Setup & Use Tips
BlueDot is ready to go as-is when used with Trackleaders events. A Trackleaders event will have a roster, region map (and normally a route file), and waypoints. You can optionally add riders, routes, and cuesheet information to BlueDot (see below sections on how this is done).
BlueDot has been designed to use as little battery as possible. When installed as an app it will function with or without a data connection. The only time you need a data connection is to update the SPOT location information, view radar information, use online maps, or check for Trackleaders event updates. Each rider's most recent position and history of checkin/ok messages are saved to memory and will remain stored on your phone until you clear the cache via options.
Minimize battery use by keeping your phone either turned off when not in use, or using airplane mode, and leave airplane mode briefly only when you need online resources. My DroidX will last for many days using this technique.
Set Options->Network Resources to "disabled" for the most efficient racing mode. This inactivates Google maps, Facebook, the snowpack coverage overlays, and puts SPOT updates into manual mode. The offline tiles become the default base layer.
If available, always use the locally stored map tiles for the event. This prevents online retrieval of map tiles, further saving the battery.
The GPS chip can be used when in airplane mode, but should be left off except for brief periods when you need a current location.
By default, BlueDot does 3 things that can be turned on/off via options:
- Connects with Facebook
- Updates SPOT location information automatically
- Updates event configuration files automatically (on program startup)
Each of these require a data connection and will not execute if the phone is in airplane mode or out of service. Any of these can be manually disabled via options from the home page.
Show the least amount of waypoints on the map that displays the information you need. Too many waypoints can make the map sluggish. This is controlled via the layers button on the map page.
Touch the "SPOT" button on the map to get the latest position information. By default this occurs on app start and then every 5 minutes. The auto-refresh behaviour can be disabled via options.
Rider positions are color coded by age and formated by rider status. The numbers to the right indicate exact age. For example "23m" means 23 minutes, and "2.3h" means 2.3 hours.
- Less than 30 minutes old
- 30-60 minutes old
- Older than 60 minutes
- rider name scratched riders, color still age based
- rider name finished riders (color on right still age based)
BlueDot saves each rider's most recent position and all of the checkin/ok messages it receives. The last known rider positions are loaded when the map is first loaded. This "event state" can be viewed without a data connection in the installed app.
Rider pages present some information about a rider. They also offer a means of communication with a rider.
Information presented is as configured by Trackleaders. Additional information may include a facebook profile picture and link.
A rider's SPOT checkin/ok messages are displayed. Using the new SPOT Connect it is possible for riders to send custom messages up to 41 characters from anywhere. BlueDot will display these messages if the SPOT account is configured to make the messages public. All retreived messages are displayed on the rider page, while the most recent message is displayed in the rider popup on the map.
Anyone can leave a message for or otherwise communicate with a rider by leaving comments on a rider's page.
The BlueDot map has several layers that can be shown or hidden via the layers button. Key features include:
- Online base maps for aerial, road, hybrid, MyTopo and OpenCycle.
- Current precipitation radar layer (US only)
- Current snowpack depth on Great Divide
- Event layers for route, riders, and waypoints/checkpoints
- GPS function to center the map at your current position
- Any custom routes that you add.
- The waypoint layer of any custom routes you add.
There can be only one basemap active at a time. Any number of other layers can be enabled at a given time. To turn layers on/off, touch the layers button.
The GPS button simply centers the map about your current position. An opaque circle is drawn to indicate the accuracy of the GPS position. Position can be "guessed" by several different methods including wireless networks and the GPS chip. If the chip is on the accuracy should be quite good, otherwise use position reports with a grain of salt.
On startup, the map will load the last known position for each rider, if known. If SPOT updates are set to auto, it will then attempt to retreive the latest position updates, and will retry every 5 minutes. If updates are set to manual, you'll need to touch the "SPOT" button to get position updates. In either case you will know when BlueDot is requesting SPOT updates by the SPOT button turning yellow.
The GPS button at the bottom of the map simply centers the map about your current position. An opaque circle is drawn to indicate the accuracy of the GPS position. Position can be "guessed" by several different methods including wireless networks and the GPS chip. If the chip is on the accuracy should be quite good, otherwise use position reports with a grain of salt.
You can add riders to your BlueDot installation. All you need is the link the their shared SPOT page. Go to the home page->Options and touch "Add a Rider" to get started. There are 4 fields to fill in
- Full Name: as it implies, the rider's full name. This becomes visible in the rider list and rider page.
- Initials: this can be anything but should be less than 10 characters. It is the label for the rider's "BlueDot" on the map.
- SPOT ID: this is the unique part of the SPOT sharepage url that follows the "=" sign. For example the SPOT ID of this link http://share.findmespot.com/shared/faces/viewspots.jsp?
