Tips for New GPS Navigation Users

Tips for New GPS Navigation Users


You'll probably be a little anxious to get going when you first open the box and take out your GPS system. Here are a few tips that will help you get off to a good start.

Get a baseball cap

A GPS left sitting on the dash can be an attractive target for thieves. You can reduce the chance that yours will be stolen by keeping it hidden. One easy way to do this is to cover it with a baseball cap.

Help your GPS find satellites

A GPS receiver needs a little time to find satellites before it can calculate your initial location. This is harder to do when you're driving around (especially if you're changing directions or passing near large obstructions).

You can shorten the startup process by waiting in your driveway (or other open area) until satellite signals are acquired. Most models have a screen that shows the GPS signal status.

Mark a few waypoints

After your GPS has found its initial location, you should set waypoints for your home and a few other key locations. Familiar waypoints shown on the map make it easier to stay oriented as you're driving around.

Check your speedometer

Speedometers in many vehicles are inaccurate. If your speedometer and GPS don't agree, your GPS is probably closest to the truth.

Note: Speeds reported by GPS usually lag by a second or two, so you need to stay at a steady speed to get an accurate reading.

Ask people if they're in a new part of town

Newer subdivisions and office parks are often missing from GPS maps. If a destination is not in your GPS, let it take you to a nearby cross street and get directions from there. After you arrive at the destination, set a waypoint if you expect you might need to find it again in the future.

Make driving your top priority

GPS is fun to use, but be safe. Enough said.

Don't be bullied by your GPS

Your GPS may calculate routes that take you through areas you'd rather skip. Take the road(s) you want and let the GPS recalculate using your road instead.

If your GPS is stubborn and refuses the hint, most systems will let you setup "custom avoid" preferences to skip specific roads or areas. You can do this sometime when you find free time in a parking lot.

Watch the satellites screen

After the novelty of looking at maps of familiar areas has faded, you should spend some time watching the satellite status screen.

Although it's not especially productive, you can learn how sensitive your navigation system is to nearby obstructions that block GPS signals.

Having Fun with GPS

Having Fun with GPS

Almost everyone has heard of the Global-Positioning System by now, and many radio hobbyists own a handheld GPS receiver. For the uninitiated, the GPS system works with a network of 24 satellites orbiting some 12,500 miles up in the sky. Each one has an atomic clock to set the precise timing that is part of the math used by a land-based a GPS receiver to triangulate its location on the face of the earth. GPS satellites continuously transmit signals and data. Those signals are picked up by GPS receivers, with up to 12 satellites being received simultaneously. A calculator in the GPS receiver crunches the data, and shows it to us as latitude and longitude.

The GPS term for a set of latitude and longitude coordinates is waypoint. If you connect the waypoint dots, you have what’s called a route. As you move with a GPS in your hand, it generates a virtual breadcrumb trail called a track. Waypoints, routes and tracks can be saved in a GPS memory. Now you have the basic GPS vocabulary.

Got a Map in Your Hand?
When people want to know how much to spend on a GPS receiver, we ask if they want to see a map in their hand. Entry-level GPS receivers display basic geographic information: latitude, longitude, elevation, direction, and bearing.

They calculate the distance between points and estimate your arrival time. They will also have a screen that shows a graphic representation of the points you marked with the GPS, as if you had drawn a sketch, but that isn’t a scale map. For that, you have to spend more, and most GPS users think it’s worth the expense. Better quality GPS receivers come with a base map of North America, but with such a large area to cover, the maps don’t include much detail. Spend a little more, and you get map memory, up to 24mb, to upload more maps and a higher level of detail: city maps, topographic maps, and “points of interest” such as hotels restaurants, museums, and so on. Garmin and Magellan, perhaps the most popular makers of handheld GPS units, produce software for this purpose.
Although you will see maps on your PC screen during the process of uploading them to your GPS, they aren’t meant to compete with real desktop mapping software.

By Anton Ninno, N2RUD, and Jim Kuhl, N2STK

How to update map data on GPS device?

How to update map data on GPS device?

You can update online here: (you must enter the serial number). Or you can buy from amazon (search for Garmin map updates). It comes in DVD-ROM which you download through your computer to the GPS via a USB cable (should be provided with the GPS).

