Saturday, March 25, 2006

Mobile Devices

One of the great things about modern technology is its mobility. On my "End to End" trip I'm taking a mobile phone, a GPS unit and a hand held computer. These last two will allow me to view my route and my track. Most importantly, they'll let me recover from inevitable mistakes in my map reading. Here is a picture of the equipment.

On the left is the GPS unit, a Globalsat BT338. Next to that is a Sony Ericsson P910 and taking centre stage behind the keyboard is a Dell Axim X51V PocketPC. The Dell is equipped with a high capacity battery. At the front of the picture is a ThinkOutside Universal Stowaway keyboard. Everything communicates via Bluetoth.

I've been using the GPS unit and the PocketPC to record my tracks during training rides. I have the Ordnance Survey maps for the UK together with MemoryMap software. This has enabled me to do all my route planning on my PC and then to download the results to the Dell. The GPS unit works with MemoryMap on the Dell to show me my location and to record my track. Amazingly, after a full day of riding, both the GPS unit and the PocketPC still have over 50% of their battery life intact. So long as I can recharge them each evening, I should be able to record the entire trip as I go.

I'm taking the keyboard to make it easier to write blog entries en route. I've tried various ways to get information onto this blog using the equipment in the photo. I wrote a simple blog client for my phone, which allows me to post text entries. I can also update using blogger's e-mail interface, but again, only for text. Photos are supported on some US networks, but not here in Europe at the moment. However, by using Flickr, I can post text and images together. It too has an e-mail interface for blogging. Images are stored on Flickr and referenced from blog entries that it forwards on to Blogger automatically. So I should be able to take photos with the camera on my phone, and post them here, together with a description of each days ride.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Getting Started

When I joined my present company, (Volantis Systems) one of the benefits was a sabbatical of four weeks to be taken after five years service. The company has been going over six years now, and the time has come to take advantage of that benefit. I've never had a sabbatical before. The attraction to me was to do something that wouldn't be possible with normal vacation time. After a lot of pondering I decided to cycle the length of mainland Britain.

If you know anything about the famous Land's End to John O'Groats routes, you'll know that a month is far more time than is necessary for the direct trip. Most people seem to manage the 900 or so miles in a couple of weeks. Since I have a whole extra two weeks, I decided to include some sightseeing in Scotland.

To complicate matters further, in the middle of the trip, I have to be in Edinburgh to give a paper at the W4A2006 conference. This conference focusses on issues concerned with access to the Web for people with disabilities. The result is a trip of more like 1600 miles, a much more suitable distance for four weeks in the saddle.