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Krokodile
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PDA software

Unread postby Krokodile » Sun Mar 13, 2005 9:10 pm

Since we've been talking about PDA software relating to wildlife and nature, I thought I'd ask if anyone has tried the SANParks software available from this site?
http://www.pocketsolutions.co.za/Welcome.aspx

We've ordered it already and it is en-route to us right now, so I hope it's good!

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Unread postby DinkyBird » Sun Mar 13, 2005 9:24 pm

Krok - I have never heard of it before so thank you for that link! I am going to investigate it! Exciting!
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Unread postby Krokodile » Sun Mar 13, 2005 9:36 pm

Looks cool, hey?
I can't wait - just worried that I won't be able to use all my lovely new software at the same time!!

Sasol ebirds is expensive but looks like a hell of a program - check out the bird identification facility! It's based on latitude/longitude/beak shape/bird size etc - exactly what a book can't do easily. Who says it's only the guys who love their toys? 8)

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Unread postby DinkyBird » Sun Mar 13, 2005 9:42 pm

Well I am waiting for a quote on the Sasol eBirds which will hopefully come tomorrow. I had a look at the Roberts Birds software outer package in a retail store today to see what that programme looked like but I think I prefer the way the Sasol one id's the birds. The Roberts software is also costly as far as software goes here in SA.
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Unread postby bwana » Sun Mar 13, 2005 9:43 pm

Krokodile wrote:Looks cool, hey?
I can't wait - just worried that I won't be able to use all my lovely new software at the same time!!

Sasol ebirds is expensive but looks like a hell of a program - check out the bird identification facility! It's based on latitude/longitude/beak shape/bird size etc - exactly what a book can't do easily. Who says it's only the guys who love their toys? 8)


Hey you! Thanks for the link! I will be ordering tomorrow, there site seems to be having problems! :cry: It looks excellent, and the fact that updates are can be downloaded is brilliant!

Thanks again

bwana
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Unread postby Krokodile » Sun Mar 13, 2005 9:44 pm

They're really nice at that company but they move around a bit and email communication is not always responded to straight away - may be better to give them a call.

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PDA Software

Unread postby Krokodile » Tue Mar 15, 2005 6:30 pm

Hi guys

Well I received the software yesterday and have had a chance to look over it and ......it looks great!

The software is manufactured by PDA Solutions in conjunction with Struik, publishers of the well-known Sasol Birds of Southern Africa book. I've had the paper book for a couple of years and have preferred it to any other SA bird book I've seen. I am not a full-on twitcher, but each visit to the KNP and SA has increased my interest in avian life. I do have difficulties identifying birds as the families are often very different from the birds seen in Europe but this software has a cunning tool which helps plug that hole in my knowledge! More about that later...

All the components of the software are held on the SD card it is supplied on and, apart from a few basic files and the bird log, nothing is reserved in the memory of the PDA.

The main menu page is very simple in design and easy to use.

Image
My main frustration in trying to ID a bird from a book is getting to the right page quickly. This software enables you to do that from clicking on Family Search or (more likely to be accessed by me due to above mentioned reasons) Family Pictures.
ImageTapping on either the description or the picture is the equivalent of getting to the right section of the book and, from there, you can scroll through all the birds in that family. At the foot of each page there are links to maps of where the bird is likely to be found, an example of its call (hallelujah!! That's something a book can't provide, and can make the difference between a positive and indifferent ID), information about it, as per a normal bird book, and an opportunity to log a sighting.

If you're not confident about searching purely by family type, select the Smart-Search option from the main menu. In my opinion, this is where this software comes into its own.

Firstly a map of Southern Africa, covering SA, Namibia, Botswana, a bit of Zambia, Zimbabwe, and most of Mozambique appears on the screen. You simply scroll to the area you are in and touch the screen to select location. This is the first stage in narrowing down the list of potential birds (461 birds are displayed for Pretoriuskop, for example). If you still don't know what you're looking for, tap on "next" and a useful set of bird head profiles appears on the screen:
Image
Click on the beak-type to highlight it then "next" and the list is reduced further. Still no idea? Click "next" again and select the approximate size of the winged thingy. That, again, narrows the selection. At any point, you can choose one of the birds from a list and scroll through the similar birds around it.

