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Attackpoint AR - performance and training tools for adventure athletes

Discussion: improvements

in: PG; PG > 2011-05-25

May 26, 2011 5:01 AM # 
I can think of one improvement that happened not through internal effort, but just because of external factors. Or, actually, two.

One is that, because color printing came down in cost such that offset printing has just about vanished (is anyone still doing it other than DVOA?), most maps are now printed with the courses on them, which means no more copying of master maps. I can probably count on the fingers of one hand* the number of times I've had to copy from a master map in the past few years, and that's a good thing.

The other thing is the widespread availability of GPS devices for tracking routes. I'm not positive that this is all for the good, if it lessens the extent to which people think about their routes as they draw them in (if that is in fact useful), but people sure seem to like their GPS tracking, and anything that makes people happier is by definition an improvement. And I recognize that there was also effort from the orienteering community involved, in terms of the programs that translate raw GPS data into a track on a map.

*Actually, I'm sure I can, because I can count to 31 on the fingers of one hand....
May 26, 2011 1:07 PM # 
I can count to 31 on the fingers of one hand

So can I, but I am not that much more efficient at it than I am at copying form master maps.

I also think the advent of GPS and the easy posting of routes has added enjoyment to the sport. We used to go to meets and come back with a map. Now we come back with a gps track and a list of our splits. Much more fun.

The ability of course setters to use OCAD to make minor map corrections and print courses has also increased the ease of meet administration and enabled better course design.

Best innovation of the last dozen years - attackpoint.
May 26, 2011 1:30 PM # 
I agree about Attackpoint.

Also, I think the internet, in general, has also been a big help. We can now watch live streams of WOC competition. We can give instant fedback and discussions about A meets (which I think has led to overall quality improvements). We can easily find information about international and local events. And our splits can be loaded and analyzed before we even get home from the event.
May 26, 2011 4:43 PM # 
The electronic contributions to mapping, from OCAD, lidar for better contours on the basemap, general availability of aerial orthophotos, etc. have been pretty important. Programs such as QuickRoute, RouteGadget, WinSplits, etc. have contributed a lot of post-race enjoyment as well as being useful training tools. Video games such as Catching Features seem to be useful training tools as well as a source of amusement for many orienteers. The possibility to easily look at O-maps from elsewhere and the routes of better orienteers on sites such as the DOMA can be useful armchair training opportunities. Adaptation to modern lifestyles by making it often possible to register and pay for events online is probably important in keeping up attendance figures. Hi-tech innovation doesn't always make our lives better, but some of these contributions have made the orienteering more fun, feasible and available.
May 26, 2011 7:58 PM # 
A bunch of good ideas above but I will mention lidar again.
May 27, 2011 3:15 AM # 
Call me a luddite, but it never bothered me to copy from a master map, although doing it on time was stessful , not the time, but because I was hurrying, I would sometimes circle wrong. But I also think that making pre printed maps for each course is wasteful of paper and money, and takes more time for the meet director.
My experience with LIDAR has been a bit of a disappointment for mapping.

I do love my GPS though, mostly for the HR curves, and I do like to look at the routes of others, thanks Sam!
May 27, 2011 3:33 AM # 
Regarding the waste of paper: I think it's perfectly acceptable to require pre-registration/map reservations for pre-printed maps at local meets. You bring course-less maps for everyone else, and they have to copy theirs. It prevents the course setter from having to guess on how many to print of each course and encourages people to commit to coming.
May 27, 2011 11:21 AM # 
@Coach- luddite yeah :-)
Can't add much of note except to say personal favorites are AP and RG.
May 27, 2011 12:04 PM # 
Those who are old hands don't mind course-copying, but I think it's probably annoying to some newcomers, and you have to set up a place to do it, which is particularly tough at certain venues or in bad weather. It's one thing to be copying on a simple map at a picnic table on a dry, sunny day, but doing it in a dim drizzle under a hastily erected tarp with mosquitoes closing in on your knees in the mud isn't something that makes orienteering fun. DVOA, despite using offset printed maps, has had all pre-printed courses for many years, because they made the decision to do so and bought enough stamp-pad course printers to be able to have them set up in case they needed to print more maps at the meet site. Now that's a lot of extra work for the meet director! Maps from color printers have some disadvantages, but they do give the meet director at least the option of offering preprinted courses, with what I see as very little effort. Even if not every meet director wants to do that, I'm glad that the capability exists.
May 27, 2011 12:31 PM # 
@jj- agree. Now one of the merits of master maps was the training opportunity to consider attack points, route choice etc whilst copying down the course- best done off clock though.
May 27, 2011 12:38 PM # 
I have had a lot of fun with those stamp pads over the years, but I never lost sight of the fact that we were delivering a product/experience for the marginal customer, not just for the already captured market.

