Archive for the 'Geolocation' Category

PeopleFinder

Posted in Geolocation, Mobile Platform, Ning, Python, Symbian Python on October 14th, 2005 at 10:23:43

In my spare time (hah!) I’ve been hacking on an app on Ning, called PeopleFinder. The goal is to be a geolocation app, supporting a variety of things social. One of my many goals for a long time has been to create and use some kind of tool which allows me to generate MeNow data with no effort.

I’ve finally got it.

With the help of Geocoder, I can now type in an address, and have it automatically update my location on the website, including showing my position on a GMaps interface. The PeopleFinder API is still a bit weak, but using it, I can write a Client for Series 60 Python, which allows you to update via a GPS lat and long, or via an address.

I’ve created a token system for authentication via the API — when logged in, you simply hit the token link, grab the token, and put it into the client (in the “token” variable).

Eventually, once I write the functionality, it is my hope that I will be able to provide more features via this API — the ability to look for people nearby you, get their information, send them messages, and so on. However, right now this is just a 2-3 hour hack, and I’ve got piles of work to do - but this is so cool I had to share it.

As far as I know, this is the first example of a Ning App exporting a semi-usable API to remote clients. In part, this may be due to previous limitations on Ning’s end which have recently been resolved: looking at the phone client code, you’ll see the ?xn_auth=no parameter, which allows you to skip cookie authentication. It’s a pretty nice solution to the problem in my opinion — it solves what I need while not interfering with the rest of Ning.

So grab your phone, grab a client, and update your address on the go — then, the next time I see you in the neighborhood, I’ll drop by and give you a wave.

More on Image Regions

Posted in Flickr, Geolocation, Image Description, RDF, SPARQL on May 23rd, 2005 at 18:43:40

My post last night was a bit cryptic, so let me walk through a bit more clearly what I’ve been doing, since I seem to have picked up the interest of some more people.

I currently am using Flickr to annotate my photos: primarily because I like their image region annotations, and partially because their API offers me a way to get lots of data out that I’ve put in, which is useful to me. So, that’s what I’m using for photo annotation at the moment, which may change at any point.

Masahide has a flickr2rdf service: flickr2rdf takes a Flickr Photo page URI and exports RDF from it: For example, a picture of myself, my ex girlfriend, and Foghorn Leghorn can be seen, fully annotated, using XSLT+RDF, via the flickr2rdf tool.

Additionally, the original photos stored at flickr (full size) have EXIF information: this information can be exported via Masahide’s equally cool exif2rdf tool: Foghorn Leghorn Example.

Once I have the photo_id of a photo, I can collect all these statements together. Additionally, since I am using tags from GeoBloggers for geolocation, I have a tool which parses out these tags (using the Flickr API) and creates Geo data for them.

I add a few tracking statements: specifically, links to seeAlso the final RDF/XSLT view of the image, (again, Foghorn Leghorn example). I serialize the Model out from Redland, and get a directory full of files full of RDF singletons. From here, I use cwm to process the singletons into an abbreviated RDF/XML file. These files are then synced to the http://crschmidt.net/albums/flickr/ directory. Here, I use a couple little tricks to add an XSLT declaration as the first line of each file, so that the content negotiated version offers XML delivered as application/xml, rather than just application/rdf+xml (which Firefox won’t display in a browser).

Next step is to add each of these files into an RDF model. Since I’m still occasionally changing statements, I’ve been dropping the whole model and readding every time: this doesn’t take too long, as it’s only a few hundred files, and Redland is speedy quick.

So, now we have a database full of RDF statements. Fine. But that’s not too useful. So, I have my SPARQL query interface. Which is all well and good, for people who have lots of knoweldge of RDF. It can provide some cool results.

But it doesn’t really do anything *fun*. So last night, I added an optional checkbox, that said “If you ahve something in a specific query format, process an XSLT file against it”. I tweaked this XSLT from masahide’s example, linked yesterday, into what it is now, which you can see, if you’re interested.

Well, that’s all well and good, but most people don’t understand SPARQL enough to know what they should type in. What’s the use of having to learn a language just to see some pictures? So, my next step was to add a search box specifically for Regions: my sparql page has a search box now specifically for this purpose.

