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  1. #1
    Registered User Frolicking Dinosaurs's Avatar
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    Default Database guidebook idea - what are your thoughts?

    This ( and the posts found when searching for "Wingfoot") was enlightening. I bought his 2003 book in preparation for the section hiking. I was thinking of getting the 2006 version, but have changed my mind. Could anyone recommend an alternative? I know there is one on the Net, but I'd like to have a tote-able printed version.

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    The Thru-Hikers Companion www.aldha.org

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    First Sergeant SGT Rock's Avatar
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    Just to add to that, although I am an ALDHA member and a supporter of them, I personally feel that the Thru-Hiker handbook's lay out it better than the Companion lay out. You can make the decision not to buy WFs book because you don't like him, that is always anyones business. I've also chatted with WF and I like him for the most part, I just think he needs another partner admin like I do to keep me in check

    Hopefully someday ALDHA makes either another book, or changes the lay out of the Companion.
    SGT Rock
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    My 2008 Trail Journal of the BMT/AT

    BMT Thru-Hikers' Guide
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    Registered User Frolicking Dinosaurs's Avatar
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    Guys, it was the stuff on his site that lead to my decision. This site just pointed me to his site.

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by SGT Rock
    Hopefully someday ALDHA makes either another book, or changes the lay out of the Companion.
    For the most part, the data in either book is public domain and to my knowledge isn't copyrightable. I suggest the ALDHA Companion use the same format, with mileage details upfront and town/resupply and flora and fauna info in the back.

    Sure it will be a rip-off, but no more so then WF did when he used databook to change his format.

    I'd also get rid of the spriral binding and make the mileage info and each town section seperately bound and easily pulled from the main binding.

  6. #6
    First Sergeant SGT Rock's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sly
    For the most part, the data in either book is public domain and to my knowledge isn't copyrightable. I suggest the ALDHA Companion use the same format, with mileage details upfront and town/resupply and flora and fauna info in the back.

    Sure it will be a rip-off, but no more so then WF did when he used databook to change his format.

    I'd also get rid of the spriral binding and make the mileage info and each town section seperately bound and easily pulled from the main binding.
    I tend to agree with your assessment Sly. It took me about 10 minutes to figure out how the Companion even worked the first time I picked it up. I would like to see a lay out that had the data for the stuff exactly how you see it with the miles as you go along, sort of how WF did the 2002 guide. I also think that the ATC would be happy to support ALDHA since they give money from their sales of the Companion back to the ATC.

    Mostly what I would like to see is a database where people can select the level of detail and lay out they prefer and then print off their own book for their hiking style, but that is another subject.
    SGT Rock
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    My 2008 Trail Journal of the BMT/AT

    BMT Thru-Hikers' Guide
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    While I dont agree with WFs political and social views. he does put together a good trail guide. I have bought his book every year Ive hiked since 1999, and will continue to buy it until someone else can put one together that gives all the info in a readable format like his.

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by SGT Rock
    I also think that the ATC would be happy to support ALDHA since they give money from their sales of the Companion back to the ATC.
    Even though I've been a member for almost 10 years, I'm not exactly sure of the relationship and how the money works but the ATC publishes the Companion, so there's definitely a common interest.

    I don't believe they'd be a problem if the Companion incorporated the Databook and each could be sold seperately as they do now.

    I'm most likely going to miss this years Gathering, but perhaps I can have someone make the suggestions at the general meeting.

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sly
    I'm most likely going to miss this years Gathering, but perhaps I can have someone make the suggestions at the general meeting.
    Slyman how could you??? I don't remember going to a gathering without seeing you since about '94. It definitely won't feel the same. I thought hard about not going because they tried to outlaw beer last year but i think they won't try that at Dartmouth. If they do, it'll be my last one too.
    Or maybe it's the gas prices. I have to go to (work) a festival in southern NH and hope to have Rainman pick me up so i won't be using too much fuel. If you could get up to PA you could come along if you like. If not, we'll sure miss you.

