David's Blog | Misc ramblings about things in general, work and technical items of interest.

CAT | General

Aug/10

20

Fun with Maps

As long as I can remember, I enjoyed maps. Maybe it is from when we went on family vacations when I was young and my parents would always have those AAA TripTiks (now online) that were custom put together for each trip with their map pages and routes defined by an orange highlighter that got me hooked? I used to enjoy being the co-pilot and figuring out where we were on old fashioned maps.

When mapping programs like Delorme Street Atlas or Microsoft Streets &  Trips came out, I always had a copy installed somewhere to play with. Before my first standalone GPS I had an Earthmate puck GPS connected to a notebook I would sometimes run in the car.  I even had a way to hook the puck up to my old Palm III and have it show maps on that.

I always wanted a GPS and got a Garmin GPS V back in the ‘old days’ before color units were more portable. As much as I enjoyed using the GPS in the car, I spent more time enjoying the mapping programs that came with them. After a couple years I moved from up to another high end GPS 76CS with color. I used that GPS for hiking/geocaching as well as turn-by-turn directions while traveling. I even have a small bluetooth GPS I can connect to my Blackberry and use on that device.

After getting my ham radio license I purchased equipment that allowed me to connect the GPS to the ham radio and transmit my position over the air to be picked up by other ham radio stations. They would take the info and submit it to Internet servers where web sites such as APRS.fi

APRS.fi
take that info and show your current location as well as historic info on Google maps
Google maps
.

I have spent endless hours playing with Google Maps and other online mapping sites as they matured and added features and satellite views. I have written some web applications that use Google Maps to show ham radio information. I was looking for graphical ways to work with existing data and I couldn’t find sites that did what I wanted, so I put these pages together. The pages now get many hundreds of hits a day from folks all over the world.

I just recently purchased another GPS to use in the car. All 3 of my GPS units have been Garmin’s and I think they are the best. The new unit is a Garmin Nuvi 1490T. Updating the maps on my existing GPS would cost about half of buying a new unit which comes with the latest maps and enough memory to store the entire US, so it made sense to upgrade again. Along with the new GPS, I installed the latest version of their mapping program on my notebook and spent a bunch of time playing with it mapping out routes, etc.

After all these years, I still love maps.

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Season ticket holders were allowed to preview the stadium and our seats yesterday. I went with my wife, one daughter and a friend that goes to all the games. All that pops into my head is the word UNIMPRESSIVE.

Everything is grey. The outside is grey, the floors are grey, the escalators are grey, the paint everywhere is grey, the signs are grey, the bathrooms are grey, the barriers are grey and every seat is grey. If the turf wasn’t green, you’d think you warped to a B&W world. Talk about leaving you in a grey mood!

My wife took pictures and my daughter posted them. I’m not sure if you can see them all but here’s the link to the album - http://www.facebook.com/?ref=logo#!/album.php?aid=58918&id=1374146934&ref=mf . The first picture is the old stadium in the process of being torn down. I’ll look to add them someplace else if they can’t be viewed via Facebook.

The first annoyance I noticed was the escalators. In the old stadium there was a set for each of the 3 levels and you only needed to take 1 escalator. I’m not sure who thought up the escalators in the new stadium, but they are all shared. and if you are on the top level, you need to get on 3 different escalators and walk between each. Everyone going to the 1st, 2nd or 3rd tiers uses the same escalator to start. Imagine when the game lets out and there’s 60k people all trying to get onto 2 narrow escalators at each gate? Unlike a normal multi-tiered facility with the next up escalator right next to the one you got off, this design has them stacked on top of each other so when you get off, you need to then walk back to the next level escalator and get on that one. Obviously this was designed by someone who will never attend a game/event at the stadium.

A real hazard though are the railings at the front of the 3rd level. They are way too low. I can sit on the railing at the edge of the top level if I wanted to. Who will take a bet that a drunk Jets fan will be the first to fall over from the 3rd to 2nd level? The folks from the stadium that were there yesterday said everyone is saying the same thing and they imagine they will have to do something to address it.

