Where is everybody, still?

Since I’ve now completed the Android version of BerryLocate, imaginatively called GPS Tracker for Android, I thought it would be a good time to see how far BerryLocate has come. Take a look at the following map.

All the users of BerryLocate

All the users of BerryLocate

Wow there are a lot of you! And as you can see, we’ve pretty much got the world covered apart from Greenland, Iceland, Russia, Mongolia and Khazakstan.

Of course BlackBerry ownership isn’t what it once was, hence the update to Android, but coming up there will also be a version for the new generation BlackBerry phones and tablets. Watch this site.

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Where is everybody?

We’ve been quiet for a couple of months, but that doesn’t mean there’s been nothing new. A number of changes have been happening on the back end. Most notably, we’ve gone through a server upgrade.

Seems we outgrew our old home a little while back and needed to move into something bigger (and faster!). There’s also a couple of new things here. First up is the ability to share your tracks with others, without having to give them your key this time…¬†

Users of the BlackBerry GPS tracker

A map of all our current users


Take a look at the settings page, you’ll see the options there. You also get to decide if you want to share just your current location, or your current location plus all of your saved history. You can share either the regular view, which includes the streetview, or a full screen view. Hope you find it useful.

Also new is the discussion forum. Generally we get a bunch of the same questions repeated, so in future if they’re asked and solved in the forum we’ll be able to create somewhat of a knowledge base where you can find help more easily!

Lastly an update on how we’re doing here. User growth seems to be really picking up steam! Take a look at the global map in the picture to see where all our users are at the moment.

Keep safe,

Patrick

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Sharing is caring :)

Going on an adventure is always lots of fun, but even more so when you can share it with others. BerryLocate now has the ability to create a map with a portion of your daily movements. Very useful for when you want to show someone where you’ve been. It even calculates some stats for your trip such as trip time, trip distance, average speed and a few others.

Using it is also really simple:

  • Once logged in, click on the “Share a Trip” link beneath the map. That will take you to a large map showing your total movement for the day.
  • Then all you need to do is choose the starting time and ending time.
  • When you’re done you can name the trip, and then click on the “Share this Trip” button.
  • Copy the URL created and send it to as many people as you’d like.
  • Nothing else here, it’s that easy!

Take a look at the following link, that’s me using my bicycle to go visit my son. And yes I know that an average speed of 24.7km/h isn’t much, but you should see these hills! And the traffic was bad, robots out and it was snowing. Ok it wasn’t really snowing… Oh and in case you feel like indulging your stalker tendencies, please note I started the trip and ended the trip in public locations, so you can’t see where I live!

http://www.berrylocate.com/trip.php?tripid=30

The map is also zoomable (not Zumaville!Streetview with points) and scrollable, you can also drag the little man onto the map to see the street view. It’ll even plot your track dots on the streetview, as you can see in the attached image where one of our users was spending a lot of time in a park.

Well that’s about it. Enjoy, and let others enjoy seeing where you’ve been!

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BerrySOS for when you get berry berry scared.

Poor abused cats

Poor abused cats

I love walking, so much in fact that my abused shoes tend to wear flat in a matter of months. I’ve even discovered that wearing your socks inside out is far more comfortable thn the regular way. Why put uncomfortable seams on the inside when no-one will ever see them. This was particularly problematic during my last visit to Rome. Not the seams, the worn out soles of course. You see for some odd reason, the ancient Romans decided they’d like to have marble kerb stones, and that in combination with my smooth shoe soles, and a touch of moisture becomes a lethal combination. Two twisted ankles later (separate incidents believe it or not) and I’ve decided Rome needs to come into the 21st century.

We’ll let them keep the Colosseum, and quite happily Trevi fountain, but the marble clad Spanish steps are just a lawsuit waiting to happen. I’m quite surprised there hasn’t been a class action suit yet. If they were in the States you’d have the ambulance chasers permanently camped out at the base, business cards in hand. In the UK you’d have some guy in a high visibility vest waving a flag shouting “Please hold the railings!”.

