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Discussion Starter #1
Truth is this information could probably go in about three palces depending on how you look at it...

Anyway,

Last week I downloaded a "demo" copy of Microsoft Streets and Routes 2003 to try out. As many of you know, I'm planning a trip to Californial next month, but don't know my way around there very well since I've never had to get around there on my own.

The mapping software seems preaty easy to use and offer a variety of features that seem pretty cool to me. You can set your starting and destination address just like mapquest and get directions, but in addition you can get the lastest highway contruction information and it will tell you where to expect contruction. You can enter your highway and city fuel milage along with the size of your tank and it will estimate when you will need to refuel. You can set your average driving speed for different types of roads to get your ETA and can even build in rest stops after certain periods of time for certain lengths of time.

Beyond that, the software is preprogrammed with many businesses, sites, and other points of interest, so rather then entering an address, you can enter a business name and as much information as you know about it's location and it will eather give you the location or give you a list of possible locations to choose from. As a test, I put in the name and state only of a night club I knew about in Monterey and it was able to give the location so I could plot routes to it. Some times it even includes the last phone number it had on file for the place. Pretty handy.

Lastly, because I liked the interface so well, I bought a PC uplink cable for my Garmin GPS 12 GPS reciever. Unfortunatly, because of the trees around me and the story above me, I can't get a GPS signal in my room. To test with, I went ahead and switched the GPS to Simulation mode, which essentially allows you to enter your own GPS coordinates. It had default values and when I hooked it to the PC, sure enough, I got the default values, which was somewhere in Kansas. Wes tells me he thinks the coordinates are the geographical center of the US. Makes sence to me! Just to varify, I used the map tool to find the approximate coordinates for my house and entered them into the GPS. Sure enough, I got a little car icon, the icon that's used to indicate the current position of the GPS signal, right on top of the coordinates I had specified.

I'm really pleased with how well the software worked. By the time I leave for my trip I should be getting my dad's old laptop, which I'll run this software on. I've also purchased a copy of "Microsoft Streets and Routes 2004" so I'll have a 'non-demo' copy, if you know what i mean...

The software is only about $30 off eBay if anyone is interested. The uplink cable was like 19 bucks shipped. I bought the Garmin GPS 12 like two years ago. I think I paid like $80 - $120 for it back then... can't remember exactly. The GPS 12 is not specifically a road travel GPS, but rather is more designed for marine applications and hiking. Still, a GPS coordinate is a GPS coordinate, so works fine with this software.

-Dan
 

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Discussion Starter #2
My Software should be here in the next two days. I'm tracking it and it's like a 30 minute drive from here right now. Exciting!

-Dan
 
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Two replies to your own thread!


I've been thinking about getting a GPS for a while now, but decided there's no way i could get one for the amount I want to pay but, after checking ebay, I noticed the prices have dropped dramatically especially for the brand you have. So I might look into it again. But I'm definitely interested in seeing how the software works out to know if I should get it.
 

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Yeah, I know my GPS doesn't work well if the clouds are really thick and not at all in dense trees or indoors. It might have problems if you're in a densly populated city that has lots of multi-story buildings close to one another. Generally those are not the times you need GPS location though if you have mapping software.

This would work well in flat areas or on top of (not between) mountains. Could be useful for back country roads or long stretches of highway.

I think I see my GPS unit for about $100 on eBay right now. The uplink cable is like 18 bucks. I'll definatly let you know how well it works once I have everything set up. Microsoft also has a version for Pocket PC if that's more your style rather then a full sized laptop.

-Dan
 

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Dan, do you actually use the Microsoft software on the GPS or just as an aid? Back when I bought my Garmin 76S (last summer), Mapsource software (made by Garmin) was the only software which you could use to upload maps to your GPS; it wouldn't except any other software. Still, I never bought any of the Mapsource software because of terrible reviews.

Because of your post, I did some research and found that what Microsoft Streets & Trips allows you to do with your GPS is, once the GPS is hooked up to the laptop, view your current position on the map. That is, if your GPS has NMEA v2.0. I didn't even know this! To think, I was thinking of just selling my GPS and buying one specifically for road-use. I never knew all I had to do was buy some software and a mount for my laptop in my car and I could enjoy a screen 100X bigger than any of the thousand-dollar GPS units made specifically for cars. That's awesome!
 

