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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

GeoSnippits Videos Mentioned On FindMe Movie Insider

It was announced on Twitter earlier in the week that our very own GeoSnippits videos are going to be featured on Michigan Magazine TV coming soon. Well great news travels fast and The TMP Insider helped spread the news even further. TMP (Trost Moving Pictures) are the makers of the geocaching thriller movie "Find Me".

GeoSnippits happens to be featured on their Geocaching 101 section of the films web page to help viewers of Find Me better understand what geocaching is and to help entice everyone to give geocaching a try.

Here is some of what they said....


Please don't forget to visit our GeoSnippits Geocaching Tutorial Videos Website at http://www.geosnippits.com

GeoSnippits Video - Planning A Geocaching Route - Road Trip To The Ocean

Oh man, there is nothing like a road trip and this one was extra special for me cuz we were going to the ocean. What a great opportunity to do a GeoSnippits episode about Planning a Geocaching Route. That is where you map out a plan of the roads you are going to travel on from your starting point to your destination and if there are any geocaches nearby you can pick them up. Great idea!

We planned a road trip from Raleigh, NC down to the east coast and Kure Beach, NC. This is about a two hour trip. Along the way we did some cool geocaching and ran into some rather interesting things along the way. You will have to check out the video to see what I mean.

If you are interested in a great geocaching phone app you can also see GeocacheNavigator by Trimble in the video. I use it all the time and highly recommend it.



If the player is not available above you can use this link to see the video:

So sit back, relax and enjoy the show. Hope this is a much fun to watch as we had making it.

Please don't forget to visit our GeoSnippits Geocaching Tutorial Videos Website at http://www.geosnippits.com

Monday, June 22, 2009

HeadHardHat's Garmin Mobile for Blackberry Review


Not too long ago some viewers wrote in and asked if I had tried out the Garmin Mobile application for Blackberry phones. Hmmm, did not even know that Garmin had a mobile app out so I was intrigued.


Taking Garmin Mobile For A Spin
First I loaded Garmin Mobile onto my Blackberry 8310 without a hitch. Not unexpected yet to me always a good start. Then I cranked it up and the familiar Garmin Trademark peered through a background of black. If you are interested in trying the GM out for yourself there is currently a seven day trial period. Since I was just giving a good once over that is what I started out with and you are greeted with the number of days you have left in your trial and the option to purchase on the spot.


I clicked continue and was immediately greeted with the WARNING about not trying to operate this application while driving. “Why No – Never”, says I as I click the OK button. Then something quite startling happened. The screen displayed looked exactly to the interface I am very used to on my Nuvi GPS unit. I mean exactly the same. That gave instant recognition and an ease that the learning curve should be almost nil. This was great because I wanted more time testing and less trying to learn how it works.


Because the application mirrors the Garmin Nuvi I set my car GPS to ride side by side with the mobile unit on my phone. This would in my opinion give a fairly good comparison. I had a few performance suspicions already preset but we would have to see if they came true. For example if you use a Blackberry application like Google Maps, Blackberry Maps or AT&T Navigator there are issues with speed of the map updates and a bit of slowness when approaching a street while driving. They always seemed just a step or two behind, which at times can be a bit irritating. That is one of the main reasons I liked a road GPS like a Nuvi because the processor and map updates flowed much smoother.


Real Time Functionality
Right off the bat I was very pleased with some functionality that exists with Garmin Mobile that I did not have on my Garmin Nuvi. For example because it is running on a GPS enabled phone with Internet connections you have access to pleasantries like current weather, traffic reports, airport flight statuses and even a place to upload and view street level photographs called Panoramio. Not earth shattering innovations but nice to have none the less.


Road Trip Test
Next I took both units on a 15 mile road trip to compare and report. It consisted of five different waypoints with two of them being via points. Via points are waypoints that are requested to stop before reaching your actual destination.


POI (Points Of Interest)
Maybe it was because it was around noon and I was hungry
but my first stop was a Fast Food restaurant. It was just a subtle thing but I really liked that under the Food POI Garmin put the first category to choose from was Fast Food. That is normally the category I go for and it was sweet to see it on top of all the rest. Nice move Garmin.


