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Topics - jbensman

General Discussion / 100K Downloads for My Trails
July 07, 2014, 10:10:27 AM
I am just amazed that there have now been over 100,000 downloads of My Trails.  Thanks to all those that have contributed over the years.  When I started My Trail I never dreamed it would be downloaded this many times.  When I first started sharing the maps in 2006, it was just the St Louis area and I would distribute it on CDs with complicated directions.  In the early days I would also meet for lunch with geocachers and they would bring their laptop for me to install the maps for them.  Things have sure changed.  And this site has been a major part of it. 
Site Support / Cutting and Pasting
March 25, 2014, 04:52:57 PM
Got a new computer and went from Vista to Win 8.1 so I was trying to make sure all my tools still worked and I could upload maps.  Got a new My Trails uploaded no problems.  The problem I am having is cutting and pasting into the description for My Trails.  I try to paste and it asks me for permission to allow access to the clipboard and I say OK.  But nothing will paste.

This is interesting, I just tried to paste it here and it worked:

March 25, 2014: Minor edits, new computer-making sure everything works right.

What am I doing wrong?  Thanks
Site Support / I cannot upload
July 16, 2013, 05:37:22 PM
I went to upload a new version of My Trails and I got a pop up message about Java (did not pay close attention) and selected don't warn me again.  Now the upload is not working.  The java thing that you use to upload does not start up and I don't get that warning message anymore.  It just goes to the upload page without the java application starting.
Site Support / Domain forwarding issue
March 01, 2012, 06:34:21 PM
Is there another issue with the name server again?  Starting yesterday I started getting messages like this whenever I tried to access this site (no problems on any other sites):

Malicious Web Site Blocked

You attempted to access:

This is a known malicious web site. It is recommended that you do NOT visit this site. The detailed report explains the security risks on this site.

For your protection, this web site has been blocked. Visit Symantec to learn more about phishing and internet security.

So I went and tried my laptop and the same thing would happen (and it only happened on this site.

It was still happening today on both computers execpt I would get messagres like

Oops! Internet Explorer could not connect to

I emailed some others to see if they were having problems and they said they were not.  Now it is an intermittent problem.  I've tried what worked when it happened before, but it still keeps happening. 

I'm running IE9 on both computers.
Map Making Support / Duplicate map entries on GPS?
October 27, 2011, 09:07:03 AM
I thought I had something warning people about it on the description.  I checked and did not.  So now the description warns people about it. 
Most agencies are happy to give me trail data for My Trails.  They recognize it is a public benifit for the public to be able to see where the trails are located on thier GPS.  Even the National Park Service is normally happy to provide me data and they have lots of great data on the Internet.

A couple of years ago I attended a public meeting the NPS was having on the Ozark National Scenic Riverways.  They told me they had GPSed their trails.  So I emailed them telling them what Iwanted the data for and asking for it.  After several months I got them to respond and they refused to give me the data. 

So I filed a Freedom of Informaiton Act Request for the data.  They told me it would take them 40 hours to find the data and I would have to pay about $1,400 for the trail files.  I told them it should only take 15 minutes to get the data and the Forest Service has sent me data while I was still on the phone asking for it.  I also asked for a public interest fee waiver.  I gave them a link to My Trails and pointed out thousands have downloaded my maps. 

In 2007 Congress amended FOIA to not allow them to charge search fees if they do not rule on the request within 20 days.  After 20 days, I pointed out they can no longer change me search fees since they missed the deadline.  They refused and I filed an appeal. 

8 months latter they ruled on my appeal.  First in spite of my link to this site, they basically claimed I was lying about making the maps and thousands of people downloading them and denied my fee wavier.  They also ruled thier 2002 regulations trumped the 2007 Amendments to FOIA.  In other words, they made the absurd argument that Congress cannot overturn thier requlations.