There is a logging facility which allows you to add your sightings and save them to your PDA memory as a .txt file should you choose. Data you can log is restricted to Bird name, date, location and comments. Your logs can be grouped by Bird name or location. One thing I am not sure about here is whether when you export your log to your hard-drive it should wipe it off your SD card. My instinct it to export often, just in case a fault should develop with the SD card, but that does not mean I don't want to see my logs on the SD card any more! I'll have to look into that one. Whatever, the fact that the logs are a .txt file also means that you should be able to export them to a laptop or desktop computer and keep a "master" file as a backup.

Another useful feature is the Old/New names section from where I have found out that W@H's Black-bellied Bustard is the new name for my Blackbellied Korhaan, and GP's Plumcoloured Starling is now, in fact, called the Violet-backed Starling. Probably won't help you ID a bird any the better, but all useful information.

Downsides?
You can search for the Afrikaans names of birds, but all the descriptions etc are in English. Not a problem for me, but perhaps for those more comfortable with Afrikaans as a main language. Also, I must admit that I sometimes find it useful in a bird book to be able to look at several birds in a book at the same time to compare. For example, starlings would all be grouped together in a book with several on a page. By using the smart-search facility, you will bring them all up but they may not be adjacent to each other in the listings which would necessitate going back to the main menu and searching by family.

Saying that, I reckon that the Smart-Search is a facility which I will not want to be without from now on and carrying a little SD card is so much easier that carting about a weighty bird book (eating into my baggage allowance!) and a notebook for logging sightings! It gets my thumbs up all round - just can't wait to test it in the field (*ahem* sorry, BUSH!) now.

The main downside is the cost: you could probably buy 4 books for the cost of this software and this will, certainly, deter some people from buying it. No specialised PDA software is cheap, however, and this package must have taken a huge amount of cost and effort to develop. I like it!

Apologies for the extreme length of this post, but hopefully someone will find it useful! The pics are rubbish as they were taken with my camcorder at close range - the larger files should show more clearly! If anyone wants to see any more screenshots, please PM me.

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Unread postby DinkyBird » Tue Mar 15, 2005 8:47 pm

Thanks Krok for that very informative and comprehensive review! I finally got my own iPAQ today as am looking forward to adding the software. I have got some prices from the eBirds suppliers and at first glance it seems that you do not need to buy the SD card and can save a bit there - that is if you have a spare card.

You have certainly helped me make up my mind! ( I am having it really easy with you and bwana testing out this stuff first before I buy :P !)
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Unread postby Krokodile » Tue Mar 15, 2005 8:55 pm

Yep, and SD cards are much cheaper in the UK than out there but it was a time thing - didn't want the hassle of sending a card to them so they could load it and send it back to us!

I'm sure you're going to love the software - I just can't wait to use it!

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Unread postby DinkyBird » Tue Mar 15, 2005 9:21 pm

Krokodile wrote:Yep, and SD cards are much cheaper in the UK than out there but it was a time thing - didn't want the hassle of sending a card to them so they could load it and send it back to us!

I'm sure you're going to love the software - I just can't wait to use it!

Oh...you have to send them the card! Here is naive me thinking they would let me download it!! I suppose it is understandable that they would not do that as one could make mulitple copies!!!
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PDA software

Unread postby craigsa » Sat Apr 09, 2005 12:32 pm

Hi everyone

I bought myself a present this week as in the Roberts birds on a pda..

I must say i am very impressed with it..
It has drawn pics of the bird and then also included is photos of them in the wild. Every different sound of a specific bird is availiable.. All in all..
Quality of pics, sounds and the ease to go through the menus is very good..

I feel it will help much better when identifying birds..
Craig
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Re: Roberts Multimedia on Pda

Unread postby bwana » Sat Apr 09, 2005 1:09 pm

craigsa wrote:Hi everyone

I bought myself a present this week as in the Roberts birds on a pda..

I must say i am very impressed with it..
It has drawn pics of the bird and then also included is photos of them in the wild. Every different sound of a specific bird is availiable.. All in all..
Quality of pics, sounds and the ease to go through the menus is very good..

I feel it will help much better when identifying birds..


Craig, would you care to write a review in the "Recommended Reading" forum. I think it would be interesting to compare the two. As someone who is looking to get some referance guide on pda to improve my non existant knowledge of birds, it would be appreciated. There are one or two reviews that you could have a look at if you want to see what format to use for a review.

regards
bwana
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Unread postby DinkyBird » Sun Apr 10, 2005 8:04 pm

The Ultimate Guide to Kruger National Park
(The CD cover has a SANParks logo on it so I am assuming that this product is endorsed by them.)

I received my copy of this software last week and have had a quick look at it and really like what I have seen.

