Tuesday, December 1, 1998

Find your way with Quo Vadis mapping


By S. Fred Green a.k.a. Fredlet

My friend Michael and I were in the city the other night on our way to see a band. Of course I don't know the city all that well, so I was telling him "go here, now go here, oops, you should have gone there!"

Lucky for me Michael is a very patient guy.

After a while he said, "OK, Fredlet time for you to use a map" and out of the blue he hands me his PalmPilot and says to open Quo Vadis.

It didn't do him much good, since eventually (after me playing with the maps for a while and toying with other cities) he had to pull over and take it away from me (it was cool and I got distracted from the original mission). He had to look for himself to find out how to get to where we were going. We did arrive eventually, but not before I made Michael promise to tell me where he got this great little map application, shown in Figure A.


Quo Vadis basic map display.

Quo Vadis isn't the only map program out there, but, as far as I know, it's the only one that has the name of the street track along the screen as you move around. It took me a minute to get used to their particular style of tracking, since I was used to dragging visual displays on the PalmPilot rather than the view following my stylus point. It's really funky watching the software track your stylus around curves -- and it will keep following your stylus until you lift it.

If you are a registered user of the software, lots of maps are available for download from the Web site. I took a look at Austin, Texas and also a map of Bee Cave (a neighboring town) and when I got to the borders I just kept following a road and the two maps were automatically pieced together as I scrolled.

Zooming in and out is pretty easy also, just use the up and down buttons on your PalmPilot and there are also Graffiti shortcuts to zoom as well. The program allows for different views. You can view in on a street-level view, as shown in Figure B.


You can zoom into a street-detail view.

You can also expand out to a rather crowded route view, as shown in Figure C.


You can also pull out to an overall route view.

Managing all your maps is easy, they are listed first by state, then in a subcategory of city.

Using a GPS

For your inner gadget freak, attaching a GPS (e.g., Global Positioning System) receiver will let you automatically track your progress, as shown in Figure D. Just plug the serial connection into your PalmPilot and the GPS receiver will mark a spot in the center of the screen to match your location.


Using the tracking feature with a GPS receiver looks something like this.

Before you rush right out and buy a receiver, make sure you are compatible. Some older Pilot 1000 models will not work with GPS, regardless of upgrade, because their serial port hardware is incompatible. If you do end up using the GPS tracker, I would recommend getting the UniMount for your car so that you can easily view where you are on the Palm device and leave your hands free for driving. As always, please geek-out responsibly. I need to keep all the readers I can.