Fortunately I live in Johannesburg where we’ve discovered modern materials such as tar and concrete! Unfortunately we’ve also discovered that crime can indeed pay. As I have a day job, I tend to do most of my walking at night, which is when crime seems to pay the highest rates! The criminals also seem to know that in the unlikely event that you do get arrested and put away, all you need to get let out of jail is a note from your doctor. Kind of like skipping gym class. You don’t believe me? Sadly it’s true: http://mg.co.za/article/2012-07-20-00-selebi-paroled-on-medical-grounds/ and http://mg.co.za/article/2010-01-15-shaiks-medical-miracle/.

So while your ankles are quite safe in Joburg, the rest of your body does take some risk. And while having a phone on you means you could phone for help, I’ve heard it’s rather tough convincing a would be mugger that you’d like to phone a friend at that particular instant. To help with this, and make myself and the rest of you feel a little safer I’ve come up with a solution. BerrySOS.

What this means is that you are now able to set emergency telephone numbers and e-mail addresses on the new “Settings” page (more details on the settings will be available in a later blog post). In an emergency, all you then need to do is hold in your phones volume up button for 5 seconds. This will do the following:

  1. SMS all the numbers you have listed as “SOS Contact Number(s)”. This SMS will have your most recent co-ordinates, and a link to view your current and past locations.
  2. E-mail all the addresses you have listed as “SOS Notification E-mail(s)”. The e-mail also contains a link to view your current and past locations.
  3. Unlock your maps for your SOS contacts to be able to see your current location.
  4. If your app is currently in cellular tracking mode, or if tracking is off it’ll switch to the GPS, and also set the interval back to one minute if it was set higher previously.
  5. The app will then force a new GPS reading.

In case of emergency, hold this down!

Why did I pick the volume up button? Well firstly BlackBerry won’t let you use any of the letter keys if your app isn’t on the screen. Secondly, the volume buttons are active even if your phone is locked! And thirdly, the BlackBerry 9900 exposes the volume button when it’s in the standard pouch. This means the SOS button works without you need to take the phone out of the pouch, or open any application. Quite a valuable time saver indeed.

So now I feel much better walking home from gym rather late at night, knowing that with one button I can have a few of my friends/relatives on their way to witness my uber kung-fu (lol my spell checker initially corrected kung-fu to far-flung!) skills on a helpless attacker!

To make use of these features, please update your app to version 0.96.

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Doorbells, who needs them!

As some of our more keen eyed users have noticed, there’s a new link on the location viewing page called “Alert Zones”. To tell you what that does I’m going to talk about doorbells and electric fences. Bear with me.

A doorbell is a really simple piece of electronics. Basically it’s one big loop of wire, with a battery and a noise maker somewhere in the loop. Close the loop and you get noise, open it and all is silent.

Now even though it’s so simple, the people in my life can’t seem to keep theirs functioning! I’m forever having to hold keys in my teeth with far too many bags in one hand while trying to pull my phone out from way too deep in my pocket, trying to dial and then be semi-comprehensible!

Well spit out those keys and hang onto those bags, I have just the solution for you. Alert zones…

“What is an alert zone?” you’re asking. Imagine a circular electric fence, but not one that shocks you, one that just rings a bell. This fence could have two purposes, if you cross into it you might want to ring a bell to let someone know you’re there. If you’re crossing out of it, you might want to raise an alarm like they do when the guy in cell block D decides to go for a night time stroll!

What we’ve done here is make these fences imaginary. You can pick any location, and put an imaginary fence around it. The standard distance from the fence to the point is 100m, but this could be any distance you like. 50m around your child’s school, or even 500000m (500km) to cover a whole country. Then you pick whether you’d like to be notified when someone enters the zone, exits the zone, or both.

An alert zone for FranceWe couldn’t figure out how to ring every persons doorbell, so instead we’ve gone for emailing. When you set up the zone there’s a place for you to put the email address, and also a place for the messages you’d like to send to that person.

A couple of uses for these zones are:

  • A zone around your child’s school letting you know if he leaves the school premises. You would then know he’s on the way home. A second ring around your house would let you know he has arrived safely.
  • If your delivery drivers carry BlackBerrys you could put a reasonably large zone around the pickup points which send messages to the stock controllers to get the next delivery ready.
  • And then there’s the previously mentioned doorbells. I’ve knocked and shouted waaay too often to appear normal to my friends and relatives neighbours. Instead what I do now is put zones around their houses, and send them a message to open up when I’m 500m away.

