How to #unzip a #KMZ file


Screenshot of my KMZ file

In this tutorial, I showcased how to unzip a KMZ file.  Here is the video:

The significance of this tutorial, if you recall from my Part 2 of Capture Your Tracks , when I was not sure as to how much accuracy was actually captured by the application.  It took me a few weeks to ponder, while I worked at my day job (sorry boss…but you can’t do much about my imaginations of GIS fascinations…).  I recall that the elevation and travelling speed outputs were quite live, and even when you “Record” there is a live moving average read out.  So I concluded that while the individual points were not shown, like my NovaTel GPS unit (that’s Canadian made eh), My Tracks was still capturing the data.

So if I have you completely lost, we are talking about the data I collected in my Google Drive, when using My Tracks offered by Google for Android.  Where I did Part 1 Capture Your Tracks (and part 2 is in the link in the paragraph before).  Using the KMZ file uploaded to Google Drive using the App’s export tool, I wanted to learn more about the file.

So now you’re caught up, let’s look at the image that I uploaded in this blog entry.  Now, I’m not a fan of how un-formatted the file was, but it still gives a lot of information.  In the first few lines, you have the commentary section, giving some information on the version, how it was captured, name of author.  Following that, you have what are markers and the kml code pointing to images in the Google Earth installation, so you can have the graphical display of your start and end of data capture.  You arrive to three lines then a break and then it continues.  This is where I paused the Record function then resumed data collection (partly because with running this application and recording my tablet, my tablet was struggling). * Ahem* that’s also the reason why the audio went out a few times, its the tablet processor struggling.  I did take the Power Saver Mode off, but even then, the tablet was struggling to video capture the screen while I was running My Tracks.

So this continuous section of data shows us a few things.  1) It shows the datetime information.  2) Elevation, denoted in notation like “504z” which I can only assume is meters above sea level, z being the z axis. 3) You have the coordinates, x and y.


KMZ file showing x, y, z coordinates as well datetime

Now you’ll also notice that the intervals are almost every second.  If you recall, prior to recording the video, I made my settings really fine so that I can capture the most data possible (that’s also probably why my tablet was complaining while I was recording the video).

As we follow the file, there is a section for the speed.  You’ll also notice the name label (“<gx:SimpleArrayDataname=”speed”, we also have bearing and accuracy.


KMZ file with speed, bearing and accuracy.

At the end is something really cool.  The program wraps up and write the last bit of information that really optimizes the Google Earth experience, which is the total distance, the moving time and ect.  When you import this into Google Earth it presents itself as a little info bubble on Google Earth.


KMZ info on distance travel and commentary information displayed in Google Earth.

All-in-all, I was quite satisfied within using My Tracks, my ignorance prematurely got me.  Just reviewing the data, once you unzip the KMZ, you can really see this My Tracks application capture A LOT OF DATA.  It’s really cool.  Now, I’, not sure how much accuracy the data holds.  I guess, my next thing to think about while I’m sitting at my day job (sorry boss) is what the accuracy values represent.  And what the bearing values mean.  In my capture, Accuracy was represented in a double format ranging from 3.9 to 9.0.  Bearing bounced around from 101.0 to 106.0.

So thanks for reading my little fun experience with how to Unzip a KML files and really interpreting the output from My Tracks.

If you found the video interesting, be sure to LIKE the video, it really helps other YouTubers find the video.  I’ll see you in the next video!






Using #GIS skills at the #auto #body shop


Image from cbc.ca


Inspired by the one of the CBC Marketplace episodes (if you don’t know CBC stands for Canadian Broadcasting Company that we Canucks watch while we stay warm in our igloos drinking moonshine and eating maple syrup candy — okay the later part a gross exaggerations).   Back to what I was saying, I was inspired by CBC Marketplace and my rough and tough run ins with auto shops and tow trucks.  If you ever got in an auto accident (whether your at fault, not at fault, or just really in the wrong place and wrong time), IT SUCKS.

