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TomTom Announces an Open Source GPS Technology

samzenpus posted about 5 years ago | from the free-directions dept.

Technology 177

TuringTest writes "According to OStatic, European company TomTom (which recently settled a patent agreement with Microsoft) has announced a new open source format OpenLR for sharing routing data (relevant points, traffic information...) in digital maps of different vendors, to be used in GPS devices. The LR stands for Location Referencing. They aim is to push it as an open standard to build a cooperative information base, presumably to operate in a similar fashion as its current TomTom Map Share technology, in which end users provide map corrections on the fly. The technology to support the format will be released as GPLv2. Does that make OpenLR a GPL GPS?"

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Tom Tom Settles with Dumb Dumb (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29372917)

:-)

Re:Tom Tom Settles with Dumb Dumb (0)

nametaken (610866) | about 5 years ago | (#29374011)

And Dumb Dumb writes the f'ing summary?

Dat iz da werst sumarry evar.

Do we really need Frozen Bubble to run on a GPS? (-1, Offtopic)

pecosdave (536896) | about 5 years ago | (#29372939)

Or ZSNES for that matter, that could be a driving hazard.

LEO Points (-1, Flamebait)

LRNG_LNX (152143) | about 5 years ago | (#29372975)

I had thought about something like this for marking Law Enforcement Officer common hide points.

Re:LEO Points (1)

swanzilla (1458281) | about 5 years ago | (#29373125)

You know, I had an idea like that once. A long time ago...

...Well, all right. It was a "Jump to Conclusions" mat. You see, it would be this mat that you would put on the floor, and it would have different conclusions written on it that you could jump to

Excellent (4, Interesting)

CdBee (742846) | about 5 years ago | (#29372979)

When I can grab a set of co-ordinates off the web, add it to a contact on my phone, then bluetooth the destination to my car GPS, that will be a brilliant thing

GPS should never replace maps and mapreading skills but it is a damn useful adjunct

Re:Excellent (1)

Brian Gordon (987471) | about 5 years ago | (#29373267)

GPS will almost completely replace maps and mapreading skills, as it is easier, safer, and more convenient. It completely reproduces the map's functionality and adds indispensable features like traffic updates and never getting lost.

Re:Excellent (2, Insightful)

ppanon (16583) | about 5 years ago | (#29373579)

Unless you happen to drive a large truck and the GPS doesn't handle re-routing according to overpass height clearances.

Re:Excellent (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 5 years ago | (#29374253)

I'm, frankly, shocked that at least one of the vendors pushing GPS modules for "fleet" use hasn't started offering that yet.

If I were feeling entrepreneurial, I'd look into the economic feasibility of buying access to aerial photographs correlated with timestamps(which I assume the vendors have access to, since they are almost certainly GPS tagging to make stitching easier, and a time reference is free with GPS). If you know the location and the time, you could presumably get decent estimates of bridge(and other feature) heights just by looking at shadows. Use the known locations of road crossings and overpasses to tell you what shadows are worth looking at, and there you go...

Re:Excellent (4, Informative)

russotto (537200) | about 5 years ago | (#29374411)

I'm, frankly, shocked that at least one of the vendors pushing GPS modules for "fleet" use hasn't started offering that yet.

Of course they have. There's no need to use aerial photos for measuring feature heights; location of anything below 13'6" on the National Network is available from the state DOT. I know of several products which do routing according to truck restrictions -- PC*Miler, Map&Guide (Europe, mostly), and Rand McNally's Intelliroute. All have GPS tie in software.

Re:Excellent (4, Funny)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 5 years ago | (#29374459)

Ok. Shock attenuated.

Re:Excellent (1)

Dare nMc (468959) | about 5 years ago | (#29374403)

GPS doesn't handle re-routing according to overpass height clearances.

Are their printed maps that have this information? I know the information is generally available in a digital format, and many GPS's allow you to define routes on a PC then upload them. So I guess you could write them on maps, and read them on the fly. Or you could have it in your GPS that tells you to use exit ramp in "5 miles", "exit now". The important thing is, does the driver do this research, or someone else. And if it is someone else, which is more precise to transmit the information without error?

Re:Excellent (1)

kybred (795293) | about 5 years ago | (#29374569)

Or you could have it in your GPS that tells you to use exit ramp in "5 miles", "exit now".

Or, the driver could pay attention to the signs on the roadside that have the height clearance for the upcoming overpasses!

I saw a news article not long ago where a truck was driven under an overpass that was too low and peeled back the top of the trailer. The reporter was blaming GPS of course, not the idiot driver.

Re:Excellent (1)

plover (150551) | about 5 years ago | (#29374979)

Or you could have it in your GPS that tells you to use exit ramp in "5 miles", "exit now".

Or, the driver could pay attention to the signs on the roadside that have the height clearance for the upcoming overpasses!

I saw a news article not long ago where a truck was driven under an overpass that was too low and peeled back the top of the trailer. The reporter was blaming GPS of course, not the idiot driver.

Both are true. The driver is responsible for following all posted regulations and restrictions. The navigation software is supposed to provide a "safe route" that avoids the relevant obstructions. This saves the trucker lots of money from wasting time going down roads that he can't pass, but it does not absolve the driver from ignoring a sign that reads Max Height 13'4" when his trailer is 13'5".