After loading the same destination in both units I was off. There were slight differences like the actual map display was a bit different on the GM unit. For example the default zoom is three and at three it does not show the side streets. This was a bit distracting at first and I realized that this must be to keep the unit from downloading the mappings so often on long trips. The idea in my mind is when you do get down to where you would have to turn you simply click the '+' sign to zoom in one and you were set. A slight extra step but when you consider that you are using a phone application it really was not too much of an inconvenience.


Results – Turn for turn the Garmin Mobile unit matched the Nuvi exactly. Did notice that the feeling of movement on the GM unit was not as distinct as the Nuvi but again, for a phone application you are not going to have the graphics horsepower as the auto unit.


Local Search
Local Search is a way of using Google and getting the most recent information for POIs you may be looking for. I have noticed that the mappings appear to be Garmin's yearly North America map and that only updates yearly. When you use Local Search you have a better chance of getting the latest and greatest. I used it to find a department store in the next town. It was newer and accurately found it. I also created a via point buy looking for the nearest gas station. One of the cooler features was you can search by gas price. This is not always accurate but it can be a good guide line. The gas station I chose was off by .10 cents from what was posted.


Results – Local Search seems the better way to go when looking for Points of Interest you may not be certain about within the area you are currently driving and the via point functionality works just as nice as the Nuvi device.



Highway Driving
I used the Contact section to find my next destination. This was rather cool because it uses the address book that is already into your Blackberry phone to get the address. You simply choose the contact person, validate the address and go. This is slick in my opinion because sometime you just don't remember the address and this saves some time looking it up.


Results – One of the biggest pluses with Garmin Mobile is how smooth the map uploads are as you drive. In many of the cases I was expecting to see the upload/download arrows and did not yet the driving map continued on without interruptions unlike other viewed GPS mapping applications. On the flip side I did notice that a new section of freeway that has been in place about a year did not show up while driving. Which tells me that Garmin is using their mappings. I have seen free GPS map applications like Google Maps having more current maps. Not a show stopper but if they have Google working with them would it not be better to use the most up to date mappings?


HeadHardHat's Conclusions

Pros
  • Fast and almost seamless updates to the mappings while driving.
  • Real time accessibility to the Internet which gives you the most current information available.
  • Many little niceties like street voice audio and familiar Nuvi application interfaces.

Cons
  • Pricing is a bit steep. $99.00 one time fee is per the life of the phone. If you change phones you null the contract and have to purchase a new contract at full price.
  • If you are in areas with phone dead zones you are going to have issues. There is no way to upload/download maps without a connection.
  • Default zoom is set to 3 which makes the user have to zoom in to see local streets (annoying).

HeadHardHat's Final Thoughts
Overall I am very impressed with the Garmin Mobile application. It truly is like having an automobile Nuvi GPS in your pocket. This I feel boils down to your need of usage for an application like this and the $99.00 price tag.


I already have a Nuvi GPS in my car and currently very happy with it. Which means that this particular application would be used for travel. If you cannot pack your auto GPS while travelling this would be a perfect solution. Then again there are phone applications that get you from here to there for free. I am personally going to hold off purchasing this application because even though it is a sweet thing to have, the overall usage just does not currently seem to fit my needs. Your views and needs of course may be different. Give the seven day trial a try and see for yourself. http://www8.garmin.com/mobile/mobilext/


HeadHardHat host of GeoSnippits Geocaching Tutorial Videos frequently does reviews for all types of gadgets, gizmos and applications. Be sure to Google headhardhat blog to see his latest blog and video posts. You can contact him at headhardhat@gmail.com.



Please don't forget to visit our GeoSnippits Geocaching Tutorial Videos Website at http://www.geosnippits.com/

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Taking a Quick Ocean Cool-off

Near Wilmington, NC and enjoying the day while geocaching. Loving it.
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Finally at the Ocean

Sweet ocean.
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Sunday, June 14, 2009

The Best FREE Topo Road Map For My Handheld Garmin

This discussion is for those of us who could use a really good topo map for geocaching which can be loaded on their Garmin GPS hand units.

For me when I purchased my Garmin 60CSx the base map which is included seems a bit lacking. It contains the main interstates but does not include simple highways let alone standard streets. I found this unusual because my Garmin Vista's base map had more than the 60CSx.

Either way the purpose for my 60CSx GPS was for geocaching and overall it works great. Yet sometimes I really wanted to have a topo view that showed if a geocache was on this side of a stream, river, pond or that. Sure you can fork over $80 - $100USD for one of Garmin's North America maps but I was looking for a more inexpensive solution and I believe I found it.

