Tag Archives: Vista

UK Topographic Mapping for a Garmin GPS

One of my very early posts that still gets regular traffic is this post on the problems of getting good topographic data for the UK for a Garmin GPS. Back then whilst you could get hold of a topographic mapping for the United States, in the UK it was very difficult.

Subsequently Garmin released their Garmin TOPO Great Britain product which whilst it was an improvement still isn’t great, and is eye-wateringly expensive – the whole of the UK retails for £150. There are several problems with it, firstly if you come from having used a regular Ordnance Survey map there is a distinct lack of detail, and also in a number of places due to copyright issues paths are missing. Garmin themselves alude to this on their website when they say “includes many tracks and paths”.

Following on from that, and with the more powerful processors and colour screens in more modern GPS units Garmin have now added their GB Discoverer product. This contains the 1:50,000 Ordnance Survey mapping for the whole of the UK, but again it’s expensive – retail is £200 – although it is included in a number of special packs with various GPS units so you can save quite a bit by buying the maps at the same time as upgrading your GPS unit. The 1:25,000 mapping is available for download in 600sq-km chunks at £20 each – so you’re looking at over £8000 for the whole of the UK. The OS mappings are also not without their issues, chief among them is that they are raster based maps rather than vector based. Essentially the maps are high quality scans of the paper maps so zooming is limited as the maps are pretty well useless if you zoom in too far for a particular map, or if you zoom out too much.

The following screenshots taken from my Garmin GPSMap 62S show some of the issues.

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The first two pictures are of the junction of Nine Mile Ride and Lower Wokingham Road between Finchampstead and Crowthorne. You can see the difference in detail between the 1:50,000 and 1:25,000 mapping at the 500m scale, however look what happens when I zoom in to 50m. On the 1:50,000 you can see the jagged edges caused by zooming in too much, the 1:25,000 is better detail wise, but there are still zooming issues apparent.

Now take a look at these two shots, again from my Garmin GPSMap 62S.

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There isn’t quite as much detail in places, certainly not compared to the 1:25,000, but there isn’t the zooming issue. If I also say that this map is absolutely free to install onto your Garmin GPS, it starts to get more interesting.

The map is using data from the Open Street Map project, started in 2004 by Steve Coast as a result of frustation at the vast amount of data Ordnance Survey in the UK kept locked away. You can take a look at the full map at OpenStreetMap.org. Whilst the coverage varies, in general after a decade of work the coverage is now pretty good across the whole of the UK. It takes a bit of work to get it to a usable form for a Garmin GPS, but again that is freely available from the site of talkytoaster, a UK Geocacher.

There are other advantages. I’ve had the Garmin GB Discoverer in my GPS for a number of years now, bought when I upgraded my GPS. Whilst the road maps in my regular Garmin Satnav are upgraded quarterly, the Ordnance Survey mapping has never been updated. Whilst mountains don’t move, new housing estates are built, roads change route and new roads are built, so steadily the sizeable investment people have made in maps goes out of date.

It’s different with the Open Street Map project. The UK mapping from talkytoaster is updated every two weeks, again for free. Another example:

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All of the shots are of junction 11 of the M4. You’ll see that the 1:50,000 and the 1:25,000 aside from the resolution differences show the same layout of the roundabout. As anybody who lives around Reading will tell you over the past few years there have been significant changes in the layout of this junction, changes which aren’t reflected in either of the OS mappings. However the layout from the Open Street Map data is different, as you can see from the third shot, and in the fourth I’ve overlaid the OS 1:25,000 with the Open Street Map data to show the difference.

So in summary your options for a UK Topographic Mapping for a Garmin are to go with the official options – £150 for a not great vector based topographic mapping or £200 or over £8000 for detailed raster based mapping that doesn’t get updated, or a free vector based mapping that is updated every two weeks… If you need the detail then that might sway you towards the OS mapping, but for the older GPS units that don’t support raster based maps it’s not really too hard a decision really…

Vista Update Problem

Has anyone who is running Vista had any problems with the 8th January security updates? All of my XP machines updated fine, but I had a call from a friend running Vista saying that their machine had locked up, and when they managed to get it restarted they were getting errors that Security Center was unable to start. Going on to their machine with Remote Assistance all the Security Center services were disabled. Starting those up manually seemed to resolve the problem with Security Center errors, and didn’t seem to cause any other adverse reactions (yet) – so I’m assuming something went wrong in the update. Anybody else had any similar experiences?

Embarrassing the Sales Assistant

Had an interesting time in a certain large store in Reading earlier today. I was in getting a cable for my iPod, and was in the queue behind a couple who were trying to return their recently purchased laptop because it had Vista on it and not XP. The sales assistant was very much trying to persuade them not to return it by telling them that they couldn’t get a machine with XP any more, and how they’d have to buy second hand, and so on and so forth.

To be absolutely blunt, that is rubbish – what he was actually saying is that his store wouldn’t sell them a new machine with XP. At that point I cut in and said that it was still possible to find a machine with XPDell being probably the best known example of a manufacturer still doing so (albeit to a limited extent), and the example I gave.

At this point the sales assistant looked shifty, and started ringing up the refund, before remembering that they had some similar laptops in their sale that were still running XP. Must have just slipped his mind I guess!

Vista Adoption Numbers

As a result of a posting by Thomas Lee on a way to get some sort of measure of Vista adoption, Craig Murphy highlighted the OS section from his visitor stats.

It’s not really a stat I particularly look at for my site, but just out of interest I dug out the table for the last thirty days and produced this pie chart of the results.


Aside from the overwhelming numbers of XP visitors there are some other interesting things to note.

Firstly I’m getting more PowerPC Mac users than Intel based, not surprising when you consider that most Mac users tend to keep their Mac for a long while before upgrading – certainly something to bear in mind when developing for the Mac.

Secondly there are quite a few people using older versions of Windows including quite a few on Windows 2000, a few still on Windows 98, and even three visitors who are using Windows NT. On that subject the browser stats make interesting reading too – an almost equal split between users on IE6 and IE7…

Microsoft Extends Windows XP

So after my having rolled my laptop back to Windows XP comes news that due to customer demand Microsoft is extending the life of Windows XP by six months – the official line is that it is to help customers who need more time to switch to Vista. Needless to say they deny that the change is due to slow sales of the new OS… Whilst on the subject, thanks to Martin for highlighting this cartoon on a similar subject.

How to Get Flamed by Mac Zealots

Mary Jo Foley couldn’t have done any better at igniting a flame war if she tried with this posting titled “Leopard Looks Like… Vista“. Number 4 is just plain wrong, and is probably worth explaining to any worried Mac owners out there. Unlike the PC’s, Mac’s have had 64-bit processors for a number of years with the G5 and G4 processors – so Leopard isn’t cutting out owners of those Mac’s. It is also worth bearing in mind that Tiger is partially 64-bit already – Apple has taken a phased approach with a single version – none of this 32-bit/64-bit version incompatibility confusion that people encounter on Windows. The current version of the OS, Tiger is 64-bit in parts anyway (check out this Apple explanation for more detail) – Leopard is merely the next phase in the process. The 64-bit business is purely for the techies, as a Mac end user it has no bearing.