Since the summer of 2008, which in weather terms was February - April, I’ve been deeply engrossed in techie-land between the far too infrequent backpacks. The awful weather did at least allow us to get some of the long outstanding big jobs done, and the technical trend was forced on me by the death and rebirth of my master PC, complete with truly superb S-IPS technology monitor that makes the cheaper TFTs look…well… cheap.
I also rebuilt the even older slave PC and both machines now run smooth and fast as the wind on Intel 45nm Wolfdale chips. I used some of the old components to build a third PC for use as a test rig, in particular the hard disks which would make life interesting with the map testing, more of that later.
Back on topic, I’ve been thinking of adding a Digital Mapping subsection to the Gear &Tech pages for quite a while, this is a short braindump from this recent foray into the frustrating arena of digital mapping which gives a few insights into one product. When complete the new section will concentrate on the PC side of mapping where my own expertise lies:- I do know some relevant stuff about the mobile device side of mapping in those areas where they interface with the PC, but I don’t own any portable unit myself. I normally use MM for mapwork, occasionally Tracklogs, and I’ll have a lot to say about that on the main site eventually, but I have Anquet products and I wanted to investigate their Map Server facility and free downloadable aerial photography. I was also curious about the little known digital mapping from the OSI (Ordnance Survey of Ireland), more about that in a separate post.
The installation and management of Anquet maps via their unlocking system is legendary even when the procedure causes no real problems, but I spent two solid days on this on the test rig PC (mapping product installers have a poor track record). I downloaded the latest software version 126.96.36.199 which seemed to install smoothly and then tried to make contact with the map server, whereupon I denied access through the firewall while I installed my map. Then the trouble started - and this is a highly abbreviated version omitting the minor difficulties.
Running MapLaunch.exe in the AnqMapData directory did nothing at all: an hour glass appeared for a split second then nothing, no sign of it in Task Manager. Running a monitoring program during the load revealed that the program simply disappeared, then when I looked at the registry keys it was querying I remembered the exact same problem from a couple of years ago: the installer had incorrectly set up two keys to point to the default installation directory but I had installed it in a different one. So in V188.8.131.52, if you install to a directory other than the default, you must correct these keys before you can install maps from disk:-
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Anquet Technology\Anquet Maps v06\SystemFolder
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Anquet Technology\Anquet Maps v06\SystemPath
Up comes MapLaunch correctly now, asking for the license key. Not valid. Check that the map files are ok, retype it. Not valid. Yes it bloody is mate!. Short cut a few hours of double checking everything and messing about…one of the old hard disks I’d used on this rig still had files on it, and by sheer bad luck there was an old Anquet installation with a directory AnqMapData at the root with a different map in it. The software had picked up that map in preference to the one in the current directory!.
Right, license key valid now. I entered Map Manager and let it through the firewall this time. “Unable to connect to remote server” quickly followed by “… you must have an active internet connection…” and “… failed to login…”. The email address and password were definitely correct and worked via the website. Short cut a long period into the following day… uninstalling and manually removing all its registry keys, rebooting and reinstalling did not cure it. Then I discovered a directory ‘Anquet Maps Databases’ I didn’t know about under ‘My Documents’ in the current user. Deleting that and everything else from before, and reinstalling, the totally clean system finally allowed me to login, install the map and get it automatically unlocked.
The pain of this exercise was useful if only for improving my understanding - in fact this is the greatest benefit for me because I probably won’t use the products in anger. The connection to the map server is far more intimate and delicate than I imagined, it’s passing across far more information than my email address / password and a simple unlocking code. It seems to be given complete detailed knowledge of the installation, and if anything upsets it even slightly it won’t log me in. I’m sure the root cause in this case was that old Anquet installation on the other hard disk (combined with my messing about and trying things), once that was deleted and everything cleaned out the server was happy to allow the login.
Map Manager updated the display to show the free aerial 10m photography products - these are the low resolution ones, the 3.3m ones and very high-res 1m ones must be bought of course. The 10m products are sort of free - they are free to download and need no unlocking but they expire after one year.
After all that I need a backpacking trip and we’re off!.