Sunday, March 31, 2013

Playing with PuTTY and NMEA

"Welcome to "This is your life,", and please give a warm welcome to our surprise guest NMEA 1.5."

"Well NMEA 1.5, how are you feeling?" "Well I'm doing okay, I guess. I don't do much work anymore, and nobody calls me to do anything new. I mostly hang around in my ninth floor walk up apartment with my five cats and watch reruns on TV. I was important once you know, but today, not so much."

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Link love? Do I look like a cheap date?

Every few years for some unknown nostalgic reason I think I like spam, and I buy some. It gets cooked with Don Ho singing Tiny Bubbles with his ukulele in the background. But like that extruded McRib thing that appears every now and then. I'm always disappointed. I too can get sucked into that "An ounce of image exceeds a pound of performance thing." But for sure I don't like the taste of comment spam.

In the beginning I just put up with it. My email tells me I have a comment. I look at it, and if it's comment spam I just dump it, until one day I saw this on the Rant.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

How it's made

Today on "How It's Made", bronzing chart plotters, macrame hanging basket holders, tie dyed T shirts, and a Rant.

Lets start with the choice of Wordpress or Blogger? To be honest, I was clueless at the time, and took the option of using Blogger's no cost, over Word Press's small cost. The whole decision to do this at all was intellectual masturbation at its best.

Milling around online and looking at blogs, all I could think was "look at all these billions of megabytes of crap." In many ways it isn't. Families use it as an online equivalent of the Xmas letter. People on trips chronicle their ventures. Teenagers write about their angst, and almost all of it is of little interest to me. I was sorry to hear Aunt Em broke her hip, but Dorothy's blog tells me she would get better if she quit stealing the morphine.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

VHF marine radio operators are standing by

Who would of thought just a few short years ago that your mobile phone could replace all of that expensive complicated, and bulky electronic equipment on your boat. It has a GPS, lots of marine charting apps are available, radar weather, and even a fish finder app. If you get into trouble you can also call for help, or can you?

Posted on the Flager Live website was the story I took this excerpt from.

"The drifting boat and passengers were located by Air One on the Intracoastal Waterway near the Whitney Lab in Marineland around 1:15 a.m. The Palm Coast boat owner, Danilo Gomez, 43, explained that he, three family members and the teenager were heading home from St. Augustine when they experienced engine problems. He said the cell phone they had did not work and he was unable to call for assistance."

I don't know exactly why the cell phone on the boat didn't work. It might have been broken, had a dead battery, or maybe they were just too far from a cell tower. But I think we can comfortably infer they didn't have a VHF radio. Otherwise why would they have been way over due, and drifting around in the ICW in the middle of the night?

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The disclaimer, it's not our fault.

Warning!!! By pressing the enter key on this chart plotter you are acknowledging that this is merely an aid to navigation, and anything that happens to you by using this or our vendors product is absolutely all your fault. You are also agreeing to hold us harmless even if there errors and omissions in our product, if you hit something, get lost, or we just told to use obsolete information.

You know you just can't make this stuff up. This is taken from a new Navionic's chart showing the Stump Pass area on the west coast of Florida, along with some chart notes about the pass. I took the liberty of underlining the less than constructive advice the cartographers have offered the user. I suspect they will correct this quicker then sending an email to their website.

Remember, it is just an aid to navigation.

And a tip of the hat to Steve Stevens for spotting it.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

The FEMA project

Thanks for coming everyone. Our beloved president of Magnifico Yachts, Mr Grunion has asked me to do an update for the engineering team on our two FEMA programs. Our first program is to find out if our yachts can be built to meet FEMA hurricane standards. This has turned out to be little more difficult than we thought due to the impact testing requirements.

We did get a good deal on the air cannon we bought in a government surplus auction, and finally got it installed in the old mold shop out back. That's the good news. The bad news is that it took a little time to learn how to use it.

Staff went out to marine salvage companies, and collected a broad range of stuff that might blow around in a marina during a hurricane. We got lots things like beer coolers, sub-woofers, flag poles, daiquiri blenders, and that sort of boaty stuff. For the first test, we set up one of our hulls about 100' in front of the cannon, and loaded it with a LORAN unit. The purchasing department had bought a lot of them on sale off Ebay before they realized the system had been shut down two years earlier.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Splitting the transducer

The Parmain top secret laboratories have been bombarding a transducer with protons trying to get it to split. The DARPA program funding was pulled when the janitor said, "Just add a wire pigtail to the transducer, it's simple." Drat, time to write another grant request to DARPA. Maybe this time we could design a talking GPS for a boat. It should be simple enough for the average boater to use. To guide you to your destination it could say "Colder" or "Warmer." If you lurch to a stop it will say "Freezing."

Of all of the electrical things that exist on a boat, your transducer is the most reliable. It's always immersed in a salty chemical soup, gets dragged through the water often at very high speeds, and yet it keeps on working year after year. When I get a call dealing with a "no depth reading" problem, the first thing I suspect is the depth finder itself. Second could be the transducer face is covered with marine life having a rave party, and or has gotten knocked up. Third is damaged wiring. Fourth, and only very rarely the transducer has failed. There is an exception here. If it is a Garmin system, it may be suffering from thermistor-itis.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Stereo land antics

Meet Seth Lopod. He is currently on his vacation, but he is employed full time by boat builders. Seth is specialist in the installation of boat gear in places that are just impossible to get to. With eight long flexible tentacles he can squeeze in to the most cramped locations. He saves boat builders a lot of money in both design costs, and access plates.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Statistics to avoid

The annual USCG Recreational Boating Statistics is somewhat dry reading to say the least. It's a graphs, tables, and runes filled dusty tome. So in the public's interest, the Parmain Top Secret Laboratory's super computer has been burning its vacuum tubes all week crunching it's 79 pages of data. This has all been carefully analysed, and summarized into a "How best to improve your chances of dying" in a boating related accident.