And yes, the reporter is the real idiot of the story. A GPS satellite doesn't care where you are. A GPS receiver can only tell you if you're on the route or not. The routing software (which may have nothing at all to do with GPS) is the bit that should give you the pass/fail, and even that is only as good as its input data. Without more information, we don't know if the road data was incorrect or out of date, if the low clearance was incorrectly marked, if the routing software was internally incorrect, or if the GPS receiver misinterpreted a parallel frontage road as the main highway. But it sure makes for a good sound bite to say "a GPS was wrong."

Re:Excellent (2, Insightful)

Velex (120469) | about 5 years ago | (#29373641)

GPS will almost completely replace maps and mapreading skills, as it is easier, safer, and more convenient. It completely reproduces the map's functionality and adds indispensable features like traffic updates and never getting lost.

Last time I tried to use one, I got lost. I had scroll around on its map to figure out where I was and a SANE way of getting where I wanted to be. I think I'll stick to paper maps, which actually help me get acquainted with where I'm going so I can concentrate on traffic more, thanks.

That, and back when I used to listen to talk shows TomTom's male-bashing commercials pretty much turned me off to their brand. But go ahead and mod me down. I'm sure I'm just being oversensitive or something.

Re:Excellent (1)

nanospook (521118) | about 5 years ago | (#29374639)

Ok Grandpa ;)

Re:Excellent (4, Insightful)

plover (150551) | about 5 years ago | (#29375037)

Last time I tried to use one, I got lost. I had scroll around on its map to figure out where I was and a SANE way of getting where I wanted to be. I think I'll stick to paper maps, which actually help me get acquainted with where I'm going so I can concentrate on traffic more, thanks.

I beg to differ. In a new city, when the GPS receiver is handling the navigational duties, you get to focus lots more on the traffic because you aren't hunting for the one sign that says "Hwy 5 West" or trying to remember if you should be taking the west or east exit. It sounds like a small thing, but it really frees you up to watch the idiot in the left lane on his phone who likes to drift over the line, and the guy in your rear view mirror speeding up and weaving through the three cars behind you. The little voice saying "in one mile keep right, then exit right on Highway Five West" is timely and useful, and not nearly as distracting as the frantic search for the obscure sign, or wondering if you accidentally passed it.

The downside is that if you let the box navigate, you don't have to learn the route yourself, and you may never learn the new roads. It's up to you to decide if that's a good thing or a bad thing.

Re:Excellent (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29373647)

safer is questionable, it's just a matter of time before someone ignore the "Warning! Turn Back! Bridge Out" sign because their GPS says there is a bridge there.

Don't get me started with those people who ignore cars around them and obey the GPS godlike voice telling them to jump accross 3 lanes to turn left 100 metres in advance..

Re:Excellent (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29374153)

Too late. Michael from The Office has already suffered this fate... :P

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0yyKrS8jwSY [youtube.com] .

Re:Excellent (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 5 years ago | (#29374279)

No problem. In the future, all road signs will have cellular modems and twitter accounts.

Re:Excellent (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29374289)

I don't get it, wouldn't a map also say a bridge is there? So you're telling me that people ignore those signs because their maps tell them a bridge is there?

Or are you a complete fucking moron?

Re:Excellent (1)

HiThere (15173) | about 5 years ago | (#29374405)

It's because it's an active medium rather than a passive medium.

If you only use the GPS to plan your route in advance, then you won't have this effect. But if you're following the GPS instructions in a minute by minute "Do it NOW!" kind of way, it acts as a form of conditioning. I'm not sure that idiot is the right term, but fool is probably reasonable.

(FWIW, most directions I've gotten from Google or MapQuest start out by telling me to drive North 1 block. I live on a one-way street. And North isn't the one way.)

Re:Excellent (1)

MBGMorden (803437) | about 5 years ago | (#29374457)

(FWIW, most directions I've gotten from Google or MapQuest start out by telling me to drive North 1 block. I live on a one-way street. And North isn't the one way.)

I'm sure you probably do the same, but as someone who relies pretty heavily on Mapquest, I've found that it's best not to count on the first or last line too much. Instead I'll basically skim the directions it gives and mark off everything before the last road that I know how to get to naturally, then follow from there. For example I recently planned a trip from my house to Atlanta (about a 5 hour drive) and the first half of the directions I didn't really need because they were largely the route I'd take to get back to school when I was in college - not only that but the directions they gave to get to that point, though correct, were certainly NOT the most efficient route. I"m sure that beyond that point they weren't the most efficient either, but they did (and pretty much always have) get me where I wanted to go. Sure as hell beats the navigation method my dad used for family vactions when I was younger (which was to call up everyone he knew until he found someone who supposedly knew how to get where he wanted to go, and then jotted down their verbal directions, which got us to the right city maybe 60% of the time, and to the right location within that city maybe 20% of the time . . .).

GPS !replace maps & skills Re:Excellent (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29374163)

GPS can:
a) be hacked/spoofed
b) run out of batteries
c) have data errors

For these reasons and more, GPS has a long way to go before it completely replaces maps (if it ever will). For truly important navigation you always want to have a hard copy backup and the ability to use it.

Re:GPS !replace maps & skills Re:Excellent (2, Insightful)

Brian Gordon (987471) | about 5 years ago | (#29374947)

Spoofing multiple GPS signals in real time would be the pinnacle of human hardhack achievement. Please link me, I beg you

Re:Excellent (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29373297)

GPS should never replace maps and mapreading skills

It does and will continue to do so. Not everyone enjoys reading maps (fools). As soon as people discover how much time and nonsense can be saved by just going wherever the computer tells them, they are converted. Paper maps are going the way of 35mm film.

