Asus EEE and Mercury

If you are even a semi-geek you surely have heard of the Asus EEE PC – the tiny £200 Linux laptop that is selling like hot cakes.

Naturally I ordered one as soon as it was announced in the UK… and I have to say it’s brilliant. Coupled with a Huawei E220 mobile modem (the one that Three.co.uk are pushing in their “mobile broadband” campaign) it’s a go-anywhere marvel. I regularly use it for development while on the tube, commuting to and from work.

One of the fruits of this extra development time is Mercury, a very basic (at this stage) Quicksilver-type launcher for Linux, but with very few dependencies. Katapult, for example, is more full-featured, but on the EEE requires a huge amount of extra upgrades to allow it to run. Mercury runs without anything else (as far as I can tell :)

Anyway, get it here: http://www.marengo-ltd.com/mercury/

Elevation Data

Elevation
Well, lots of people have asked for it, so I’m looking to add elevation data (i.e. altitude) to the route planner*. I’ve got it storing the figure for each waypoint in my test version of the application. I’m now wondering what to do with it! At present I’m thinking maybe just have the ability to display a ride profile with total number of meters climbed etc.

If anyone’s got any ideas on what they’d like to see implemented regarding this, now’s the time to speak up.

*Edit: to clarify, I mean the route planner will determine the elevation of each of your waypoints when you are planning the route, not simply read the data from a route that the GPS unit has recorded.

The New Route Planner Forum

In case you’ve missed the announcements in the comments elsewhere, there’s a new forum dedicated to the Marengo GPS Route Planner. You can find it at

http://www.marengo-ltd.com/mapforum

It’s the best place to post your rides, ask questions and find “how to” articles. Or at least it will be when we get more than three people signing up to it :-)

Price Cut!

A short post just to say that the price of an annual subscription to the Marengo GPS Route Planner site has been slashed from £12.99 down to just £4.99.

Route Planner 2.0 !

I’m pleased to announce the release of the new version of the Marengo GPS Route Planner.

It’s full of great new features, including:

  • Save and load routes to/from the central route database
  • Easy sharing of your route(s) with anyone
  • Import and export GPX files without copying and pasting
  • Geocoding (location searching) including most UK place names
  • Mouse wheel zoom in/out
  • A dedicated “zoom” window
  • Smart new 2.0 look
  • Better browser compatibility – tested on Firefox, Opera, Safari, IE6 and IE7.
  • No advertisements taking valuable map space

This version is kind of commercial: there’s a minimal PayPal donation required per annum for the ability to save routes on the Marengo servers. The first 30 days are free and without commitment. This gives you a chance to make sure that you think the new version is worth donating to!

You can get your login here: http://www.marengo-ltd.com/map2/subscribe.php

If you want to continue using the free version, it’s not a problem – it’s not going away.

I’m announcing this release here first as a kind of limited beta – I’d appreciate feedback on any comments or problems you may have with this release.

Ubuntu “Feisty” Unmount Bug

The new version of the most popular Linux distribution – Ubuntu – is brilliant. However there is one small problem I’ve come up against which is an annoyance. I rely a lot on external USB hard disks – for instance three video projects of mine recently required 200Gb of storage – more than you can fit inside a laptop.

When it comes to unmounting (i.e. safely disconnecting) a drive, the latest version of Ubuntu (called “Feisty”) seems to have an issue. It simply tells me it “cannot eject volume”. If I go behind the scenes and issue a “sudo umount /dev/sdb1” it’s fine, but (a) it’s annoying and (b) regular users wouldn’t have a clue about this.

There appears to be an unofficial fix for this. If you have the same problem, try entering this in a terminal (all on one line):

sudo mv
/usr/share/hal/fdi/policy/10osvendor/10-storage-policy.fdi ~

Seems to work for me. I assume this will get fixed fairly quickly in an update.

Opera 9.2 Released

Hmmm… I wrote earlier to say that Opera 9.2 seems broken for Google Maps, and hence the Marengo Route Planner too.  However, playing around with the “encoding to assume for pages lacking specification” setting seems to have fixed it.  To be honest I can’t remember what the initial setting was, but I set it to “iso-8859-1” and stuff sprang into life.  The thing that gave me a clue about this was the fact that, when trying to find out what the problem was, all the Google javascript was coming up in Chinese…!  Odd.