Good to see Snark VII set off from Hyeres on the French Riviera to the U.K. Mark is using his Blackberry to log position reports while he is near the coast. Follow their progress here or of course by entering “Snark vii” into the search box on the front page.
Most recent mobile phones allow users to access the internet. One of our design goals at Skipr.net is to be compatible with as many devices as possible, so we’ll do our best to make it possible to update a boat’s position even by just using a mobile phone. Many phones today come with a web browser which can be used to access the “Report Position” page. If yours doesn’t, you can probably install the free Opera Mini web browser on your phone. Here is what I did to install it on mine, a typical, one year old mobile phone (Nokia 6100 GSM phone using Optus as the carrier):
- Configure the handset for at the Optus web site (the Nokia 6100 uses WAP)
- Download the Opera Mini web browser by sending an SMS with OPERA to 19994441 (SMS costs A$5.00)
- Follow the installation instructions.
Outside Australia, you can find where to best download the OPERA Mini browser here.
We made more progress toward a more consistent feel for the entire site, while keeping the critical “entry” pages small in size and compatible with as many browsers, including those on mobile devices.
Also, the system will keep you logged in for an extended period so you’ll only rarely asked for a log in.
Much remains to be done, but the site is quite functional now. I hope to improve site documentation in the coming week.
I was asked by a Skipr user (hi Mark!) about the size of webpages used for data entry. He is proposing to use “mini M sat” for internet access at sea and is rightly concerned about the data traffic (or rather, the cost of that).
Everyone would have noticed Skipr’s, ahem, simple user interface. While a revision is on our “todo list”, the current implementation shines with respect to size. The relevant pages (logentry, login etc) are measured in kilobytes.
For example the login page is 0.5 kB.
I used an EVDO modem to accurately measure the data transfer of a Log entry session.
Here’s what I did:
- I logged on with the modem (Minimax EVDO/CDMA modem).
- Hit the Explorer bookmark which I had set to the “log entry” page
- Entered a position and brief comment and received the confirmation page.
- Disconnected the modem.
The total sizes were less than 12 kBytes “sent” and 8 kBytes “received” for a full session. As economical as anyone could expect! For comparison, the “Where is” page takes 180kBytes to load.
By the way, any laptop user on a serious “download size” budget needs to take care to disable any applications which “call home” regularly without invitation. Obvious candidates are applications such as Virus protection and Windows XP(disable automatic updates in the control panel).
I’d be interested to hear about anyone experience with systems out there (good or bad).
I just “opened the front door” to Skipr.net. There is still some more testing to do, but I thought I’d make the site public while we’re doing some more testing. Beta testers will get their log-ins on Monday.
There is still much to do. My current priorities are:
- Implementing the new design across the site.
- Giving boats the ability to define a cruise or cruise leg.
- Improving error trapping and reporting.
Anyway, here we go….!
Does Skipr.net require the installation or purchase of any special equipment?
Yes and No. While Skipr.net does not require any special equipment, it assumes that a boat’s position is known (usually by using a GPS) and that Internet access is available (position reports are entered via a private web page).
Can I submit position reports via email (and Sailmail)
Not yet, we expect that feature to be available by end April. In the meantime, why not send emails to a trusted friend on shore for entry into the website?
How much does it cost?
Will it always be free, how do you make your money?
We expect to always have a basic service which is free but in future supported by advertisements. We may launch a premium service later which will have a subscription fee. But for the moment it’s more important that we build a service which our users value.
Will you expect my privacy?
Of course. We will never share your contact details. We will not send you unsollicited emails except where needed to maintain the integrity of the system.
Is this all there is?
No way! We’re just starting. Check this weblog regularly for updates.
Why are you doing this?
Because it’s there.
This page has moved here.
I need to produce some documentation for Skipr.net and have a way for users to be able to provide feedback. So here I go with another Blog!