In this blog entry, let me share with you one way to use your GIS knowledge perhaps to save you the cost of an auto repair or simply to open a real bad can of worms for someone.  Just skip the next paragraph if you don’t care why I’m writing this post (I’m not offended just a passion-driven GIS nerd, that somehow likes to share different GIS related fun).

[Just a full Disclaimer: I have no bias for auto body shops and tow truck driver, just a bucket full of bad experience.  So bad that I now change my own oil, change my own fluids, change my own tire (rotate and balance), top off my own windshield fluid even though I’m not a man…. But if the Ontario auto body shops and tow truck driver have improved customer service, I will gladly rave about my experience too…]

Reflecting on the recent 2015, I also had to go into the dealership in Toronto (first shaking traffic) because the sales person did not properly deliver on the sales contract.  I had the opportunity to witness two hit and runs in parking lot, I had a someone I know have a hit and run in the parking lot while they kindly dropped me off at the grocer (only to run in and yell at me “come out someone hit me and I don’t know where my cell phone is!”).  And that’s not the worst part.  The worst part is dealing with the insurance, who sends you to a shop to get an estimate, where you somehow manage to sign a work authorization when you weren’t really sure you wanted to take it to the specific shop and then you realize.  Then you look at your odometer and somehow 50km is clocked in and you wonder where they drove your vehicle to do the repair (that’s the circle thing if you have a car from this decade with the numbers that go up as you drive…if you have a newer car, its probably a digital read out, click here if you want to know how an odometer looks like).  The next worst part is dealing with sub-standard repairs and realizing you need a paint job touch up because its peeling (…no wonder they had lifetime warranty on the repair).   Then the frustration sets in, and you realize, 1) you should have called them out on the odometer reading high, 2) you should have went to a different shop,  and 3) you should not have paid them, but its too late to act.  BUT WAIT!  You probably can if you try out my GIS themed tip!

So while you were celebrating New Years of 2016, I was being a loyal nerd and uploading my video that I captured on the road in Verner, Ontario (google it if you want, its what we call Northern Ontario).  I demonstrated how to use My Tracks for Android.  If you read my entry on Capture Your Tracks on Android, you had a stimulating step by step method of how to use the tool.  If you don’t like being pointed to a link, I’ve posted the video below (part 1 and 2).

This will help you with your auto shop woes and tow truck woes because the next time you get in a collision and a tow truck company eagerly offers you a drive, you (the GIS expert self-proclaimed expert from watching my videos) will turn on your My Tracks application and press record (watch my video if you have no idea what I’m saying).  And record this travel and advising the driver where you want to go …which is to your preferred shop or the police collision center or your house.  So now, if the driver doesn’t take you to your desired location, then you can upload your tracks on your computer and show it on Google Earth and tell the insurance company…see, they didn’t listen to me and their shop isn’t even close than the police station.

Here is some fun stealthy things you can do.  If you take your car to a shop for servicing, tuck your device in your car (I won’t suggest ideas…use your creativity).  Run My Tracks and leave your car.  If you car had a lot of kilometers clocked (or miles for you Americans), perhaps ask why.  They may say they drove it around the block to test it.  Look at your Tracks on Google Earth, show the time stamp and ask why your vehicle was …driven to McDonald’s (you may need data or hunt for WIFI!).

Let me just drop one more comment, this tool isn’t too bad for leaving in your vehicle if your roommate asks to borrow your car.  Your son or daughter borrowing it to go to a friend’s house to study (and somehow drives at an insane hour to a sketchy place of town for a house party).  Just some fun ideas.  That being said, if you Track anything cool, I invite you to upload it and share it on YouTube.  If you want to share something cool with this tool in a video or a screenshot, tweet me.  I promise I’ll thumbs up your video for being a really cool GIS nerd.  All I ask is DO NOT play your device while driving.  It’s dangerous people.

I’ll catch you in the next video.  Below are those My Tracks videos, Part 1 and 2.  Don’t forget to LIKE the videos (if you thought it was cool of coursr)! Cheers!