So a friend of mine filed a pro bono lawsuit.  The judge ruled in my favor today.  So the NPS has spent 10s of thousands of dollars to avoid letting citizens see on their GPS where the trails their tax dollars paid for are located! 
Map Making Support / USA Building Footprints Map
August 02, 2011, 11:20:49 AM
Thanks for posting the shapefiles-I was disappointed it only covered the National Forests, but I want to use some of the data.  One concern is it is from USGS maps which I have seen pretty far off.  Have you had any expericience with its accuracy?

Is this data available by state or with a state field?  Clipping by state can be a pain.  Do they have this in points?  I've added lots of NPS building footprints.  I've found the smaller ones don't work too well due to the grid.  What I usually do is sort by size and only use the bigger shapes.  Then I use ExpertGPS to convert them to waypoints and use a POI for the smaller files. 

Where did you get the data?

Thanks again for posting it.
I get lots of people wishing they could see My Trails and one of the topo maps from this site at the same time in MapSource/Basecamp.  While I know how to solve the problem, I am not sure if doing this would violate copyright or use restricitons for other topos on this site.  I also would not want to tell people how to do something other map authors may object to.  So I would appriciate some guidiance on if it is OK to tell people how to combine My Trails and another topo on this site so they can see them both at the same time in MapSource.  It seems like it should be OK since the img files would not modified so long as it is only used for personal non commerical use. 

I suspect the other map authors know what I am talking about and how it could be done.  But I don't want to say too much before I know it is OK.  So if any of the other MAP AUTHOURS don't know what I am talking about doing, send me a personal message and I will explain. 
Map Making Support / Searchable POIs
March 02, 2011, 10:30:48 AM
Anyone understand how Find works?  Most of the POIs on my maps can be searched for with Find/Whereto.  However, the Restrooms and Drinking water on my maps cannot be found with find/whereto.  Even "all POIs" will not access them.  It would be nice to be able to search for water or a bathroom.  Anyone understand what the problem is.  The vast majority of the POIs on my maps (My Trails and My POIs) can be searched. 
For those of you that use my Garmin maps, such as My Trails, I have now set up a listserve that I will send a message to when I update one of my map sets and a description of the improvements.  I am the only one who can post to the listserve so all you will get is notice of the updates. To subscribe: [email protected] My Trails is regulalry updated.  My other maps are not updated as often.
Site Support / Uploading maps losing connection
January 27, 2011, 08:09:29 AM
Has anyone else had trouble uploading big maps?  I normally have lots of trouble any time I try to upload My Topos (1.1 gig).  After it has been uploading for 3 or 4 hours many times it just stops uploading and there is no error message.  It just stops.  It usually takes 3 or 4 times before it will upload.  Its very frustrating.  It is extremely rare for me to have this problem for my smaller maps.  After it stops uploading there does not seem to be any way to get it to resume.  I also with the maps would upload faster.
Map Making Support / Breaking maps into components
January 19, 2011, 11:13:03 AM
One of the drawbacks of the topo maps on this site is they do not route and City Navigator data tends to be more accurate than the TIGER data.  That's why I have gone the transparent overlay route.  But it has its disadvantages.  The biggest is you can only see one map at a time in MapSource and BaseCamp.  I've been thinking about this and have some suggestions on how the best of both worlds might be obtained.   

One big problem with the transparent topo maps I have made is the water polygons cover up roads and many other things.  I've dealt with this by making a typ file to make major river and major lake transparent.  But that has problems too.  After I tried Matt Bell's CN Night mode map, it appeared he figured out how to get City Navigator's lines (roads) and POIs to draw on top of a polygon-what I had never been able to figure out. He told me the secret. 

First you have to match CN's zoom levels 23 bits 1 MS Zoom; 21 2; 19 3 ; 18 4.  You set the map to NOT transparent.  In mapsettoolkit you set draw priority to 30.  The result is CN's vectors and POIs draw on top of the polygons in the map.

