Tag: GPS

Not Enough Electronics

Sitting here at my desk, I’m surrounded by an array of cords, chargers, batteries, and electronic devices. I don’t think I realized how dependent upon devices we’ve become until I did my last trip on the ginormous motorcycle. Here is the complete list of electronic things that had to be managed at the end of each day:

  • Helmet communications system. Due to a weird system requirement of Android Auto, the motorcycle’s GPS/mapping won’t work without the helmet communication. This got charged first each night.
  • Phone. Duh.
  • A giant bag of GoPro batteries. GoPro batteries last approximately 27 seconds so you need quite a few of them for all-day filming. I probably shouldn’t bother because anytime I came upon something interesting, the GoPro battery would be dead and I wouldn’t be in a spot where I could pull over and change them.
  • DSLR batteries. They last slightly longer than GoPro batteries. Unless it’s cold. Cut cold weather battery time in half. Then to be safe, assume it’s half of that.
  • InReach satellite device. I use it so folks can track my location/progress in real time. Plus it has the handy “Oh Shit” SOS button that I pray I never have to use.
  • Backup GPS device. Because I’m positive that the one time I really need to figure out my location my phone will die, I carry a handheld GPS. Just in case. Doesn’t mean I know how to use it, but at least I have it.
  • Kindle. I like to read. Unfortunately my Kindle is at least a decade old and the battery lasts less than a day.

Each of those devices has it’s own cord and charger. At the end of each day’s ride, my motel room would have cords and devices plugged into every outlet in the room. It looked like an FBI sting operation preparing to eavesdrop on some Jan 6 Boogaloo Bois. How have we gotten to the point that it takes this many electronics just to go for a ride?

Here’s where I do the standard old man, “when I was a kid”… Seriously, when I was a kid you got a paper map. If you were serious you had a fancy road atlas. You had to drive with the map spread out on the passenger seat, stealing glances at it from time to time to make sure you were on the right road. See an interesting sight? Pull out your trusty instamatic camera (no battery) and snap a pic. When the roll was done you’d drop it off at the drug store and come back a week later to see if any of the pictures came out.

The closest to a GPS device was the wonderous AAA Triptik. We’d go to the local office and describe the trip and route we were taking. Come back a few days later and they’d have a narrow spiral bound map book printed for you showing the route. You’d follow along bottom to top, then flip the page. As a kid I’d spend hours before the trip going through the book, looking at the route and all the cities and sights on the map.

Here’s something that will blow the younger readers minds. Imagine this scenario. You need to find a part for something. There’s no computers, internet, or cell phones. You’d pull out the trusty yellow pages and try to find stores that might have what you’re looking for. You’d have to call each of the stores to see if they had what you need. If it was a store someplace on the other side of town where you’d never been before, you’d pull out the map and figure out where it was. It wasn’t uncommon to have to call the store back and figure out the closest large cross-streets so you could locate it on the map. My strategy was to write down all the street names and turns on piece of paper so I wouldn’t have to look at the map while driving (safety first!). It seems so strange to think about, now that we have instant look-up and same-day Amazon delivery.

We’ve certainly come a long way. Progress is a good thing. Although I’m questioning if I really need that many electronics to go on a trip? Of course the answer is yes. Oh, and I’m contemplating adding another motorcycle-specific GPS to the bike. And then come winter I’ll need the heated vest that will have to be recharged each night. And when I go off-grid, that requires battery power blocks and solar panels to keep everything charged. I’ll soon need a chase vehicle to follow me with all my electronics and gear.

What’s the point of all of this? There really isn’t a point other than I was thinking about it while I was watching some money management, minimalist lifestyle advocate last night on YouTube. He was describing the three things that are worth spending money on. Number one? Experiences. Buying meaningless stuff in an attempt to keep up with the Jones won’t bring you happiness. But spending money on a trip or an activity that provides lasting memories or experiences does give long term happiness. You’re only here once, go make the most of it.

