Wednesday, January 30, 2013

FollowMee on holidays - GPS tracking for devices

After arming myself with a few Thailand map apps and battling with my near non existent GPS location...why wouldn't I pursue a GPS tracking program?! Earlier this week we experienced cyclonic wind and rain, which cut our power, internet and running water (we have rainwater tanks and pump) for 3 days. So to have charged electronic devices once more and to be able to flush the loo using the button, is a real treat!

My android phone and tablet both have GPS, even my camera has it (for photo location purposes)! Apart from the chance that one or all might go missing at some stage, I like my family to know approximately where we are when we travel. Usually I register with Smart Traveller and send an itinerary to those in the know. Just in case!

In addition, this time, I've installed FollowMee's (free trial) app on my devices. After registering on their website, I downloaded the app firstly onto my tablet, then logged in.

Nothing! No location showing on their/my website map and the running report on my tablet showed fail after fail...although I know they must have been whispering to each other, because the website recognised how low my tablet's battery was getting. 35% according to the data under the map...and fading.

I played around with the settings a bit (walk or drive mode, updating time intervals) and with tablet in hand, jumped into my car and went for a drive around the block. Less than half a kilometre into my short trip, twelve (the maximum display) satellites showed up my GPS Test Plus app. So, yes, there's heaps out there...somewhere.

As I turned back into my driveway they started to disappear off the screen one by one. We obviously live in a GPS black hole.

Now to see if FollowMee, followed me? Not at first, as it does take a while for the website to be updated. But sure enough, it did locate me, exactly. I'd set the app on 'walking/running/cycling' mode and to update every 10 minutes, so it's not suprising the map tracker show me going nowhere at 0 km/h. The 'Address' was spot on.
Website map - Longitude and latitude have been removed for privacy.
FollowMee also gives the option to download your movements in 3 formats: HTML - which is text shown in a browser and KML File, which uses Google Maps or Google Earth (you'll need to download the latter). Or, CSV File - Import to Excel. All have the option to include mileage. FollowMee was able to place me here using Google Earth.
Yes, I really am in amongst all of those trees :)
If FollowMee continues to monitor my location accurately and consistently during the free trial period, I'll definitely be upgrading to the paid version. Stay tuned!

Snap's other blog Chiang Mai Thai


MJ Klein said... Best Blogger Tips

Snap, it sounds like something in your neighborhood is interfering with GPS signals. i've seen that before but it's rare that it's so bad you can't get any fix at all. glad to know you got things working. drop me a line if you have any questions that i might be able to help you with. take care.

Snap said... Best Blogger Tips

@MJ Klein Reception was better today from my front veranda...not much, but better. I'll be taking the devices for a test run tomorrow when I run my errands, so it will be interesting to see how FollowMee does. I'm sure I'll have plenty of questions ;)

MJ Klein said... Best Blogger Tips


i just had a thought. sometimes, devices have a hard time getting a first lock. the device has to download an "almanac" from the satellites in order to figure out where it is and thus, what satellites are visible at that time/location. sometimes that process takes a very long time, depending upon the hardware. now that you've done that, getting subsequent position locks should be a lot easier as long as not too much time/distance goes by. tablets are known for not being such hot GPS receivers.

some GPS apps will allow you to enter a rough position that helps initial locks. if you move your device more than a couple hundred KM from the last time you turned it on, a rough position input can help a great deal.

Snap said... Best Blogger Tips

@MJ Klein What you say makes a lot of sense. The reception from my veranda seems to be improving, picking up more than 2 now...fluctuating, but much better than at first.