Google Latitude as GPS tracker for your images

During my last holidays I usually used my Wintec G-Rays GPS tracker to record my track. That allowed me to later inject GPS data into my photos taken with a regular camera, thus giving me additional information such as city, region and country. I love having this stuff all automated and don’t want to have to care for it or manually adding it.

One stumbling block I came across was the GPS tracker’s battery. It has to be charged every night. Ok not that big a thing, but as that device is so small and easily slid into any pocket, I often forgot taking it out in the evening and charging it. Thus it didn’t work the other day. That made me look out for something else.

I researched many solutions that get attached directly to your camera, like the Solmeta Geotagger. Well, I don’t like those. They are bulky, need a separate battery, too and only on a Nikon can directly inject the GPS data into the photos inside the camera. Not my thing.

Then I came across LatiPics. It just uses the tracking data you generate be having Google Latitude running on your smartphone. I immediately loved the idea! I always carry my smartphone around and it surely gets charged every night and I also had Google Latitude already running on it. Long story short: It works like a charm!

As I’m using Adobe Lightroom for all my photo related stuff, that solution had one drawback: The additional step I had to take, to get that GPS data into Lightroom. As of Version 4 Lightroom features an integrated GPS mapping tool and can also ready GPS track data and tag photos with that. Nice! You could just export your GPS tracks from Google Latitude (it’s called “location history” there), import it into Lightroom and have Lightroom tag your photos with it. Perfect.

Well, far away from perfect. Google Latitude exports your data as KML (Keyhole Map Data) files; Lightroom only reads GPX files. You could easily convert between those two formats using GPS Babel, but it seems like Google doesn’t write standard KML files (if found dozens of questions regarding that issue on the web), so GPS Babel only exports empty tracks from those Latitude track logs.

After researching quite a while on that issue, I finally stumbled upon a great free GPS track log conversion service: GPS Visualizer. You can just upload you Latitude exported KML files there and get perfect GPX files back. Those GPX files work perfectly well in Lightroom and allow you to tag your photos and also display as a track on the integrated map. Nice!

Adobe has some nice information and also a video available on how to use GPS track logs in Lightroom.

Any even better solution would be a Lightroom plugin that connects directly with Latitude via it’s API to fetch the GPS data from there without any export/import stuff. May be some time I find the time to do that…

When using this solution please keep in mind, that Google Latitude uses combinations of Wifi, cell tower and GPS data to determine your position. This method is gentle on your phone’s battery, but also inaccurate. You won’t get the same data as from a designated GPS tracker. On the other hand, it’s that much more convenient. 🙂

Beautiful Code – A Collection Of Essays On Programing

Disclaimer: I’m accredited at O’Reilly’s blogger review program. This is I get free ebooks to review and post comments about them on my blog and Amazon.

Beautiful Code
Leading Programmers Explain How They Think
By Andy Oram, Greg Wilson
Edited by Andy Oram, Greg Wilson

Beautiful Code – The title immediately caught my attention and made me dream. I’ve been coding from the age of twelve and beautiful code always inspired me. I always headed for producing the most beautiful piece of code for any task – not always getting there, though. So in the end Beautiful Code looked like the perfect book to me.

The book contains a selection of 33 essays written by programers coming from different industries and backgrounds. Each essay focuses on a single task or programing topic, eg. search, dictionaries or unit testing. Those tasks are usually described in good detail to understand the problem and solution the author found. For some tasks you also get a recap on the complete journey the author took to get from initial tries to final solution. The themes are widespread and there is no common topic – more specific than coding – glueing them together.

You get a broad view on coding and on how experienced programers solve common tasks. There is much to learn from this for the experienced programer who wants to improve. But don’t take this book like the usual coding advice. It’s more of a helicopter view how to think.

This book is hardly meant to be read from start to end to master a problem. It’s more of a deflection. A book you read during your off-hours, to get insight on how others think and work. To broaden your own mind. And – first and foremost – as entertainment.

This book is a nice to have and makes a great present for any geek/hacker/coder you know.

O’Reilly also offers a successor to this book: Making Software.


Two years ago, I never even heard his name. Nowadays, after a nice introduction by my girlfriend Andrea, I cook by his books and watch his TV shows regularly: Jamie Oliver. One of his series (Jamie’s Kitchen) was about him grabbing fifteen underprivileged kids, giving them a complete chef education whilst building up the restaurant they would be working in. That met into the Cheeky Chops Charity and the Fifteen Restaurant we wanted to have lunch at.

As the tube strike was still on, we had to get there by bus. I wish I had had this nice, free Metro PDA application, that knows all public transport connections I many major cities around the world, then – that would have made it all a lot easier. However, after browsing the available maps and timetables we finally got to Old Street Station. “Right up the road and then right at Westland Place.”, where the directions I got from the reservations agent on the phone. Well, Old Street Station is at some big T-crossing, so we were not quite sure which street to walk down. We started to ask passers-by. I thought everyone would know this famous restaurant – big mistake! It took us half an hour to find someone who could give us decent directions and to finally reach the restaurant.

The restaurant itself was worth a closer look: The ground floor is taken up by the “Fifteen Trattoria” – a relaxed place to meet and eat without all the usual hassle you have in those “famous” restaurants. You can get breakfast from 8.30am to 11.00am or have lunch from 12 to 3pm. It’s also “affordable” with pasta starting at £7 and main courses starting at £14. Yep – in London one Pound is worth the same one Euro is elsewhere.

