A GPS receiver receives coordinate information about its location and that's it. To put the location information to good use, you need mapping software that is able to take in the location information and return something, perhaps a map showing you where you are. Some mapping software goes the extra mile in helping you to navigate routes based on the end point that you have defined.
Here is a list mapping software that is worth exploring:
In the next section, I show you how you can use the Microsoft Streets and Trips together with your GPS receiver to display a map showing your current location.
9.3.1 Microsoft Streets and Trips
Microsoft Streets and Trips is an affordable (less than $40) mapping package based on MapPoint technology. It has comprehensive maps of the U.S. and Canada, and lets you locate addresses, plan routes, and export maps to a Pocket PC. It also can use a GPS receiver to keep track of your location at all times.
To configure Streets and Trips to use a GPS:
Figure 9-13. Microsoft Streets and Trips waiting for data from the GPS receiver
After some time (a few seconds to several minutes), Streets and Trips will begin getting positional data from the GPS, and it will show your location as you can see in Figure 9-14.
Figure 9-14. Pinpointing a location with GPS
9.3.2 NetStumbler and GPS
Chapter 3 introduced NetStumbler (http://www.netstumbler.com), a free application for discovering wireless networks. If you attach a compatible GPS to your computer, you can configure NetStumbler to read data from the GPS. Then, you can drive around while it's scanning and generate maps of wireless access points.
To configure NetStumbler for GPS, make sure that it is installed and working, and that you've installed your GPS device according to the GPS vendor's instructions. You'll need to know the COM port that your GPS uses (see your GPS documentation). To get NetStumbler to read data from the GPS, follow these steps:
You can also configure NetStumbler's scan speed (click the General tab in Network Stumbler Options; see Figure 9-16). Fast will scan every 0.5 seconds and slow will scan every 1.5 seconds. If you select "Auto Adjust using GPS", NetStumbler will adjust its scan rate based on how fast you are traveling.
Figure 9-16. Setting the NetStumbler scan speed
184.108.40.206 COM port hell
At the time of this writing, NetStumbler supports COM ports between 1 and 8. If your GPS was assigned a higher COM port, you can adjust serial port allocations as follows:
Figure 9-18. Reassigning COM20 to COM3
If you plan to do some Wardriving (see Chapter 3) with NetStumbler, keep the following in mind:
220.127.116.11 Generating maps
After you've finished doing a scan with NetStumbler, you should be sure to save the file (File Save) so that you can access it later or generate maps with it. WiFiMaps.com (http://wifimaps.com/) lets you upload scan files, then it stores the information, making detailed maps of Wi-Fi access points to anyone who visits their site. (If this prospect troubles you, you can check their site to see if your access point is listed; their FAQ includes instructions for having your access point removed from their database.)
This book's editor, Brian Jepson, got so excited about this that he wrote a simple web application to generate a map using the summary format that NetStumbler exports (File Export Summary). This program uses the 1990 U.S. Census map server (http://tiger.census.gov/cgi-bin/mapsurfer). To generate your own maps, all you need to do is visit http://www.jepstone.net/stumbler with a web browser, use the web page to upload your NetStumbler summary file, and wait for it to render the map. Figure 9-19 shows a sample map from southern Rhode Island.
Figure 9-19. Mapping access points in southern Rhode Island
This program does not store the maps for very long just a couple of days so you can revisit the map a few times if you'd like and does not publish the information you upload publicly. It's just there for one-offs.