Thursday, 15 November 2007

Leopard and 10.4.11 - update and appeal

I just tried 10.4.11 on my Power PC Mac, and it doesn't fix the GPS-CS1 support issue.

Has anyone tried this software update on an Intel machine? Can you still use the GPS-CS1 (assuming you were running Tiger 10.4.9 or 10.4.10)?

Also, I gather there is a Leopard update (10.5.1) out there. No Leopard user - Intel or Power PC - was able to use the GPS-CS1 so has this update changed matters?

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Thursday, 25 October 2007

Leopard and 10.4.11

Sorry for the lack of updates recently, there just hasn't been any progress in making the GPS-CS1 work with PPC Macs.

However, Leopard is out tomorrow and the latest version of Tiger, 10.4.11, is due any day now.

I will try the GPS-CS1 on 10.4.11 as soon as it is available, if someone else could try it with Leopard and post the results I'm sure many PPC owners will be grateful. And not just PPC owners - since Apple don't appear to have deliberately fixed GPS-CS1 support on Intel machines, it's possible that Leopard or 10.4.11 could break that support. So Intel owners, please let us know if that happens.

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Saturday, 21 April 2007

HoudahGeo 1.0 launched

Just a quick note to say that version 1.0 of HoudahGeo is now available for download - and three cheers to them for listening to comments from this blog about the beta version. More on this at a later date but the big news for GPS-CS1 owners is:

HoudahGeo now loads unconverted GPS-CS1 files - or any other NMEA files for that matter.
HoudahGeo also loads multiple GPS files, important for us as the GPS-CS1 writes a new file every time it's switched on.

There's a free download which is a fully working version limited to only export 3 images at a time, so give it a try. The unlimited version is currently $24.95 for a license for version 1.x, the price is due to go up from version 1.1 onwards.

Oh and good to know that version 1.1 and 1.2 are already planned - I encourage you to suggest features on the Houdah Software forum.

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Wednesday, 18 April 2007

GPS-CS1 for PPC Macs - way forward?

Apple have released the source code for Mac OS X 10.4.9. Now the source code for Intel and PPC versions of IOUSBMassStorageClass are the same for 10.4.8, so presumably the Intel source code for IOUSBMassStorageClass version 1.4.7 (part of 10.4.9) can be compiled on a Power PC Mac. If so it might be possible to install the executable as a custom kext (having backed up the original, obviously) and thereby add GPS-CS1 support.

Is there anyone out there with a Power PC and Xcode who's willing and able to try this out for us?

Sunday, 1 April 2007

GPS software roundup

Now that the GPS-CS1 works on some (Intel) Macs, I'm starting to get some questions asking how to use the log files to tag/geocode photos.

I'll assume that most people know the general principle - that the idea is to match the date and time a photo was taken with the date and time that a reading was made with the GPS device. Sony supply Windows-only software for this, but there are a few Mac solutions available.

In my opinion, the ideal package will:
  1. Import photos directly from iPhoto. Without this ability, you'll either have to stick to strict photo workflow of geocoding your photos before importing them to iPhoto, or export your photos to a temporary directory to geocode them.
  2. Import the GPS-CS1 files without pre-conversion. You can use GPSBabel or possibly LoadMyTracks (this might be a slicker solution for Intel owners, but I don't have an Intel Mac to try it with) to convert the files to GPX which all software supports. But IMO the ideal package will import standard NMEA files (which is the format used by Sony), cutting out this step.
  3. Allow you to control how photos are matched to GPS readings. There are two issues here. One is that unless you regularly set your camera clock to GMT, you're going to end up with some time difference between the camera clock and GPS timestamp. The other issue is missing GPS readings. Suppose you have two readings an hour apart for whatever reason, and a photo taken somewhere in between those times. You could match it to the nearest point. You could match it to a point on a straight line between the two. You could decide that you've moved too far between the two and that unfortunately it isn't sensible to try to match this photo. But can you get your software to agree with you?
  4. Provide some kind of visual feedback to check that it worked - a point on Google Maps/Earth, the name of the country and nearest city from a geographic database... so long as you have some means that works before committing your changes.
  5. Have bonus features, e.g. export to Google Earth. Not an essential and in some cases you might prefer to use something like iPhotoToGoogleEarth anyway, because it lets you build your KMZ file based on however you choose to select photos in iPhoto, instead of using the photo set you just tagged.
So that's what I'm looking for (feel free to suggest your own criteria) - how do the packages out there stack up against my list?


GPSPhotoLinker is the first package I tried. It's free but donations towards future development are appreciated. It has 3 modes - most usefully Standard (which for a selected photo shows you the readings taken before and after the photo was taken and the time weighted average between the two) and Batch (which geocodes many photos in one operation).