I ordered the software via the website link provided by Krokodile. I found DPSs service to be very good, responding to queries on prices and system requirements promptly and I took delivery of the software on the promised date. I also bought a Fortuna Bluetooth GPS from them.

I am running the software on an iPAQ hx4700.

I elected to purchase the software on a CD. Installation and registering the package was extremely easy.

Map and navigation
With a GPS connection one can see one's movement and location at all times with real time tracking. Not being in the Park at the moment I cannot test this and will write a separate review upon my return next month.

The map has all the camps, dams etc and other point of interest marked. It does not have the road names marked.

With the map on the screen, I tapped on a red dot near Orpen and found this information: Rabelais Entry Gate, and further information under detail: En route from Orpen to Satara, one can see the white rondewel to the south. This rondawel marks the old Rabelais entry gate that was used from 1926 until 1954. There is also a picture of the rondawel.

Points of interest
Under this section there is information on facilities, services and activities offered in Kruger. Contact details are provided. There is a short description on camps, picnic spots as well as a distance table and gate times. All quick and easy to navigate.

Reference Guide
I am very impressed with the way the reference guide is laid out. For example, if one sees an antelope and wishes to identify it; you can do so by selecting antelope on the tree, then by the type of horns you see, followed by pictures of the animals in that category as well as a description of the animal.
There is also a word search facility that works well; eg, I typed in bushbaby and was given two species, tapping on the SA Lesser Bushbaby, I got a picture, the Afrikaans name, Latin name and a comprehensive description.

The reference guide provides general information on the fauna & flora of the Park. The software developers stress the following:
The guides do NOT cover each and every species found in the Parks, only the most prominent, obvious and/or significant species were selected.
Note, this is not specialised guides, simply general information & identification.

(Although I have not been right through the listed plants and animals it certainly seems comprehensive.)

Read More
Here one can find information on the following: KNP history from 1850 until the 1990's; Wildlife management and research; Route descriptions for the KNP; Malaria and a namelist of the KNP.

To sum up
I am very pleased with my purchase. I feel that is really excellent value for money (cost R400). I am not going to lug my pile of Kruger reference books with me on my next visit as I honestly feel that the Guide to KNP provides me with more than enough information.
Sawubona
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Unread postby bwana » Sun Apr 10, 2005 8:58 pm

What did you pay for the gps if you dont mind me asking? You can pm me if you wish. Thanks for the review.

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Unread postby Krokodile » Sun Apr 10, 2005 10:02 pm

I received my copy of this software last week and, while it looks excellent and is certainly easy to use, I have come across a couple of niggly little problems which I have had to email for tech support.

What I particularly like about this package is the points of interest feature (POI) and all the aerial photographs of locations within the park. I was going to purchase a copy of "Find-it" by Jacana to find out what all those little flags on my KNP map represented, but as Dinkybird says, those are all listed on the map, therefore doing away with the need to carry various books. I probably will still take my trusty paper KNP map with me, because it is easier to plan your route for the next day when you can spread it out on the table and look at it together. However, in the car, I think the application will come into it's own.

In order to use the map facility fully, it is necessary to link to a GPS receiver. We already have a Garmin Streetpilot 2610 but as this is a mapping application in its own right, it is not compatible, so we have had to purchase a stand-alone unit. We got the Navman 4410 bluetooth receiver which does the job spot on. It is not essential to have a gps receiver - the software can be used manually - but then you won't get alerts when you are approaching a POI and will not know exactly where you are at any given time.

The problem I have had is that when I loaded the software from the CD, I had an error message saying that a .cab file had not been loaded. I have received the same message on a couple of attempts so think it best if the experts sort it out for me now! The one problem I have noticed, which I suspect stems from the missing file, is that the POI feature on the map does not work (tapping on the red dot on the map brings up a message "No Point of Interest found" - bit of a pain since that is the feature I find most attractive about the software!).

I didn't think that the reference section was very complete - lots of trees missing, for example - but the company do state that this is not the point of the software. I have other software which can do this anyway, so I'm not bothered.

Other nice features are the gate times, lists of picnic sites with facilities (nice to know that there are no loos at the Albasini Ruins, for example :wink: ) and distance/driving time calculators.

All in all it's an impressive package which I would recommend to anyone planning on visiting the park more than once (only because of the price, which, unless you like spending money for the sake of it, works out quite a bit more than a map and a basic book on wildlife). The company selling it are also incredibly helpful and pleasant to deal with. That's always a bonus! :lol:


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