0pSpt6kn8oFxJj4ofGDmcIU6ddQdMYhej. Any typo will break it - so you may prefer to send it to your phone via text message or email.
- HTML content: any html that you would like to be rendered on the rider's riderpage.
Then, click save rider and each subsequent SPOT update will show your buddies most recent position. Once created you can edit the rider info by going to the rider page and touching "edit" at the top right of the page.
NOTE: rider checkins and position history are not enabled for custom riders.
Adding a custom route to BlueDot requires that the route come from the BlueDot domain - local file access is not well supported by most browsers/devices at this time. There is a utility on the BlueDot Blog to do this.
- Register on the blog, then once you log in to the blog the page at the above link displays an "upload file" utility.
- Upload your file. File must be in KML format. GPX files can be converted using Google Earth or at GPSVisualizer.
- The route can now be accessed from BlueDot. You will need your login credentials from your BlueDot blog account to retrieve your files.
Adding custom routes is done via Options->Add a route. Choose "My Routes" to add a route you have previously uploaded to the BlueDot Blog or choose "Shared Routes" to add an existing public route. Adding a Shared Route is a good way to test this feature.
When you "Add" a route to BlueDot, it is stored to your app but is not yet loaded to the map. To load it to the map, from the home page touch "Routes". Touch the route you have added, then touch "Show on map". BlueDot will load the route to the map, creating 2 new layers: one for the track, and one for the waypoints. Each of the new layers will show up in the layers (accessed from the map) and can be enabled/disabled.
KML format: multiple tracks, track colors, and track thickness are all supported. Waypoint icons are not supported. Waypoints are rendered via the BlueDot algorithm.
Adding Cuesheet Data
Adding cuesheet data is an identical process to adding routes. All waypoint data from a route file can be set as the cuesheet source. Once your route is loaded (see the "Adding routes" section) touch it from the Routes page. Select "Use as cuesheet source". Now the Cuesheet page will display all of your waypoints listed out in the order that they occur in the KML file.
KML format: the Cuesheet algorithm pulls from 2 named fields in the KML, <name> and <description>. BlueDot does not currently do any sorting with waypoints. That is on the todo list...but for now, in Google Earth you can drag/drop individual waypoints in the file tree so that they are ordered correctly. The description field can contain any valid HTML as well such as links and/or images. Images may or may not be cached for offline use, but will work when connected. You can also sort waypoints manually as a text file if you are the geeky type ;)
Facebook brings social interaction to largely solitary endeavors. Anyone can comment on the main event wall (the "discuss" button), or on individual rider pages.
It is my hope that most of the comments will take place on the main "discuss" page, while individual rider page comments will be used with a particular rider in mind - encouragement or direct messaging being a couple good uses. But in all honesty, I'm not entirely sure where it will all end up and am quite curious to see how it goes!
For riders on an event roster, once you log into Facebook from BlueDot, BlueDot will "learn" a little about you from Facebook. Your profile picture and a link to your Facebook profile will show up on your rider page (this becomes part of the public BlueDot). Your profile picture will show up on your BlueDot home page and is linked to your BlueDot rider page (this is only for your eyes).
Note: for BlueDot to know a logged in user is actually an event participant requires that your configured name (on the Trackleaders event) is identical to your name in Facebook. If this feature is not working for you send me an email with your Facebook profile link or username and Trackleaders event name and I'll set it straight for you.
The Facebook features use a lot of battery because they make many data requests. Keep this in mind and either keep your phone in airplane mode most of the time, or disable Facebook on the options page when battery consumption is a concern.
Trackleaders events are continually updated as riders finish, scratch, or there may be mid-event course changes and/or waypoints added or changed. BlueDot will check for updates each time the app is launched and a data connection is present. If newer configuration files are discovered, they are loaded and you will see a message. If an error occurs, it silently rolls back to the previous configuration.
You can disable automatic updates on the options page.
You can check for new configuration files at anytime by touching "Check for event updates" on the options page.
If you should have any trouble with the app, the first thing to try is a browser refresh. If that fails, try clearing the cache from the options page. Do this only if you have a data connection since the event config files need to be downloaded to restore the event.
Clearing the cache will remove anything you have added such as routes and riders. Routes can be re-downloaded from within the app. Any custom riders will need to be re-entered manually.
Minimize network dependence & battery drain by setting Options->Network Resources to "disabled". This is the most efficient racing mode.
Error messages in application status on the options page may occur if you've already used an older version of BlueDot. Try clearing your browsers cache, including HTML 5 data.
More items to be added here as issues are discovered.
Have an issue to report? Drop me an email and I'll help, fix it, or at least listen.