If you go to GPSFileDepot and select your country and/or state several options for free map addons become available to you. These add ons work with the MapSource software that should have come with your GPS unit. Once loaded on your PC you can select the map areas you want and load them onto your GPS. I highly recommend you purchase an SD card for the advantage of extra storage space for the saved maps on your GPS.

One of the free street maps that I liked is called Ibycus USA Map. It works well with the Garmin 60CSx but the auto road features do not. It is more of a template that rides on top of the original base map.

For US topo maps and depending what part of the country you are in is a set of maps from different parts of the Unites States. For North Carolina was South East United States. It will be renamed for what ever state you choose. The reason I liked this one so much was because it shows all the water marks. Right down to the small streams, ponds and other water areas that sometimes get missed. Again it is an overlay that rides on top of the base map but it really makes the difference while geocaching.

So the choice as always is yours. You can fork over the money and get fine maps from Garmin or if you would like a nice solution that costs you nadda. This is a great way to go.

See you out on the trails.

Please don't forget to visit our GeoSnippits Geocaching Tutorial Videos Website at http://www.geosnippits.com

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Urban Geocaching Has It's Own Unique Challenges

Geocaching downtown Raleigh today and finding urban style caching challenging. Every hole and crease is used here.
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Friday, June 12, 2009

Checking Out The AllSportGPS Phone App by Trimble

This is going to be an ongoing series because I do not just intend doing only a review and GeoSnippits episode on this neat application. This is going to be used to keep track of me getting back to a more healthier lifestyle and you can come right along with me.

Let's face it... I'm fat. I know I'm fat, if you have seen my videos or photos you know I'm fat and I admit it. With that being said it also means that I need to work on better health ideals and I need an easy and convenient way for me to track my exercise. Because not only am I overweight - I'm lazy and the last thing I want to do is calculate how far I walked and how much I burned in calories doing it. Heck for most of the time I will be busy getting enough oxygen to my legs so I can keep moving. I don't need the extra aggravation.

That is where an application I have found by Trimble comes in. It is called AllSportGPS and I like it a lot. I am going to give a complete review shortly but let me give you some highlights. I am currently using it on my BlackBerry Curve 8310 with AT&T. The application works on many other GPS enabled phones and you can check out all the availability on their website at the end of this post. The cool part is the application specializes with all sorts of sporting activities. For example I do walking, there is a whole section dedicated to walkers. There is also sections for Running, Road Biking, Mtn. Biking, Trail Running, Boarding/Ski, etc. So if you are outdoors it will track what you do while you are doing it. Very Cool and the best part is it saves each session on your phone and online in a calendar so you can get all the data you want of where you have been and what you burned off while doing it.

Below is a session I just did tonight while walking my GeoPuppy Emily. You can see all your sessions on your phone in real-time and on your PC after it logs the information back to Trimble.

You can see exactly where I walked and if you drill down on the other links below you can see all the details including what I walked, the elevations I walked (yes our neighborhood is that hilly) and other interesting facts. Again all is loaded to their server once you stop your session. Way cool.

Feel free and look around, I don't mind.



So if a product like this interests you check out AllSportGPS here. Oh and they currently have a 60 day try it before you buy it offer for Black Berry owners going on - I highly recommend it.

In fact if you do sign up for AllSportGPS and want to join my group
The HeadHardHat's Hard Heads
where you can post your daily exercise trips right along with me to show the world you are trying to make a better you too.

So what do you say? Post comments below or sign up with the rest of the Hard Heads and lets get out there.

Please don't forget to visit our GeoSnippits Geocaching Tutorial Videos Website at http://www.geosnippits.com

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Remembering The Days of Fold Up Maps To Now

I was recently asked a series of questions from a software company in regards to how I felt about GPS mapping and planning routes. While contemplating the questions over a glass of sweet tea and a sandwich it had occurred to me. It really was not too long ago people actually went coast to coast with nothing more than a paperback atlas and the beckoning of the road.

Sure we had fold up state maps which in my experience never folded back exactly into their original printed form and to find a city or street we would cross reference letter and number combinations to the grid on the map itself. Yet we managed, nowadays we panic if we forget our cell phone at home and drive back to retrieve it before heading out again. Don't even tell me you haven't done that.