Re:Excellent (2, Interesting)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | about 5 years ago | (#29373351)

When I can grab a set of co-ordinates off the web, add it to a contact on my phone, then bluetooth the destination to my car GPS, that will be a brilliant thing
 
I'm close- I can take the address off of a contact on my phone, place it in the copy buffer in Windows Mobile, paste it into iGuidance, and let it talk to the radio in my car to announce directions.

Now if only the steering wheel would obey the radio....

Re:Excellent (1)

turbidostato (878842) | about 5 years ago | (#29373419)

"GPS should never replace maps and mapreading skills"

Why not?

In other news:
Calculators should never replace sliding rules and sliding rule reading abilities.

Re:Excellent (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | about 5 years ago | (#29373481)

I don't let my seven year old son use a calculator for his maths homework. I want him to learn how to do calculations on his own.

Re:Excellent (2, Insightful)

AnEducatedNegro (1372687) | about 5 years ago | (#29373601)

yes, this is all well and dandy for doing math on the fly. so you know you're not getting gouged on certain deals, or to determine tip/tax/fees etc quickly. but if you're calculating a budget for your job i hope, for your sake, you're not wasting your time doing long division on paper..

aEN

Re:Excellent (2, Interesting)

SpannerX (989422) | about 5 years ago | (#29373513)

Well, seeing as how the US can encrypt it at anytime for any reason, making it unusable for who ever they don't want using it, there is a very good reason to continue teaching/learning map reading skills. And astronavigation.

Re:Excellent (1)

c6gunner (950153) | about 5 years ago | (#29373981)

"GPS should never replace maps and mapreading skills"

Why not?

Because when 2012 comes, only those of us with map-reading skills will be able to find the good stuff. I'll be navigating my way to gun shops and twinkie factories, while you get lost in the lingerie department at Walmart.

Re:Excellent (1)

msormune (808119) | about 5 years ago | (#29375327)

You have been able to do that for a long time. Just not with open source software. Google Maps Mobile is pretty good at this already, and it's free.

GPL? (3, Interesting)

ultrabot (200914) | about 5 years ago | (#29373009)

If they truly want "wide scale adoption" as indicated in the referenced article, they would be better off using LGPL or BSD/MIT type license. It's not like supporting a transmission format is rocket science, so GPL seems a bit weird choice for a license.

One of tomtom's specs says that:

GPLv2 permits to use software & library in proprietary programs

I don't know where they came up with that idea.

Re:GPL? (2, Informative)

infinitelink (963279) | about 5 years ago | (#29374321)

The FSF's explanation is 'you can sell GPL, so it can be commerical!', that's likely not what TomTom is referring to, which I could explain it to you hermeneutically (of the GPL), but it's a dirty little secret that those who like the collaboration to continue want to keep dark: so carry on, wonder nothing, just accept what you believe, carry on...

Re:GPL? (1)

stephanruby (542433) | about 5 years ago | (#29374563)

I don't follow. What collaboration? Do you mean a collaboration between the FSF and TomTom? What do they "want to keep dark"? Can you clarify your post please, preferably without the extraneous commentary.

Re:GPL? (1)

infinitelink (963279) | about 5 years ago | (#29374729)

The things people 'think' about the GPL pretty much means an ensured open enviornment of code, which encourages lots of collaboration among corporations and individuals alike. What's 'kept in the dark' is what the GPL intends to accomplish, and what it actually does accomplish as written. That is all.

Re:GPL? (1)

infinitelink (963279) | about 5 years ago | (#29374737)

I need to correct myself on one point, it's not 'what the GPL intends to accomplish', but 'what the FSF may have intended it to accomplish', or 'what the FSF wishes it to accomplish', as obviously a document itself can successffully (or unsuccessfully) embody an intent, but not itself intend.

Re:GPL? (2, Insightful)

dfghjk (711126) | about 5 years ago | (#29374717)

I'm not sure what you are trying to say, but you sound like an idiot.

Re:GPL? (1)

infinitelink (963279) | about 5 years ago | (#29374745)

You don't know what I'm trying to say, and you call me the idiot? Thanks.

Re:GPL? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29375209)

I'm not saying he's right or wrong, but here's how I think his logic is working:

you're babbling incoherently, you sound like an idiot.

Just because you can't understand what someone is trying to say, doesn't make the person not understanding the idiot.

Re:GPL? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29375459)

And why would you try explaining things to an idiot? :-P

Re:GPL? (1)

BikeHelmet (1437881) | about 5 years ago | (#29374409)

I'm pretty sure you can invoke a GPLv2 binary from a closed source program without violating the license.

GPLv2 was primarily focused on keeping the source + all modifications open. No modifications and you're good to go?

Re:GPL? (1)

Dare nMc (468959) | about 5 years ago | (#29374513)

does ? GPLv2 permits to use software & library in proprietary programs

Oddly enough I do think GPLv2 provides more power to the original authors, assuming a dual licensed agreement, than any of the more open licenses. IE if someone produces a product that extends this, they have few options. 1) Publish their entire program and changes as GPL'd code themselves 2) feed these changes back to TomTom so that TomTom publishes the code for them 3) contact TomTom for a different license 4) don't publish.

So GPLv2 leaves TomTom with the most power, over their creation, of any open of the source licenses. This includes proprietary programs.

Patent card waiting to be played? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29373023)

GPLv3 provides for explicit patent protection of the users from the program's contributors and redistributors. With GPLv2, users rely on an implicit patent license to make sure that the company which provided them a copy won't sue them, or the people they redistribute copies to, for patent infringement.