That worked great except it caused big problems for the topo lines.  The zoom levels made a mess because they drew at too high of levels.  So I ended up having to split the maps.  I used his solution for the hydrology polygons and kept the contours lines and hydrology lines the way they were.  So I have two separate maps for the same area.  I have both the topo and hydro imgs in the same directory and they both show up in MapSource.  Even though the contour imgs are set to transparent and the hydo polygons are set to not transparent, it works perfectly on the GPS.  CN's vectors draw on top of the hydro polygons and the topo/hydrology lines draw on top of everything. 

So my suggestion would be instead of putting everything in the quad on one img, break it down.  Put topo lines and hydro vectors in one img, hydro polygons in another, and everything else in a different img.  The result would be in MapSource you could see everything.  You could chose what you send to your GPS.  If you had CN, you could select just the topo lines and hydrology.  Or you could select everything and send it to your GPS. 

Would not this also make it easier to update the maps when there is new TIGER data?  Instead of having to compile imgs for everything, you would just have to make new imgs for the road data.

Then there is trails.  My Trails now covers 37 states and I have spent countless hours working to obtain the best trail data available.  But a big complaint is in MapSource all you see is the trails.  One complaint about many of the topo maps on this site is they don't have trail data.  The solution: include the state trail img from My Trails in the directory with the other state imgs.  Then in MapSource the trails will appear in the map.  I am constantly updating My Trails with new and better data.  Whenever My Trails is updated for the state, all one would have to do is replace the img file in the state map directory with the new img.  Or maybe there is a way to modify the install script to check for this and replace the img in the state directory automatically.

I can think of a couple of issues.  First if they load the img from My Trails and from the state map set, it could cause conflicts.  Another issue is after the trail img file is updated, it will always display in MapSource, but if the trails img is selected and sent to the GPS from the state map, they may get the "your mapset is 27 megs and you only have 1158 megs on your GPS" error.  I think both of these problems could be avoided by telling them to load the trails onto their GPS from the My Trails mapset and not send the trails to the GPS from the state mapset.  I am not sure if you can have the same name for an img in two different mapsets in MapSource.  I do not think it causes a problem in MapSource, but I know it does on the GPS.  I've mistakenly given the same names to img files in different mapsets.  It worked fine in MapSource, but when you sent it to the GPS, only one displayed. 

Maybe there are some problems I am not thinking of.  But I thought I would throw this out as a possibility.  I am willing to allow My Trails be used like this as long as the non commercial use limitation is maintained.  Lots of the data I have in My Trails was provided to me on the condition it only be used for non commercial use. 
Site Support / Tutorials
December 26, 2010, 11:23:20 AM
How about seperating the tutorials on how to make maps from the ones on how to use the maps on this site.  I think people really get confused by havng them mixed.  At the top of the page there could be a title Tutorials for using/installing maps from this site.  Then there could be a title tutorials for making maps for this site.
A National Park Service GIS specialist has been very helpful in getting me GIS data that is not on thier website that I want to add to My Trails.  Today she sent me the attached trail files in a geodatabase.  gpsmapedit will not accept geodatabases and there are no free programs that will convert.  I asked her to convert them for me.  She said she was in the middle of a big project and she would not have time for a while-but she was willing to do the conversion when she can get to it.  Since she has been so helpful to me, it would be nice if somoene with access to ArcMap could do the conversion so she will not have to take the time to do it. 
Map Making Support / NPS Data
November 15, 2010, 11:11:15 AM
Here is the link to now use to get their data:

Instead of using the reference search, I was using the geospatial and it was a royal pain.  The reference search works and is pretty easy.

Here is my communication with the NPS

Jim -

Peter Budde asked me to respond to your questions about NRInfo.  The legacy Data Store system has been retired, and the NRInfo portal has replaced it and other legacy systems as a single mechanism for searching for any kind of NPS natural resource data.

There are several ways to search for data through this interface.  One is the Geospatial tab which allows you to search for geospatial data within a user-defined geographic area.  Search results are limited to 200.  The other is to search through the Reference tab, which has a record limit of 2000.  The Reference search is more like the legacy Data Store search interface.