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by fiddlehead
    Slyman how could you??? I don't remember going to a gathering without seeing you since about '94.
    Would like to go and almost made arrangements, but I'll just be getting back from the JMT and ALDHA West Gathering.

    We'll see, I may be able to pull it off yet!

  11. #11
    Springer-->Stony Brook Road VT MedicineMan's Avatar
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    Default I think we should thank WF

    if not for him then WB wouldnt thrive a it does.
    also think of what WF could have done...kinda like the Jews versus the Arabs, the Arabs have recieved billions and billions of dollars and what have they done with it besides killing and teaching to kill....versus the jews who have taken a worthless piece of land and turned it into an oasis. WF could have done so much for the AT (OK maybe he did do something) but failed because of an attitude to realize what he could have done.
    And back to Sgt Rocks comment on a customizable downloadable printable Trail Guide---isnt that a mission of the Articles Section here at WB???
    Start out slow, then slow down.

  12. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by MedicineMan
    if not for him then WB wouldnt thrive a it does.
    also think of what WF could have done...kinda like the Jews versus the Arabs, .....
    Did you think of this all by yourself or have the help of mind altering drugs?

  13. #13
    First Sergeant SGT Rock's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MedicineMan
    And back to Sgt Rocks comment on a customizable downloadable printable Trail Guide---isnt that a mission of the Articles Section here at WB???
    Not really. The articles could serve as some of the filler info that goes in the front of most guides and could also make some good "spot" info in places. With the idea I have, a user of whiteblaze could download the article and print it out to add to their database.

    What I am talking about is a database that has it's own program for viewing, or could be imported into another program like Access or Access viewer, or some other program. for the database part it would only need be a CSV file or something similar. I've set up some fairly large databases in the past and think this is an easy to set up thing. The hard part would be entering in all the data intially, then enforcing a system within the ATC to keep it up to date. Maybe with the tech-savy new guys that just got on-board it could be done.

    What I would like to see is the ATC take all that data they have about the trail and things along it that is listed in the section guides they put out, and arrange it all in one database with a key record that is "Miles_from_Springer" or "Miles_from_Katahdin" so that it all can be sorted out correctly. Then every entry would have attributes in other record fields such as water, campsite, road crossing, etc. Then take the data that is in the Companion that gives more detail about towns and shelter and make those special details fields for the items in the database. So now you have built a big honking database about the trail from end to end. The system benefits the ATC because now when they go to update trail guides and books, the local chapter can simply send them the new database entries to go into the trail database. Revisions of the new books can come directly from the database.

    The database could be sold with certain rights - like the right to print and use the data for your own purposes only, no commercial use. And there could also be a commercial use version which would simply be a more expensive package that includes what usage the ATC allows you to do commercially with the info - so say if Baltimore Jack was planning to write his own preparation guide but not a full up guide and include data from the database, his cost would be lower then say a user like WF who wants to basically take the database and re-print it with his own data added.

    The database should include a few different pre-set print formats for size and lay out so the user can choose how big and in what format they want their guide.

    So now you have a database and certain rights to use it and you can select how you want it put together. So what do you do with it? Well some people want only a companion style book with maybe road crossings added, and they only plan to hike from Davenport Gap to Erwin. So they can select the level of detail they want for a trail guide, tell it what section to print out, and print it in whatever lay out they want - say alternating data and blank pages so they can make journal notes about sections as they travel - and have it in a top bound 4.25"x5.5" flip book style.

    Another hiker may want water, town, and roads but not want shelters. That hiker may be doing a thru hike and can print out his guide in sections to meet his mail drop schedule and map sections and do so in a small 3"x5" notecard style front to back.

    Another user may be a section hiker only worried about water and special points like blue-blaze trails and cool spots like Charlie's Bunion. That user may also be site impaired and want a big print version 8.5" x 11".