  1. Can't import photos from iPhoto - you must geocode before importing or export from iPhoto and re-import.
  2. Can't import NMEA files - you must convert to GPX first.
  3. This is GPSPhotoLinker's real strength - it gives you more control over the matching process than anything else out there. The Standard mode which works on individual photos gives you a choice of the preceding track point, the next track point, or a time weighted average between them. That is, assuming you were travelling in a straight line at constant speed between the two points, where would you have been at the precise moment of taking the photo (assuming you have set the time zone in the application so that the camera and GPS clocks were synced).
    In batch mode you can't make this choice one by one for each photo, but you can choose the nearest point or an average for all photos in the batch - and you can sanity check it by limiting the matching by distance and/or time. For example, only match if the photo is between points no more than 100 metres apart, or within an hour of the nearest point. You might have been on a quick helicopter trip between points, with your GPS unit switched off and covering a lot of ground and taking a photo from the air somewhere on the journey. Does it make sense to match it to your start or end destination (especially with a helicopter sightseeing flight where these will probably be the same helipad)? Probably not. You'll match fewer photos during batch mode using these controls, but you'll make fewer inaccurate matches.
  4. For any point there's a button to link to Google Maps in your browser. It isn't the slickest method out there but it works.
  5. You don't get any bonus features, but what it does it does well.


I've only recently tried out PhotoGPSEditor. This is free with a suggested donation or payment via TrialPay. There are two standout features here which make it ideal for the less techie user. This is the only package I've seen so far that reads GPS-CS1 files without conversion, and it has a friendly wizard which takes you step by step through the geocoding process (more advanced users can turn if off.)

  1. Can't import photos from iPhoto - geocode them first.
  2. The only package that imports Sony GPS-CS1 (NMEA) files without pre-conversion.
  3. There are nice features for working out the time difference between your photos and your GPS readings. You can enter the difference directly if you know it, or if you know the precise location a certain photo was taken and can find it on a map, the software can work out the time difference from that initial matched photo. But if you have gaps in your GPS data then it tries a bit too hard to make the photos match anyway - you might want to work on small batches rather than do all your photos in one go, or you might get some strange results.
  4. Google Maps appears inside the application for your feedback - very nice.
  5. The wizard is a great feature for users who just want to get results fast, without having to to get too technical.

HoudahGeo is a new product currently with a free beta (hurry as this beta only works until April 23rd). It has a lot of potential and I encourage people to download and try the beta, and post to the forum Houdah Software have set up for it with suggestions. There are limitations and if this is still in development and likely to be a paid for product, then there could be an opportunity to improve it.

  1. This works beautifully with iPhoto. The iPhoto import tool gives you fast access to your iPhoto library and all your albums and with a 5x5 photo window it works better than most iLife applications. The name and comments fields from iPhoto are also imported. But you can import by file too.
  2. GPX import only - and one file at a time. The latter is a serious limitation that makes this tedious to use at the moment.
  3. You get to set the time offset when you import images but that's the only control you have over how it matches images and GPS readings.
  4. You can see where the GPS reading maps to by choosing the "Geocode Selection Using A Map" feature. This allows you to change the location or set a location if you have no GPS coordinates.
  5. There are a couple of nice extras - as mentioned you can geocode photos without GPS data using a map. There are other dedicated applications that do this but having both methods in one package is quite useful.
    The other bonus feature is the export to Google Earth, which works really well - see the screenshot for an example.

In conclusion, the perfect solution doesn't yet exist. But I recommend GPSPhotoLinker for getting accurate results (with some patience and care) and PhotoGPSEditor for less technical users who want quick results. But keep an eye on HoudahGeo.

Anyone else want to tell us about their own favourite software?

Thursday, 15 March 2007

GPS-CS1 works on Intel Macs - not Power PCs

OK here's the latest situation with GPS-CS1 support on Macs, following the release of Mac OS X 10.4.9.

If you have an Intel Mac, then the 10.4.9 update will add GPS-CS1 support.
If you have a PPC Mac (G4, G5 etc) then it won't.

It appears that the USB kernel extensions have been updated in the Intel version of Mac OS X, ever since a slightly newer version of Mac OS X 10.4.8 came out with Core 2 Duo Macbooks. 10.4.9 gives these updates to all Intel owners.

The key extension is probably IOUSBMassStorageClass (as the GPS-CS1 should mount as a USB mass storage device) which is at version 1.4.5 on the PPC code, but at version 1.4.7 on the Core 2 Duo Macbooks and now on all Intel Macs running 10.4.9
So if you're an Intel owner, congratulations!

For those of us still running PPC Macs, there are three possible hopes.

1. Try to lobby Apple to do something about this. There is clearly a code change that can be made to fix this problem (it isn't a hardware problem, I can mount my GPS-CS1 on my iMac running Ubuntu).

I raised a bug on Apple's bug reporter system last December and have sent updates whenever we've discovered something new - e.g. the Core 2 Duo support, the fact that the Intel version of 10.4.9 fixes this.

However Apple have not responded beyond automated acknowledgments and the bug status has never been updated. You might be able to help draw their attention to it by sending an email:

Email and ask them to look at bug number 4898558

Even better if you live near an Apple Store, you could try to visit it's Genius Bar and bring this blog and the bug to their attention in person.