I would suggest trying the Reference tab searches.  The default Quick search allows you to select types of references you are interested in (such as geospatial datasets), supply search text and also to limit to park(s) by dragging the park unit name(s) to the right column.  If the Quick search isn't refined enough, you can choose the Advanced search type and qualify your search further, including either a geographic bounding box or park unit selection.

I'm not sure what you mean by  "While the zoom to park zooms in, many times the map does not show the Park."  If you could give me an example of a park unit, I can track this down to make sure this isn't a bug.

I hope this helps.  If you still experience difficulties, I would be happy to assist you by phone with specific searches.


Mara Kali, GIS Specialist
National Park Service
Natural Resources Program Center
1201 Oakridge Dr, Suite 150
Fort Collins, CO  80525

phone:  970.267.2158
e-mail:  [email protected]

To: <[email protected]>
From: "Jim Bensman" <[email protected]>
Date: 11/12/2010 10:21AM
Subject: GIS Data

Is there a way to access the old interface for downloading GIS data?  This new interface is a royal pain.  While the zoom to park zooms in, many times the map does not show the Park.  The biggest problem is when you search to see what all is available for the park, almost always it only shows the first 200 records and does not provide a means to access the rest of them.
Almost every records that show up are 7.5 quads.  Is there a way to filter out the 7.5 quads so I can see what data there is for a park?

If it ain't broke, don't fix it!  Prior to this new interface, it was simple and easy to find the data for the various parks.  Now it is a royal pain.
Or is there an easy way to see what data a particular park has with the new system?

Jim Bensman
1802 Main Street
Alton, IL 62002-4724
(618) 463-0714

Site Support / Pictures in map descriptions
November 13, 2010, 09:36:21 AM
Under Your Files, Your images, I have screenshots of my maps.  How do I add them to my map description page?  I've tried inserting all the various codes with the images.  None of them work.  I've tried to use the insert image button but cannot figure it out.  Thanks!
Map Making Support / New NHD, USGS interface
September 28, 2010, 05:01:01 PM
Has anyone seen and figured this new interface out yet:

Here is the new viewer but I have not figured out how to get data from it yet:

And then there is this:

I am not sure if this is just a demo of if it actually works.  It is pretty simple to use and I tried to download some data.  It looked like it worked but I have not recieved any email notifications yet.

This looks like this will make map making much easier.

So has anyone else looked at this yet and figured it out?
Map Making Support / Draw Order
September 28, 2010, 10:39:40 AM
Does anyone understand how draw order works when there are multiple transparent maps showing?  I seperate topo and trails in different maps.  I use custom typ files which allow you to specify draw order.  That seems to work fine for that particular map, but when more than one map set is shown together, the order is not respected.  The specific issue is for my trail maps I include Corps of Engineers polygon shapefiles for dams and docks.  I set them at a higher drawing order than the river.  But the river draws on top of the dams and docks. 
Map Making Support / Update vs full installer
April 04, 2010, 09:34:25 AM
Most of my mapsets (which I regularly update and expand)  are pretty small.  However, My Topos is now over 1 gig.  It takes forever to upload a new version of Mt Topos (particularly when I also upload a new MAC version).  It also takes lots of time and bandwith for people to download the new version.  I regularly update My Topos by expanding the area it covers and editing the hydrology of some of the maps (removing stuff no longer there and tracing stuff in GoogleEarth to add to the map).  Is there someway I could make an installer that would just add the new and changed maps and the new mapsettoolkit files?  Then people would only have to download the patch instead of the 1 gig file. 
Site Support / Tutorials
February 05, 2010, 02:26:32 PM
Would it be possible to make it much easier for someone to find the tuturial on how to load maps into mapsource and onto thier GPS?  I do not know about others, but people email me on a regular basis about this.  If someone could easily find the tutorial, it would cut down on having to answer emails.  Thanks.