Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Technology of a Mobile Blog

I have been using this blog site to display photos to show some sights of my travels. I've been developing some tools that allow me to upload them more easily from the road. My inspiration has been our friends blog that documented their trip by bicycles across the US. They needed to pack light and were some early adopters of mobile blogging. See their blog here: PaddedShorts

For my trips prior to this year, I have brought a laptop computer to do the work. Some of the tasks that needed a laptop were: photo touch-up, resizing and cropping. The PC also included the WiFi adaptor that allowed me to use a public hotspot from a Starbucks or local library to connect to the Internet for uploading. The PC's keyboard also comes in handy for adding brief notes or descriptions to the photos.

This year, I've been testing tools to allow me to leave the laptop home and travel a bit lighter on the road. Here is a brief explanation of what I am now using:
The Hardware:

  1. Windows Mobile Phone: T-Mobile Dash
  2. Little-bitty pocket camera: Canon PowerShot SD1000
  3. SanDisk Micro-SD memory card, necessary to work in the Phone
  4. SanDisk Micro to Standard SD card adaptor; allows the same card to work in camera
  5. Garmin Mobile 10 GPS antenna

As it goes, the standard applications are never quite right, so I have to add some special applications to get everything to work:

  1. RESCO Photo Viewer (for Windows Mobile) v5.34; this allows me to edit, crop and resize the photos from the mobile phone
  2. Garmin Mobile XT; This is the GPS navigation software that runs on the smart phone. This allows me to capture GPS track logs so the photos can be "Geotagged" - this allows them to be seen from the maps.

The process is still somewhat complicated, as it involves taking the pictures, then moving the memory card to the phone, where I can edit, crop or resize the pictures. This is followed by the process of locating a wireless hot spot (if not using the GSM data network available on the phone), then finally typing out and sending the blog entry as an email with the photo attached from the phone.

You may ask, doesn't your phone have a built in camera? Can't you already email those photos? Wouldn't that be far easier?

Yes, it does have a built-in camera and yes the phone is already capable of sending those photos by email. But, the quality of the built-in cameras is still far behind even a cheap pocket digital point-and-shoot camera.

This is still a work-in-process and more updates will come as I continue to refine the process. For example, I still need my PC to geotag the photos - can't yet do that from the phone. You can see the map of my photos here:

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