2. The source code for version 1.4.5 of IOUSBMassStorageClass is identical for Intel and PPC. If we can get hold of the source code for version 1.4.7 then presumably it can be compiled for Power PC, which we could install ourselves as a custom patch at our own risk. This will probably be released on Apple's Open Source site at some point (I've now added it to the Useful Links section). It took about 6 weeks from the release of 10.4.8 before the source code went online on that site.

3. As Leopard will apparently be a very substantially rewritten version of Mac OS, then perhaps the USB libraries will be updated for Leopard. Then again as Apple don't seem to be aware of this bug, it's possible that any USB updates will actually break GPS-CS1 support for Intel owners again.

As ever I'll keep everyone posted.

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Tuesday, 13 March 2007

Mac OS 10.4.9 - still without GPS-CS1 support

Update 14th March
It appears that 10.4.9 fixes GPS-CS1 support for Intel Macs, but not PPC ones. Please check the comments to see how people are getting on with different Macs.

Well Mac OS 10.4.9 has now been released. I've downloaded the software update, installed and rebooted. Plugged in my GPS-CS1 and... nothing.

If anyone out there has had a different experience to me, please let me know. Perhaps it's just because I installed USB logging a while back, or something.

For those Core 2 Duo owners out there who did have GPS-CS1 support - install 10.4.9 at your own risk. It may actually break your support. Anyone in this category who has already installed 10.4.9, please let us know what happened.

Now I know Apple never said that it this work. It was just my hope that since a slightly newer version of Mac OS X 10.4.8 running on Core 2 Duo Macbooks supported the GPS-CS1, then 10.4.9 would add that support to my iMac.

However I have also tried bringing this to Apple's attention. To try to make sure 10.4.9 would fix this Mac OS X bug. I've tried raising it through Apple bug reporter. I've tried asking if it would on Apple forums, only to be told that you aren't allowed to ask questions about unreleased Apple software on their forums, and that my question would be deleted. I understand how Apple uses this secrecy in their marketing, but I'm not asking about secret Leopard features.

I just wanted to know if, six months after this device went on sale, it was ever going to "you know, just work" on my Mac. Like Apple say in their adverts.

Like it does on Windows.

Saturday, 10 March 2007

March update

If you haven't visited this blog before, it has been set up to share information on Mac support for the Sony GPS-CS1 photo geotagging device.

Although Sony do not advertise it as being Mac compatible, it should mount as a removable disk on a Mac. However unless you have a Core 2 Duo Macbook, then your version of Mac OS X 10.4.8 has a bug that stops the GPS-CS1 from mounting.

A workaround (other than using a PC to download the files and then transfer them to your Mac) is to boot your Mac in Ubuntu - you can do this from CD. The GPS-CS1 mounts without problems in Ubuntu.

As it does work with Core 2 Duo Macbooks running a slightly newer version of 10.4.8 (with Kernel version 8.8.3), then it is believed that the soon to be released Mac OS X 10.4.9 will fix this problem for other Macs.

We've been waiting for 10.4.9 for some time now. Lots of different builds have been released to developers and if you have a look at some of the older articles on this blog you will see some of the history of that. Nobody here has claimed to be running one of these developer builds so we don't know for certain if the problem is fixed. I am updating you with details of developer builds purely as a guide to how soon the full public release might be.

The last developer build to be released was 8P132 for PowerPC Macs or 8P2132 for Intel Macs, released February 28th. It contained only one more bug fix than the previous release which came out on 19th February. As these builds have been coming out roughly once a week for a while now, with a smaller number of bug fixes each time (and no known issues left), my guess is that the public release may be as early as next week.

Once you manage to get the GPS-CS1 files on your Mac, you can convert them to GPX files to make them more useful. Use gpsbabel for this. GPS-CS1 files are in NMEA format, and you do not need to rename the files from .log to .nmea or anything else to do this.

Recommended for geotagging your photos with your newly created GPX files - GPSPhotoLinker.

To export your geotagged photos from iPhoto to Google Earth - use iPhotoToGoogleEarth.

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Sunday, 4 February 2007

Mac support for GPS-CS1 coming soon?

Apologies for the lack of updates recently.

I was hoping that Mac OS X 10.4.9 would have been released by now, and we could see if it fixed Mac support the GPS-CS1. It's still in beta (developer seeding) though there are signs that a public release could be imminent.

Yet another new build has been sent out to developers, and there are two hints that it's nearly ready. First, there have been very few fixes between this build (8P125/8P2125) and the last one - and there are no known issues this week. Second, this is the first version that's been sent out to non-developers. It's gone to ordinary customers who are part of Apple's customer seeding program.

If anyone, developer or customer, has 10.4.9 and a GPS-CS1 then they won't be able to tell us if it works because of Apple's confidentiality agreements. However if you are one of these people, if you test it and it doesn't work, please can you report it to Apple?

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Thursday, 4 January 2007

Got 10.4.9 yet?

Does anyone out there have Mac OS X version 10.4.9 yet?

To date, it's only been released to developers. If that's you and you have a GPS-CS1, could you please let us know if it mounts as a removable drive? We're hoping that when it is released to the general public, that it will fix our problem with lack of Mac support for this device.

Everyone else, let us know when you get 10.4.9 as a software update.