    And the price - about $5. The same price they charge for the databook for just one user. This allows them to make the same money per sale without the printing costs. They could still offer the guidebooks for the section hikers to just buy, and the Databook as well. And if you make it available for on-line download after paying - you save shipping costs too. Make the limited commercial use version something like $100 and the commercial use be about $500 with a sales based add on (that may be a little harder to enforce).
    SGT Rock
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    My 2008 Trail Journal of the BMT/AT

    BMT Thru-Hikers' Guide
    -----------------------------------------

    NO SNIVELING

  14. #14
    Donating Member/AT Class of 2003 - The WET year
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    I believe that dog will hunt Rock. Especially helpful is the fact that the user can print out all or some of the data and in any order they desire. Truth is ...you wouldn't have to make the entire database available to every hiker though. You could offer it as feature of membership in ALDHA or ATC. Bump the annual dues enough to cover the cost and let each member download/printout the section(s) they need or want ...some or all.

    This reminds me a bit of the trend in documentation from electronics manufactuers these days. You logon to their website, enter your validation code and pull the ops manual down to your computer. Then you're free to review it on-line or print out some/all of the pages.

    'Slogger
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    First Sergeant SGT Rock's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Footslogger
    I believe that dog will hunt Rock. Especially helpful is the fact that the user can print out all or some of the data and in any order they desire. Truth is ...you wouldn't have to make the entire database available to every hiker though. You could offer it as feature of membership in ALDHA or ATC. Bump the annual dues enough to cover the cost and let each member download/printout the section(s) they need or want ...some or all.

    This reminds me a bit of the trend in documentation from electronics manufactuers these days. You logon to their website, enter your validation code and pull the ops manual down to your computer. Then you're free to review it on-line or print out some/all of the pages.

    'Slogger
    Oh I know it will 'Slogger. I came up with the thought a while back when working with a database I created for my troop using Microsloth Access. When the Army issued me a PDA and I was looking to use it as a hiking tool, I created a Access database for a section of the AT and made it exportable to my PDA and it actually did exactly what I am talking about. So you could stuff like select only shelters, and it could display just the shelter data. You could select laundry facilities and it would show only the laundry facilities for the section of trail you desired. Made planning a breeze. That is when I came up with the printing options idea - because not everyone wants to see it on the same display.

    It would be VERY easy to set up the database to work in Access and include pre-made reports and queries to allow the user to select what they want. The harder part (at least for me) is setting up the different pre-set print options and programing a macro for a control panel to make interface easier. There are some bubbas out there that have more kung-fu when it comes to this though.

    The absolute hardest part for any one individual would be getting the data together and proof reading it. If I were king for a day at the ATC I would get about 14 volunteers to start doing the data entry after the tables and fields were created. Each one would start with a state, and when the ones with smaller states finished, they could start helping people with the bigger states like VA. This project could be done in a year with the right help.

    And think of this: since some programs, like Access, allow you to import tables, making a WhiteBlaze add on table would be easy. You could take Jack's re-supply article and add a new set of custom queries and reports that could be attached to the original ATC database. The key field would simply have to match. This way someone could add Jack's resupply article to their database and have it included at the correct spots in the lay out of their custom guide instead of having it all in one place in the back of the book (unless that is what they want). You could also have a couple of blocks for user input data so someone could customize a guide by adding info like "Camp here day 1" or type in some info that they learned here on Whiteblaze that is specific to that guide entry. Plus the Boy scouts could have an add on database for their stuff. WF could sell a database add in for TP followers. GPS nuts could create an add in for grid coordinates info to everything on the trail. It would be pandelirium!

    And your idea about having it available for members. Wow, I never thought of that, but it makes perfect sense. BUT, if I were to do it that way, I might not have the price so high. Since a lot of members never use the Databook, maybe only raise fees by $1, or have a special membership level called "Tech Savvy" that gives the member access to the database. Heck, I would let ATC figure the best way to get that egg out of the shell based on their needs. And since you mentioned it, Maybe ALDHA would be a better organization to do this and offer it. They already have the experience with the Companion
    SGT Rock
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    My 2008 Trail Journal of the BMT/AT

    BMT Thru-Hikers' Guide
    -----------------------------------------

    NO SNIVELING

  16. #16
    Donating Member/AT Class of 2003 - The WET year
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    [QUOTE=SGT Rock]And your idea about having it available for members. Wow, I never thought of that, but it makes perfect sense.
    ========================================
    One of the main reasons for doing it that way would be updating. The database stored at ALDHA, ATC or wherever could be updated whenever new information is received from hikers and validated. Each section would have a "last updated on" date so that a hiker would always know if they had the latest version.