Fit, finish, and attention to detail count for a lot. And on the margin, they are noticed, explicitly, or implicitly.

I would rather waste 50 maps, if I got 50 extra participants. I'll do that trade every day.

A lot of this vituperating about the cost of orienteering may have a good basis if the expectation is that the product is not that good. If things revert to the path of least resistance....

Despite increasing acceptance of non-offset printed maps more broadly, as long as I have a voice, they will not be abandoned by DVOA without a fight.
May 27, 2011 12:44 PM # 
BTW--the stamp pads were retired a long time ago.
May 27, 2011 1:06 PM # 
FWIW, LiDAR + MarkD produced an excellent map of Moreau--100 times better than the base we had from overflying because it captured the terrain under the many evergreens.

Glen sent me on a test course on the old base and I got way lost; once we had LiDAR it was remarkable.

So your results may depend on the vegetation, and the mapper's skill.

I love AP and GPS tracking!
May 27, 2011 1:39 PM # 
DVOA switched to running offset maps through an inkjet printer to do the courses, is that right? I agree that offset maps are the best, but few clubs do enough business these days for it to make sense. DVOA is to be admired.
May 27, 2011 2:36 PM # 
Yes--that is the approach, and IMO, it can't be beat.

For the 2000 US Champs we offset print everything--including courses--but our current approach is almost as good.
May 27, 2011 2:57 PM # 
Any idea if DVOA needs another HP DeskJet 1120C printer? I have one gathering dust in my garage.
May 27, 2011 3:20 PM # 
That would be a question for Sandy.
May 27, 2011 4:55 PM # 
I think map printing went downhill after everyone stopped offset printing everything. I've seen a lot of awful inkjet printed maps. But with good quality color laser printers affordable now, things are much better. I've also been having very good luck with digital offset.

Having preprinted maps with the courses on them makes it so much easier to run a meet. Less table space required, and all you have to do is hand them a map at the start.
May 27, 2011 5:08 PM # 
A more polemical assertion is that mapping quality actually went downhill, in part because of non-offset printing.

The argument would be that is you no longer needed to invest the exacting attention to getting everything perfect and to anticipate how things might look in a few years time if you could easily make corrections as needed.

Obviously maps change. But, I wonder if it is not better, on net, to invest in a professional effort every five years, than aggregate a lot of disjointed, ad hoc efforts in continuous time.
May 27, 2011 6:26 PM # 
Maybe for large clubs. Unaffordable for small ones.
May 27, 2011 8:44 PM # 
Which--offset or the professional mapping every five years?

Offset can be more expensive, but there are ways to optimize and economize that can bring those costs down. Scale obviously helps, but scale can be achieved through different ways. DVOA couldn't afford offset, either, if we only printed one map at a time. The key is to coordinate so you can pump through several on a sheet.

Or professional mapping? I'm not even sure about that. If you are a small club, you don't have as many venues. Say you have one map, you hold an event on it 4 times a year, and get 100 people/time. 400 x $7 = $2,800.

Professional mapping can be had for $1,000 square/KM. If you generate $2,800, you can go far towards offsetting the costs of that map on a stand-alone basis. And if you can do an A-meet every 10 years on the terrain, you are golden.

Admittedly, these are stylized numbers, but I think that the numbers can work, without flogging them too much.
May 27, 2011 9:17 PM # 
Even with stacking multiple maps on a sheet (which I'm a real pro at), the minimum print runs of offset mean that you need to have a certain rate at which you use maps, or it doesn't make economic sense. In New England, it used to, but things have declined here such that arguably the only map that gets used enough to justify offset printing is Pawtuckaway. Part of the decline in map quality, though, is paradoxically the same thing, the availability of color printing (and to some extent, 0CAD). It used to be that printing was handled only by members of the elite graphic arts priesthood, and thus almost always done right. But now there are lots of people who can bring maps into existence, some of whom have no idea what they're doing. There are a few maps in my vicinity that are total nightmares, very difficult to read, and every time I run on one, I try to remind myself that I need to find a diplomatic way to tell somebody that I should spend a few hours overhauling the map file so that it will at least be legible.
May 27, 2011 9:20 PM # 
... except plenty of clubs have about 20 maps, use them no more than once every year (sometimes a lot less frequently), get 50 or fewer people to each meet, never hold A meets, and charge $3 per start.

They could change things around to make professional mapping affordable; they just prefer not to.

This discussion thread is closed.