Re:Patent card waiting to be played? (2, Insightful)

RiotingPacifist (1228016) | about 5 years ago | (#29374063)

or we live in europe!

Re:Patent card waiting to be played? (2, Informative)

TheRaven64 (641858) | about 5 years ago | (#29374155)

Which idiot modded this informative? Clause 7 of the GPLv2 provides you with a license to any patents owned by the upstream distributor that are implemented by the code.

Re:Patent card waiting to be played? (2, Informative)

HiThere (15173) | about 5 years ago | (#29374423)

Not precisely. It provides you with a license to use any of their patents that they used in the code in any derivative code that your produce. That's a bit more restricted then what you implied.

Note that if you make code which is not derivative, you don't have the license to use the patents in that code.

Re:Patent card waiting to be played? (0, Flamebait)

BitZtream (692029) | about 5 years ago | (#29374413)

You can't play the patent card, contrary to popular belief, when you release this stuff into the public under an open license unless you clearly state that you need a patent license to use it.

You can't, legally, get people using your crap under the premise that you are allowed to do so, wait a few years, then start suing everyone after you pretended to make it free. Changing the tune after you get people using it is illegal. You have to pretend, from the start, that you don't want anyone using it or you 'didnt know' people were using it if you intend to go after them. Patents must be defended or they are lost.

They could sue the shit out of people for plenty of things, but not for using the GPLd code in an app. However, if Garmin were for example to want to use the format, and wrote their own implementation, they would be on shakey ground.

GPLv3 would be effective as not licensing it to the public from a commercial perspect. Garmin isn't going to open source everything so they can use some retarded new and unneeded format.

If they actually wanted people to use the library, it'd be BSD/MIT/Apache licensed. They don't want people to use it, they want people to think they are playing the OSS game, mean while effectively preventing their competition from using it. The only apps that are going to use it are OSS apps that, lets face it, can't compete with the commercial apps to just about anyone except OSS fanboys.

Better than GPX *how*? (4, Insightful)

pla (258480) | about 5 years ago | (#29373063)

Both GPX (ubiquitous) and KML (Google Earth) support routes, in a nice simple XML grammar, and just about every GPS-aware application in existence supports both of them. Why, then, should we care about yet another format to do the same damned thing?

I don't object to diversity of choice, but really... Sometimes you just can't do better than sticking with the wheel for moving your cart.

Re:Better than GPX *how*? (1)

Skinkie (815924) | about 5 years ago | (#29373127)

Because XML good for interoperability but a hell to get embedded support for.

Re:Better than GPX *how*? (1)

xenocide2 (231786) | about 5 years ago | (#29373285)

Garmin devices are increasingly embedding Linux in their products, and we know TomTom is. There are several XML parsing libraries available to do the job that build on ARM, and it isn't impossible to port them to whatever crazy OS you have on hand.

Re:Better than GPX *how*? (3, Interesting)

Skinkie (815924) | about 5 years ago | (#29373331)

The actual point is to avoid XML for anything on the device. It is not that you can build libxml or axl or whatever on an ARM processor. XML is not a native binary structure a processor can operate on.

Re:Better than GPX *how*? (1)

socratesisamortal (559403) | about 5 years ago | (#29375483)

Your definition of "embedded" is pretty strange.

I've been doing embedded development on Z-World's Rabbit microprocessors for many years with GPS add-on modules. When I use the word "embedded" I mean an 8-bit processor running at 44mhz with 512kb flash/ram if you're really, really lucky (I consider even this to be pushing the definition of the word "embedded"). There is no OS, everything sits in a while(1) {} loop and all your functions are non-blocking.

An XML parser? What a complete waste of resources.

Re:Better than GPX *how*? (1)

v1 (525388) | about 5 years ago | (#29373219)

To my surprise, my garmin supports GPX [topografix.com] format, and saves nicely in XML. Saves waypoints, track logs, routes, etc. Very nice. Inspired me to write an XML parser so I could edit my waypoints.

So TomTom thinks they got it first eh? And we know how MS is known for assisting with standards as of late...

Re:Better than GPX *how*? (1)

JonasH (183422) | about 5 years ago | (#29374263)

Because any XML structure will be beyond terrible for efficiency. You want to know how to get to point B today, right?

Re:Better than GPX *how*? (1)

pla (258480) | about 5 years ago | (#29374667)

Because any XML structure will be beyond terrible for efficiency. You want to know how to get to point B today, right?

You realize that you can actually extract data from an XML document without implementing a full XML parser, right? You can ignore recursion and overlapping namespaces and dynamic schemas and just get to the meat of the file in a linearly-bounded fixed-space manner?

Even in .NET you don't need to walk the namespace, you can just SelectSingleNode()s until you find the one you really want. On a full PC with oodles of memory and CPU time, I wouldn't recommend that; on a device that has 4k RAM and spends 97% of its CPU time adjusting signal delays for relativistic effects? Really, I promise, you can cut a few corners to only deal with the tags that actually have some meaning within the context of your task.

Sad, really, that of the responses to my comment so far, most (and from apparent programmers, at that!) have complained about the overhead of XML parsing. An embedded device's implementation doesn't need the ability to 100% accurately process an arbitrary XML file - It just needs the ability to find the route or track named "foo" and get the end-user to the nearest point in that route.