I realized after a couple times, though, that using client side XSLT to process the XML was really slow, clunky, and generally ugly. Not to mention that Mozilla’s XSLT doesn’t let me disable-output-escaping on variables: so, I installed php4-xslt, and started using that implementation on the server side.

Yeah, that’s all well and good too, but now my pretty RDF with queries and all went away! So, I added them back: at the end of the Foghorn Search, in a comment, you’ll see:

Generated using the XSLT stylesheet at http://crschmidt.net/xslt/imgreg.xsl against the data generated by the query:

PREFIX dc: <http ://purl.org/dc/elements/1.1/>
PREFIX foaf: <http ://xmlns.com/foaf/0.1/>
PREFIX imgreg: <http ://www.w3.org/2004/02/image-regions#>
SELECT ?img,?title,?page,?desc,?atitle,?coord
WHERE {
?img
dc:title ?title;
foaf:page ?page;
dc:description ?desc;
imgreg:hasRegion ?r.
?r
dc:title ?atitle;
imgreg:coords ?coord.
FILTER REGEX(?atitle ,”Foghorn”) }

Data was:

followed by the XML version of the SPARQL query results.

Another interesting example: Schmidt - myself, family members, and others.

Anyway, being a bit more informative seemed appropriate given the situation. So there’s my implementation toy of the day.

Quickies…

Posted in Flickr, Geolocation, Mobile Platform, Symbian Python on February 28th, 2005 at 09:46:41

Wombat takes charge : learning how easy it is to work with location stuff in Python, he starts work on a project that sounds a lot like the work I’ve started on locative stuff. Looks like I need to get back to that…

As FrankK reports, Darla will record an orgasm ringtone if she gets requests on her blog for one. Think she’ll follow through? I’m interested in finding out.

Flickr stuff is close to done. I’ve got a user interface put together, using code stolen from the included file browser provided by Nokia. You can browse through, select a picture to upload, and upload it, using the given tags, security, and stored username/password. It’s not ready for prime time yet, because I want to set up a way to do multiple uploads at once. I’d also like to be able to type in titles/descriptions, but the limitations of the UI widgets available blocked me there. I don’t have anything that I can type t9 into with ease, so getting the data out would be a pain. Is it so much to ask for a t9 enabled appuifw.query window?

Jess asked me yesterday if I’ll ever make any money hacking these things together. My answer is probably not: I don’t like the idea of charging people money for something. I’ve never even asked for donations, because I just think it’s not fair to expect people to pay me for the work I do. Despite this, if anyone wants to offer me money to do what I’m doing, I’d be glad to take it. I really need to move this stuff to a server that isn’t hosted in a house with four cats running around: they have a tendancy to pull out the ethernet cable nightly, which means downtime for everyone.

I’m looking to move stuff soon, I’ve had my eyes on one of the Sagonet bargain servers for a while. (The reason I’m going for my own box rather than a virtual box type solution is memory based: I want to run julie off a different machine than my own, and that requires me to use a hell of a lot more memory than any virtual hosting solution I’ve yet found.) The price is good, it’s just that initial extra setup fee that’s putting me off.

However, every day that goes by is another day that I realize I really just need to move stuff and be done with it. Waking up every morning and having to restart my menagerie of bots is getting old. I want something stable.

Is anyone looking for hosting? $10/ a month, and I’ll do all the work to install anything you want! :)

Where In The World

Posted in Geolocation on February 19th, 2005 at 08:01:16

While I’ve spent a lot of time talking about MeNow-type services, I haven’t spent a lot of time doing anything with them as far as location goes. The main reason for this is there has always been something “Just over the horizon” which is going to take care of all the location stuff for me.

For a long time, nothing really happened. However, thanks to Norman Walsh’s efforts, there now is a “Where in the World” web service. It’s easy to use, although documentation is a bit weak at this point. (I say this with a smile because it’s not gearing to be a complete web service for the public: It’s mostly so that he can learn the way to make a proper web service.)

If you want to try it out, first use the WITW register form to register with the service, which will generate a userid for you and allow you to use your account. You can then use the WITW web form to alter your position. There are also other ways, more oriented to the Web Services way of doing things: these are covered in the WITW Part 1 post on Norm’s weblog.

