Garmin Chirp

Garmin seems to be catching on to Geocaching. Where previous GPS devices only had rudimentary support for Geocaching it seems Garmin may start adding features especially for us cachers out there.

This morning Garmin Germany tweeted a link to a Flickr Set about the Garmin Chirp.

” Simple to use and password-protected, chirp can be programmed by any compatible wireless-enabled Garmin handheld to store geocaching hints and other information. When other geocachers arrive near your cache, they’ll be alerted that the cache is nearby, and then they’ll be able to access the hints you’ve loaded into chirp. And when you return, chirp will tell you how many visitors have been to your cache.”

It will be interesting to see if this only works with Garmin GPS devices or also with GPS enabled smartphones. In any case, this is a great trend that may lead to many innovative scenarios. Need to get my hand on one and play around with it….

iPhone 3G order: cancelled

Yeah, I know what you’re saying. But let me explain:

T-Mobile took my order without being able to give the slightest indication of a delivery date. Meanwhile I have been trying to sell my 16 GB 1st Gen. iPhone on eBay, without success. Starting end of June, I’ve had 3 buyers bail out (more on that in a separate post – eBay is seriously broken for sellers), so that iPhone is still with me.

I also happen to use a Huawei E172 USB 3G modem with a Vodafone 3G flat rate data tariff. A quick call got a cheap twin SIM card, without any additional monthly cost. With that in my iPhone, I’m pretty close to what I would have gotten with the 3G iPhone, less 3G, GPS and the WiFi flat rate.

I recently tried the non-GPS Google maps, and I was positively surprised how good the location functionality is, it’s totally usable for what I need it (for in-car navigation and geocaching I have two Garmin GPS units – that’s more than enough GPS for me).

Regarding WiFi, I have recently joined FON, which should supply me with enough bandwidth on the go.

I also updated my iPhone to a jailbroken 2.0 firmware, so I’m pretty much sorted.

Geocaching

There are moments in a geek’s life that make you think there may be a god after all. Last week my wife told me all her friends were talking about this geocaching thing, and would this not be a nice way of convincing the kids to get some fresh air…?

It took me less than five minutes to order a GPS, the Garmin eTrex Vista HCx.

It runs on standard AA batteries, can do car navigation, and has a special geocaching mode. I loaded it with the maps that came with my Garmin c510, and I have to say it’s a very nice device.

Today we packed the kids into the car and started for our very first cache, Bosenberg. The area was quite muddy due to the rain we had in the last week, but after we talked the kids into “treasure hunting” for more than a week, we had to go.

Picture 2807

We were rewarded with an easy to find cache, a great view over the area, and smiling kids that managed to find the cache themselves. They were a bit disappointed about the content, but it’s the search that matters, right..? ;)

Now I just need to clean the car…

Garmin StreetPilot C510: Enable Text-To-Speech

The Garmin StreetPilot C510 Deluxe is an excellent GPS car navigation system. Even better, Garmin seems to be selling it off in favor of the new “nüvi” series, so you can get one at roughly EUR 200.

One of the main differences to the more expensive C550 is the ability to speak the directions and street names, i.e. text-to-speech capability.

Though the Garmins are less hackable than, say, the TomTom devices, somebody has discovered a way to add text-to-speech to the C510. The basic procedure goes like this:

Download /Voice,BritishEnglish-Emily_TTS__140.exe, unzip the file
English_British_Emily_0140.rgn, cut the first 60 bytes using xvi32 , call the file
English_British_Emily.vpm, make a copy of that file called
000.NEW (again zero zero zero.new) and copy both files to your unit into the folder Garmin/voice. Make a copy of
english_british_.sum in your Garmin/voice folder on your unit, call it
English_British_Emily.sum and disconnect the unit from your PC. Restart it et voilá.

Detailed instructions and download URLs can be found on Claudio Ehr’s site.

I tried it last night, and believe me – you won’t know how much of a difference this makes until you experienced it. Thanks, Claudio!