How much of our road abilities have we traded with our modern conveniences? How much of our natural instincts for remembering landmarks and getting from place A to place B have we lost? I went geocaching last weekend and drove all over Cary, NC. Led by my auto navigation GPS from one geocache to the next I blissfully navigated. Yet if asked I could not tell you exactly where I went. I remember finding the geocaches but am mostly blank of any notable landmarks or roads that I drove upon. Does it matter? I wonder.

The Magic that was MapQuest
Back in the day when I wanted to plan a road trip I used Mapquest. I was known for always having my routes planned and printed in advance. Having the ease of a route planned for me was a bit of a miracle and solved the trouble of how to get from one place to the other. Though it still did not resolve the bigger stress while driving. That would be how far up the road was my next turn? In other words, I would be looking at that printed piece of paper a zillion times even when I knew there was sometimes hundreds of miles before a particular turn would be coming up. The pressure of making sure you didn't miss a turn was intense. I mean if you missed it would be like falling off the side of the world never to be seen again. How would you know how to detour if the printed instructions didn't tell you how to do it?

Google Maps

Then the electronic age and with it came Google Maps on my Palm PDA. No more paper maps! I would have a bluetooth connection from my PDA to my phone and could get map updates when needed. This did not completely take the stress of travelling away but I knew that I would never get 'completely' lost on a trip.
As far as checking for when the next turn came was at least visible by seeing my position on the map itself. What a great concept.

Hellllo Garmin.

Sure I heard of Tom Tom but GPSs back then were too expensive for me and I had ways of getting from point a to point b. Why did I want to fork out several hundred dollars for one of those? Ridiculous. Then in February of last year the Garmin Nuvi dropped in price and I finally bought one. Jeez what a difference. Not only did I not have to worry about the up coming turns but it warned me in advance that the turn was coming. I no longer had to squint at night trying to read road signs. My eyes are not as good as they used to was and it was like having a radar out there keeping me where I was supposed to be. What a relief. Sure people can argue that today's automobile GPS units still do not always find the quickest or shortest route but it does what it says and gets you there, regardless.


As far as planning out a road trip I still use Google Earth. I am able to scope out different routes and visually see how long they will take and how far off the beaten path to get there. Very handy and again it is more for observing the big picture rather than to sweat the little details.


So there you have it. We trade some of our honed landmark recognition skills for more confidence that we can never really get lost again. For me that is a trade I am willing to make. Just hope that the GPS network is always going to be out there and working. I no longer remember if you have to turn right or left at the big oak tree down the street.


Please don't forget to visit our GeoSnippits Geocaching Tutorial Videos Website at http://www.geosnippits.com

Monday, June 8, 2009

Summary of this Weekends Geocaching

This last Saturday Miss Geoness and I went out for the good part of the day to do some geocaching. We have been so busy lately attending CITO Events and filming GeoSnippits Episodes it was nice to just go out and do some caching.

We found 28 out of 30 in all, not bad for a lazy summer-like day. The key though was once again our intent was to really go for the numbers and once again it ended up us taking leisurely walks down shaded green ways and trails. I absolutely love being able to talk with Daughter Geoness who is pushing thirteen in the next couple of weeks. We make each other laugh and love sharing the moments of fun while geocaching, a blooming flower that caught our eyes or the inevitable fast chirping squirrel.

One of our highlights was Daughter Geoness finding a geocache we were unable to find in past tries known as a Did Not Find. I remember spending almost an hour with nothing to show for but some scraped up shins. This time she walked right up to it and happily exclaimed "Found It". I didn't have time to find ground zero and she was already signing the log. Heavy Sigh...

The geocache that impressed me today was a very well camouflaged rubber ducky. This was attached to a medium sized Lock and Lock boxed which was completely covered by a Camouflage Military Cloth. The cloth worked very well for hiding such a large geocache. I am going to look into this stuff for future use of one of my geocaches. ***Note I did some research and you can purchase camouflage cloth in just about any army surplus or hunting supply place.


One bitter sweet series of three geocaches included a very scenic joy to walk but the geocaches themselves were in terrible shape. We walked three miles total for three very soggy geocaches. The owner used very poor quality plastic containers that all were full with moldy water and everything inside was completely ruined. Wish they would have watched one of my GeoSnippits videos showing what NOT to use for a geocache.

