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Thursday 2011/05/26

Welcome.hr is among other things a very technological blog. Or at least a blog that is highly dependent on technology. To show more clearly what is contained in the background of Welcome, we mustn't forget the very beginning.

Without the Google Earth application, drawing out the planned route would probably be a nightmare, and distance calculation, changes of the altitude and so on – unthinkable. The complete digital planning of the route has enabled us to create a relatively simple graphic view on the web site. To do this, we have decided to use Google Maps API which has the ability to view the routes with a kmlLayer as a series of geographical points. To be more accurate – amplitude, length and altitude, connected in a transparent-red so-called «Polyline», which we pasted on a «Terrain» type of map. That way there is enough information about the locations in the vicinity of the planned route, and the captions didn't interfere with the clear view of the of the planned route. We exported the route from Google Earth as a KML data file ready to be published on the map. There was still plenty of «manual» work for Vedran around the presentation of the segments of the route in order to enable a more detailed view of each activity, segment, day or letter of Welcome. The word Welcome written on the map had an outline. The proposed sights which Lacko would encounter on the way are marked yellow, and the transmissions coming live from the field red. Once again, technology has stepped in at the right time and place. We have given him the latest mobile device in the form of an Android mobile phone HTC DesireHD which he used, even from a kayak, connected to the administration pages and uploaded photos from the spot with ease, along with the geographical coordinates which were enough to keep an eye on him, at least in the beginning. Many news updates were uploaded that way and judging by the number of hits, it seems they were almost as popular as the blog posts. And that isn't all about the technology. It was time to equip Lacko with the latest technology. The FindMeSpot device was used to virtually locate Lacko and the team minute by minute. Even though somewhere around the letter M the device broke down due to the pressure of physical force and overuse – there is no doubt it is made of advanced technology. It is common to think that an average person can send information to a satellite using GSM/GPS devices. In reality, sending information in the direction of satellites is very rare and expensive, and it's usually information about the satellite's activity. In order for your GPS device to tell you where you are – some of the public satellites have to see your device and by measuring the time needed to reach the signal from your mobile or GPS device, and by comparing that with the results from at least two more satellites, it will calculate your exact location reliably. FindMeSpot is unique in that sense because it uses commercial satellites and «sends back to Earth» the publicly calculated location. By subscribing to the FindMeSpot service we are able to record Lacko's location or in a case of an accident on an inaccessible terrain we can send it to his family and friends, as well as the rescue team by hitting the «Help» button.

This is how 50 small white dots were created, which correspond to the last 50 activities recorded on FindMeSpot. To spice it all up Lacko sent us his route on daily basis which he recorded using another GPS-enabled device. To keep him company he also used a Garmin Oregon 550 which uses its internal memory to keep track of the actual travel. Once and sometimes more times a day we received a Mapsource GPX data file from the field exported from the Garmin device and by converting it to the kml format we presented it as a thick-red Polyline on the map. This is how Welcome was being written on the map.

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