Fifteen InteriorDownstairs is the actual “Fifteen Restaurant” – a very stylish place in some retro-space-mix design. A very cool pink airbrush painting decorates the main wall right to the open kitchen. Also all the sofas are made of pink leather, whereas the tables are dark wooden and the chairs are those magic white s-shaped Philippe Stark 70s plastic ones. It definitely has it’s very own style – like it or not.

We had some very good lunch starting with some fresh made bread with very good olive oil. After that we had some very good fish served, accompanied by some red wine. On the finishing line a great vanilla and grappa panna cotta was served as a majestic finish. All-in-all the food was from very-good to high-end and the services was extraordinary – that’s very well worth another visit!

London on Tube Strike

Stansted is as far away from London as Lübeck is from Hamburg. It’s a shame that it’s called London-Stansted as you might think it’s just another airport near London. Instead you have to take a bus or the Stansted Express to London. That’ll add another £24 for an open return ticket (valid for one month to London and back to Stansted, can also be bought during the flight for £22) or £13.90 for a cheap day return ticket (valid only one day) for the Stansted Express to your fare. The guy selling me the tickets was nice enough to sell me the open return ticket instead of the cheap day return ticket, thus doubling the price on my credit-card bill. So watch out what they’re doing when you buy your tickets.

London Liverpool StationWe arrived at Liverpool Street Station at 12 o’clock. I reserved a table for lunch at the Fifteen for 2 o’clock. The Fifteen is located near Old Street Station, just two stations away from Liverpool Street Station, so we had plenty of time and decided to head right south to the River Thames and the London Tower. Just then, we heard the bad news: No tube today. The whole tube staff was on strike the one day we where in London. Thanks a lot guys!

Tower Bridge
Nevertheless we headed south by feet and had a very nice walk through the city to the London Tower and the Tower Bridge. I really like the bridge’s architecture and it’s impressive bascule mechanism. If you ever spend some time in London, you should take the guided tour and view it.

Have lunch at the Fifteen…

Going to London

We started our tour early in the morning on wednesday going to Lübeck Blankensee Airport (LBC). Wow! What an airport! I’ve never seen such a small airport in the middle of nowhere.

Airport Lübeck Blankensee (LBC)

We arrived there at about seven o’clock as RyanAir asks you to check-in two hours ahead of schedule. Well, at Lübeck you don’t really have to – the main hall with the check-in desks was literally deserted.

After a futile hour of waiting we could finaly check-in and pass the passenger controls to get into the fully RyanAir branded departure tent. This really is a big tent, one of those you’re used to from fun fairs or street markets. Filled with some aluminium camping chairs and tables and a small coffee-bar on one side it resembles some kind of a holiday atmosphere. There are also several exits labeld with RyanAir’s destinations from Lübeck. The Stansted exit is on the other end af the tent seperated by customs and passport check where suddenly a large queue arose – one hour before the scheduled take off. I’ll never understand people queing up in such situations instead of waiting a couple a minutes for a less crowded moment to pass such a bottle neck. It was easy calculations:About an hour of time until take off, a maximum of 130 passengers to go through customs. We relaxed and had a coffee. After that, passport check was vacant again.

Next up was the ugly part of flying RyanAir: The call to arms! When the attendant showed up at the tent’s Stansted exit everyone ran to that exit to get on the plane fast and to get some good seat. Well, the seats are all the same I think – so…

Flight time was from 09.20 to 09.45. Different timezones make up for very fast flights!

Head on to famous London…

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Summer Tour 2004

This year’s summer tour was of to Jerez de la Frontera in Andalucia, Spain. Where we were from July, 1st until July 7th.

White Villages Andalucia SpainMy friend Claudio had invited us to his lovely home in the city centre of Jerez. So we had a great place to stay and the best local guide you could imagine!

Actual flight plans and prices led us to taking a rather unusual route from Hamburg to Jerez and back using RyanAir:

  • Starting on June, 30th from Lübeck (LBC – 60km northeast of Hamburg) to Stansted (STY – 60km north of London)
  • Doing some sightseeing in London and having lunch at Jamie Oliver’s famous restaurant Fifteen.
  • On July, 1st taking the next plane from Stansted (STY) to Jerez de la Frontera (XRY).
  • Going back from Jerez to Lübeck via Stansted.

The whole adventure was cheaper than taking a direct flight from Hamburg to Jerez, but beware that RyanAir has some backdraws you have to arrange with:

  • There are no seat reservations. The first 65 people who checked in are the first to run into the plane and grab themselves a nice place, all others follow thereafter taking what’s left. So if you want to sit together with two or more people, better check in early and be fast to rush into the plane – it’s like it was back in school when you tried to get the best places inside that bus that took the whole class to wherever…
  • There is no connection guarantee and your luggage isn’t transfered to your connecting flights! That is really nasty! You’ll have to plan at least three hours between two RyanAir flights for possible delays, getting out of the plane, running down endless halls (that’s a Stansted special), taking back your luggage, getting out into the hall, checking-in again (usually with large ques in front of the desks) and getting yourself searched for weapons and stuff again. And don’t forget your long way back from the shopping-area to the gates (in Stansted that’s an estimated 12 minutes!).

On the other hand I must say, it all worked perfectly well. A direct flight (HAM-XRY) was about €650 per person, that RyanAir juggle including a double-room at Stansted cost about €400 for both of us – with a bit more of a hassle.

To be continued…