to convert a geographic shape file to a UTM projected one

OGR seems even more cryptic than proj:

ogr2ogr -t_srs "+proj=utm +zone=17 +datum=NAD83" -s_srs WGS84 outfile-utm.shp infile-geo.shp

Note the weird output-first convention. Check your UTM zone and datum. This approach seem to work for GPS tracks saved as GPX and converted using gpx2shp.

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