The Interactive BBirdMaps.com Location Map
by Don Bradner
This website provides a locator map with several service options. It is intended for owners of Blue Bird Motor Coaches, and their friends.
How do I use it?
Bookmark the link for the map. When the map is displayed, you can click on any location to zoom in on a smaller, but still wide-area map (10 degrees of longitude, 7 of latitude). Click anywhere on the next map to go to one that is 2 degrees by 1 degree, and from that one (when there are users shown) you can click on a user to drill down through 4 more levels all the way ot street detail. Below each map you can click on a user name or number and likewise zoom in.
Each user is represented by an icon. These icons define coach type, FC, PT, SP, LX, LXI, BMC, M380, plus SOB (Some other brand), and "None".
To the left of the user list (except on the main map) is a column for a mail icon. If the user allows you to e-mail them, that icon will be a link to their e-mail address.
How do I show my location?
You first must be a member of this (free) site. If you are not already a member, go here and register. That form is also where you would go to change your registration, or retrieve a lost password.
Once you are a member, there are three ways to update your information and location. The first is via an online form; the second is with a downloadable Windows program, and the third is with an Android App if you have a Droid or other Android device. With the first two methods, the best starting point is to click the "Retrieve Most Recent Info" button, then make any desired changes and submit.
Your latitude and longitude are entered as Degrees and Fractional Degrees. If you are obtaining your location from a GPS device there is a good chance that it will be in Degrees, Minutes, and Fractional Minutes. Rarely will it be Degrees, Minutes, Seconds. A GPS which shows your longitude as 82.18.236 West means 82 degrees, 18.236 minutes. You can convert that to degrees yourself (divide the minutes by 60), or you can have the form or program do it for you. Put 82 in the degrees box, and 18.236 in the minutes box (along with the numbers for latitude) and click the Calculate button (conversion is automatic in the program). You will see 82.30393333333333 appear on the left (way more significant digits than we need, but that does not matter).
How do I find my Latitude/Longitude?
This is the most often asked question. If you don't own a GPS device, there are available tools that can provide the information for you. One choice is to use Google Earth. Zoom in on your location, and read the Lat/Lon at the lower left. Google Earth presents Deg/Min/Sec by default, which is difficult, but you can change to Decimal Degrees in Tools/Options. I also found an online form at http://geocoder.us/ that provides address-to-lat/long conversion.
If you have an electric hookup available for other Bird owners you can check that box, and your icon will show on the map with green highlighting. If you are able/willing to help with problems, check that box and your icon will highlight in Cyan. There is no option for both, so choose the most appropriate. In either case use the note to provide any details, and a phone number would be a good idea.
When everything is filled out to your satisfaction, submit your Location. It will typically be about 30 seconds before you are plotted on the map, although your location at the bottom of the page will show the new values immediately.
To keep the data fresh, the map will only show users who have submitted data recently. You can set your own expiration time in 5 day intervals from 5 to 30; the default is 10. Shorter time periods are good to remind you, if you are moving often, while longer periods are good when you don't plan to move for some time. You can submit the same data again as frequently as you wish to keep your location showing.
E-Mail Notifiers Are there people who like to know where you are? Are you interested in where specific other members are? There are two options available at the bottom of the map form or program to setup tracking lists. The first list is for e-mail addresses of people who would like to know where you are. They do not have to be members here or have any specific interest in Blue Birds - this is for letting your family and friends know where you are. Each of these people will receive an e-mail when you move. You will also be able to see a list of anyone who is following your moves.
The second list is of members you would like to "follow" as they move around the country or world. Enter the member number(s) and they will be added to your list, and you will receive an e-mail when they move.
Restrictions and other details: Mails to people on your e-mail list will come from you. Mails to you when others you are following move will come from the system (my account).
You may block someone from following you, although since you are publicly on the map I would hope you do this very rarely. Anyone who is following someone must themselves be on the map or they will not receive the notification e-mails.
For both types of e-mails, sending only occurs when both latitude and longitude change a modest amount, so no sending occurs when you are just renewing an existing location. There is a "Force Send" override option when you want to send out a new message, but haven't moved. You can suspend e-mails if you want to avoid sending e-mails when you do move, but not delete your list.
Google Earth Links Each of the maps have links to Google Earth at roughly the same zoom level. These can be fun to play with, particularly since you can pan the map around to see things outside the borders of what you are shown with the Datastorm Map. The level of detail varies depending on where you are.
If you missed the links above, they are:
Registration Form and password recovery
Online Form for location updating
Downloadable Program for easy updating from the desktop