Technical Catchup

Time for a Tech Update!  I hope to use this space to type of musings about how all the various bits of technology are functioning on our trip.  It’s been a while since my last post, but I hope to be more regular now.  Sorry about the size of this entry.  Now, let’s step back in the time machine for a few minutes and bring everything up to date.


When we packed the truck in Atlanta in 25 degree weather, we didn’t take the time to really sort through things properly.  We kind of tossed the stuff in the truck and we’d figure out where it goes later.  Well, “later” was in Florida, 12-23-2005, when we literally unloaded the entire truck onto Dianne’s (Teresa’s sister) driveway and sorted through it all.  We had a couple of folks inquire about our “yard sale.”  We produced 3 boxes of things to store before we head out west, but it should really make the truck much more livable.  We had so much stuff taking up room.  One of the things to go, which I have mixed feelings about, is our DV cam.  It was big, bulky, and our camera (Canon S70) does a fair job of taking videos (no zoom or exposure change while taping!), so the DV cam had to go.  I did bring my old Minolta Dimage 7i for situations where Teresa monopolizes the little camera. Wink [;)]  Anyhow, we’ve dropped off all this stuff in Atlanta/Birmingham.

Things in general seem to be working out fairly well storage-wise now.  But every time we go shopping, we appear to fill our cupboards to the brim, which makes finding things a bit difficult at times, but overall, I think we are happy.

The Jason Truck Cap is still a bit problematic.  We moved it to get a slightly better seal while at Colbert’s in Valdosta, but I’ve noticed that the sucker is too darn short to get a good seal.  AND our window is still leaking (although not bad… a few drops here or there).  However, we have a tube of silicone.  And the back is still bowing out a bit, so we don’t get a good seal on the back window.  Oh well.  I think it will probably be good enough for our needs.

We’ve had one problem with the truck thus far.  We stopped in Denver at a Jiffy Lube to have the truck “winterized.”  The last time we had it services was in the Florida panhandle where they mentioned that the washer fluid might need replacing as we headed north.  The yahoos working there in Denver said we’d probably be fine; just need to top off the windshield washer fluid.  Well, on our VERY snowy drive out to Edwards over Loveland and Vail pass, our washer fluid completely froze up.  For those of you in the south, windshield washer fluid is a must when driving snowy roads.  Trucks, cars, snowplows all kick up nasty dirt and gravel, and that dirt makes looking through your windhsield a real problem without an operating windshield washer.  I suppose the guys at Jiffy Lube should have drained it and refilled it, which is exactly what I did the other day when we hit 50 degrees at the house.  We are thankful that no tubes broke and washer pump didn’t burn up while I was trying to drain the fluid.

I also should drop a quick note on our truck’s mileage.  We’ve been averaging ~14mpg.  Ick!  Our truck should be able to do 20mpg on the highway, but with the roof rack and extra weight, what can you do?  Maybe I should have looked at a biodiesel truck?  Wink [;)]

Software Update

Some software we’ve purchased recently:

  • Mapping Software:  We run a variety of software for mapping. Unfortunately, none of them show forest/wilderness boundaries.  It would be nice to know when we are legally “resting” on public lands!
    • Microsoft Streets and Trips 2006 for updated maps on our PC – very easy to use software… Microsoft definitely has the market on this one, but over time, they have removed some information from the maps such as the forest boundaries.  Great for planning!
    • Garmin MapSource CitySelect v7 for updated maps on our PocketPC.  Garmin Que running on the PocketPC is GREAT while underway.
  • TaxCut 2005 Deluxe – Oh joy!  I switched from TurboTax when they put spyware in their software and haven’t looked back.
  • SureSync – I’m using this as a backup solution.  It’s multi-mirror sync doesn’t work so hot (where you have multiple sync sources), but its mirror (single sourced) sync is great.  It will work with whatever sync targets it has available, which is a key feature as I don’t always have all the backup targets “online.”
  • Cakewalk Sonar Home Studio 4 XL – I haven’t had a chance to use this as much as I would like, but once I get all the various bits and pieces of the website up, I hope to record some music a little bit while travelling.
  • Adobe Premiere Elements 2.0 – This is what Teresa has been using to produce our videos.
  • QuickTime Pro – to convert to MPEG4.
  • Adobe Photoshop Elements 2.0 – For serious photo editing.
  • ACD See 8.0 Photo Manager – Incredible software.  The best photo manager I’ve seen.  We recently upgraded to take advantage of batch rename, advanced EXIF property editing.  I’ve been using an older version for years… It’s definitely the fastest thumbnail/picture viewer on the market.
  • J River Media Center 11 – I’ve been using J River since the early Media Jukebox days.  It’s the best “all in one” MP3 software out there IMHO.  I upgraded because the latest version supports Podcasting!  Woo hoo!

As everyone has noticed I’m sure, we launched on Community Server 2.0 Beta 3.  Very nice software with a lot of potential.  The Forum software, which I’m not even using, is VERY impressive.  There are still a few bugs, but it’s still only a Release Candidate.  I just upgraded to Community Server 2.0 RC1 and had a bit of a scare in the process, but things seem to be going smoothly, and they’ve definitely cleaned up alot of the confusion in the admin interface.  I made a few minor mods to the ASPX pages so the navigation makes a little more sense, and obviously, I changed the logo.  🙂  They will release the source code for 2.0 when the official release goes out which will be a nice touch.

I am currently working on geoblogging software.  I have purchased the domain, but haven’t put anything up on it yet.  I hope to do two things with the software:

  • photo geoblogging, matching photos to track points visible on a map.  Hovering over a photo will center the map on where the photo was taken.
  • a map log of where we have slept every night… I hope to update this every night so everyone knows where we are.  This site will be password protected for our security.

I want to get to a state where I can call this software good enough so we can get into the desert soon.  As always, I’m sure it will be a work in progress.

Hardware Update

We purchased a DMC Xclef 500, for playing/storing all of our mp3s.  I put a 100gb Seagate Momentus 5200.2 in there.  100gb!  The great thing about this device is that it acts as an external hard drive when connected via hi-speed USB.  However, the UI/interface on this thing is pretty horrendous, and to make matters worse, they have stopped upgrading the firmware.  Nonetheless, it plays music, as it should, and did I mention, it’s 100gb??!  And we don’t have to turn the computers on while underway anymore.  We have the PocketPC for mapping, and the MP3 player for music.

We purchased a wireless card/account for the laptop so we can be online while driving down the road.  How cool is that!  It works like a champ.  All the way down to Florida, I think I pretty much had broadband access.  Very nice.  Unfortunately, they have yet to upgrade their towers near Cordillera/Edwards, but even legacy CDMA, at (20-30k download speeds) still beats dialup (where I get less than 7k usually).  It’s our main connection while at the house.  When we need high speed, we head to Cordillera Market and enjoy a cup of tea/coffee while we work on the web.


Sorry for the large update.  I hope to post these more regularly now.

– Andrew

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