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Thread: Help finding up-to-date trail conditions

  1. #1
    Administrator Kimball's Avatar
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    Help finding up-to-date trail conditions

    This site should help winter hikers find up-to-date trail conditions
    http://TrailsNH.com

    http://TrailsNH.com is a custom index of trail conditions for the last 30 days from:
    • Rocks on Top
    • Views From the Top
    • New England Trail Conditions
    • Hike-NH


    It also contains NOAA/National Weather Service Snow Depth Map and USGS Topo Maps.
    • USGS map servers can be real slow
    • Snow Depth Map is just an estimate, but perhaps helpful


    There is a simplified version for mobile phones http://trailsnh.com that lists just the last 7 days.

    Tips:
    • The map window expands
    • You can drag on the map to move to a new location
    • You can double-click to Zoom in (or use [+] and [-])
    • When you move or zoom the map, the "Trail Conditions" list will change to match just the area "In View".



    How It Work?
    Every 4 hours or so my web crawler reads the new reports on VFTT, ROT, etc. Based on the title of the report it tags the report with latitude and longitude. I use the Lat & Lng of 54,000+ places (land features(summits, cliffs, etc), trails, water features(brooks, ponds, lakes), and shelters/huts in the Northeast, pulled from GeoNames.org.


    Place Marks:
    • If the trip was to one place, I try to put a dot on the map at that destination.
    • If the trip is to several places (i.e. peaks), I try to put the dot between then.
    • It does not always work out perfectly, but most are right on.



    Place's not Marked:
    • In some cases, like Bald Mountain there are too peaks (roughly the same height) to choose from. So the system creates a list of peaks we can choose from. You are welcome to help out and choose the correct peak from the list.
    • In come cases the system has no idea. You are welcome to add the place mark.
    • There is a moderator system for approving the new place marks.


    I'd love to hear your feed back:
    Is it useful?
    What else does it need to help you plan a trip?

    Thanks for checking it out.
    - Kimball
    Last edited by Kimball; 02-18-2010 at 10:16 AM.

  2. #2
    Senior Member nartreb's Avatar
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    Pretty cool. One annoyance is that when you click on a report, the pop-up text bubble causes the map to scroll, so all the other reports go out of scope until you scroll the map back to where you were.
    Also, sites like VFTT distinguish between "conditions reports" which are brief, and "trip reports' which are more like storytelling. It didn't take me long to realize that the hike-nh sources I saw were all in the latter category. In addition to labelling the source, maybe make the link in a different color, or have visibility of the longer reports depend on a radio button selection? I don't think you link to trip reports on VFTT, but you could.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Chip's Avatar
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    Looks really interesting and could be helpful. I just checked Owls Head, since it's "in the news" here. Your site did keep the bogus Romohiker Trail Conditions report, which has since been deleted from here. I don't know how you intend to screen/exclude potentially bad reports, or if you have or need Darren's permish to use this info.

    Quote Originally Posted by deleted report located on your site
    Owl's Head 1/6
    VFTT: Jan 0644.144,-71.605
    9 People broke it all out and used the Black Pond Bushwhack and the Bushwhack around the slide....
    VFTT: Owl's Head 1/6
    Feedback: [Wrong Location] | [Trash]
    Dead Last > Did Not Finish > Did Not Start

    * ALL STANDARD DISCLAIMERS APPLY: IIRC. YRMV. IMHO. FWIW. HYOH. NO WARRANTIES, EXPRESSED OR IMPLIED, ARE MADE
    THAT INFORMATION CONTAINED IN THIS POST IS ACCURATE, RELIABLE OR APPROPRIATE FOR ANY PARTICULAR SITUATION.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Rik's Avatar
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    Hopefully someone with start an Adirondack version so my made up trip reports can be more accessible.
    Safety is in the eye of the beholder

  5. #5
    Moderator David Metsky's Avatar
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    Since you are not just linking to reports, but copying the data, it would be wise to contact Darren here at VFTT and ask his permission to use scrape content from his site. Posters here may also have issues with their content being used elsewhere.

    Having said that, it's a cool idea and well implemented.
    You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself, any direction you choose. -- Dr. Seuss

  6. #6
    Senior Member DougPaul's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by David Metsky View Post
    Since you are not just linking to reports, but copying the data, it would be wise to contact Darren here at VFTT and ask his permission to use scrape content from his site. Posters here may also have issues with their content being used elsewhere.
    I am not a lawyer, but my understanding is that the original posters have the copyrights and their permission should be obtained before copying their reports.