Re:Better than GPX *how*? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29375243)

where the so-called xml file is actually a weirdly specced flat file that happens to be in a format parsable by xml editors, yes.

Re:Better than GPX *how*? (1)

russotto (537200) | about 5 years ago | (#29374445)

There's also a format called NMEA, ugly but easy to parse and supported by most GPSs. Probably lacks the capabilities of this new format, though.

Handheld GPS and Linux (3, Informative)

improfane (855034) | about 5 years ago | (#29373117)

I was looking up GPS and Linux recently as I would love a handheld GPS system. (not for driving) TomTom seems to be a very popular one and this would be awesome for me.

Here's an interesting Slashdot article, Hackable Car GPS [slashdot.org] . There's a list of Linux software here [slashdot.org] . (gpsDrive, qpeGPS, RoadMap, GPS3d, pygps)

Can anyone recommend an affordable handheld GPS devices? Any of them suited for on-foot, rambling or bicyclying? Or is it better to get a PDA or a phone with GPS?

Re:Handheld GPS and Linux (2, Interesting)

MichaelSmith (789609) | about 5 years ago | (#29373171)

I have a garmin etrex. I use it with a bicycle mobile phone case which clamps to a handle bar. I saw that gps in the shop the other day for 149 AUD. It should be pretty cheap wherever you are.

My etrex doesn't support maps though. I am mainly interested in marking locations of interest only to me.

Re:Handheld GPS and Linux (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29373201)

I use both an iPhone and a Garmin nuvi 7x0. Most of the time for something quick I'll ask the gf to use the iPhone's map app. It loads up faster, and the interface is quicker and easier to use. Also it's a natural when using Yelp or something with a street address to just say "gimme directions from where I am".

This weekend I needed directions from a place with no 3G or even 1G access. So the iPhone was useless because it couldn't download a map. And there have been other times where the iPhone spun its wheels trying to download map data.

Now probably a Garmin or TomTom app for the phone would come with maps and not have that problem. In that case, I would prefer it 95% of the time over the GPS, the 5% being long road trips. Otherwise, why carry a second device that is probably clunkier and isn't integrated with anything else?

Re:Handheld GPS and Linux (2, Informative)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | about 5 years ago | (#29373223)

...or a phone with GPS?

A dedicated GPS is far, far better (IMHO) than a phone based GPS.
Recently, on a cross country drive, I relied on my daughters GPS enabled phone, having loaned my GPS to the ex. Every time she got a call or text, she had to reset the GPS, because the phone/text function took over. And on a 5 hour drive, that was many, many times. Annoying, to say the least.

Of course, there may be GPS enabled phones that do not do this. But a dedicated GPS is so cheap now, why bother? Get a phone for the phone, and a GPS for the GPS.

Re:Handheld GPS and Linux (2, Interesting)

nrgy (835451) | about 5 years ago | (#29373335)

You have a valid point however I think it can go both ways in some instances.

A few months ago I flew my mother and sister to visit in Los Angeles. My sister would be doing all the driving and not knowing her way around worried me a little. While not the best solution I ended up giving my sister and mother my iphone to use its gps while they drove around during the day. My sister would pull over, search for a location she wanted to go, hand the phone to my mom and start driving.

From all I gather they loved it and didn't have any problems using it. My sister also liked the Google street view for previewing the lay of the land so she would recognize things as she got close. Sure I will concede a Tom Tom sort of device would have been the ideal solution but you gotta admit the GPS on the phone did do its job. My 2 cents.

Re:Handheld GPS and Linux (1)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | about 5 years ago | (#29373949)

Sure I will concede a Tom Tom sort of device would have been the ideal solution but you gotta admit the GPS on the phone did do its job. My 2 cents.

Right. The Phone-GPS worked well. Until she got a call on it, and then the phone function took over. Then the situation was AFU.

Cramming too many functions in one small device brings a reduced functionality on all functions. Phone/GPS/mp3/games/ebook...you can only do so much on one little screen at a time.

Re:Handheld GPS and Linux (1)

Fallen Seraph (808728) | about 5 years ago | (#29374225)

Depends on your phone. My Palm Pre just has a notifications area that you can click to in order to see an event. Whatever app is running takes precedence. I can even listen to music on it with the GPS running, and it lowers the music volume to like 10% to announce the directions and street names. My old dedicated GPS didn't even do street names. Plus, with the card view, the GPS just keeps running in the background, even if you do switch to something else, so you don't have to restart it or anything. I haven't used it enough to know how it handles call when you pick up though, as I usually try not to take calls while driving :/

I'm referring to the Sprint Navigation App fyi, since it has turn-by-turn directions, unlike Google Maps.

Re:Handheld GPS and Linux (2, Insightful)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | about 5 years ago | (#29374281)

I haven't used it enough to know how it handles call when you pick up though, as I usually try not to take calls while driving :/

Exactly. Whatever was running (GPS in this instance) was boss...until you answered the phone.
Convincing a 22year old female not to answer the phone or text for 5 hours was a physical impossibility.

As I said...phone for phone things, GPS for GPS things.

Re:Handheld GPS and Linux (1)

Fallen Seraph (808728) | about 5 years ago | (#29374915)

I meant I don't know how it handles turn by turn alerts. No matter what, even if on a phone call, I could always switch to viewing the GPS app during the call. It's just a matter of whether it'd continue announcing the directions...

