Saturday, March 14, 2009

Who’s Copying Who?

Very interesting moments are happening now on Malaysia and Singapore’s GPS community. After earlier, Malfreemaps (also known as MFM) were being accused of copying the data from Malsingmaps (also known as MSM) for Singapore map, right now there are reports saying that the new Garmin-compiled MSM version of the map is allegedly copying the data from MFM. To be exact, the new Garmin-compiled MSM map is making use of the old data belongs to previous mappers who have left MSM and formed MFM. This is after Garmin announced that they have agreements with MSM to pre-load and distribute Garmin-compiled MSM maps for their users.

I am very much interested to know what will happen next, especially since Garmin is already involved in this case. From what I can see, the root cause of what happens now is the issue about map ownership, on whether the source data of the map, which is the intermediary .mp files (in Polish format, please CMIIW), belongs to the mappers or the community. This issue has actually been heatedly debated way long back in 2006 (before I joined the community), which resulted in the creation of (now defunct) community (the MSM mappers community) at that time.

When some of the MSM mappers left and created a new community called MFM, they brought back all the source data with them, and used the data as a base to build the MFM maps now. I was asking on why MFM would have to start with only the northern peninsular Malaysia area (which is the area where the mappers are in-charge with) while the MSM version 2.30 (which was the next version of MSM after the split) could still retain all the maptiles. I was told that the mappers who migrated to MFM have allowed, for the last time, for their maps to be incorporated into the MSM version 2.30, after which, MSM would have to source their own data to map and rebuild the areas from scratch.

On a further development within the MSM community, mappers from another GPS community, Masmap, came on board to start rebuilding those missing areas being left by the MFM mappers. I was then later made to understand that the Masmap mappers were actually ex-MSM mappers who left during the formation of community, as a result of the map ownership issues I have mentioned above. Based on the further development, my understanding was that MSM would build the map for northern peninsular Malaysia from scratch by the Masmap mappers team.

Therefore, I was quite surprised to learn about the allegations that MSM has used the old data (including those previously belong to the ex-mappers who had since formed MFM) to supply the map to Garmin for the new Garmin-compiled Malsingmaps map. When I brought this issue up on MSM forum, I was told that the data does not belong to the mappers, but belongs to the community, so MSM has the right to use the data. That was before I received a friendly warning from the site owner for not discussing about this matter in the open forum, which I abide. Eventually, my post with regards to the matter got deleted :) , together with the answer (if I’m not mistaken, from bab1e) I received, which I understand fully since the issue might be too sensitive to be discussed in an open forum.

Nevertheless, as a normal GPS user and a (very small) contributor to both communities, I really hope that this matter can be settled amicably.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Annoying Sony Ericsson Xperia X1’s Keyboard Problem

After several months using my Sony Ericsson Xperia X1 mobile phone, I have started to encounter some issues with its slide-out keyboard. This problem is specifically annoying since I’m a heavy user of the keyboard (for Internet, e-mail, SMS etc).

Some of the keys especially on the lower part of the keyboard, such as the Fn (blue) key, C key, V key, N key, the spacebar and the . (dot) key are not responsive, and do not register the keys when pressed even though we get the tactile (click) feedback from the keys. And sometimes, if we press harder, it will register double, or sometimes triple, of the keys. Really annoying and irritating

The problem started last month with the spacebar, and then spreads to other keys. This means that the problem seems to get worse over time, since more and more keys are affected eventually. This also means that the problem might be due to a design flaw rather than just a simple mechanical problem. Very disappointing.

I reported this problem last month on the XDA-Developers forum, and at first, there was no reply to the first post I made. However, eventually I found out that many other Xperia X1 users started to experience this problem. I’m not too sure whether the problem will be resolved if I bring the phone to the Sony Ericsson service centre, since it seems to be a design flaw instead of a mechanical malfunction. Any suggestions?

As an alternative, I have temporarily installed FingerKeyboard2, originally developed for HTC Touch HD (Blackstone), for my on-screen keyboard. Quite nice and easy to use. But I still prefer the sliding keyboard, though.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

MSM Released New Map Version in Mapking Format

I just read that Malsingmaps (MSM) has released their new March 2009 version of the map in Mapking format, although it’s only covering Singapore and East Malaysia (including Brunei) only, and doesn’t include West Malaysia as yet. While it’s a good news for Mapking users in Singapore and Malaysia, I find it a bit strange, since normally they will release their maps in the original Garmin format first, before converting them to Mapking format.

Not too sure why they haven’t released the Garmin format of the new version of their maps. I understand that MSM has been approached by Garmin to supply the Garmin official maps for Malaysia and Singapore (and Brunei as well, I presume). This means that there’s a possibility that the next official Garmin maps for the region will be Garmin-compiled MSM maps, instead of the not-so-good City Navigator Singapore/Malaysia NT maps.

Does it mean that we will have to pay to use the new version of Garmin-compiled MSM maps? I’m not too sure, since there’s no official announcement from MSM on this matter, yet. However, I understand that at least one GPS vendor in Singapore has advertised the new nuvi 255W which is pre-installed with Garmin City Navigator Singapore/Malaysia *and* Garmin-compiled Malsing maps, which I presume is referring to the Garmin-compiled version of MSM maps. The hint is that the new maps will be released during the IT Show event in Suntec City, Singapore, this coming weekend.

One of the advantages of using the official Garmin compiler instead of using the normal cGPSmapper compiler is the ability to provide some new features supported by newer Garmin GPS devices, such as lane assistance and 3D junction view, although unfortunately my Garmin Mobile XT, which runs on my Sony Ericsson Xperia X1 mobile phone, does not support that yet. That would bring MSM map one step ahead of its competitors, I agree, but since it will become a Garmin official map, are we still able to use it for free? What would happen to all the contributors who have contributed in building the maps?

Let’s wait for the “official announcement” to come from MSM admins. In the meantime, I’m very much impressed with the progress of the Singapore map built by Malfreemaps (also known as MySgFreeMaps or MFM), and have been using this map, together with MSM’s map, for my navigation in Singapore. The MFM version of Singapore map has much nicer polygons for HDB blocks and some other types of buildings as well, which is much better than MSM’s Singapore map and is comparable to Jerome’s donor version of the Singapore map. I am just hoping that MFM’s copyright issue with Jerome, who is the MSM’s mapper for Singapore, can be settled soon so that it won’t affect the good progress of building the best GPS map in Singapore.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

1000 Twitter Updates

I just posted my 1000th update on Twitter. Most of them are not really my direct updates, though, since they are cross-posted from Kronologger.


Nothing much special to call for a celebration. It just a reaffirmation that I’m now more into micro-blogging than the actual blogging itself.

Pretty sad, indeed…