Attached to this, for results, are a couple URIs: http://norman.walsh.name/2005/02/witw/is/$username is the most interesting, for example, WITW is Christopher Schmidt , which returns XML formatted in-browser with XSLT. (Note that this will only work in IE and Firefox at the moment.) Even more interesting things happen when you’re actually near someone, however, there’s not anyone close enough to show up by default. Norm set up a temporary page demonstrating this, by extending the “nearby” distance to 100 miles. You could see this on another WITW is Christopher Schmidt page, but it’s down now.

If you look at the resulting XML, you can see it’s pretty simple, and easy to use: Easy enough that even I could figure out what to do with it. So, I did: the freenode redlandbot install now supports a “witw” command:

< crschmidt> ^witw crschmidt
< julie> At 2005-02-18T23:51:33Z, crschmidt was at long: -71.4369, lat: 42.9813

The next step is to get it to update the site, as well as to store the data into the RDF store. That way, I can start to build up a MeNow database, which will let me work on furthering that project as well.

That’s not the only thing there is out there for location: There’s also Plazes, which aims to store a much wider range of data and be much more of a web site than a web service. You can see the place where I am right now: The Commune, the place I call home. Soon, the site will be exporting the data as RDF: something that I look forward to. Tying together Plazes and simpler things like WITW are pretty simple.

All in all, I’ve got a lot of fun toys to play with for location, and I’m expecting more will come out of them in the future. For now though, I’m happy that I can update something to let others see where I am. Now I’ve just got to make my computer start doing the hard work for me a bit more simply…

Geolocation

Posted in Bluetooth, Geolocation, Image Description, OpenGuides on January 2nd, 2005 at 23:22:21

Geolocation is the technique of determining a user’s geographic latitude, longitude and, by inference, city, region and nation. There are a number of ways to do this: one of the common ones discussed on the internet (according to a Google search for “geolocation”, as we all know Google is the Answer) is geolocation via IP address. The kind I’m interested in is much more accurate: geolocation via GPS device.

I want to be able to know where I am. I want this for a lot of reasons, most of them geeky rather than actually reasonable. However, it would be nice to offer more specific statistics on where my pictures are actually taken with fine grain granularity that a GPS can offer. Additionally, some of my alternative projects - cell based geolocation and the like - could benefit from actual coordinates on which to base everything from restaurant locations to searches. Openguides is, in particular, one area that could benefit from this.

I want something that works over bluetooth. My laptop and phone both speak bluetooth, and something with an actual display is out of my price range, for the most part, so I want something I can use my phone to get data out of. (USB / serial obviously doesn’t work for that.) From what I understand, most GPS devices which support NMEA are going to work okay for communication, as there are tools out there which support them. (Whether I can get the thing to talk over bluetooth is a different concern, but one I’m becoming more proficient at every day.)

For a long time, all I could find for Bluetooth GPS devices were 200-250 USD and up. However, while discussing it with someone in #mobitopia on Freenode, I found the Delorme Bluelogger, a Bluetooth GPS device for $150. Matt already posted about our discussion, but I hadn’t yet.

I have some cash left over from Christmas, and I know that I almost never actually buy anything for myself. So, I’m going to splurge, and I’m going to get it. I’m going to learn to use it, and I’m going to do all kinds of neat things with it. Plans include:

  • GPS Annotation of Photos - This rolls into my photo annotation project, and is part of the reason I was keen to get it done: I want to actual have some fun queries for normal people (rather than just RDQL-aware people) over my photos.
  • Location Based Description of things for Openguides - Describing where things are with GPS coordinates allows searches by distance. Once I have that, the guide allows more niftyness.
  • Association of Cell IDs to Geo locations - Tied to the previous, this allows me to know where I am based on a Cell ID: Useful for “what’s nearby”, as well as useful for the general “where are you” that I like to be able to do - with just my cell phone.

All in all, some of the apps I have in mind seem nifty, some geeky, some just demonstrative of something bigger. Some are RDF related, some are just fun. The Bluelogger seems like a decent tool to achieve everything I need to.