    It's water over the dam now so I'll share with you that a couple years before my thru I had an idea along these lines. It was inspired by the AAA Trip Ticks I used to get for car trips across the USA. I met with the muckety-mucks at AAA and shared my idea. They shyed away from it because it didn't fall in line with their charter. But I still think that sort of idea would fly. With a system like that, each hiker could assemble their own handbook for a hike, be it a section or the entire AT. Each page would be a map section with a fold out that contained info on water sources, shelters, town data and etc.

    Personally, I have about 7 or 8 years of AT Handbooks on my shelf right now. Something like this would replace the whole "buy a new one each year" process and allow you to keep a manual in loose leaf format, replacing sections as they are updated in the database.

    As with anything though ...getting the original database assembled will be the challenge. The more people involved the longer it will take.

    'Slogger
    The more I learn ...the more I realize I don't know.

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    First Sergeant SGT Rock's Avatar
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    Well I tell you what I would be willing to do. I would be willing to set up a concept database (when I could get some free time) using my 2005 data book and a GA Trail guide, the ATC companion section, and Microsoft Access as the program. Once the initial concept is finished and a few users manhandle it to find some errors, we could make a WhiteBlaze on-line collaboration where folks that would be interested could do a section. It might take a while and quite a few users, but I think it could get done. And as an ALDHA and ATC member, I would gladly contribute the effort to either or both of those fine organizations to take it over as a project for continuity. A field editor could simply send in the new data, as I am sure they already do, and the data could be pasted over the older data in the databook.

    As I sit here thinking about it. The level of town data could also be changed based on user needs. Imagine someone like Flash Hand or Deafsmart going into a town and having the ability to have good info for Deaf hikers in their version. And the opposite could be said for hikers that don't care about certain town things, they could choose to omit hostel data if they so choose in order make their version smaller or whatever.
    SGT Rock
    http://hikinghq.net

    My 2008 Trail Journal of the BMT/AT

    BMT Thru-Hikers' Guide
    -----------------------------------------

    NO SNIVELING

  18. #18

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    Yeah Rock, it would have to be able for a user to customize it. Imagine Lone Wolf having to download shelter data....

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    First Sergeant SGT Rock's Avatar
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    I just created this thread from another one that had a completely different topic. I figured the ideas here deserved their own discussion.
    SGT Rock
    http://hikinghq.net

    My 2008 Trail Journal of the BMT/AT

    BMT Thru-Hikers' Guide
    -----------------------------------------

    NO SNIVELING

  20. #20
    Donating Member/AT Class of 2003 - The WET year
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    Quote Originally Posted by SGT Rock
    As I sit here thinking about it. The level of town data could also be changed based on user needs. Imagine someone like Flash Hand or Deafsmart going into a town and having the ability to have good info for Deaf hikers in their version. And the opposite could be said for hikers that don't care about certain town things, they could choose to omit hostel data if they so choose in order make their version smaller or whatever.
    =======================================
    The whole concept is solid and it gets around the various complaints that one handbook or another doesn't format things the way an individual hiker likes to see them. You could set it up front to back for a NOBO or SOBO hike and include only that information which you feel would be helpful. One example is Post Office telephone numbers. In 2003 I carried the Handbook pages, broken down into sections that I had mailed to me along the way. But ...one of the things that I kept with me the entire way was the page with Post Office Telephone Numbers. That information could be loaded into the database along with the town info and a separate page would be unecesary.

    One question to consider though would be ...the impact on the current AT Hanbooks and the reaction of their publishers.

    'Slogger
    The more I learn ...the more I realize I don't know.

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