How to #Draw a #Polygon on #GoogleMap in #BieberTown

Learn how to #draw a #polygon on #GoogleMap.  This video takes place in #JustinBieber
town #Stratford *teenage screams to follow*.

In this tutorial, we show you how to draw a polygon.  What I didn’t mention at the end of the video is that you can export your polygon, using the uber cool integration with Google Drive (gotta love the Google suite integration).


Exported Polygon in Google Drive

For this tutorial, we did it on Android Google Maps, the biggest secret is not to use App, rather use the Browser version.  Unfortunately the Andriod App does not have the capabilities (maybe in the future?).  Thus, you will also need Internet or Data to run this tutorial.

The coolest thing about this feature is the ability to share your map, seeing that it integrates with Google Drive.  For anyone who was a pre-ArcMap 9.2 user, just starting off, you might remember when you work with other people and you had to define the boundaries of a polygon because to share a shp file, you had to email or save on the network (don’t forget to exit it).  I remember the old days of telling people the coordinates (hoping they have the projection identical) or telling them the cities to select to generate the similar polygon.  So with Google Maps, you eliminate all of that, you can generate and share, you don’t even have to use a commercial software to share (awesome!).

So, give this tutorial a try.  Follow along right in the cool historical town of Stratford (home of Shakespearean plays and Justin Bieber – I wonder if Selena Gomez sat in for a summer play).  As always if you found this video interesting, useful, Thumbs Up!  See you in the next video!

Learn how to #change #miles to #kilometers on #Google #Maps

Learn how to #change #miles to #kilometers on #Google #Maps.

This is a quick tutorial to re-adjust your units for Google Maps.  To do this, you just want to access Settings and change to the unit you like.  Watch the tutorial (apologies for the audio, still working on it.  Feel free to pull up the captions).

Happy GIS-ing!


The end of My Tracks


The end of My Tracks….in April 2016.

I have always been a skeptic of updates, so before updating My Tracks with the January 21 release, I scrolled over to the comments.  Comments are always useful,  they often save you from moving to the point of no return on an app.  So I started reading these comments and people had very colourful comments like Derek Cho saying “Please don’t kill My Tracks!”  So the curious me obviously Googled and I found Heena’s blog expressing the sad news.

So, as much as I would like to generate more vids on My Tracks, its a dead end (totally sucks,My Tracks and I were going to jog in the spring when igloo living subsided to bring warm weather….because you know Canada weather — there’s a half joke there…sorry).

So before this app goes extinct,I would recommend giving it a try…just like how you gave Neopets, a vitual pet a try. 😉  In the mean time, I’ll post my one and only other video on My Tracks soon enough,  while I poke through the *kmz output.

It’s not all sad, don’t forget, you can use other apps to do the same functionality.   Read my post describing this, Click Here.  Yohann posts on his blog (I’ve taken the liberty to paraphrase en anglais, Click here for his full post en francais):

Google has also proposed a list of other applications (including compatible third-party applications) that you can try, such as Google Fit, Strava, Endomondo, Map My Run, Map My Hike, GPS Logger for Android, GPX Viewer.

Going back to the topic on Comments, I’d like to thank all YouTube viewers for your brave comments and questions on my video…its scary to ask for help, but your comments also help other Viewers who embark on similar challenges.   As always, we try to attend to your Comments as humanly as we can and we try to give meaningful advice with what information you do share.   Feel free to share your My Tracks experiences with video or screenshots,  we’d love to hear your experiences.

Click Here for a link to our My Tracks Tutorial

We’ll catch you in the next video!


Capturing Your Tracks on Android

Learn how to #Capture Your #Tracks, using #MyTracks and #GoogleEarth.  To start the new year, we are playing with some freely available apps and making our own data.  As an extra bonus, you don’t need to be in front of a computer, since this is a tutorial using your Device and an App that you need to pre-load.  My Android-based tutorial does not require internet or data.

If you find my tutorials useful, Thumbs Up my video.  It’s always nice know someone found the video useful and it helps other users decide if the video is any good.


