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Datasheets On Your Ipod - Anyone Interested?

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Hi everyone,


I don't do much talking on the forums, but I do a lot of reading. I made a little program that I thought I would run by everyone.


While starting my benchmark hunting adventures, I found that I REALLY needed to have not only the waypoints, but the description of where to find the marks. Well, at the same time, I found it was a total pain in the butt to keep up with a print out of the original datasheet, and also not junk up the car, the house, etc. (not to mention an easy way to transfer data between places and devices). So I got to thinking, why can't I just put this info on my iPod, and bring it with me? Besides the hunt for some of these marks would be improved with some music (especially when I start walking around in a 50 foot circle 20 or 30 times).


I started all this by looking at the current programs available. There did not seem to be a program that dealt with getting benchmark data to the iPod. If I could get that much info into my Rino I would go that route, but Garmin's idea of a 'notes' area is terrible. Eventually, I determined I would be writing this myself.


So over the last few days I wrote a program (still need to build it into an executable) that can take a datasheet saved as a text file, and break it into a two or more small files formatted to present on an iPod correctly. The first page being name, PID, location, the lat/long numbers, reference marks, and history. The second and additional pages (4000 character limit per file) when needed have the description. All these pages are linked together for navigation, I made sure the program correctly builds paragraphs and word wraps for the 30 character per line limit of the iPod (big, big pain) for readability, and each mark's files sit in its own directory. You simply copy the created directories into your Notes folder on the iPod. I would post a zip file with example PIDs converted, but this I don't see where is forum allows attachments. But for the dozen or so marks that I have test with the converter, it works really well :P


So, the big question, is anybody else interested in such a program? If not, I probably will not bother compiling the executable, but if others are interested I will work on it. I can see carrying multiple handheld devices around being a complete pain in the butt. But I think when working with someone else (I usually go out with my girlfriend), it gives each person a device and a task (one watches the GPS, the other keeps up with the details matching the description with the location).

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I'd done similar with geocaching and a program called GeoToad. Although the idea was good, in practicality, I found it to be more hassle than it is worth.


The first issue was that the ipod's screen really doesnt show that much info at once (as least my 2G). Granted, the 20GB can hold ALOT of datasheets, scrolling through the data to find the one i want (on a small screen).


I found that as I was out and about, sweat and dirt on my scroll wheel made operation erratic and sometimes frustrating.


Third, and worst for me, was that I couldnt make notes. So I had to carry a small notebook, or *gasp* printout.


In short... One day out caching, and the notion of using the iPod was history.


I ended up getting a used Palm Visor Edge (cheap) from a friend. I can store TONS of datasheets for benchmarks and caches. The larger screen (though small compared to some palms, still larger than the ipod), the ability to make notes, ect is alot more convenient for me... especially when benchmarking.


Dont get me wrong... I love my iPod... You can have it when you pry it from my cold dead fingers. You could probabally talk me out of the Palm, but not the iPod. The palm being cheaper (even with the software i've bought) is still the better solution, IMO.


What i'm doing: I'm downloading datasheets directly from NGS. Using BMGPX (on a PC) to convert the files to GPX. From there, I use a USB flash-drive to move the files to my MAC, run CMConvert to convert the files for the palm. SYNC to Palm. Run Cachemate on the Palm to view the BM sheets.


Even with the PC-MAC transistion, the whole process really works well, and I've had very little problems with it.


With that said: I do like the idea for the program... If I didnt already have the Palm, and wanted a no/low cost solution to use my existing iPod to "get by", I might be interested. Unfortunately, for me, this is about 6 months too late.


One other thought: With the previous discussions about having real printouts, verses paperless (datasheets on a palm), and which looks more "official". I would think that having an ipod would look MUCH less "official" than having a palm. At least a palm is a real tool for data collection. The iPod is a music player / toy, and though useful data can be loaded onto it, the public perception of what it is, still remains. Personally, I dont see an issue of the paper verses palm - I see more and more field personnel using some sort of handheld device for data collection, and less using paper & clipboards. BUT, I cant see anyone taking an iPod seriously. That's a bit of a stretch, even to me.


Just my opionion....

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My Palm Tungsten T3 with a 512MB SD expansion card works VERY well as a caching / benchmarking tool AND as a "Music player" (at least within the memory limits). I'm quite happy with my PC downloading the data, using GSAK and / or BMGPX to do the conversions. Making notes on the palm works great, and the T3 has a good display.


Good idea on the iPod, but I think the Palm has advantages, as long as you have or can afford one....

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