Re:Handheld GPS and Linux (1)

Blakey Rat (99501) | about 5 years ago | (#29375113)

The navigation app on the iPhone doesn't get interrupted for calls-- if you take the call, it goes right back to where it was before. Then again, 3G iPhone using GPS for 5 hours would drain the batteries pretty effectively-- so yeah, there are always drawbacks.

Re:Handheld GPS and Linux (2, Informative)

Hai-Etlik (11767) | about 5 years ago | (#29373307)

I have a Garmin GPSmap 76CSx. Qlandkarte GT is able to talk to it in Linux with no trouble. I can upload maps (Generated from OpenStreetMap and the SRTM topological data) and download tracks and waypoints just fine. Installing proprietary maps requires the Windows software. Anything in the Etrex or GPSmap lines by Garmin are probably safe. Both are widely available and supported by official and third party mounts and accessories including bicycle mounts. Note that the black and white and colour versions have slightly different shapes and need different mounts.

Re:Handheld GPS and Linux (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29373453)

I use a Garmin Etrex (Venture Cx, though I'd recommend the Vista HCx as the best of the bunch) and OpenStreetMap.

The Garmins have drive / bike / foot routing and are good all-rounders. They don't have voice directions or lane assist.

OSM is the wiki-worldmap and there are lots of Garmin-compatible map sets produced by OSM users. Cloudmade.com do a nice global set updated monthly. It's all free CC-sharealike licence so we get to play with the maps, remixing them in all sorts of map-nerdy ways.

As a hiker, I don't like the idea of relying on a phone GPS. GPS is battery-hungry and my phone is my emergency get-out-of-trouble card. I'd feel a royal ass if my routing app ate my capacity to call mountain rescue.

Re:Handheld GPS and Linux (1)

kwalker (1383) | about 5 years ago | (#29373531)

I have a Garmin eTrex Legend and I love it. It is WAAS-enabled so I get resolutions down to ~7 feet with clear skies. I like its B/W LCD screen (Easier to read in direct sunlight). It is water proof down to about 3 feet (Though the manual says to take the batteries out after a dunking and let the unit dry) which means it is rain proof, which has been a real boon for me.

I have a bicycle attachment for it which stays on my handle bars and the unit clips into/out of in less than a second. It requires the battery cover of the unit be swapped out, but that's easy enough to not bother me much.

I have a phone (Blackberry Curve) and a PDA (Nokia N810) with GPS but neither are very visible in direct sunlight. They also don't have very good battery life compared to my Legend (15-18 hours on a pair of AA batteries).

I paid $120 for the unit, but I've seen them down to about $80 USD. Many units also allow you to upload maps, which come in quite handy at times.

Re:Handheld GPS and Linux (1)

BitZtream (692029) | about 5 years ago | (#29374433)

You want a Garmin handheld unit.

Every OSS GPS app sucks donkey balls on a good day, it goes down hill from there. I've used every one you've named and a few more, trust me, they suck compared to almost any commercial unit.

I guess if you don't care about having useful maps, some of them are okay. And if you don't want maps at all, there are plenty of apps that will do a good job of just about anything you want for free.

If you want maps, just buy something and don't waste your time playing with the OSS variants or trying to use OpenStreetMaps, its really not worth it at this point.

Re:Handheld GPS and Linux (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29375453)

I would personally recommend the Garmin GPSmap 60csx, It has all the features of the newest ones and due to being older you can get one on the cheap.

On an unrelated note, I think it's ridiculous that Garmin's newest GPS units are iPhone style touchscreen only. Using it in the store, it seems like a poor interface choice.

Not another "standard" exchange format, please! (4, Insightful)

ugen (93902) | about 5 years ago | (#29373131)

We have GPX - it is widely adopted, supported by multiple devices and extremely extensible. Why not add extension to GPX and make your data more compatible with existing software? Instead they create another incompatible "standard", slap an "open source" moniker on it and here we go - another incompatible "technology".

Re:Not another "standard" exchange format, please! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29375285)

We have GP2X too, completely unrelated though.

Re:Not another "standard" exchange format, please! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29375553)

GPX is XML. XML is verbose. Maps tend to be quite large. A typical TomTom map is a bit less than 2GiB of optimized binary. Convert to (any) XML and you're at 50GiB. Working with such thing is not practical.

Re:Not another "standard" exchange format, please! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29375625)

Because OpenLR isn't about POIs or waypoints, there are a zillion different formats for that stuff already. What OpenLR does is totally different. With GPX/etc. you would have to store the whole route, but with OpenLR you store just enough information so that no matter what map with whatever road network information they have on the other end, they will get the same route (with all the information they have about it) by just sending a couple of location reference points. It's not about sending coordinates.

see also: openstreetmap.org (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29373225)

Semi-related to this topic; worth knowing about:

http://www.openstreetmap.org/ [openstreetmap.org]

Only on slashdot (0, Offtopic)

LBArrettAnderson (655246) | about 5 years ago | (#29373241)

... is there a typo in the title

Re:Only on slashdot (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29373663)

presumably in a similar way than

can anyone tell me what this construction is supposed to mean? Sorry, I speak a different version of English than the /. eds.

How is their recent patent settlement relevant? (4, Interesting)

harlows_monkeys (106428) | about 5 years ago | (#29373271)

What does there settling a patent lawsuit with Microsoft have to do with any of this? Alternatively, if patent litigation involving TomTom is somehow relevant, why did the submitter not mention any of TomTom's suits against other GPS companies?