But since you just bought the GPS, I think it should have come with 2008 maps, and there should be no need to update. Depending on the area where you live or travel, roads usually don't change quickly enough to justify updating more often than once every two years or longer.

How to Update Your Magellan Maestro GPS

How to Update Your Magellan Maestro GPS

  1. Visit Magellan’s homepage ( Click Products and select Maps & Software from the drop-down menu. You’ll see selections for Outdoors and Recreational Maps and Street Maps.
  2. To obtain new Outdoors and Recreational Maps, first insert an SD Card into your device, then connect a USB cable from your notebook to the device and download the maps you desire for $29.99 to $99.99.
  3. To obtain new Street Maps, click the name of your model and you’ll be taken to a page where you can purchase the DVD for $79.99.
  4. Once you receive the Street Maps DVD, install it onto your notebook. Connect your unit via USB and download the new maps.

Nokia turn mobile phones into traffic probes

( -- Drivers in the San Francisco Bay Area with GPS-enabled mobile phones can soon tap into new technology that promises to transform traffic monitoring. Moments before midnight on Monday, Nov. 10, researchers from the University of California, Berkeley, and Nokia Research Center, Palo Alto will publicly release pilot software that turns cellular devices into mobile traffic probes providing real-time information on traffic flow and travel times.

As part of this Mobile Millennium project, anyone can download the free software at It will work on most GPS-enabled cell phones operating on GSM networks - such as AT&T and T-mobile - that are capable of installing and running Java applications. The Web site will be continually updated with a list of specific Nokia and non-Nokia phone models compatible with the software. Because of the large amount of data transmitted by the system, researchers recommend that participants have an unlimited data plan.

As vehicles pass through the system's virtual trip lines - geographic markers defined by GPS coordinates - the phones will send anonymous speed and location readings to servers. The data will be integrated into traffic models that produce an estimate of traffic flow, then relayed back to the mobile phones and posted online at

The software is being developed as part of the Mobile Millennium project by researchers from UC Berkeley's College of Engineering, Nokia Research Center, Palo Alto and UC Berkeley's California Center for Innovative Transportation. The new system uses digital mapping data from Chicago-based NAVTEQ, recently acquired by Nokia.

Heading the research teams are Alexandre Bayen, UC Berkeley assistant professor of systems engineering in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, and Quinn Jacobson, research leader at Nokia Research Center.

"As we have entered the era of the mobile Internet, cellular devices are providing us with ubiquitous sensing capabilities that will rapidly revolutionize location-based services," said Bayen. "In particular, traffic information systems will be enriched by combining mobile sensor data with static sensor data. The Berkeley research focuses on developing the novel algorithms needed to integrate this data into traffic models and make the information meaningful to the public."

The researchers said the system could eventually spread to include any area with mobile Internet connections, including secondary side streets and rural roads not currently monitored by traffic sensors.

"The proliferation of GPS-enabled devices globally has driven tremendous growth in location-based experiences," said Henry Tirri, senior vice president of Nokia Research Center. "Mobile Millennium, with its unique collaboration of private and public stakeholders, has been designed to demonstrate that everyday people can help address global problems such as traffic congestion. Nokia is proud to be part of this research."

Mobile Millennium is supported by the U.S. Department of Transportation through the federal SafeTrip-21 initiative, which seeks technology solutions to improve safety and reduce congestion on the roadways, as well as by the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans).

"This technology has the potential to provide better quality coverage over more area than has ever been monitored before, allowing motorists to make better traveling decisions," said Randell Iwasaki, Caltrans chief deputy director. "More importantly for state transportation officials, the increased coverage will provide a substantial set of information which will be used to proactively manage the transportation network."

The release of the pilot software comes nine months after researchers put the new technology to its first major road test, dubbed Mobile Century, using Nokia's N95 GPS-enabled mobile devices placed in 100 cars. The pilot software to be publicly released Monday night is partially based upon the prototype version tested during that field experiment.

