Sunday, March 29, 2009

Friday, March 27, 2009

Bye, Bye Birdie

At the Middle School to see Jason give his best Harvey Johnson.

(Crispy looks a little cross in this picture, but he actually really enjoyed it!)

Friday, March 13, 2009

Friday Walk Map

So, this morning Holly and I set off for Saxon Woods East to do our first try at a human/dog hike map comparison- without success.

Unfortunately my Google G1 phone was the element that let us down. If you remember last Friday we did the same walk in the snow and I was unable to upload a track as the phone seemed unable to get a fix, which I put down to possibly the overcast skies. Well today is brisk (about 33 F) with clear blue skies and not a cloud in sight, but this time my phone seemed able to get a fix in the parking lot (after about 5 minutes), but the track it produced is a little odd to say the least- take a look-

View Larger Map

I seem to have somehow flown across Long Island Sound and gone hiking around from Port Washington to Valley Stream! Now I know that I was in the woods, but there was no foliage to get in the way, and you would expect that it would just be unable to get a fix if there were too many trees- I have no idea why it put me miles south of where I really was. I will be emailing the G1 lists to see if anyone can shed any light on this, but for now I guess I just have to accept that the GPS chip in my phone just kinda sucks- it works fine down at the beach with no obstructions, but can't handle trees (even without any leaves), and I even was carrying it in the sleeve pocket of my jacket rather than on my belt to give it the best chance.

However- here (again thanks to the GPS Visualizer web site) is Holly's track from my trusty Garmin eTrex Venture HC that she was carrying in her pack-

The eTrex seemed to have no problem with the trees! Again I have set up this map to change colour over distance (so it starts red at 0, fades to orange at 0.33 miles etc) so you can see the direction we went. If you zoom in you can see where Holly ran backwards and forwards and side to side on the trail, but she actually sticks pretty close to me when we're hiking through the woods.

I guess I'll just have to wait to do the human/dog comparison until I can hike away from trees or borrow another Garmin, oh well.

Into the woods!

Well, walking through the woods at Saxon Woods East.

Friday walk

Holly in her pack.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Holly's track on this afternoon's walk

This is why Holly was wearing the backpack in the picture from the park earlier.

Not only do I think it a good idea that she get used to carrying her own water etc when we go on longer hikes, but the Dog Whisperer says that working dogs need to feel they are working, and a backpack is a good way to give them that feeling. So I ordered this Ruff Wear Approach II backpack for her (in x-small- but it fits her really well) and it came today.

I wasn't sure how she would take to it, but she seemed not to mind it at all after the first 5 minutes and romped around chasing other dogs and tennis balls just like usual. It's really well designed with a "Y" shaped band that goes around her neck that joins to a padded band around her chest with another around her belly.

I didn't load much, just a small bottle of water and a spare tennis ball along with my Garmin eTrex Venture HC GPS- and that's the other reason I thought it'd be fun for Holly to be able to carry things. Ever since I discovered how easily my G1 phone does a GPS track with an app called My Tracks, I thought it'd be interesting to compare my track on a walk with Holly's. I've always reckoned that a dog probably walks at least twice as far as as you do on a walk, so I'm going to find out by tracking me walking with my phone, and Holly with the eTrex at the same time, and then comparing the tracks.

The G1 uploads direct to Google Maps, and with a little help from a great website called GPS Visualizer it's turned out to be pretty easy to convert the eTrex output into a Google map too. This was the first test to see how Holly handled the backpack and how the eTrex handled being bumped around on a dogs back- and it seems to have worked pretty well! I set this one up to change color over distance so all the overlapping shows up, and as you can see she covered over 2 miles running after her tennis ball, and you can easily tell where I stood in the middle and threw the ball in all directions for her and the other dogs who were there. The track from the eTrex doesn't import all the fun things like average speed, time moving etc. like the track from the phone does, but it does record all that stuff so I can just add that manually.

So... watch this space- I hope to try and do a walk with a human/dog comparison track on Friday :)


Modeling her new Ruff Wear backpack.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Friday morning walk

Saxon Woods East again.

I would have posted a track, but my phone GPS had a hard time finding and holding a fix. Funny 'cos there's no foliage, maybe it's the overcast skies?