project for the day: geotagging my photos. i know there are a few point-and-shoot cameras that geotag their photos, and smartphones with GPS capability can do the same (such as the iphone). i've also seen small GPS receivers that you wear and once you get back home you can sync the tracking data with your photos using a computer. what i didn't know was you can do the exact same thing with a regular GPS. i found some software that can import GPS tracking data and match them to photos.

for OSX, there's jetphoto studio pro v4.7.2. what i like about it is it seems to work flawlessly with google earth. i just wonder if some of the features won't be "absorbed" in the next version of google's picasa program, which pretty much does the same thing but better, minus the GPS geotagging capability. jetphoto has an annoying habit of making a copy of all cataloged photos (i haven't been able to turn it off), so you end up with double the amount of used disk space. looking for another option, i came across photolinker v2.1.2. what i like about this program is its no-nonsense approach to geotagging. it's not trying to do much by also being a photo cataloging program. the only thing i don't like is it seems to be in bed with microsoft and uses the bing search engine maps.

before i could take my geotagging kit out for a test run, i first had to make a stop at the supermarket to get some groceries. because i wanted to give my tired legs a rest, i haven't been on the bicycle since friday (5 days ago). after lunch (tuna fish sandwich), i left the house to run my experiment.

why even bother geotagging photos? i see it being useful in a bunch of different ways. like when i go naturing, i shoot so many photos, i end up not remembering where i took them. having geotag information per photos would allow me to return to some forgotten favorite spots. another application would be for traveling. returning home, i could plot my photos onto a map and browse my snapshots by the places i've been.

so basically i rode the bicycle around the neighborhood with my garmin etrex vista GPS clipped to the shoulder strap of my bag. the GPS i have is around 10 years old and doesn't have very good satellite reception (compared to modern day GPS). at its most accurate there's a margin of error of 15 feet, and at its worst the location could be off by 150 feet. the one thing it does have is the ability to generate a track log of my location. this is only true for handheld trail GPS (versus driving GPS, which don't do continuous "cookie crumb" tracking).

i went to the cafe briefly, then rode around somerville a little bit before finally returning home. i saved my data into a permanent log file and erased the active log data. because it's an older model, my etrex vista only has a serial port, so i had to pull the data using my old desktop PC. garmin GPS database are in a GDB format, so i had to resave the data into the more compatible GBX format using the garmin mapsource program.

i took a brief side trip with bruce to whole foods and the liquor store. we saw the mob of people across the fresh pond parkway gawking at the almost-adult red-tailed hawks still in their nests.

back at home i continued with my geotagging work, bringing the GPS data into my mac. it's very important that the photo time and the GPS time are exactly the same (to the second). that's why i took a photo of the GPS clock. using that as a reference, i managed to figure out the offset (3 minutes 38 seconds difference) and reset the creation date/time so it'd match the GPS numbers. i tried jetphoto first to sync the photo with the GPS. no matches. huh? confused, i opened up the GPX file, since it's basically an XML document. there was a list of coordinates, but no time data. it took some online searching before i discovered that when you save the track log into a permanent log file, it actually compresses the data and throws away a lot of info like the time. doh! so that 4.4 miles of riding was for naught!

fortunately i had a legitimate excuse to go out for another ride. the replacement bug zapper light i ordered earlier in the week finally arrived at the hardware store. i rode down to porter square with the GPS turned on to go pick up the package. i then went back to the cafe to install the light into the zapper. didn't work! so now i know the problem isn't with the bulb but rather the zapper itself. maybe the ballast died, or something else went wrong. thing is, how do you fix a bug zapper without accidently getting zapped yourself? the whole thing is designed to electrocute things.

while i was there, i also got a small loan from my mother. i think this is the 3rd time i've asked for a loan this year. i'm still waiting for those paychecks to arrive, but with an annual home insurance payment due at the end of the week, my bank account was going to go below zero again, and i need some money in my account until i got paid.

back at home, i worked through the steps again: download the GDB data file via the serial connection, convert the file to a GBX document, copy it onto a thumb drive and transfer it onto my mac, run jetphoto to sync the data with the photos. this time it worked because i didn't erase the active log file, which contains the date/time information. it was kind of cool seeing the photos plotted onto a google map of cambridge. there were some minor inaccuracies, but it was due to my less-than-accurate garmin GPS. fortunately, it was easy to manually tweak the coordinates. i then tried photolinker, and found that to be a far better choice when it comes to geotagging photos. i even manually went back and tagged the photos i took earlier that couldn't be synced because i'd erased their active track log. the one thing i noticed it didn't seem to sync my altitude numbers even though those were in the GPX document. i'll have to read the manual on that.1

i ate some more yang rou pao mo for dinner around 6:30, which is early for me. at 7:00 i met bruce and dennis outside their place to discuss some exterior painting work dennis wanted done on his backyard porches. that's actually how bruce and i first met back in march 2003: we were paired up for a painting project for our former neighbor jeff. with discussion over and work scheduled for the start of next week so bruce's broken toe can have some more time to heal, i returned home.

i'm nervous about the celtics. their first finals game is tomorrow night against the lakers. naturally i want them to win the championship, but i'm also afraid of what would happen if they lost. ESPN was broadcasting some old games: game 1 of the 2008 finals against los angeles, and a regular game from this season between the two teams. here's what i noticed: the 2008 celtics seemed a lot tougher. besides the big three (pierce, garnett, allen), they also had a young rondo. but its the bench players that really shined: posey, brown, house, powe. posey and house were good 3-point shooters, posey and brown gave the team added height, and house and powe provided valuable spark. none of those players are on this 2010 team. all they really have this year is a much-improved rondo, a nate robinson who was awesome in game 6 but still not dependable, and an ailing rasheed wallace. glen davis is also much improved, but is he good enough versus the lakers? and kendrick perkins is one technical foul away from sitting out a game, so i wonder if that's going to stifle his aggressiveness on the court. tony allen is also a veteran player from 2008, but he too is an x-factor.

i think the odds makers are saying the lakers will win this series.2 but that's what they said about cleveland and king james and the celtics defeated that team. that's what they said about orlando and superman and the celtics beat them too. could the 2010 celtics be like the 1995 houston rockets? the team that nobody gave a chance of winning, but won it all anyway, because of their past championship pedigree? if you take the 2 matchups against the lakers during the regular season, it's split 1-1 and the margin of victory was just a single point for both games. in their first game at boston, the lakers won but only on a miracle field goal in the final seconds. i remember watching that game and it looked like the celtics would win but los angeles stole a victory. had boston won, the regular season record would be 2-0. the lakers and the celtics are very closely matched, and numberwise, in their regular season appearance, i'd argue that the celtics were the better team.

game 1 tomorrow night is pivotal. a lakers victory would be inch them closer to solidifying their position as the reigning NBA champions. if anything though, i think the pressure is on los angeles. celtics being the underdog and not expecting to win (again), they can play looser. but one thing this season's playoff history shows is that boston is a champions killer. they've already knocked down 2 formidable opponents in the cavaliers and the magic. who's to say the third time isn't the charm? if boston can snatch a game 1 victory, i think the momentum mixed with newfound lakers' doubt might propel boston into another story book finish.

1 manually adjusted coordinates only have longitude/latitude data, no altitude. maybe that's something they'll fix in a future version of the program.

2 even my great uncle (who was at the cafe reading the newspaper) - a life long celtics fan ever since i've known him - told me the lakers would win.