Introducting mGPX

Searching the web for a good, and free, GPX importer for PHP yields not so great results. Last spring, as some preliminary work for WP Trainer took place, one wrote a simple ad hoc GPX importer for PHP. It then placed the points on a Google Map. Previously, there was a huge performance issue. However, today after looking over the code one found the error. What happened is the GPX importer didn’t import laps correctly for multi-activity and lap files. Instead of applying laps to the correct activity, the laps ended up summing and carrying over to other activities. The fix was simple, and the performance issue was resolved–300 points is not the limit, having several 300 point laps on the same map is what causes the problem.

With the fixes to it, the GPX importer is fast and ready for some extensive testing. WP Trainer is now viable, and effort will be placed into it this summer. mGPX will find its way to the code page as a separate

Added to this, Garmin added the feature to Garmin Training Center that allows exporting of individual activities, or groups to a file. Available in version 3.3.4, exporting is as simple as right clicking on a entry in the history section and selecting export in the pop up menu. This is great, as now end users can easily export small enough files (under 2MiB) for PHP to import.

-John Havlik

[end of transmission, stay tuned]

2008: Week 1 Down, 51 To Go

Break has been busy, That “little” project from before the semester began is consuming most of my time now. Grades finally came in, made the Dean’s List, third semester in a row. With that semester behind me, things should be getting better from here on out.

My ZEN gets much better battery life than my Zen Micro does now, it about a 3:1 battery life ratio. In the office I’m getting about 2 to 3 days worth of continuous music play, which equates to about 20 hours, add in the hour of Family Guy videos that I watched, I’d say the 30 hour estimated life for audio is achievable. The Micro was giving me fits while on campus, not even lasting the full day on the longer days near the end of the semester (cold weather was partially to blame).

Speaking about that “little” project, coming soon will be a list (yeah I know lists suck) of bad programming practices and why you should never follow them. Let’s just say words can not describe my hatred for global variables in C/C++ that has been aroused by this project’s old code. If you excessively use global variables you should be shot, plain and simple. I hesitantly give thanks for Visual Studio every time I come across one of these globals (the find all references command is very useful when it works), without it things would be taking much longer than they already are.

-John Havlik

[end of transmission, stay tuned]

Automagically Delicious

Back into the Gentoo partition this evening, and things are great. The ATI driver automagically began working again, after not working when reinstalling it after a run with the open-source driver. So I updated that to the latest, before I was only getting 50 – 100 FPS with glxgears, now I get about 500 to 600 FPS with glxgears on my Radeon 9600, talk about an improvement. Now only if October’s driver would come sooner so I can have Compiz fusion running with out XGL.

After fixing the graphics issues, I moved on to getting the shared printer on mtekktux to connect on my computer, that didn’t require much effort either. Just a quick configuration of CUPS, and updating HPLIP, setting the printer as default, and Kablam! printing works.

Now came the annoying sound issues. In particular, if alsasound is not started your previous gmixer settings get lost in Gnome (probably the same way with KDE). Fixing this is simple, just add alsasound to the default run level using rc-update add alsasound default. Now on boot alsasound will launch restoring settings from the previous session (that’s if it is configured to do so, which it is by default). As things have gone good so far, I plugged in my Logitech Music Anyware USB wireless audio device. Running cat /proc/asound/cards revealed:

1 [Tra ]: USB-Audio - Logitech Music Anywhere USB Tra
Logitech Logitech Music Anywhere USB Tra at usb-0000:00:1d.2-1, full speed

ALSA found it! So it was time to test to see if it works, and sure enough it does. The remote doesn’t work (yet), but that’s because Audacious doesn’t hook into the multimedia hotkey functions yet. For something that does not claim Linux support, having the major function of it work is success by any standard.

-John Havlik

[end of transmission, stay tuned]

It’s About Time ATI/AMD

It sounds like AMD will follow Intel’s lead in opening up their graphics processors for open source driver development. Today they released full specifications, no strings attached (in the form of NDAs that is). This comes after last week’s announcement that the new fglrx will offer a major improvement in performance for Linux users. As my computer has a obsolete Radeon 9600, I await the day when running Compiz Fusion is possible without the use of that ugly beast known as XGL. That date is set for October should I decide to stick with the fglrx driver. Hopefully by Christmas the open-source driver will be a truly viable option (I spent three days trying to get it to work with my 9600 with no luck).

On a side note, I received over a terabyte worth of hard drives plus other computer components. This time a good portion of the drives are 7200 RPM, and I now have a back-up motherboard (exact same model as my current). Ideally, I’ll add a 250GB hard drive to mtekktux to supplement it’s 80GB drive to turn it into a media and print server. Then I’ll replace my 160GB 5400 RPM hard drive with a 250 GB 7200RPM one for my XP drive, that should shorten the load times for maps in 2142.

-John Havlik

[end of transmission, stay tuned]

Next DMP

While on a flight out to Philadelphia this past Monday I began thinking about the age of my current Digital Audio Player, Creative’s Zen Micro. The player is nice, and it does what I need and has a removable battery, which is a life saver for longer trips. I have this habit, however, which causes me to get a new portable audio device every three years. At the end of September, I will have had the Zen Micro for two and a half years. It’s time to look for a replacement. Playing MP3’s is good, but sometimes having the ability to play video would be nice. Transcoding sucks and I refuse to transcode my media files. Thus, many solutions out there today will not even be considered. In the real world, size matters, I need something that is about the same size as my current DAP, but a bigger screen would be nice.

As a runner, I would like to run with my DAP. Hard drive based players are not ideal for any high movement conditions. Previously, the Zen Vision:W caught my eye. However, it fills the ‘full sized’ market, too large for my tastes.

Creative has a new player now, the Zen (a recycled name). It is approximately the same size of my DAP, but at about half the thickness, which should be really nice (the Zen Micro should be about a quarter of an inch thinner to appeal to a larger market). Flash based, and available in 4GiB, 8GiB, and 16GiB versions, this would be perfect for running.

Sadly, the battery is not removable. However Creative is claiming over 25 hours of battery life when playing audio. An added bonus is the SD slot for expansion, even though my 5GB Zen Micro still has about 1GB free, storage expansion is always welcomed, especially if it is hot-swappable (in contrast to the Nomad II’s SmartMedia slot). I’ll probably get the 8GiB version since the 16GiB version is 100USD more expensive.

-John Havlik

[end of transmission, stay tuned]