Minor fixes to ShipWatcher

Some of the ShipWatcher features weren’t working when you viewed the site using the latest version of Internet Explorer (IE8), so I’ve fixed those problems.

Basically if you held your mouse over a webcam image, you were supposed to then see information about the ship. This didn’t work in IE8. While I was testing this, I found out it wasn’t working properly when you used the Firefox brower either.

ShipWatcher should work fine with these browsers now. If it doesn’t, please let me know.

I’ve also applied these fixes to VQE2.COM – the Virtual QE2 webcam site.

Server problems fixed.

I apologise for the unavailability of ShipWatcher.com over the last few days.

Our server failed, so we bought a new server, which also failed.

Not being one to give up easily, I’ve been on this issue since Friday lunchtime, and am relieved to say that as of about 10pm last night, everything is now working fine.

What was most disappointing for me was missing the lovely shots of QE2 as QM2 sailed into Dubai.

On the bright side, we have a larger, faster server so things should run much better than before.

Improvements: Speed & Accuracy

Over the last few days I’ve improved the response time of most ShipWatcher functions. It should be loading a lot faster now. If you notice delays, please let me know.

One other thing I’ve improved is estimating where a ship is. Some ships don’t broadcast their position. They only tell us where they came from and where they’re headed. I’ve given ShipWatcher a bit more intelligence so that it can guess the latitude and longitude of a ship, even if it doesn’t know its exact position. It does this by looking at journeys from other ships that may have travelled a similar route in the past.

If any of the information seems incorrect, please let me know. I can’t watch every single ship all the time, so sometimes I don’t see when the data is wrong.

New MAP Feature

I’ve added a new facility to Shipwatcher so that you can see a map that shows the locations of all the ships that are in the database.

When you click on the “Map” link on any of the Shipwatcher pages, you will see a Google Map that shows blue pins for each ship for which we have info.

If you click on that blue pin, you’ll see some recent data, and a recent photo from the ship’s webcam.

Why can’t all software projects be as much fun as this?

Please let me know what you think.

New: QE2 Virtual Webcam

The big news in the last month is that QE2 is no longer in service.

Normally I’d remove the webcam from ShipWatcher because it’s not transmitting live pictures any more.

But QE2 is special, so I’ve modified her webcam to show images from our archives of webcam images. Rather than showing what’s happening now, her webcam on ShipWatcher will show images from her previous voyages.

QE2’s “virtual” webcam still updates every two minutes, and the pictures are in chronological order. So as far as possible, it looks like a live webcam.

I have a few thousand images to add to the archives over the next few weeks to make the experience more realistic.

If you have any copies of QE2 webcam photos that you’d like to share on ShipWatcher, please let me know and I’ll give you info about how you can add your pictures.

Please have a look at QE2’s virtual webcam and let me know what you think – if there are any problems, or if it doesn’t behave as expected.

New webcam Photo Database

I have just completed the webcam photo database.

Instead of uploading photos to Flickr, ShipWatcher now stores photos in a database and lets you search it.

Click on the “Photos” link on the right hand side to see what it looks like.

You can search by ship name, company, port of call, etc, and see where the ship was at any point in time in the past.

At present the images only go back a few weeks, but I’ll be adding more webcam photos from my archives soon. Plus I’ll be giving you the ability to add your own photos.

I’ll be enhancing this over the next few weeks to add a lot more fun things.

Please try it out and let me know how I can improve it.

This move was forced upon me because the folks at Flickr deleted all my photos without warning, and have yet to give me a specific reason.