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Oh yeah, all you need for most mapping software is a GPS reciever signal. With the GPS coordinates, it can plot your position anywhere in the world and if it has an acurate map, it can give you directions. IMHO any dedicated hardware that is ment to be stand alone is nowhere near as easy to interface with as a real computer. The only exception might be some of the voice activated stuf, but with a little skill, you could probably get some level of voice activation working on your laptop anyway.

-Dan
 

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Dan keep in mind that when you are out here in
California, the ETAs that you get from like mapquest or mapblast or the like, are NOT very accurate estimates, as you can imagine. So if you are headed down to LaLa land (L.A. to those east of us) just PM one of the West Coasters in the area your headed to and ask about actual drive time, short cuts, etc. If you heading up here to Bay Area, PM someone up here including myself for local info as well.
 

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I'm kinda interested to see how Microsoft Streets & Trips works out for you. At best, it's gotten mixed reviews on Amazon (3 out of 5 stars). Now, I know you should never base a purchase decision solely on that but so far, when I have, I've never been disappointed.
 

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Sp far it's impressed me, but then again I don't have much grounds for compairson. I'd say it blows mapquest out of the water even without the GPS interface. You're really benifiting from Microsoft MapPoint, thier high end version that's just been watered down and sold for under $40. You end up with refined technology with an easy to use interface.

It's like buying a Vulcan rather then a duratec... same package, less power


-Dan
 

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Originally posted by dant98@Mar 11 2004, 06:16 PM
It's like buying a Vulcan rather then a duratec... same package, less power


-Dan
:roflmao:


I want to put that in my sig
 

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I have seen the lower end Garmin models for as little as $99, and the higher end one with all the steets on it, for around $199 with a full color display. If you have a lap top, you can get an antenna and software package, and it will do way more than any handheld on the market. The laptop ones give your direction, speed, elevation, pretty much everything EXEPT mpg.
 

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Originally posted by sfblacksel@Mar 11 2004, 08:24 PM
I have seen the lower end Garmin models for as little as $99, and the higher end one with all the steets on it, for around $199 with a full color display. If you have a lap top, you can get an antenna and software package, and it will do way more than any handheld on the market. The laptop ones give your direction, speed, elevation, pretty much everything EXEPT mpg.
Yeah, you have to enter your own MPG on this software, but once you enter it along with your tank size, fuel cost per gallon, and fill up point (1/2 tank, 1/4 tank, 1/8 tank, etc), it will tell you when you need to stop for gas and how much the trip will cost you in gas money.

-Dan
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Here is some examples:
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Fuel
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Costs
 

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Originally posted by dant98@Mar 11 2004, 10:12 PM
And the final Route
Here's an HTML Version it generated as well:
Columbia to Detroit HTML map

And here is what you see in the software:
Columbia to Detroit JPEG
Looks like you'll be passing through right where us Clevelanders will be leaving from. Once you get on I-80 in Ohio, you will eventually come up on I-77 & I-480, we will probably be leaving from one of those points. So anybody coming from your area could join a Caravan from there for ROTB.
 

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Well, first real time test of the mapping software and GPS was a success.

Cool Features:

When you have "Track position" on, it will follow your GPS location on the map and automatically change the map view as you move.

You can right click near your icon on the map and add it to the route to create a route to a destination in real time.

My using the "paces of interest" feature, you can see what returants, gas stations, etc are comming up and what you are passing.

Lessons Learned:

The GPS signal is kinda finiky. It too us a while to realize it doesn't work well from the center of the car. It needs to be near a window, or as we found, on the dash board works rather well to get a good signal.

The position on the map often is behind your actual position by 100 feet or so. Between positoning error and a 1 data point per second plot rate, I guess that's understandable. Sometimes the wobble makes it seem like you're in a ditch, but you can obviously tell the difference between what road you're on and other surrounding roads.

-Dan
 
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