Monday, November 21, 2011

APRS-IS packet loss on 2011-11-21

As seen in the statistic graphs, was only receiving about 60% of the APRS packets from the APRS-IS between 2011-11-20 23:40:40 UTC and 2011-11-21 08:25:57 UTC. During this time it was connected to a core server which apparently is not getting a full APRS-IS packet feed for some reason. As  a visible result the packets of about 40% of APRS stations did not get to

The core server operator has been notified and is connected to another server again. Sorry for the trouble.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Using for SAR, ARES or other public service work? Let me know!

I know some of you use while doing volunteer search-and-rescue operations, ARES or other public service work.

If you wish to keep doing so as before, with the convenience of Google Maps, I need you to tell me and everyone else about your use. In writing. Please.

Put up a blog post or write about it on your volunteer organisation's web page. Send me an email pointing to the document. Write about what you are doing, where, when, and how is useful in what you do. Practical examples of real events are probably most useful.

This is important, since Google is going to start charging for the usage of their Maps API, which until now has been free for sites which are open and free to use (like 

The charging is based on the amount of map loads. currently opens up the real-time map almost 42,000 times per day (when nothing special  happens). According to the new Google Maps terms, up to 25,000 map loads  per day is free, the rest will cost $4 per 1000 map loads. That amounts up to $68 per day, $2040 per month for me. No, I don't make that much from the advertisements. And there are some other costs involved in running such a site too (computer hardware, hosting, domain names, programming beer, to name a few).

"We will then start billing excess usage to your credit card when we begin enforcing the usage limits in early 2012." (the blog post)

The only real options seem to switching away from Google Maps to something else, or getting to qualify as being "in the public interest":

"Non-profits and applications deemed in the public interest (as determined by Google at its discretion) are not subject to these usage limits. For example, a disaster relief map is not subject to the usage limits even if it has been developed and/or is hosted by a commercial entity." (FAQ)

A lot of you will probably suggest switching to OSM. This is one option, but it has a few drawbacks:
  • Address/place search isn't as good
  • No  Street View, worse Satellite view, no Terrain view
  • Less coverage in the countryside
  • Takes a lot of work from me to switch from Google's API to OSM's API ( uses the Google Maps API for a lot of things, like drawing lines & circles and placing car symbols on the map and presenting menus and pop-up balloons)
  • OSM's map tile servers can't take the load - Lynn just got a note from OSM folks that APRSISCE/32 should make "other arrangements" and not download the maps directly from OSM. I would expect to generate even more load, and I'd probably have to run my own map server (which would take a significant amount of work and money, and it'd be much slower than Google's map servers).
This, and other options, are discussed on the discussion group.

So, I'll have to try to get in the "public interest" category. It might help if you could document your real usage in "disaster relief" and other public service work in writing. You can find my email address from the blogger profile (on the right side, scroll down to "about me", view my complete profile, contact, email).

Thank you!