Friday, June 27, 2008

GPS Tracking Device...

Another tech goal I can cross off of my list for 2008....

I read about a site called Mologogo in Popular Science last year. They hacked a Boost Mobile phone to allow you to broadcast your GPS position to a Google Map. Naturally I had to try it. And I did. I had a page set up that would automatically load my most recent position via the cell phone. For a while I was happy with this. Then I saw the stunning satellite imagery of Microsoft Virtual Earth. All of a sudden the pictures from my Google Map didn't look quite as impressive. I looked for a way to set up the phone to transmit location info to Virtual Earth, but I couldn't figure it out. At least not yet.

Fast forward many months and many hours learning php code later, I am singing a different tune. I finally figured out how to set up the Boost phone to transmit to my own script, when then loads the coordinates into a Microsoft Live Map. The results are both stunning and creepy. Now you can track me as if you were in a low-flying hot air balloon.

Click here for the full size page...

Saturday, June 14, 2008

I just made my own Twitter...

If you are reading this blog, chances are pretty good you are not a hermit living in a cave somewhere. That means odds are you have heard of Twitter. Twitter is the super-hyped web service that allows you to post short messages that anyone else can read to see what you are up to. I'm still trying to understand the hype, seeing how I thought we have been doing this with away messages for at least 10 years. However, I do like the fact that you can update this information by phone. I have always been thrilled with being able to affect things from a distance. The idea of being able to update a webpage from anywhere I have a cell signal blows my mind. I can 100 miles from my computer and still post a message to my class website.

I experimented with Twitter here and there over the past few months. Like many such services, Twitter offers code to post widgets on any website that will show your status. My problem was that they only had 2 or 3 different options for the widget, none of which were particularly attractive to me. I felt there had to be a way to make my own widget and display a message sent via text message on a cell phone. After several failed attempts, I finally found a way to do this without Twitter. Twitter could drop off the face of the net tomorrow, and my page would still work.

You can test it out below. Here's how:
**Click here to open the test page in a new window**

  1. Send a text message to 41411. It is a site called
  2. The first word of the text must be edutech
  3. After that you can type your own message (edutech Here is my message.)
  4. Refresh this page.
  5. Read your message below.
Email me if you want this on your site. There are a few things you need to know. If a lot of people want it, I will post more detailed instructions.