The Ex Post Facto Study

  • As humans, we really like passing new laws, creating processes and procedures, and establishing new rules to solve the problems we’re experiencing. What we don’t do a very good job of is any sort of analysis of our newly created bureaucracy to see if it actually did anything useful. Laws and processes, once created, tend to stick around forever. For example at the start of the pandemic that shall not be named for fear of woke xenophobia, my hospital started a screening process for anyone entering. They purchased fancy stand alone scanners that let me scan my badge and take my temperature. I never use it because I have to log into it the night before (a software system the hospital had to purchase), answer the same stupid four questions, and then the next morning my temperature never registers with the automated machine because I just walked across the parking lot in 40 degree temps. The backup to the automated station is an employee who asks the questions, manually checks my temp (which still fails), and then gives me a sticker to put on my badge to “prove” I’ve been screened that day. When the ‘rona started everyone was panicking and I’m sure this process seemed reasonable at the time. It’s been in place for quite awhile now, so a retrospective study seems appropriate. Has this system actually “caught” any cases of Corona? I doubt it. How many people with 104 degree temps and difficulty breathing actually go to work or randomly show up to visit aunt Sally in the hospital? Or, they are asymptomatic and would have passed the screening anyway. Naturally the in-person screeners are only going through the motions at this point. I walk up say “no changes”, they try to scan my temp for 0.2 seconds, I grab my sticker and go. So in retrospective, is it worth continuing this? What made me think of this was something Grandpa Joe said during his weird state of the union speech last night. He dredged up the standard we need more gun laws rhetoric, saying we need to ban ghost guns and pass universal background checks. Ignoring what drivel that is for the moment, this seems like a prime opportunity for a retrospective study. We have tons of historical data in the form of crimes committed with guns. If we looked backwards and applied the new proposed laws, how many of those crimes would have been prevented? e.g. how many shootings have occurred with “ghost guns”? How many people went through some sort of firearm purchase at a flea market or gun show, bypassed a background check, and then went on to commit a crime? It seems pretty simple to look backwards to see if something would work moving forward. But that assumes you actually want the answer.
  • Spell check is a wonderous thing. Without it my writing would look like a five year old’s. Spell check elevates it to at least sixth or seventh grade. But the problem with spell check is you have to be roughly in the ballpark for it to give a suggestion. Take for example “bureaucracy”. I don’t think I’ve ever gotten it right first time. Unfortunately I never even get close enough for spell check to offer a helpful hint. I end up Googling things to stumble across the right spelling. Which brings me to my new phone. I like using the “swype” keyboard rather than entering in individual letters. The default swype implementation on the old Pixel phone was marvelous. I only had to get semi-close to the actual letters and it somehow knew what I was trying to type. It often had the correct contextual suggestions for the next word and the next word… magical. Samsung’s implementation on the other hand is very disappointing and more often than not I have to go back and type everything out. Sigh. I know you can download other swype keyboards, but that would take actual effort.
  • I violated my newly vowed rule to simply pay a professional to install things rather than me spending 10x the amount of time to do the same thing. I got some parts for the new ginormous motorcycle but the idea of waiting for an appointment and then paying someone $75 an hour to do what I should be able to do just killed me. And sure enough… two and a half full afternoons, many expletives, phone calls to customer support, and two new one-time use tools and everything is installed. But at least I feel good about my manliness. Cue Tim the toolman grunt.
  • This past weekend was very rainy and outdoor stuff wasn’t an option. I was bored and decided to conduct research and do an actual experiment. I’ve been needing a navigation solution (long story) for the backcountry while on the motorcycle. I wanted to use my phone rather than purchase a $600+ GPS device. I ended up spending the better part of a day researching options, downloading software, creating routes and maps, and really learning the systems. And the pièce de résistance, I created three custom routes and then went out and drove them to see which system performed the best. An actual experiment. I am a dork of huge proportions. But, at the end of the day I think I have a system that’s going to work.
  • I don’t think there’s much to say about the weird state of the union last night. Grandpa Joe is not a gifted orator. For all his flaws and ignoring content, Obama could deliver a good speech (as long as the teleprompter was working). Clinton too. For speechmaking ability I’d rank the presidents in the following order: Obama, Reagan, Clinton, Bush 43, Bush 41, Biden. As far as content goes, all SOTU speeches are stupid. They’re long whish lists of crap that never gets done. If you’re a fan of everything big government, you loved Biden’s speech. If you’re a minimalist government type, it was abhorrent. I don’t think there was much in the middle for this one.
  • I’m going to ride the ginormous motorcycle a fair number of hours north today, then come back on Saturday. Sort of a pre-travel trial run. I’m waiting for my soft luggage panniers to arrive and then all the pieces will be in place to hit the road! Interesting how much effort, planning, and research it’s taken to be able to experience the “freedom” of the road. LOL.

Song of the day: Sugar Ray Fly 1997