Live read of my average speed and elevation while capturing data.


Elevation and Speed read out

Today, I’m sharing you my fun adventures in demonstrating how to record your location using your own device.  My tutorial was Tracked right in Verner, which is Northern Ontario.  You know, where all the people live in Igloos most of the year (joking….seriously I’m joking…but it gets really cold there).  To do this tutorial, you need:

  1. GPS enabled device (tablet, cell phone)- note Data is not a requirement
  2. A mode of transportation (foot, bike (hopefully in tandem), vehicle).
  3. And pre-installed application.

So there are three ways you can do this Capture of your tracks.  One way is to use a GPS unit like a Garmin, where you can export you data.  Please review the instruction manual for you device.

The second way is to use an Apple iPhone, and a trusted software you can use is MotionX-GPS.  This is a software I found trusted for iPhone.

The third way, and the way I will be demonstrating is using My Tracks on Android Samsung Tab 4 (Tablet).  Just a disclaimer, I chose to use My Tracks because its a Google software.  To some extent, I have trust in a Google software.  There are many others, just use with caution.  Considering the amount of data being collected, you want to be careful.  Especially downloading an application to your phone or tablet, a device you may use for personal photos, emails, phone calls…you want to make sure you aren’t opening yourself to cyber attacks or something.  So here is Part 1 of my Tutorial:

Once downloaded, I needed to enable “Location” or the GPS capabilities on my android device.  What’s cool is that you get GPS communication without subscription and no Data required, its really cool!  Now on cell phone, it may be different, your GPS may be also influenced by cell towers, where you location is constantly triangulated between cell towers for accuracy.  Fun fact, Samsung Tab has GLONASS capabilities, but that feature ain’t supported in USA and Canada…hehe.  Here’s a link to the specs if you’re curious.

Once its set to go, you can press Record, that will be located on the left side of the application, its a big Red Button.

While you’re recording, I thought it was cool how you can record even markers by manual entry or photographs.  For example you can take a photo at the start, middle or end.  What’s nice is that it pulls your full featured camera (not the very basic camera on your screen before you unlock your device).  This is great, because if you’re driving, you may want to change it to action mode since you driving (otherwise you get a complete blurrrrr-not cool).

I do have a Disclaimer for any users using this while driving, make sure you aren’t operating a vehicle.  I was very fortunate, I had someone driving the vehicle while I was capturing.  You should never be operating a vehicle while playing with a device, devices can be a distraction.  More so, depending where you are, fines can very from place to place.  In Canada we have some hefty fines.

Once you do a good length and you are happy with what you recorded, you can stop the recording and you can export it to your Google Drive.  Now, if you want to view in Google Earth, Google Earth really likes using Google Drive, so you may need to use Data or access Internet.  The beauty of My Tracks is that you can capture without Data and upload later.  Plus, if you want to view on Google Earth, you’re going to need Internet… As a warning, if you are uploading to Google Drive, double check your security sections just to be safe.

Now, when I had access to Internet, that’s when I started viewing my data.  Here is Part 2 of my tutorial:

So I uploaded to Google Drive and launched Google Earth right on my Android device.

So you can adjust settings on the accuracy in your device, and thinking about it, this is how we get that lovely elevation read out and play-by-play statistics.  But when I opened it in Google Earth, I was disappointed, the default export appeared to only show the start and end of my data collection, not the interval collections in between.  So a bit disappointed.  What I might do is export the kml (or kmz) and see how the data looks like some time.

As a special treat, I had a kml of my own Novatel GPS unit that runs at 20hz frequency, just so you can see how high resolution data looks like.  That’s the type of output I was hoping for, so I’ll have to make some time and poke through my data and see what is happening with My Tracks.

So if you found this tutorial, install an App, Track your travel and share with your friend.  I challenge you to snap shot a nice scenic route for a jog with your favourite stopping points (just make sure you only share with trusted friends…).

All-in-all, I hope you found this tutorial fun.  I’m looking forward on building on this captured data for another tutorial, so stay tuned and happy GIS-ing!