Showing posts with label maps. Show all posts
Showing posts with label maps. Show all posts

July 03, 2019

Reviewing Colorado Parks and Wildlife's New Apps

I was going to review two new free smartphone apps from Colorado Parks and Wildlife today, but I will be reviewing only one, because I am having problems with the other.

First up is CoTrex, "Colorado's Trail Explorer." Subtitle: "We're mapping Colorado's trails."

They have a way go on that. Based on my trial, it works well in state parks. But standing on my front porch, I am within two miles of three or four marked US Forest Service trailheads, and none of them shows up on CoTrex. Yet every trail up at Lake Pueblo State Park is visible.

Colorado's state parks are popular, and it is good to get people out walking around. When I tested CoTrex at Trinidad State Park — which has good connectivity, since it is just outside the town of Trinidad — the app was more convenient in some ways than a paper brochure, but it did not give me the historical/ecological information that the park's trail brochures contained.

Cotrex lets you save routes (if you create an account—more on that below) and even set up a sort of "friends" network and other social mediumistic stuff, if you're into all that.  You may complete “challenges” to earn badges.

You can also download your trail map for when you lose your data signal. (If you come to my neck of the San Isabel National Forest, even digital-trunked radios don't work well, not to mention cell phones.) But at that point, no device screen will show you as much as a paper topo map, unless you keep a MacBook Air in your day pack. Me, I like my iPhone SE because it fits in a shirt pocket, even inside its Otterbox fumble-finger protection case. But it is a way-too-small screen for map-viewing.

Pluses: Easy to use. If you have a data signal and GPS enabled, you can see your position on the trail and reassure your anxious hiking partner that you are not lost and that an important trail junction is just head. And it's free.

Minuses: Shows only a fraction of "Colorado’s unique trail experiences" at this time. The app designers invite uses to add them (otherwise known as do their work for them), which could lead to all kinds of confusion over trailheads, private property, seasonal trail-closures, etc. But the makers do promise to grow their database. Like any app, it encourages you to stare down at a screen when you should be looking around and orienting yourself.

I expect that CoTrex will help newbie hikers who are using urban and state parks systems primarily.

I also planned to review an app called CPW Fishing.

It is supposed to help you "visualize your trip and track your catches with CPW Fishing, the official fishing app of Colorado Parks and Wildlife. CPW Fishing can help you discover new fishing locations, learn new skills, stay on top of the latest regulations and journal your fishing experiences.​"

I downloaded it, created an account (see below), received a verification code in my email, typed in the code, hit "Go" — and it stalled. After looking at an "Authorizing . . . " screen for five minutes, with no way to restart the process, I just removed the app. (I emailed the "support" address, but no response yet.)

Still, it's out there, and maybe I can get it work later. Tell me your experience if you use it.

There is also a "Match a Hatch" app that I mean to try as well. My little iPhone should display invertebrates well enough.

CoTrex was created by a software firm called Natural Atlas, whereas CPW Fishing was created by Crestone Digital. Apparently they do not talk to each other — they are competitors, after all. Worse, no one at CPW is forcing them to talk to each other and to agree to make accounts interchangeable.

Right now, I have four CWP accounts:

1. For buying hunting and fishing licenses
2. For volunteer work
3. For CoTrex
4. (in theory) for CPW Fishing.

Wouldn't it be nice to have One Password to Rule Them?

January 08, 2017

Using Outdoor Electronic Technology the Right Way

In the current issue (Jan.-Feb. 2017) of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation magazine, Bugle, P. J. DelHomme talks about using electronic technology (smarphones, Google Earth, GPS gear, etc.) to draw kids into outdoor experiences.
If you have an area in mind to hunt, see if your kid would be willing to scout it for you via Google Earth. Turn it into a biology lesson. Elk need food, water, shelter, and space—lots of space. Have them pick out likely elk spots away from roads, mark them on the map, and then find a way in. You might just spark enough interest so they'll want to go with you to see if it pays off.
He also suggests geocaching, among other things, as a way to let the screen-obsessed do stuff outdoors. All good.

At the same time, however, you would want to educate those kids about "Death by GPS," the title of a recent article at Ars Technica.
What happened to the Chretiens is so common in some places that it has a name. The park rangers at Death Valley National Park in California call it “death by GPS.” It describes what happens when your GPS fails you, not by being wrong, exactly, but often by being too right. It does such a good job of computing the most direct route from Point A to Point B that it takes you down roads which barely exist, or were used at one time and abandoned, or are not suitable for your car, or which require all kinds of local knowledge that would make you aware that making that turn is bad news.
And J. R. Sullivan wonders at Outside, "Our Reliance on Technology Makes the Backcountry More Dangerous."
“One of the worst trends we’ve seen in the past 20 years is the proliferation of cell phones and technology in the backcountry,” says Tim Smith, a registered Master Maine Guide and the founder of the Jack Mountain Bushcraft School, which instructs students in brush living, guide skills, and long-term winter survival. “It gives people a false sense of security. It's the idea of, Who cares how bad of a jam I get myself into? Because if there’s cell coverage I’ll call and someone will come get me. But if you had no outside line, no way of contacting other people, you’re way less likely to take risks.”
And a neurologist suggests that using GPS instead of building mental maps affects the structure of the physical brain:
An integral component of brain organization is that it changes with experience. So yes, our modern lifestyle alters our brains. The important question, however, is not whether technology changes the brain, but whether our technology driven life damages our brain.
And did you remember to charge your phone? 