From the beginning of the project, researchers built privacy safeguards into the system so no data that can be tied to a particular phone will be created, transmitted or stored. This "Privacy by Design" system strips the traffic data from individual device identifiers, uses banking-grade encryption techniques to protect the transmission of data and draws data only from targeted roadways where traffic information is needed.

Nokia's Tirri also emphasized that users ultimately control the service and can turn off the system's ability to transmit traffic data at any time.

The first phase of the Mobile Millennium system launch will include traffic data for highways, which includes major commuter corridors within and between the San Francisco Bay Area and Sacramento. As more users come online, the researchers expect to have sufficient data to produce information on some arterial routes in the Bay Area and Sacramento.

During the first month of the pilot, software downloads will be limited to manage capacity. Additional information about supported GPS-enabled mobile phones will be posted. By April 2009, the researchers expect to reach the estimated pilot system capacity of 10,000 users.

"With this pilot, the San Francisco Bay Area becomes the starting point for the growth of a new cyberinfrastructure system based upon data provided by users," said Bayen. "Eventually, anyone in the country will be able to download the free software to transmit and receive traffic data and participate in the creation of a new traffic information system for their city or community."

"It's been gratifying to have such large public and private entities working together to move this valuable service through its research phases so it can get out to the public," said CCIT Director Thomas West. "The best part about this pilot is that that everyday people can participate, and the more people who use it, the better it will work."

This collaboration between UC Berkeley and the Nokia Research Center was supported by a seed grant from UC Berkeley's Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society (CITRIS)

How to Update Your Garmin nüvi GPS

How to Update Your Garmin nüvi GPS

  1. Point your browser toward Garmin’s update page (, and enter your product’s serial number.
  2. If your device has new maps available, the site will direct you to a page where you can order an update DVD for $70.
  3. When you receive the DVD, pop it into your computer (Mac or PC), and connect the nüvi via a USB cable.
  4. The DVD will prompt you to enter a product key, which is on the back of the DVD’s jewel case. The software will automatically launch and begin updating the device.

Control room set up to monitor GPS-enabled patrol vehicles

CHENNAI: The state government has set up a modern control room at the state traffic planning
cell (STPC) office on Kamarajar Salai to monitor the 122 GPS-enabled police patrol vehicles deployed along the national highways across the state.

“The new system will help the police patrol vehicles to reach the accident spot within two minutes of the incident. The movement of patrol vehicles will be monitored round the clock from the STPC office. Our main aim is to reduce the deaths due to road accidents,” state transport minister KN Nehru told The Times Of India. He was talking to mediapersons after attending a review meeting to gauge the effectiveness of its initiatives to reduce the number of accidents in the state.

He said the road safety policy of the government had laid out broad principles along with programmes for traffic improvement. A state level monitoring committee will be formed to implement the policy. To instill greater seriousness, deterrent penal action has been introduced for traffic-related offences. First offence results in suspension of driving licence and any subsequent offence would result in cancellation of licence, minister said.

“We have introduced a new system called MARS (monitoring and response system), which will work through a GPS-GIS system fitted on the highway police patrol vehicles. Incidents of robbery and road accidents can be monitored through the central monitoring unit and immediately send the patrol cars for help.STPC can be contacted at 2844 4444. MARS will also study the accident prone areas in the state and take necessary steps to reduce road accidents,” KN Nehru said.

How to Update Your TomTom GPS

How to Update Your TomTom GPS

  1. Install the TomTom Home software onto your notebook from the device’s bundled updates DVD.
  2. Plug in your unit via USB.
  3. Click Preferences, and then Check for Update.
  4. If a message appears stating that you have the latest maps, you’re done.
  5. If a message appears stating that there are new maps available, click the Download button to sync them to your unit free of charge.

Fujitsu Unveils Mini-Tablet PC With GPS Navigation

The LifeBook U820 includes Garmin Mobile PC navigation software, a global positioning system that provides turn-by-turn, voice-prompted street directions.

Fujitsu on Tuesday introduced a mini-tablet PC with built-in personal navigation, and a desktop-replacement notebook that includes a small touch-screen display for keeping more information visible without cluttering the main desktop.

The LifeBook U820 includes Garmin Mobile PC navigation software, a global positioning system that provides turn-by-turn, voice-prompted street directions. The system offers mobile professionals, particularly in sales and in field services, an alternative to carrying a separate GPS device.