Re:How is their recent patent settlement relevant? (1)

jbn-o (555068) | about 5 years ago | (#29374449)

It's relevant because of the attempt to choose GPLv2. If the contribution were under the GPLv2 as the /. submitter wrote, users would not enjoy the same freedom from patent harm as they would under GPLv3. As the FSF points out [gnu.org] ,

Whenever someone conveys software covered by GPLv3 that they've written or modified, they must provide every recipient with any patent licenses necessary to exercise the rights that the GPL gives them. In addition to that, if any licensee tries to use a patent suit to stop another user from exercising those rights, their license will be terminated.

What this means for users and developers is that they'll be able to work with GPLv3-covered software without worrying that a desperate contributor will try to sue them for patent infringement later. With these changes, GPLv3 affords its users more defenses against patent aggression than any other free software license.

Other consequences that should pique user's interests are consequences of a GPLv2-only licensing: users will not enjoy other GPL improvements such as the more lenient attitude toward license violation found in GPLv3 [gnu.org] . GPLv2 cuts off a violators rights immediately and irrevocably upon violation. The violator has to beg the copyright holder(s) to restore the rights they had under the GPL. This is the case in most other free software licenses as well. Not so under GPLv3:

GPLv3 offers a reprieve for good behavior: if you violate the license, you'll get your rights back once you stop the violation, unless a copyright holder contacts you within 60 days. After you receive such a notice, you can have your rights fully restored if you're a first-time violator and correct the violation within 30 days. Otherwise, you can work out the issue on a case-by-case basis with the copyright holders who contacted you, and your rights will be restored afterward.

What should also concern users (and what makes OpenLR unsuitable for any use) is the additional term TomTom tries to add on to their use of the GPLv2 [tomtom.com] :

The assertion by licensee of any intellectual property claim with respect to OpenLR against TomTom International B.V., Tele Atlas or any affiliate or parent company of TomTom and Tele Atlas shall be deemed a breach by licensee of this Agreement and the license shall automatically terminate.

This clause would, for example, prohibit me from enforcing my patents, trademarks, mask rights, copyrights, or any of the other rights subsumed under the horribly unclear term "intellectual property" [gnu.org] without losing my rights under the GPLv2 for OpenLR. Perhaps TomTom has a popcorn maker in their lobby for which I hold a patent and TomTom is using that popcorn maker without licensing my patent. Perhaps TomTom is diluting a trademark I own. Perhaps TomTom is playing music in their building copyrighted to me and I haven't granted them permission for playing that copyrighted recording. Defending any of these violations means I automatically lose my license on OpenLR and this could prevent me from using software which depends on that license. This is an additional requirement on top of the GPL, and the GPL prohibits it. So as far as I'm concerned, OpenLR isn't licensed to anyone at all under GPL despite TomTom's intentions to the contrary.

As the FSF once said of Apple [gnu.org] , I say of TomTom: TomTom's action is an example of the effects of the "open source" movement [gnu.org] : of its plan to appeal to business with the purely materialistic goal of faster development, while putting aside the deeper issues of freedom, community, cooperation, and what kind of society we want to live in. TomTom has grasped perfectly the concept with which "open source" is promoted, which is "show users the source and they will help you fix bugs". What TomTom has not grasped--or has dismissed--is the spirit of free software, which is that we form a community to cooperate on the commons of software.

A correction to the parent post. (1)

jbn-o (555068) | about 5 years ago | (#29375065)

After re-reading TomTom's language, I have one small correction to offer: the phrase "claim with respect to OpenLR" wasn't accounted for in my made-up examples which made my penultimate paragraph less clear than I would have hoped. So putting my poor examples aside the underlying problem remains: TomTom is trying to add an additional restriction that means one could lose their ability to use the software as the GPL would otherwise allow. Additional restrictions are not allowed under the GPL. I think it's reasonable for one to defend their rights under law (including defending against TomTom for OpenLR-related violations) and maintain their rights under the GPL at the same time. I'm guessing TomTom disagrees.

Does it make OpenLR a GPL GPS? (2, Interesting)

overshoot (39700) | about 5 years ago | (#29373289)

Not unless the system code is GPL.

As it is, you can't even use TomTom with a Linux host system, since the interface protocol is a trade secret. So they have a long way to go.

Re:Does it make OpenLR a GPL GPS? (1)

gnasher719 (869701) | about 5 years ago | (#29373479)

As it is, you can't even use TomTom with a Linux host system, since the interface protocol is a trade secret. So they have a long way to go.

I remember vaguely that TomTom was in trouble a few years ago for not publishing the source code for the Linux on their GPS...

Who says you can't run proprietary software on Linux?

Re:Does it make OpenLR a GPL GPS? (2)

Megatog615 (1019306) | about 5 years ago | (#29374551)

I believe he is talking about the TomTom HOME software(which doesn't work in WINE, last I checked) that is used to manage the device. I own a TomTom ONE125 and the fact that I can't manage it is rather annoying since I use Debian on my main box.

Re:Does it make OpenLR a GPL GPS? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29373819)

System code, released under GPL.

http://www.tomtom.com/page.php?Page=gpl [tomtom.com]

Open until otherwise (2, Interesting)

cellurl (906920) | about 5 years ago | (#29373507)

We all saw wikipedia start "open" to fill its shelves, then once full, close down to an exclusive few scholars. I have tried to edit their speed limit information several times only to have it removed. You see I am an expert on speed limits. I run a website called wikispeedia.org We too are open even though I have had offers to close, we remain open, trying to keep you from getting a speeding ticket.

