Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Download Geocaches to Microsoft Streets & Trips 2004

Geocaching is our favorite hobby and is great fun for the whole family! We started geocaching a year ago after a friend introduced it to us. Geocaching involves finding hidden caches using GPS coordinates posted to the website. Inside the caches is a log and usually something to trade. provides a utility where you can click a check box and download selected geocaches to a Geocaching specific .loc file. Usually this file is used by a Geocaching provided program that allows you to download the waypoints to your GPS unit if you have the necessary cords and software (which we don't of course) but if provides all the necessary information about the location of the cache. If you look at the file you will notice that it is an XML formatted file which means it is very easy to transfer the file between different programs.

To Download Geocache Waypoints from .loc file to Microsoft Streets & Trips 2004:
1) Go to and click the check box(es) next to all the caches you wish to upload to Streets & Trips.
2) Click on Download Waypoints
3) When prompted save the file somewhere you will be able to find again ;)
4) Browse to where that file is located and open it with Microsoft Excel
-- To do this select "Open With" or if prompted select "Choose from program list"
-- Select Microsoft Excel
5) Now that you have the file open delete the first row (Select from the File Menu: Edit - Delete)
6) Save this file as a .xls Excel file
7) Open up Microsoft Streets & Trips
8) Click on Data from the File Menu and Select "Import Data Wizard"
9) Now you are going to set up the import with the correct columns
10) You want to Set the Latitude (Column Header = /waypoint/coord/@lat) and Longitude (Column Header = /waypoint/coord/@lon) columns to the correct ones
11) I also set the GC#### (Column Name = /waypoint/name/@id) as Name and the Cache Name (Column Header = /waypoint/name) as Name2 so they will appear on the Streets & Trips Thumbtack
12) Set all of the other columns as
13) Click Finish and thats it now you have all your Geocaches marked on Streets & Trips as named thumbtacks on your map

Note: My wife really considers this Geo-Cheating but sometimes it is nice to get an idea of your surrounding caches and find a way to those really hard to find ones. Just make sure you keep your caching maps hidden if your Geocaching partner(s) feel the same way.

Keep on Caching!
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Saturday, March 05, 2005

An easy way to correctly sort date fields in Java displaytag

The problem: Display tag sorts all values as Strings which means that date values are sorted incorrectly by displaytag. One way to do this is write your own decorator class which implements a sort for dates and use this decorator on your field.

A quick and easy way to sort date items correctly without having to write your own decorator class is to: change the date format to yyyy/mm/dd This is a date display which correctly sorts in string representation. It is that easy.

If you want sort your list by any colum by default you can specify the column index of the column you want to sort in the defaultsort="" attribute of the table tag. The default order can be set using the defaultorder attribute: the default value is ascending, you can set it to descending to reverse the order. So, to sort by default your date column, set defaultsort equal to the column index of the date column (remember 0 based indexing) and then set defaultorder="decending" so you have most recent dates first.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Cisco VPN Friendly Firewalls

The Cisco VPN application interacts badly with many personal software firewalls, including the

Windows XP built-in firewall. So, you have to turn off your firewall every time you want to access your Cisco VPN and turn it back on when you are done. This is so annoying that after a bit you just give up and leave the firewall off. After some searching I found some firewalls that work with my VPN. The software firewalls I have found that work with the Cisco VPN are:
ZoneAlarm (Free)
ZoneLabs Integrity 1.0 and higher
BlackIce Agent and BlackIce Defender
Sygate Personal Firewall (Free)
Sygate Personal Firewall Pro
I have been using the free Sygate Personal Firewall and have had no problems with it. I have been able to connect to the VPN and SSH to my development server with no problems.