When we realized that the day was coming to a close we packed up and headed for home. Knowing that we did a job well done. Can't wait for the next time we go out with GPS in hand. Always a good time will be had by all.

Please don't forget to visit our GeoSnippits Geocaching Tutorial Videos Website at http://www.geosnippits.com

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Another DNF Off The List

Daughter Geoness and I did not find this geocache earlier this year. Yet she walked right up to it this time. Way to go Geoness.
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My Favorite Geocache of the Day

This by far was my favorite Geocache of the day. It is a camied ducky on top of a good sized lock and lock box. This then was hidden under a camied hunting cloth. Very cool geocache.
Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

Headhardhat and Miss Geoness Having a Day

Great fun geocaching in Apex, NC and surrounding areas.
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Geocaching Equals Bliss

Nothing like finding a beautiful quiet spot and signing a newly found log book.
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Quacking Up The Right Tree

Found Cadet Quackers hanging around this pine tree while geocaching in Cary, NC.
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A Hole In One

Here is a cute geoc0ache we found in Cary, NC. Same old issue though of the log book with no protection and very soggy.
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Miss Geoness on Find #2

Well we are back in the geocaching driver seat and here is find number two. Miss Geoness gets the credit for this one.
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Wednesday, June 3, 2009

HeadHardHat's Father's Day Geocache Gift

I was recently asked by one of our GeoSnippits viewers (thanks Casper) for a suggestion in making a Father's Day gift. The father is heavy into geocaching.

So I sat down and asked myself, "What would I want"?

After sorting down the ones that I knew I wouldn't get like that all nighter at Hooters or a date with the Horn sisters I came up with the video you see below.

After doing this video it dawned on me that this could be used for any geocacher in your life and for any occasion. In fact I have already received tips saying you should hide this somewhere for the geocacher to go find. Just remember to give the coords where you hid it. I hope you enjoy this as much as I did putting it together and be sure to send in the videos of them finding/opening them. Have Fun!



If you want to see this video on you tube go here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vmO20NOaijE



Please don't forget to visit our GeoSnippits Geocaching Tutorial Videos Website at http://www.geosnippits.com

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Geocaching CITO Events: Taking Out The Trash


















(Photo Above LtoR - Miss Geoness, HeadHardHat, Obxnomad and my bud Andrew)

One of the many cool things about geocaching is the ability to help clean up the environment. Something we call CITO or Cache In Trash Out. For the true geocachers who take this game, sport and obsession to heart will go from geocache to geocache and pick up trash and garbage. It is one of our ways of giving back to the environment which is our game board.

In this latest episode of GeoSnippits we attend two separate CITO events and show you a brief glimpse into how we help take out the trash that litters our parks and cache areas. Usually GeoSnippits is a tutorial where this episode is more of a documentary. So sit back, relax and enjoy the show.





You can also see this GeoSnippits episode on You Tube:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pMKtnb6ydSs


Please don't forget to visit our GeoSnippits Geocaching Tutorial Videos Website at http://www.geosnippits.com/

Monday, June 1, 2009

Will Advertise for Swag Geocaching Campaign Coming Soon

Let's face it times are tough and small businesses and geocaching organizations want to get the word out but do not have a whole lot in the advertising budget. So that is why I am starting the
Will Advertise For Swag campaign.

Here is how it works: If you are a small business or geocaching organization that would like to advertise your products, group, organization, services, etc. on my blogs or the GeoSnippits Geocaching Tutorial Video website. We will trade advertising space for some of your products in return.

We need prizes for up coming contests and other promotions. Your donated products can be used as prizes and will help to further promote your products. We will be working out the arrangements on a one-on-one basis but if this sounds good to you contact me at headhardhat@gmail.com.

ADVERTISE ON GEOSNIPPITS VIDEOS

We are also doing a similar product trade program if you want to advertise on a future GeoSnippits video. Want to see your company, group or organization's T-shirt or hat worn by yours truly as an advertisement? Want to have a mention of your product or service as well? Email me for more details.

We can do it because we Will Advertise For Swag!!!

Also if you know a small business or geocaching organization, please be sure to pass this link on to them - hokay? Thanks!


Please don't forget to visit our GeoSnippits Geocaching Tutorial Videos Website at http://www.geosnippits.com