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November 30, 2006

Picture upload

Filed under: Admin — mtbguru @ 2:59 pm

We had a temporary glitch in our picture upload feature this afternoon – our apologies for the inconvenience!
Everything should be working well again now.
Note that when you upload pictures, you’ll see a line on the trip page saying ‘New pictures are currently being processed’ – this should normally only take a minute or two to complete (depending on the amount of pictures) – when you then reload the page you’ll see a thumnail gallery of your uploaded photos.

November 29, 2006

New additions: latest news, RSS button, nearby trips

Filed under: General MTBGuru stuff — mtbguru @ 1:55 pm

New additions: a text box displaying ‘latest news’ items on the homepage, just below the map, and the juicy orange RSS button in the sidebar panel, giving you easy access to our RSS feed, containing trip data and descriptions.

On a trip page you will now also see a list of links to trips that are nearby the current trip – together with icons indicating activity type and whether the trip has pictures.

Get more out of your map

Filed under: Howtos / tips / tricks — mtbguru @ 10:32 am

The map on which your trip is displayed contains more information than just your route and photo stops: try for instance checking the ‘Miles’ or ‘KM’s’ checkboxes (see screenshot below).

  • You’ll notice a red ‘pushpin’ (the balloon marker) that marks your starting point – this can be for instance a convenient way to indicate a meeting place to your friends if you want to do this trip again.
  • Mile or KM markers: the green markers are your virtual milestones (blue for kilometers). Hover your mouse over them to display the mileage number at that point.
  • Directionality: you’ll notice that the mile or KM markers are displayed in varying shades of green and blue: they change from light – closest to the starting point – to dark – closer to the finish. Hereby you get a quick idea of the directions in which trails or track segments were done by just glimpsing at the map.
  • On the map we now also indicate any other existing public trips which are nearby the current trip – you’ll see these indicated by their activity marker icons shown on the map. If you don’t want to see these nearby trips, just uncheck the activity marker checkboxes below the map.

Finally, note that by default we are displaying Google maps’ street view, but you can always look at the satellite imagery and ‘hybrid’ view by clicking the buttons on the right top corner of the map.

map mile marker screenshot

November 27, 2006

Introducing MTBGuru

Filed under: General MTBGuru stuff — mtbguru @ 5:54 pm

As we’re starting to get new visitors, I thought it would be appropriate to copy a post here (slightly edited) I recently wrote on my personal blog, ‘Introducing MTBGuru’. It’s an extensive summary of what the web app does and can do for you – my apologies for its lengthiness but hopefully it is helpful to the folks for whom all this is new. Thanks btw NorCal mtbr.com forum members and John Gardiner from the ‘Using Google Earth‘ blog for the positive feedback!

Introducing MTBGuru

As we’re mentioning on our about page, MTBGuru is a web application for people who like to ride, hike, run – yes those types that can’t seem to stay in the house and sit still. You can upload and share GPS data and photos taken during your outdoor adventures to the site. In case you don’t have a GPS unit… those things make a great birthday or Christmas present, politely suggest it to your loved ones!

After uploading the data to the website, trip statistics and graphs such as a route map and elevation plots are generated, and photographs taken during the trip are automatically being geotagged – that is, the location at which each photo was shot will be indicated on the route map. This cartoon summarizes things:

mtbguru cartoon

What are the basic features?

  • Users create ‘trips’; GPS files can be uploaded in the GPX format, an open (XML) standard for GPS data which is now being supported by most GPS manufacturers (for instance, Garmin’s Mapsource software allows you to save track data to .gpx files). Trips can be created with or without GPS files.
  • The site analyzes the GPS data and generates statistics and graphs, such as an elevation profile of the trip, and plots the route on a map (we’re using Google maps). Multiple tracks in a single file can be identified and you can create a separate trip for each track. You can also type in a description of the trip and select whether you want to share it with others or keep it private. The site can be an efficient means to archive and manage your trips and GPS files.
  • Photos can be uploaded, either separately or in group (the latter by means of a zip-archive file). A thumbnail gallery will be generated and if the pictures were taken during the trip, the location at which they were shot will automatically be indicated on the map – the latter is enabled by comparing the time stamp in the metadata of the photograph to the timing information in the GPS data, aka ‘temporal geotagging‘.
  • Other users can view your public trips and photos and leave comments, but you have of course the option to disable this.
  • We also generate a Google Earth file, which contains the route, all picture locations, thumbnails and links to the trip and photos – anyone familiar with it knows that browsing around in Google Earth can be highly entertaining and this is probably one of our own favorite features (example: see screenshot below).
  • Earth-Tyndall

