Boise Linux Group October 6th Meeting Report - GPS Essentials, Linux, and Google Earth

It 'twas a dark and rainy night... Hopefully that accounts for a very low turnout (6 were present) for what was excellent presentation by Darin S. Miller on using GPS Essentials on an Android Phone and then display those results using Google Earth running on Linux. Darin had prepared a very excellent LibreOffice Impress slide presentation with animations that equals or even rivals any PowerPoint presentation that I have ever seen. Along the way, Darin took us on a walk in the Idaho mountains above Petite Lake with photos, waypoints, and a graph showing both walking speed and altitude plus he also took on his daily 17 mile bicycle ride from Micron in East Boise to home in Meridian. Before Darin got into his main presentation, he showed us the technology he used on Linux to capture screen shots off his Nexus cell phone. That technology was the Android SDK for Linux available as a free download from He also offered this one tip on effectively being able to access the Android Phone's functions when connecting to the phone using a USB cable. Don't allow Android to share USB drive (ignore/bypass prompt when connecting USB cable). If you allow the share function, it actually disables the Phone applications from writing to the phone's SD card as well communication with the phone operating system which is necessary for taking screen shots. After the meeting, he sent me the specific steps to making Screen captures work: From Android home menu (on Linux), select Menu | Settings | Applications | Development and check the USB debugging, using the android-sdk-linux_x86/tools/ddm package from the Android SW development kit. Pretty cool. A question was asked if one could run Android applications on Linux with the answer that it should be possible with the SDK but would need to be verified. Darin's presentation focused on using GPS Essentials which is free for downloading on Android phones from the Marketplace (Google Account required for login). GPS Essentials is the work Michael Schollmeyer of Schollmeyer Software Engineering (Germany) and additional details on the GPS Essentials project can be found at He started his presentation by taking us through various screens you would use in creating a track (a record of your travels) that you can the download from your Android phone and than load into Google Earth. Those screens included the GPS Essentials Main Menu, Dashboard, Compass, Map, Waypoints, Satellites (Display), Charts, Camera, Settings, Tracks, Track List, and and lastly Track Exports for getting the file ready to download. There are two ways that you can get your track file from your phone's SD card in the root directory. The easiest way is to use the phone's Bluetooth connectivity with your laptop, pair the device, and then download the file (you can also use this feature to upload files to your phone). Despite Darin's best efforts to show how this was done, the Demo Gods would now allow it and Darin showed how to use the native USB file function (the second way) to download the file to his laptop. He had also downloaded his photos of his mountain trek prior to the meeting. He wrote me after the meeting that he had solved the problem with his Bluetooth connection by deleting the pairing connections on both the phone and PC, re-paired the devices, and then he was able to browse files on his phone using Nautilus. Darin concluded his presentation by showing how he was able to display his trek in the mountains and his daily 17 mile bicycle commute from Micron to home in Meridian, using Google Earth to get the various views including street views plus being able to access his chart data including distance and altitude. Finally, he took us to where he had posted his photos for the his mountain trek. One thing Everytrail does is correlate the date/time stamps of his photos with his GPS Essentials track data so that you can move along the path of his trek and see the points at which he took the photos. Our thanks to Darin for a very excellent presentation; it was unfortunate that more weren't on hand to benefit from his work in putting all this together for us as his demo went beyond just talking about GPS Essentials. Nothing is planned for the November 3rd meeting at this point and will be an open forum meeting. However, there are some new releases including Knoppix 6.7.1 DVD and PartedMagic along the releases of other leading distributions that maybe the subject of discussion. As always, if you have something that you would like to present to the group, even a problem that you are having and would like help on solving, let me know. We should have plenty of time for open discussion and Q&A time. If you have something to share, show, or something you would like help with, feel free to bring your computer and we'll try to get you connected at the library. We hope you are able to join us in November.