Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Dead reckoning and radio horizon circles

This large passenger boat is actually
making some turns between the islands.
Today got a simple implementation of dead reckoning. Moving stations which have announced their position, speed and course within the past 30 minutes will show a blue line extending from the latest announced position. The line indicates where the station would be right now if it proceeded on that course at exactly the same speed.

To limit the performance impact of this feature the DR indicator will be shown for a single station at a time. Click on a station to enable it. It's also enabled automatically for a tracked station.

Naturally it'll show some rather bogus estimations for vehicles which have stopped moving but have not transmitted a new packet with a speed of 0. Most trackers installed in cars loose their power input before they have a chance of transmitting a packet at the parking spot.

A plane flying at 2648 feet, and the digipeaters
and igates which have received it.
Flying stations having a "flying" symbol such as airplane or balloon will have two circles drawn around them. A larger blue circle indicates the sea-level horizon from the current altitude of the station. A smaller green circle indicates the area where the station can be seen at an elevation larger than 5 degrees.

The circles are useful for estimating the distance at which the station can be heard, which can be of use for tracking teams of high-altitude balloons. It also gives pilots an idea of the large amount of digipeaters and igates in range.

The circles are drawn for stations having a suitable symbol when the altitude is over 100 meters. Other stations will also get the circles when their altitude reaches 1000 meters.

Thursday, March 15, 2012 upgrade on Monday 2012-03-19 will be upgraded on Monday 2012-03-19. Some downtime should be expected, starting around 9 AM local time (0700 UTC). If you can find some bugs in, this is the time to report and get them fixed before they make their way to! Here's the long list of changes included in the upgrade. It's so long that, as usual, some new bugs will probably pop up. Please report them on the discussion group and I'll try to get them fixed right away.

Anchor navigation and more AJAX

Achilles (left) and Ajax (right) play a board game with
knucklebones on this late 6th-century lekythos, a type of
oil-storing vessel associated with funeral rites. Photo taken
in Musée du Louvre by Marie-Lan Nguyen, 2011
(CC by attribution, Wikipedia/Wikimedia).
The technical implementation of the navigation in the real-time map has been completely changed. In the new model the map page is not reloaded from the servers and initialized again from scratch every time an user changes the view by searching for a new callsign or an address. This AJAX magic will make callsign searches and other view modifications considerably faster, especially on slow computers and slow connections such as mobile devices. It'll also reduce load on my and Google's servers. And make the browser's bookmark functions and the back button work better than before.

All of the links used by to refer to specific map views have changed, but the traditional ones documented on the linking instructions page will keep working, and I encourage you to use them as before - they're not going anywhere.

Try searching for OH2K and OH2TI one by one again and again, and you'll notice both the improved loading speed, and a nice panning effect. It'll pan whenever the newly searched station is close enough to the current view.

Improved address search

Address search has been improved to make a better use of the data returned by Google's API. A marker for the result is now only shown if the result is accurate (such as a street, or a house number on a specific street).

Address search will also adjust the zoom level - "Finland" or "Pohjois-Karjala" or "USA" should actually fit the specified region in view. The zoom levels come from Google and I can not make it any smarter than that (yes, "USA" will zoom out a bit too much). But it's certainly better than it was (fixed zoom level after address search).

Improved response times

When you make changes to the real-time map view, for example by zooming out or selecting a time range, will now react much more quickly.

New time range back/forward buttons

When a station is tracked, there are now two new handy additional arrow buttons to jump the time range back and forward. If you have selected an arbitrary range, it will jump the same amount back (select a week, and it'll jump to the previous week). Otherwise it'll select the current whole day (UTC 00:00:00 to 23:59:59 - sorry, no local time support yet) on the first click, and the following clicks will jump by 24 hours.

Sharper map graphics on iPad/iPhone

The scaling of the web page was tuned to switch automatically so that map graphics are not blurred on the iOS devices, especially when the device switches between landscape and portrait orientation.

Other small things

Searching for "OH2RDK" will now give a proper "there are other SSIDs available although this one doesn't exist" response. now uses a new version of the Google Maps API, bringing in some visual updates and speedups from Google.

An old bug which makes stations disappear after a quick zoom-in-and-back-out operation (and some other cases) has been fixed.

The "street view is off by 200 meters" bug is fixed. Also, the map should stay centered when Street View is enabled or disabled.

The ruler tool now displays distances shorter than 1 km in meters to allow measuring short distances.

When a station is tracked on a mobile device, the info balloon does not automatically pop up and block the whole view.

Raw packets view in decoded mode displays the position packet's type (compressed, mic-e...).

Tuned digipeater/igate "heard" map to collect more data and leave less gaps in the map.

Support for new major version of the database server (SQL syntax changes).

CSRF security fixes were implemented in many places.

Some rough corners have been rounded up (literally), and a few shadows have been cast (again, literally).

Does feel slow?

Be sure to try it with a modern, quick browser such as Google Chrome, Safari or Internet Explorer 9. If you're upgrading from Firefox or an older Internet Explorer, you'll be surprised by the difference it makes.