The tablet, which is powered by an Intel Centrino Atom Z-series processor, has a 5.6-inch touch-screen display, a QWERTY keyboard and a zoom utility for easier viewing. The system weighs 1.32 pounds and offers 7.5 hours of battery life on a four-cell battery and 3.5 hours on a 2-cell battery.

In addition, buyers have the option of up to a 120 GB hard disk drive or up to a 64 GB solid-state drive. The system comes with Windows Vista and a 1.3 mega-pixel Web cam and includes a fingerprint sensor for security and integrated Wi-Fi and Bluetooth wireless support. In the first quarter of next year, the U820 will be available with optional 3G network support from wireless carriers. Prices start at $1,049

The LifeBook N7010 desktop-replacement notebook includes a four-inch touch-screen display, which can be used for photo slide shows, CD/DVD controls and application shortcuts. The system, which has a 16-inch main display, is powered by a dual-core, 2.26 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo P8400 processor.

Other features include a Blu-ray disc player, 4 GB of system memory, and an ATI Radeon HD 3470 graphics processor with 256 MB of GDDR3 memory. In addition, the notebook has integrated Wi-Fi and Bluetooth wireless technology, a 1.3 megapixel Webcam and a Memory Stick/SD card slot. Prices start at $1,499.

Fujitsu on Tuesday also introduced the LifeBook P1630, a 2.2-pound tablet PC with an 8.9-inch touch screen. The system is powered by a dual-core Intel Core 2 Duo SU9300 low-voltage processor, includes integrated Wi-Fi support and a 1.3 megapixel Webcam and gets up to about 6 hours of battery life. Optional built-in support for carriers' 3G wireless networks is expected to be available in the first quarter of next year. Prices start at $2,179.

The latest releases follow the introduction in July of six LifeBook mobile PCs, including Fujitsu's first low-priced tablet PC for mainstream consumers, schools and small businesses.

The 13.3-inch T1010 tablet offers the same performance and many of the same features as Fujitsu's flagship tablet the T5010, buts lacks the high-end security features of the more expensive model. The T1010 starts at $1,299.

Project turns GPS phones into traffic reporters

November 6, 2008 (IDG News Service) Researchers from Nokia Corp. and the University of California, Berkeley, will go live with a new project next week that aims to cull GPS data from thousands of mobile phones in order to tell drivers which San Francisco Bay Area roads are backed up and which are moving along.

Called Mobile Millennium, the project will be opened to the public on Monday.

Researchers hope that thousands of volunteers will download a free Java program that figures out by their movement and location when they are driving and then transmits that information to the project's servers, which then crunch it into a Bay Area traffic map. The software uses algorithms to determine when people are moving, stuck in traffic or stopped by the roadside, for example.

California has already invested heavily in sensors that help monitor traffic conditions on major roadways, but they're not everywhere. By collecting traffic information from GPS phones on roads that don't have sensors, the team hopes to gain insight into places that are now blind spots for most commuters.

Researchers will start by looking for data on heavily trafficked commutes such as Page Mill Road and the Oregon Expressway, which cut through the heart of Palo Alto, Calif. If enough volunteers download the software, the researchers could eventually build a comprehensive picture of Bay Area traffic conditions.

"The whole concept here is that if everyone shares just a little bit of what they're seeing ... then everyone can benefit by seeing the conditions ahead of them," said Quinn Jacobson, a research leader at Nokia in Palo Alto.

The system doesn't require many users, but it helps if they're spread out, as researchers will need the right concentration of reports. The Mobile Millennium team expects to have 10,000 participants by April. "At that rate, we'll see many of these arterial roads with accurate, real-time data," Jacobson said.

While the idea of streaming data about their whereabouts may make some people uneasy, researchers say they've taken steps to keep the system anonymous. None of the data in the system can be tied to a particular mobile phone, they said.

The researchers have been testing the traffic reporting system every few weeks over the past year, including a large field test in February.

