Skywarn Workshop 2012!

April 14th, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

Launching off in a car with Dylan on an early morning we are heading toward the University of Saint Thomas, Minneapolis campus headed for another Skywarn Workshop.

Last year’s workshop I had heard from a few people was a lot dry. Everything was mainly scientific spoken to a class that is an average volunteer. The people that I had ventured with last year decided not to attend this year for that and other reasons. I was worried that this would have been a repeat of the previous years.

The conference seemed to start off a little dry, but still better than last year. With me not being a morning person, I could be partially to blame. Everything seemed to change fairly fast going towards a more simplified, or fun conference; and I heard that from others.

I did enjoy learning about the how cities that have good chicken names can raise the chance of a tornado in urban areas. It was definitely interesting and like the recommendation to change the name of the city by adding “new” in front of it! Safe!

Overall the conference was a lot better this year and I am glad that I attended. Thanks Dylan for talking me into attending!

It is alive! Jam3s!

April 2nd, 2012 § Comments Off on It is alive! Jam3s! § permalink

So my I decided to create a tag…

Jam3s... the coin!

This tag was specifically made for everything that I am excited about…

I am a technology geek…

1) Android phone… I love Android and value the open source properties of the software and being able to change the ROMs, kernels, etc.

2) Laptop… this is self explanatory. I am a geek and I like various websites, open source applications, and anything non Mac.

3) QR (Quick Response) Codes… These are something that I have come to love, but I am seeing that it is a fading trend. I have seen some stores that are using these and I have a cache puzzle that was made off of QR codes.

4) Tornadoes… yes, I am a storm chaser and I love it. I can’t wait for the day that I get a call, email or text asking if I am ready to go. I am also a Metro, NWS, Stearns County, etc… Storm Chaser / Spotter.

5) The radio… based off of emergency management since I value the programs. I started a degree in Emergency Management from the Emergency Management Institute but I have not made it to a finish as of yet. The radio could also be construed as a HAM (Amateur Radio) of which I currently have an active call sign and have for many years. You will also see the emergency management within the color Red, the color of emergencies.

So, as you can see… this tag represents me!

Garmin Nuvi 3490LMT

February 28th, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

Garmin Nuvi 3490LMT - Front View

With my life now focusing around the Twin Cities, and the life of being stuck in traffic, I decided to purchase a new GPS. After doing a week of research I found the GPS that I wanted to purchase after some small issues, I walked off with a GPS last week. My review…

I have to preface this review with the notation that I have owned many different GPSr’s… makes, models and types. My previous Nuvi was the 765t, but I have experience in four different Nuvis as well.

I decided on this model as a Nuvi can last forever if you treat it correctly, but I was looking on something with different traffic routing. The Garmin Nuvi 3490LMT has the new traffic Guidance 3.0, but also lifetime map updates. With this being the new 2012 line, I figured that it would last.

After opening the package, I was extremely shocked to see such a small device. In comparison to the previous Nuvi models, this was extremely light and also much thinner. With my previous Nuvi side by side, I was excited. Mounting this on the stand in my car I actually chuckled a little as it made the stand look huge. Nice!

Garmin Nuvi 3490LMT - Side View

Turning the unit on I was not excited to have to start all the updates. After attempting to update this device I was not excited to see it fail after two hours of having this device sitting here idle.  After the second try the map was pushed to the device. Still I was told on the Smartlink app (the new Android application) that I had a voice update that I had to complete. So as a result the Web Updater application was not functioning correctly and I had to reinstall it. Now thinking about some of my family members, would they be able to do this all themselves? No! Fail by Garmin for not being user friendly when updating.

After applying all the updates, I was trying to figure out how to do some things. I am extremely tech savvy. How do I import stuff from my old GPS? Where is a manual? How do I set the security? Why do I feel lost? Garmin does not provide any type of manual for their GPS units anymore? Wow.

So I was able to figure everything for the most part but still spent a couple hours trying to do some research on this device only to find NOTHING. This device is too new to find anything online.