I’m sure there are plenty of other good uses for these zones, and would love to hear yours. Mail them to us at contact’at’berrylocate.com.

Please note that the alert zones need version 0.95 or better to function…

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How about a little time travel with your BlackBerry…

As promised in our previous blog post, we’ve been working on upgrades and new features. First up, and one which sets us apart from other tracking applications online is that we now offer you the ability to travel back in time! No we don’t have a Delorean parked in our basement. What we mean is that we now store all your old tracks and points according to the day recorded. So instead of only being able to see where your phone is now, you can also ask it where your phone was 3 days ago at 6:30am.

Hopefully it’ll come up with a picture of your house, and let you know that you were moving at 0 km/h but if you’re a little more adventurous, and perhaps a crazy morning person then you might see a point along a road or halfway down a mountain bike track with a speed indicating 55 km/h or more!

This feature should come in extra handy when you need an alibi for that bank robbery you didn’t commit…

Take a look at the attached picture for some insight.

The other features are a little less visible. To avoid the GPS hunting when you’re actually stationary, we’ve implemented some code which says unless I’ve moved double the accuracy distance don’t bother taking a plot. Now don’t worry, we’re not going to lose you. When you’re outdoors the accuracy is generally under 10 meters, so any movement over 20m away will get logged. There’ll be no sneaking to the neighbours unseen just yet. When you’re indoors however the accuracy can be over 100m resulting in far too much wander, and a lot of wandering if you’ve been sleep walking.

Enjoy

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A few more glitches solved

Nothing major to report here, but one of our users managed to pick up a glitch in our system. It seems certain model phones didn’t capture data correctly and would only show the following on the app screen:

Latitude 0.0

If you’ve got this problem please download the latest version (currently 0.94e) from the download page, as it has been resolved. For information, the app screen should have the following data, even if it is initially only zeroes:

Latitude 0.0
Longitude 0.0
Altitude: 0.0 meters
Bearing: 0.0 degrees
Speed: 0.0 km/h
Accuracy: 0.0 meters
Date: Mon Jul 11 12:56:10 Africa/Harare 2012

Thanks to Dawid for pointing out the problem and assisting us in testing the solution.

The other issue related to the GPS not correctly restarting after the battery died. This is an issue that has been bugging us since the beginning but I’m happy to report that our smart developers have come out on top. From now on we can stop concentrating on bug fixes and start to implement improvements and additional features to the web interface. If you have any suggestions as to what features you’d like to see in the BerryLocate app, please let us know in the comments section or by clicking on the Contact Us label above.

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It’s been a busy couple of weeks!

We’ve made a number of changes to the BerryLocate system. Firstly the BlackBerry client now uses far less battery than before, something which was requested by a number of users. Then the information screen on your phone now displays the information from the current fix, allowing you to see what will get logged on the website.

The website has had a number of changes too. Gone is the old unformatted tracking screen, and in it’s place is a much more integrated looking tracking screen. Also you no longer need to type in a long URL with your BlackBerry PIN and key, just come back to BerryLocate.com and click on “Find my Phone”, then enter your key and click “Go”. This should be far simpler to do, and you can also just read your key to someone over the phone if you’d like them to see where you are.

The current version is 0.92c. To update to the new client (and we really suggest you should) browse to www.berrylocate.com on your blackberry and click on “Download”. Then as before just click on the “Click here” link and the old version will be replaced with the current version.

Remember to click the facebook like button and tell your friends about us.

Cheers,

Your friendly developer.

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BerryLocate Launched

Welcome to the Launch of BerryLocate. The most full featured 100% free BlackBerry tracking application. Version 0.83 has just been launched and is available for download by pointing your BlackBerry web ¬†browser to www.berrylocate.com/bb and clicking on the “click here” link.

Watch this space for new features and product improvements. If you have any ideas or criticisms please let us know by visiting the Contact Us page.

Thanks,

Admin

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