September 19, 2013

No Sasquatch on the Prairies?

In a post titled "Big Data meets Bigfoot," Boing Boing summarizes "Bigfoot in Penn State PhD candidate Joshua Stevens's visualization of nearly a century of Sasquatch sighting reports in the US and Canada."

Stevens writes,
Right away you can see that sightings are not evenly distributed. At first glance, it looks a lot like a map of population distribution. After all, you would expect sightings to be the most frequent in areas where there are a lot of people. But a bivariate view of the data (right) shows a very different story. There are distinct regions where sightings are incredibly common, despite a very sparse population. On the other hand, in some of the most densely populated areas sasquatch sightings are exceedingly rare.
Go there for the interesting graphics. And as one commenter notes, maybe "the answer is likely game cameras, lots and lots of game cameras."

May 01, 2010

Hand-Drawn Maps Can Be The Best

If you read this blog, you probably like maps. I have a file drawer full, with certain sets kept together in large plastic bags (SE Colorado, San Luis Valley, etc.).

Forest Service maps are good for driving around, but you have to infer the topography. Topo maps don't show public land boundaries. Our county is blessed with a semi-retired cartographer who produces excellent maps of all those mountain subdivision roads, but that is just for this county.

You can order topographic maps that put the area you want in the center, rather than on the edge.

There is still room for hand-drawn maps, writes Julia Turner in Slate. "No matter what it looks like, a handmade map offers several advantages over a road atlas or the directions you get from Google."

Another advantage of personal cartography: Homemade maps often include error indicators, signs that you've taken a wrong turn or gone too far. Steve Kortenkamp produced the map below—of Safford Peak in Arizona—for the young hikers in his son's Boy Scout troop. You can discern his concern for their well-being in the many warnings he includes: the "barbed wire" you'll hit if you take a wrong turn for the horse ranch, the "cave where you end up if you miss the turn" for the summit, and the "Bridge of Death," where hikers encounter a "sheer drop on both sides!" The map uses charming drawings to orient hikers, highlighting a saguaro grove and memorable rock outcroppings. Kortenkamp explains that he took such care because the trails are poorly marked, and stranded hikers sometimes "end up calling 911, clinging overnight to the sheer rock face, and finally being plucked by helicopter in the morning." Using this map, his son's Boy Scout troop fared much better.
See that and other maps here. (Via Arts & Letters Daily.)

February 15, 2009

Blog Stew with Hand-Drawn Maps

¶ The Pueblo Chieftain interviews Ken Salazar, who seems to have hit the ground running at Interior.

¶ I have been reading about the current Australian bushfires in Victoria state with more than the usual fascination and emailing friends there with questions about forest composition, fire weather, etc.

The story they tell is similar to ours: eucalpytus forests that the Aboriginals once burned have been left to grow thicker and thicker, while people built houses in them. And I have seen eucalyptus burn in California: Poof!!!

¶ In this age of Google Earth, Maptech, and other high-tech assists, Making Maps is a blog about "do-it-yourself cartography."

December 04, 2008

On the Map in Colored Land

Last month I went to Stink Onion.

That's just one Midwestern place name that looks startling fresh in the Atlas of True Names, which you can preview at the Telegraph's web site.

Middle Earth’s evocative “Midgewater”, “Dead Marshes” and “Mount Doom” are strikingly similar in nature to Europe’s “Swirlwater”, “Darkford” or “Smoky Bay”, as revealed by the Atlas of True Names.

Names are fun to think about. My September trip to North Dakota brought me back through places I knew from childhood with their flint-hard native animist names--Spearfish, Sundance, Bear Lodge--mixed with the names of military commanders who subdued those same animists--Sturgis, Sheridan, Fort Collins.

They made a change from the baroque Catholic religiosity of New Mexico and southern Colorado place names.

I belong to what is, in effect, the Blood of Christ Shooting Sports Club. Translated, it sounds like something from Franco's Spain!

October 28, 2008

Topographic Maps the Way You Want Them

You can now order customized topographic maps (so that your favorite mountain, etc., is dead center) and benefit the excellent conservation group Backcountry Hunter and Anglers.

Just go here and click the graphic link at the bottom of the page for My Topo.

Then poke around the rest of the BHA website and if the description fits you, join up!

October 18, 2008

A Blue Line on the Map Does Not Mean Water

Yesterday was a perfect fall day, and M. and I plus two friends were out in the Wet Mountains with shotguns, three dogs, and picnic ingredients. Only one grouse was seen, but the picnic part went well.

We are easing along a narrow, dusty Forest Service road in two dog-packed Jeeps when we encounter a 4x4 coming the other way. A man and a woman are in it.

They want directions to "Spruce Creek." They are both wearing chest waders.

For starters, they are up on a ridge at least 1,000 feet above the stream. And at first I muddle the directions for the hair-raising road that will get them down to it, but eventually we work out that part.

I do not have the heart to tell them that even if they find the creek, there is no way that they will need the chest waders. Just because it has "Creek" in the name does not mean that there is much water there.