Mobile Millennium's data will be available on the Web, but users who want the best data will have to download the Java software, Jacobson said. The software will eventually work on most GPS-enabled phones that run on GSM (Global System for Mobile communications) networks, such as those from T-Mobile and AT&T. On Monday, the software will run on Nokia and BlackBerry phones, but the team expects to add many other devices to the list.

The team is discussing an iPhone port as well, although this will not be available on Monday, Jacobson said.

Because Mobile Millennium phones do a lot of traffic reporting, only users with unlimited data plans are advised to sign up.

GPS Snitch keeps tabs on your car

CALGARY, AB, November 8, 2008/Troy Media/ -- Are you looking for the perfect gift for the tech enthusiast on your Christmas list? Or maybe you have concerns about the security of your vehicles or need to keep tabs on a new driver? Blackline GPS, a Calgary-based company and a leader in GPS tracking and social interaction, delivers all that and more with GPS Snitch.

GPS SnitchA small unit about the size of a mobile phone, GPS Snitch can be moved from vehicle to vehicle, or any other asset you might want to keep tabs on. The location information is available from the users account through an easy to use web interface and from any mobile phone supporting SMS.

Blackline GPS President and Founder, Patrick Rousseau, says they first came up with the idea when he and his partner were working for a company with a fleet tracking offering. But the complexity of that product and the multiple service providers involved did not translate well to the consumer market. Rousseau and his partners developed GSP Snitch as an easy and affordable way for the average consumer to track assets like vehicles.

“GPS Snitch requires no install and it’s a one stop shop. We made the product as simple as possible and we handle all service delivery,” says Rousseau. “We get to the core of what people really want from a tracking device. We give you instant alerting of break-ins using a motion sensor that detects if someone is trying to break into your car. All of this is accessible in real time through the web or through your Blackberry.”

Available in major big box stores across Canada, Rousseau says Snitch sales are going well. The company’s biggest challenge has not been getting retailers to see the value of the product, but rather educating consumers about its multiple benefits. Not only is Snitch a theft detection device, but parents of young drivers are also using it to keep tabs on their kids. It also buys users piece of mind if they have to park their car in less desirable areas.

“When you are able to locate your vehicle remotely you save time and stress. If you are getting stressed because your daughter was supposed to be home by 9:00 and it’s 9:15 you can find out where she is. Or if you park in more dangerous or high theft areas, you get piece of mind with our product,” says Rousseau, who has also used the device to track his briefcase and other assets.

With the success of GPS Snitch, Blackline is coming out with two new offerings that take Snitch one step further in asset security and retrieval. Seeker™ for vehicles and Harpoon™ for water crafts will be on the market in the first few months of 2009. Unlike GPS Snitch that can be moved from vehicle to vehicle, Seeker and Harpoon are permanently installed and come with a key fob to activate or disarm the device. Much like home security, when the device detects a theft, Blackline follows up with the owner to verify that the vehicle has been stolen, and works with police to try to retrieve the vehicle.

“With GPS Snitch we had a lot of questions from customers around what to do if their car gets stolen. With Seeker, we will fulfill every aspect of the vehicle recovery.”

Blackline is also working with the insurance industry to educate them on the value of GPS Snitch and Seeker. In the near future Blackline expects people who use these devices to qualify for insurance discounts.

The success of Blackline GPS is definitely a good news story for the Calgary tech community, especially when you consider how difficult it can be to successfully launch a consumer product. Rousseau says they have taken advantage of resources in the community whenever possible, like connecting to Calgary Technologies Inc. to seek help with financing. As a client of Alberta Deal Generator, a joint program of Calgary Technologies and TEC Edmonton, they received help developing an effective investor pitch and presented their pitch at an ADG private investor forum. Rousseau says the program was invaluable for making their pitch more effective and building confidence for approaching investors.

Blackline’s GPS devices range in price from $299 to $349 with monthly monitoring starting at less than $15. If you’re not sure if GPS tracking is for you, check out their web site for a free, no fee download of BlackLine’s Blip application for BlackBerry smartphones, a tracking and social interaction application.

Keywords: GPS Snitch, insurance discounts, Calgary tech community, Calgary Technologies Inc., asset security, asset retrieval

By Sandra Sweet
Troy Media Corporation

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