[Loadstone] Train database results

Sean Randall seanr at randylaptop.com
Sat Mar 27 20:08:31 GMT 2010

Hi all,

Just a quick heads-up to let you know how I got on with the train data

I only used a few stops, but of those, none was out by more than 200 yards
or so.  I had to increase my approach time if I wanted automatic
announcements, but found it easier to leave Loadstone in navigation mode and
just tap select when the trained slowed or I wanted an update.

I did turn off my signal monitor whilst travelling through a heavily wooded
area, but the longest time I was without a signal was 90 seconds.  As there
were at least 6 minutes between stops, this wasn't really an issue and I
turned the monitor off because things were patchy, connecting on and off.
Even with a second of coverage, my phone updated the position and so I
always new which station was closest to me.

Using the view area command whilst in navigation mode (long select) I was
able to view the stations in order of distance, which was what I did with
Wayfinder.  I found it less of a necessity because with a tap of select I
could always hear the closest one.  If I wanted to hear the next one, I
pressed 1 to hear my direction of travel, then the appropriate cursor key to
hear the next station in that direction.  I found this useful when leaving
one station and wanting to know the next, because until the distance to the
next station became less than that of the previously departed one, select
would report the place I'd just left.

I had sound turned off all the way and used vibration in combo with a Nokia
bluetooth headset with the phone in a pocket.  The members of the public  I
spoke to didn't even seem to realise I was using the headset for anything,
iPod-style earphones are a much more common site and so my low-key bluetooth
accessory didn't even raise an eyebrow.

Whilst in the car on the way to my starting station, I loaded my checkpoint
file (containing the stations I would be passing through).  I needn't have
bothered, had I wanted to manually check where I was at each stop, I could
have just hit select with the same result.  For viewing the area though and
seeing only the stations on my path, checkpoints worked extremely well.

My one question: When the closest point changes, is there a way to have it
announced without isolating it?  It would be useful to know the next station
as soon as it becomes closer than the one I've just left.  Not that pressing
select is much of an inconvenience, it would just be quite handy and
decrease the fumbling around for the button.

Overall, I was very impressed.  Only one of my four trains announced the
upcoming stops, and had I not had a solution to hand I would have needed an
exceptional memory, or a notepad to tick off stops, both of which are quite
fallible methods of locating oneself. I would have  carried my phone with me
GPS or no, and the headset was only a few extra grams of weight - after a
while, I didn't even notice I was wearing it.  The announcements from
Loadstone were precise, accurate and useful, and I was always, always aware
of exactly where we'd just stopped  and where we were going.  In fact, I was
able to prompt a passenger next to me with a hundred percent certainty, as
he was due to get off earlier than I and was dozing in his seat and so not
paying much attention to his surroundings.

I want to thank the Loadstone developers, if they're here, for such a useful
tool.  Without it, my day would have been far more uncertain and my travel
that much more stressful. The discontinuation of Wayfinder, if it indeed
comes to pass, will be quite a blow for turn-by-turn, street-map-style
directions.  But if you know exactly where you're going and are able to get
that information onto a Loadstone database, you're covered all the way.

I would have no qualms about sending my database (or at least the sample of
it I was able to verify) to a totally blind friend, assuming they were
comfortable using loadstone, and guarantee that within a few minutes their
comfort level on the trains would increase.  This is just the sort of way in
which technology should be helping us, and I must say that I am profoundly
grateful that Loadstone stepped up to the bar in my time of need.


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