million. The working theory behind this activity, as Benioff said on the call, is the believe that at some point in the near future chief marketing officers (CMOs) will have more IT buying power than CIOs.

Asked what Salesforce should do to counter Oracle/Eloqua, Benioff returned to the acquisition trail: “I think we’ll buy small and big. We’re going to be aggressive and look at everything.”

Salesforce.com, which started out as a customer relationship management (CRM) or sales-force automation (SFA) company, now also focuses on three other businesses: marketing; help desk type services (desk.com) and “the platform.” The latter is presumably both Force.com, the company’s internal development platform and Heroku, the Platform as a Service it bought three years ago.

But it’s difficult to get any feel for how those newer businesses are faring — although Salesforce did lay off a hundred or so employees from Buddy Media and Radian last fall. . Asked about traction for its “non-SFA businesses” CFO Graham Smith didn’t get specific, referring to comments made at the company’s Dreamforce show last fall. “It’s been a pretty gradual shift. I suspect it’s close to what we said then with 55 percent [of business] SFA and 45 percent non-SFA … As our more recently acquired businesses grow at a faster rate than sales cloud we’d expect a shift away from SFA but hopefully not too fast.”

Benioff did say that social advertising — in the marketing group — is probably the company’s fastest growing business. But it would be really nice to hear what sort of new, non SFA accounts are coming buying these new services and how much overlap there is between its CRM customers and consumers of these other services.

Your guess is as good as mine, because Salesforce.com ain’t sharing.

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