IMHO, open-ness shouldn't measure how much crap I possess, but rather, how many hours does it take to get my crap in your hands for a useful purpose. Take OSM openstreetmap.org for example. I have spent close to two months trying to get speed limits in and out of their server. Me giving them speed limits is like Lee Iacocca trying to repay his debt to the Feds. One representative at OSM told me flat out that if I used Google maps, I quote, "we can't use your data, Kapish?".

So now, no doubt I will get flamed by OSM, but I re-submit to you, measure your open-ness, not your completeness. If that doesn't make sense, then go watch the movie Brazil, because thats what you will have become...

Re:Open until otherwise (1)

R3d M3rcury (871886) | about 5 years ago | (#29374053)

One representative at OSM told me flat out that if I used Google maps, I quote, "we can't use your data, Kapish?".

And there's a reason for that.

If you get the data from Google Maps, it isn't your data--it's Google's. And Google may have issues with you sharing their data with others.

Go to the main Google Maps page. Look at the bottom of the picture and, at least from here, you'll see "Map data ©2009 LeadDog Consulting, TeleAtlas, INEGI, Europa Technologies." Which means that they own the data--you don't. And if we click on the little link that says "Terms of Use", we'll see that you are restricted from redistributing and/or making derivative works of the data.

If you stick someone else's data in OSM, guess who gets sued? They do.

So if you went down a road and noted the speed limits and GPS coordinates on the road where that speed is, I'm sure OSM will welcome your data with open arms. But if you grabbed it from some other site and figured, "Hey, it's on the Internet so it must be free," you've got another think coming.

Right now, for example, I'm trying to find out whether or not I can use bike lane information from OCTA [octa.net] . I've modified a few roads that I know have bike lanes because I've ridden them. But I can't just copy the data off the map until I find out whether or not I have permission.

Re:Open until otherwise (1)

cellurl (906920) | about 5 years ago | (#29374123)

Thats where you are wrong my friend.
Precisely why OSM chased me away, they didn't take 10 minutes to understand their customer, (me).

But for you, since you didn't say "kapish" like OSM, I will explain. We at wikispeedia.org gather our data by driving down the road. It's not from a map, just from a GPS chip inside a gpscruise.com device. No Google involved.

At the home office, we show the data on a google map, thats our only connection to Google. They are layer 1, and we are layer two, all hosted on our site. All speed limit data is simply LAT, LON, SPEED, on our mysql server. We own that data, we didn't put it on google nor will we. Heck for that matter, we would be happy to render it on OSM, but not until I get a months vacation. The way I figure it is, I will get OSM data and show it our site as CC license and eventually OSM will discover wikispeedia.org and say, hmm, why don't we collaborate.

Is it an attempt to poison GPL? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29373629)

with the Microsoft patent license that Tom-Tom has, you would have to be able to review this new format against what Tom-Tom licensed in order to verify that this isn't another attempt at "GPL poisoning".

slashdot needs qualified editors (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29373635)

WTF slashdot, hire some real editors.

At least run your text through ispell. Seriously, "Anounces" ?

I Suppose They Need to do Something (1)

segedunum (883035) | about 5 years ago | (#29373705)

All of these satellite navigation companies currently produce proprietary and relatively expensive devices of varying quality and rely on those devices being continually replaced as it gets ever harder and more expensive to maintain the map data and come up with something new. The other day I realised that Google could pretty much put all of these companies out of business by making Google Maps speak and give directions.

Re:I Suppose They Need to do Something (1)

mattr (78516) | about 5 years ago | (#29374135)

Indeed. I saw the Google phone in the store alongside many others (Tokyo) and to me the killer was Google maps. I bet it could speak if connected to the car speakers and a slick software update is downloaded.

Standards want to be free (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29374481)

NMEA 0183 would probably do fine, but nooo they want like $300 bucks a copy... what good is a standard if it is inacessible? ISO/IEC has the same problem. What you want me to PAY to read a standard? Um, No. I'll find some other standard that EVERYBODY can use.

Modern standards organisations just don't get it. Their days are numbered. You can't ask for money for a technical standard if you expect it to be a STANDARD and not an obscure specification used by the few sucked in to buying it.

I don't get it. They expect it to be a break even or even a profit situation. No, that will not work. I have rejected just about every one of these standards...

Bah.

Back in the dark ages... (1)

billybob_jcv (967047) | about 5 years ago | (#29375081)

...all we needed was NMEA 0183 [gpsinformation.org] and a serial port...

Proproetary systems are holding GPS back (1)

oren (78897) | about 5 years ago | (#29375169)

Why can't I push a button on my cell phone and send my location to the phone of whoever is on the other side of the line? Have locations as part of the contact information in my address books? Push a button on my phone to save the current location in a contact? Use bluetooth to send a location (or even just an address) from my phone to my car or hand-held GPS so I can navigate to it? Have one GPS software to run on my Netbook that will work in the USA, Europe, Israel, Russia and China? Even when not online?

Maintaining maps is costly, for sure. But it is a cost that the government already spent using your tax money. If you think about it, it is insane to have multiple companies map the same roads and cities from scratch. At some level all the companies start with the same (tax paid) database and just tweak and update it. It may take a decade or two but eventually "free" (tax paid) maps will finally force GPS companies to focus on something other than charging money for basic maps, such as actual useful every-day functionality (and possibly specialized map layers).

Open-source format?? (1)

BhaKi (1316335) | about 5 years ago | (#29375205)

"open format" would be more accurate.

Minus 3, T8oljl) (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29375509)

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