    Doug

  7. #7
    Senior Member nartreb's Avatar
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    "Fair use" depends on the amount of information copied (both absolutely and as a proportion of the original), and the purpose of the copying (e.g., news), among other things.
    Consult your own lawyer, but you might be aware that lots of websites copy a paragraph or so of news items without paying for them. (Some big news organizations like the Associated Press would like to change that, but I doubt they'll be successful.)
    Copyright will generally reside with the authors, not the website owners where the posts are first published. However, it's at least polite to check with those websites before scraping their content in an automated manner, to be sure you're not straining their resources, and because they might choose to block your bot.

  8. #8
    Banned Kevin Rooney's Avatar
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    Good show, Kimball. Give yourself several Attaboys.

  9. #9
    Senior Member leaf's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by David Metsky View Post
    Posters here may also have issues with their content being used elsewhere.
    i agree with metsky. good thing i don't hike anymore.

  10. #10
    Banned Kevin Rooney's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by David Metsky View Post
    Since you are not just linking to reports, but copying the data, it would be wise to contact Darren here at VFTT and ask his permission to use scrape content from his site. Posters here may also have issues with their content being used elsewhere.

    Having said that, it's a cool idea and well implemented.
    Copyright issues aside - is there really anyone out there who thinks they can retain control of their material once it's on the web? In these days of Google and other search engines? If so, then IMHO they're operating on a rather high level of naïveté.

  11. #11
    Senior Member Quietman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin Rooney View Post
    Copyright issues aside - is there really anyone out there who thinks they can retain control of their material once it's on the web? In these days of Google and other search engines? If so, then IMHO they're operating on a rather high level of naïveté.
    My kids do! Drives me nuts!

    I do understand this and that's why I very careful about what I put on the web. I have no problem with the new site, as long as it's not covered with advertising!

  12. #12
    Administrator Kimball's Avatar
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    Thanks for the comments.

    Sounds like the down side is you think I am stealing your content. I don't want your content, just to know it is out there. I'm not copying the content and displaying it as my own. I display only 200 characters. I clearly identify the source 3 times for every post. And, there are 2 links back to the source for every post.

    My intent is to create a geographic based index, that leads back to source. A usefully resource for hikers looking for current trail conditions.

    Your content is already public in Google, Yahoo and Bing. I only show a sample preview as they do. This is what Google shows:

    Owl's Head - 1/9/2010 - Views From The Top - Forums
    7 posts - 6 authors - Last post: 2 days ago
    I enjoyed a cake walk to Owl's Head yesterday, thanks to all of you. ... Thanks for the trail breaking and the trip reports! ... Trips & Events, Trip Reports, Site Help, Northeast Trail Conditions, New Hampshire ...
    www.vftt.org/forums/showthread.php?p=306411

    As for bad content. I expect to add some wiki like features, to allow the community to help keep the information accurate. Such as: 1) [Wrong Location] which will all you to move the place marker, and 2) [Trash] to all you to flag bogus/abusive content. Changes go to a moderator for approval.

    The ADK posts have been growing over the last year. I display what I can fined. Same goes for Mass and VT. If you know of an active forum/resource please let me know.

    Trip Report vs. Trail Conditions.
    I do expect in the future to use different colored dots on the map to help identify the content. That may help here. They are all in the index, because a long report is better than no report.

    Views, Rocks, NETC, Hike-NH are all open for search engines. There is a convention to turn away search bot (robots.txt) and none of these side turn them away. Example: http://vftt.org/robots.txt

    Simply dissallow TrailsNH in your robots.txt file and I will drop your content from the index.

    Rocks had disallowed search bots (via robots.txt) up till a few months ago. But that restriction is gone now.

    I hope we can get past the content issue and find this site us a usefully resource for planning your next winter hike. I know I do.

    -Kimball

    PS. I am also a hiker:
    Done NH 4000 8+ times
    (except Passaconaway - least favorite, and Cabot - too far to drive)
    Done the NE 4000's
    Done the NEHH
    Done the Presi Travers 8+ times
    Done the Pemi Loop 10 times
    15 to go in the ADK

  13. #13
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    Kimball - love your site - gives users one place to visit versus having to review numerous sites - good job!

  14. #14
    Senior Member Tim Seaver's Avatar
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    Cool Beans

    Nicely done, Kimball. This really has potential to be a very useful gateway.
    You don’t have to be a fantastic hero to do certain things — to compete. You can be just an ordinary chap, sufficiently motivated. - Edmund Hillary

  15. #15
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    Nice job Kim. Your tool will be of great benefit to a broad range of the hiking and skiing community at large.
    I don't believe in lists to enjoy the outdoors. My dog never did ..... Just enjoy the ride.

    www.hikesafe.com

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