Our mission is to make all this work fast, simply and efficiently and we think we’ve succeeded relatively well compared to our competition – at present everything is not working and looking 100% as we’d like it to do yet, but most features are working.

We’ve focused on mountain biking to date, but it really works as well for any activity where you’re outside and moving around. Some examples:
the ascent of Alpe d’Huez, climbing the highest mountain in the contiguous USA, a fundraising trail run in Cupertino, mountain biking in Auburn.

Why this site?
Because we got frustrated by the familiar routine: looking up directions to the trailhead; figuring out again where exactly the fun trails are; doing extensive searches on the Web when we want to try out some new locations; messing around with GPS data in the proprietary-format tools that usually come with it; forgetting which folder we stored our pictures in; and so on.
Since we didn’t find a good existing solution for what we were looking for, we decided to create it ourselves and so we built this web app.

For the technophiles amongst you: the site is being developed using the Ruby on Rails framework and features quite a number of Ajax-goodies; we have been aficionados of the methodology and style of 37 Signals for quite a while.

And by the way: everything is free for the user (as in both beer and speech!). Creating a free account only requires a valid e-mail address (which we’ll never forward to others). You can view all public trips and data without an account as well, but you’ll need the account to create trips or upload data.
All user data is available in open format, and there are even RSS feeds available containing trip description data. We’ve incorporated some ads and we may do more in the future, as web hosting costs money. But we built this site in the first place because we’re passionate about mountain biking and the outdoors ourselves, and felt it as an itch that needed scratching.

As an appetizer, here another screenshot:

Screenshotridemapphoto

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November 25, 2006

Display trips by activity type

Filed under: Howtos / tips / tricks — mtbguru @ 1:10 am

As you may have noticed, the new icons are activity-specific: we have a mountain bike
(looking a bit like a Cannondale?), a road bike (a vintage Eddy Merckx?), hikers, a runner and even a mountaineer.

What you can do also now is to select which types of trips you’d like to see on the map on your homepage – just use the check boxes underneath the map (see screenshot below) and you are able to filter the displayed trip icons on their activity type…

November 23, 2006

Icons

Filed under: Admin,General MTBGuru stuff — mtbguru @ 11:54 pm

Google’s pushpins (the balloon icons) are nice and so but we got a bit tired of them. So they’ve been replaced with something better: the map is now featuring icons indicating the type of activity and a colored circle (green, blue or red) that tells you whether the trip is public, yours or pivate. Some examples:

a mountain bike trip created by you

a private (i.e. not readable by the public) run

Now when you’re not zoomed in very much and you’re in area that has a lot of trips, things are starting to look very busy and messy (this was of course also true with the old pushpins) – we’re aware that this is a problem and that this will get worse so we’re working on a method to groups trips together when they’re in close proximity at a given zoom level on the map.

You may also notice another tab on this blog: ‘Known issues’ – here we’d like to keep you up to date with some known bugs or issues we’re aware of and/or are currently working on.

November 19, 2006

Almost there…

Filed under: Admin — mtbguru @ 11:01 am

We’ve started to demo the site to some more people and friends… though everything is not yet 100% working or looking as we’d like, we think we’re almost ready for v1.0!

November 7, 2006

More changes

Filed under: Admin — mtbguru @ 12:49 am

We’re currently feverishly implementing various changes in both design and functionality, to get ready for launch. The database is all set and stable though, so the 80-something trips in it are still there to browse for you.