Evolution of the Site

About Us
Equipment & Gadgets
Safari Activities
Coastal Activities


Site Map

Sub Site
Sub-Site Map
The site and applications were developed while working full time, for instance in 1996 I was a salesman working 5 days a week and catching-up on paperwork on Sundays. As a part time developer it is difficult to keep pace with changing technology, such as Windows (in all its forms - I started with DOS, the last manual I read was Windows 3.1, through Windows XP, a bit of Win2000, quickly moving through Windows 7 to Windows 10) and Visual Basic through to V6. When Microsoft in their wisdom dropped support for Visual Basic I then tried a mix HTML, javascript, java and Python. So this shows the eclectic mix of the tools used through time.

Sample poster

Initially I started by producing posters (until c. 2003), with a map as a background and small photos of animals in roughly the right location, as best I could remember. (I have a good memory for locations, often recalling where we had seen animals many years before).

I produced my own maps from DEM data, the digital map of the world and tracing other maps. A useful source of information was Tracks4Africa which has a searchable database of POIs. I later uploaded my tracks to their website.

Digital Camera
Sony Mavica FD7
In 1998 I invested in a digital camera - the Sony Mavica FD7 with x10 zoom lens. It would take about 25 640x480 photos and save them to to 3½" floppy disk. Each file was about 25k but didn't need scanning or processing, as Alison's Pentax did - and then she threw a good 75% away.

I upgraded this as 1 needed to and the technology developed:
  • 2000 - Sony Mavica CD1000 - saved to mini-CDs with 1600x1200 pixels and 900k files
  • 2007 - Canon EOS 350D and Sigma 50-500 mm zoom lens - saved memory card with 3456x2304 pixels and 3 Mbyte files
  • 2014 - Nikon Coolpix P600 bridge camera with 1440mm equivalent lens - saved memory card with 4608x3456 pixels and 6 Mbyte files
In 2004 Alison traded Canon EOS camera in for the equivalent 300D camera but is now using a Nikon Coolpix P510.

By 2000 I began publishing my web-site, East Africa Dreams (Kenya Dreams had already been taken). I originally selected a poor hosting site, so got off on the wrong foot. When I had enough of them I sent a detailed enquiry to other hosting services about where their servers were, peering arrangements etc and the only company to respond professionally were KT Hosting. Their service has been excellent over the last 20 years with only a few outages, which were resolved in hours. I remain with them today.

The site started off quite basic and gave rudimentary information about safari-ing, similar to the Health page which hasn't changed much over the years.
Sample web-site

Sample CD
About the same time I started creating my own slideshows.

A very rough and ready application was developed in Excel using VBA, as Windows at the time didn't offer this as feature. But very quickly I developed in more advanced version in Visual Basic, linking to maps, which I was still producing myself and providing some basic text. At the time they were simply distributed to friends on CD and offered a level encryption that scrambled the photos.

GPS Logger
In 2004 I found the backlog of work and failing memory, particularly the locations, I couldn't remember accurately enough. So I invested in a Pretec GPS logger to track our locations. To interface with it while we were away I needed a personal assistant and some relevant software, which was provided by the iPaq.

Later I used the GPS feature of the mobile phone/tablet and a free App called GPS Logger. The upgrades were:
  • 2014 - Hudl tablet with GPS Logger software
  • 2015 - Ainol tablet with GPS Logger software
  • 2016 - Samsung Young 2 mobile phone with GPS Logger
  • 2017 - Samsung J5 2016 mobile phone with GPS Logger
Pretec GPS logger, Hewlett Packard iPaq personal organiser and GPS software
By time syncing the camera with the GPS logger and reading the EXIF time stamp (as well as other details, such as FL which with the chip size can give the FoV) photo positions can be almost as accurate as GPS - say 5m. In reality unlike GPS (which relies almost exclusively on time for position) the camera clock drifts and even with multiple syncs, on a safari gives an error of a couple of seconds. When safari-ing this usually isn't significant as we are stationary when taking pictures and travel at 25-30 mph otherwise. But on the train when we could be travelling at 70 mph or more could give an error of 50m or so.

Google Earth
In 2007 I began using Google Earth screenshots and calibrating them for use with my personal organiser, so I could track in real-time.

I also experimented with GE fly-over trips, stopping them and showing the photos in pop-up windows. This works well as long as you have a good internet connection, otherwise the show breaks up or buffers. Unfortunately, they can only be loaded by downloading the KMZ file with a large image directory.

Later I began stitching smaller maps together to create maps of sufficient detail (up to 4360x2808 pixels). This is quite involved, requiring small area to be cut (200-300 pixels) from larger files and using different zooms between rows.
Sample fly-through from Tsavo East

Raspberry Pi
Raspberry Pi
In 2016 I bought a Raspberry Pi, which allowed me to start hosting my own services. (The cost of hosting a site with large storage was beyond my means as a hobbyist).

This allowed me to begin hosting my own web version of my slideshow which was developed using HTML and javascript. The .csv files were turned into js tables which saved me loading them through the local file system - a real no-no for websites because of security risks. (If I were more familiar they could have been created as database applications, but I found it easer to stay with js).

At the same time I had to change to a open source for my maps as Google licensed their data. So I moved to a service offered by Mapbox that used Streetmap map data and satellite images. To get the detail over such a wide area, I had to stitch tiles from their static map, which can give images up to 1280 pixels wide/high, so I could produce maps of 16000 pixels with a zoom level as high as 13.

These came to the fore when I begain creating printed photobooks, where the resolution had to be higher.

These printed maps came to the fore when I began creating printed photobooks, where the resolution had to be higher.

For Christmas 2020 I bought Alison a photobook of our world cruise and I supplemented this in 2021 with another of our Australian travels.

This is a more convenient way of reviewing our travels than powering up the PC and watching them on-line. The books now rest on the sideboard in the lounge.

Although Bonusprint do not allow printing from their App, the PDFs were created separately in Powerpoint to closely replicate the printed versions.
Sample of the Australian photobook