Garmin Nuvi 3490LMT - Angle View

I was able to learn a lot about this device playing with it, but I can only imagine others failing. The 3490 is much like a smartphone. Extremely easy to use and very touch friendly compared to the previous models that I have had. I did like the voice command feature and found this to be the best device as far as voice activation and recognition. STARS! Congrats Garmin. I was able to freely navigate the GPS without touching it.

I love Android as most know, so seeing an app on the Android Market for my GPS put a smile on my face until I seen what it can do. Garmin Smartphone Link… nothing. It really does not do anything other than show me my saved / recent locations. If I could click on an address / set of coordinates from a browser or contact and be able to select that I wanted to navigate from there, I would be impressed. It seems that the Garmin Smartphone Link is simply for the added features like live traffic, traffic cameras, and fuel prices. So is this useful? I guess it does tell me when I should update my GPS.

Garmin Smartlink Phone Application

Premium subscription services also were made extremely confusing. How long do these last? What is the cost for the life of the GPS? Doing research I was able to find out that these were a yearly subscription for what I would consider a lot of money. The Fuel Prices subscription is $10. I would have to save a lot of money for $10, and since this is using my own phone data plan would it not just be better to use GasBuddy? Weather? I can see that on my phone as well… also I have the NAVTEQ navigation (or from what I can tell, Garmin Live Traffic) on my Epic 4G Touch free from Sprint, so really why do I need a GPS at all then? Well I like the ability to talk on the phone while driving, otherwise I would have no need for the GPS at all.

The traffic guidance system does seem to be a little better and more responsive and will hopefully get me out of some traffic. I did notice that it does seem to take a bit to respond… 30 seconds? I don’t know about that.

I did login to my Garmin MyDashboard only to see my device listed there with a link that says “Located Device”… hmmmm…. really? Can I track my device? Maybe they ditched the idea of a pin and for security purposes would allow me to login and track my device? Calling the Garmin Customer Service department I was on hold for a while and was able to speak to someone that did offer some help.

As it turns out, Garmin did remove the security pin feature that was with the previous Nuvi devices since they did not want to have to reset devices when the pin was forgotten. In my years in information technology I have always found that it is never good to remove a feature but only to add. Well, I guess Garmin did not get that memo. Well at least we have tracking still… right? NOPE! This link is not supposed to be here. The developers gave me a glimpse of a feature that they are still creating. Now it prompts more questions… What is the cost going to be for this? Will it be free as a result of no other security features? Will it be a yearly app? Monthly rate? If I have to pay to track a stolen device….

I do have to say that I like the pedestrian mode on the GPS. Being able to use the GPS for other things, like subways, bus routes, etc was something that is nice. Like I said to a coworker, this is just like a smartphone. I am hoping that the battery is better though.

Garmin Nuvi 3490LMT - Turned

Well I am happy that I have lifetime map updates, I like the features, and the new design. Would I recommend someone purchasing this GPS as a first time GPS. I would give this a 4 star rating for a GPS. I am not sure that I would give this a 4 star rating though if they are upgrading from another perfectly fine GPS, I think that it would be a 3 star GPS for an upgrade because I was expecting more. Going from the Garmin Nuvi 765t, which was fine, for $400 I would have been fine just keeping the old GPS.

We lost one… RIP Andy!

February 4th, 2012 § Comments Off on We lost one… RIP Andy! § permalink

Rest in peace Andy! As everyone might not know, Andy passed away earlier today.

I would like to thank the Spotter Network Facebook page for their prompt notification of everyone and what happened. I am sure others helped in this that will have to remain nameless.

I hope is that everyone stays safe this chase season.

900 Projects!

January 9th, 2012 § Comments Off on 900 Projects! § permalink

As some of you might know, I love a few different things. Technology, radios, disaster work… what about merging all three? I do it a lot!

Recently we have been playing around with 900 megahertz radios so that we are able to have a more secure form of communications for events and disasters. The possibilities are endless, but we are looking at using some newer old radios from eBay, a fixed tower and a portable tower. In playing around, we could also use pagers as well which might help for multiple things in a long scale event.

We will see what pans out in the future.

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