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[aprssig] Streets & Trips 2005: Overview

Mark Fellhauer sparkfel at qwest.net
Mon Sep 20 04:41:18 UTC 2004

I recently purchased Microsoft Streets & Trips 2005, mostly for the updates 
to Pocket Streets, but also because I just moved to Temecula, and MapPoint 
2002 either has complete streets missing or misnamed...   I went ahead and 
got the version with the included GPS locator, because you're getting a 
competent GPS engine (Pharos 360) for less than $70.   The GPS comes with a 
USB cable (actually a USB to serial converter), but its modularity and 
offerings from Pharos makes it a versatile spare GPS engine to have.  I 
went ahead and bought the CF/PCMCIA converter and went back a few days 
later and bought the Bluetooth dock.

The CF/PCMCIA adapter allows you to dock the 360 directly to a laptop or 
Pocket PC and it also comes with a 31 inch extension cable to allow one to 
put the GPS on a dashboard and mount the laptop or Pocket PC down below or 
on a different plane/angle.   This is a nice touch.

The Bluetooth dock/sled has some nice features.  The GPS, when powered and 
activated emits a soft blue glow by itself.  The BT dock includes a second 
small blue LED that flashes when unconnected and then goes steady blue when 
associated with a BT host.  Neither LED is too bright, even in the dark, on 
a dashboard, to be distracting to the driver/operator.  The battery that 
powers the BT adapter is a 720 mAh Li-polymer rechargeable.  A very nice 
feature is that this battery is removable, something that many 
manufacturers are not including these days (like the iPods).  Pharos 
includes a black nylon carrying case and a charger/power adapter that runs 
from a USB port, but could be paired with a 12 volt or power mains 
adapter.  Again, Pharos has added a little feature that shows attention to 
detail, a second power port on the adapter that fits many popular PDA's, 
including my Casio.  An LED on the charger turns from red to green when the 
dock's battery is topped off.

I paired my BT dock with an Ambicom CF card (BT-2000CF) for my Casio E-200, 
mainly because of it's cost.  It was the least expensive CF Bluetooth 
adapter I could find locally.   Cost has to be the death knell for 
Bluetooth.  I seem to recall that it was supposed to be an INEXPENSIVE 
medium for low speed wireless data transfers, in the sub $20 range.  That 
has never panned out...   Anyhow, the BT interface has some unintended 
consequences, that have proved to be annoying.  First, Pocket Streets does 
not recognize the BT dock natively.  The Ambicom card enumerated the BT to 
serial adapter on Com 8, which is fine.  GPSDash and VisualGPSCE see the BT 
GPS just fine.  For some reason Pocket Streets doesn't seem to launch the 
Ambicom connection utility when the com port is accessed.  After some time 
with Google, I found out this seems to be a problem with Pocket Streets, 
and not so much Bluetooth.  I knew their had to be a solution, like a port 
share/remap utility...

Searching my brain, I remembered seeing such a utility a few weeks back, 
and fortunately I bookmarked it.  GPSGate for Pocket PC to the rescue.  Not 
cheap at $30 (14 day free trial), but it fills a need.   Firing it up I set 
a virtual com port, launched Pocket Streets and started the 
GPS.  Success!  The two were now talking.  Now to launch 
GPSdash.  Darn!  Defeat snatched from the jaws of victory...the GPSDash 
utility only sees out to Com 8 and my virtual com port is on 
9.  Argh!  Same with VisualGPS.   Some tweaking on the registry allowed my 
to open a virtual port on Com 5, and that got multiple apps accessing the 
BT GPS, but when I did a soft reset, Com 5 went back to a hardware port and 
no amount of messing with the registry has resulted in my initial success 
being repeated.

If anyone can figure out a way to use get the BT GPS, pocket streets, and 
GPSDash/VisualGPS working together, I'd appreciate it.

As for Streets & Trips 2005.  Much has been improved over earlier versions 
of the software.  Streets in Temecula are there and properly named, 
including Britton Circle (where I live).  There is a GPS window and the 
maps can rotate to follow direction of travel, instead of just showing 
North up.   I have not had much chance to play with the PC version, but it 
seems to run better.    The construction information update helped on 
recent trip to the Viewsonic plant up in LA, correctly showing I-71 is down 
to one lane.   I wish I would have NOT IGNORED Streets and Trips on that 
little piece of information...  Well, I did come back down on I-15 from 
I-10.  :)

The big plus for me is Pocket Streets 2005.   The GPS function now updates 
at 1 second intervals, as opposed to the old 15 second intervals, which 
actually makes the software useful when driving.  There is now a little 
arrow icon which shows your position as well as rotates with your direction 
of travel.   Maps load much faster, even really big ones.  My "north 
county" map which goes from just north of Pacific Beach in San Diego County 
to Lake Elsinore in Riverside County is 3.2 MB and it loads in half the 
time my old 2 MB files did.   Pushpin naming and icon function is much 
improved, sometimes when mapping a location from your contacts list, 
generates an oddball name like a series of numbers, or a contact name 
instead of a business name.  You can now edit those properly.  You now also 
get a choice of icons instead of just the pushpin.
Points of Interest are up-to-date, and really a big help since I moved.

All-in-all, a worthwhile investment, IMHO.

People have been asking me about my Car-puter update.   I'll fill you in on 
that later.  My hasty move to Temecula, plus the loss of my beloved Geo 
Storm, has kind of put those plans on hold for now.  A new 2004-and-a-half 
Kia Spectra is sitting in the driveway.   It should be a good APRS platform.



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