The stadium was also very cold and windy. I won’t go into the fact that for a bazillion dollars these idiots didn’t make it a dome stadium but man is it going to be cold. You can tell from the pics that yesterday was a beautiful sunny day out and it was cold in there. There was a breeze, like there always is around the meadowlands area, but it was whipping inside. The sides of the stadium are completely open and on the lower levels, it’s wide open by each gate. Unless the goal was to make this the windiest stadium in the league, whoever designed this obviously didn’t take the wind into consideration. It wasn’t windy in our seats, but it sure was walking around and even being in the seats that  are near any of the gates.

When I go to a game, it’s about being in my seat and watching the game. It’s not about the bazillion TVs they have outside in the hallways or the fried clams (yes, that’s on one of the signs) at the concessions. I’m sure folks care about that, but not the real football fans. They care about the experience of watching the game. Our seats are nearly the exact seats we had in the old stadium, but the view is now different. The 3rd level is higher up and farther back off the field. I’d still want the seats I have as it is how I’ve watched football games since 1976, but I’d like to be the same distance away as I was before. The reason it is higher and farther away “in the same seats” is they made the middle tier much larger in the new stadium as well as minimal overlap between the levels. The 2nd level of the old stadium was almost completely overlapped by the 3rd level but that isn’t how the new stadium is. So I’ll use my binoculars a bit more when they are on the other end of the field, but I’ll be at the game and as long as they win, I’ll have a good time.

UNIMPRESSIVE is all I keep thinking. When they show the new stadium on TV for the the home opener, they will show the luxury boxes, the various private “clubs” you can join and how posh they are. But for the 60k true fans that are there to root for their team to win, well they’d be more then happy to be doing that in the old stadium, in their old seats, with all the Personal Seat License money still in their bank accounts. What an unimpressive failure.

Mar/10

14

Wild weekend weather

This was a wild weekend on the weather front. It started to rain hard on Friday and it didn’t stop until Sunday. Well, I think it stopped.

We lost power on Saturday night around 8:00pm. This wouldn’t be a big deal except our sump pump which protects our basement from flooding needs electricity. What my wife and I then did was drain the sump pump area manually, dumping the water into the basement slop sink. It would fill up as quickly as we could empty it so we were up all night doing this taking short 15-20 cat naps as the night went on between 10 min lowering of the water in the basin.

The electricity came back on around 9:15am just as I was about to leave for a 2 hour ride south to Southern New Jersey with my older daughter to head to a cheerleading competition. What a relief when it came on. We’re planning on getting a gas powered generator to be better prepared for this in the future. I got home around 5pm and crashed for 3 hours as I was exhausted.

On a good note, we had no damage that I saw and my daughters teams won all their competitions today including sweeping all the level categories and winning the grand champion award for the entire competition.

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weather

Mar/10

13

Time to resurrect this blog!

I haven’t written in quite some time in my personal blog – over 2 years!! I’ve just migrated the blog from Movable Type to WordPress and I will try to post ramblings at least every other week.

The posts from my old blog have been brought over but there’s probably formatting, etc which has been lost. I’m not going to go back and mess with all the old content but it’s here.  I might mess a bit with the  style/theme of this site until I’m happy with it, though I’m not a very “visual” person so it’s less about the colors and more about the content.

Here we go….

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Feb/08

4

The PERFECT Weekend

Feb 2nd and 3rd 2008 was a PERFECT weekend.
It started out on Saturday with my youngest daughter winning her playoff basketball game. That was followed by my older daughter and a trip to Reading PA for a cheerleading tournament where they came in 1st for their division. They then came in 1st out of 27 teams for their level as the grand champion for their level with the highest score.
Then comes Sunday and Super Bowl XLII. It was our NY Giants against the undefeated and heavily favored New England Patriots. In what turned out to be a low scoring first 3 quarters, the 4th quarter made up for it with the Giants scoring a TD to go ahead, followed by the Patriots scoring a TD to go ahead with 2:42 left. What happened next was a drive every Giant fan (and probably every Patriot fan) will forever remember. Great catches and plays by Manning and 5 different receivers with the most amazing play of all being Manning escaping from being sacked to throw a jump ball to David Tyree who caught it against his helmet and somehow was able to hold onto it. Another pass and an easy pass to Plaxico Burress in the end zone to complete the most amazing drive in Giants history.
A PERFECT win to wreck the Patriots PERFECT season to end a PERFECT weekend.

After obtaining my Technician Class amateur radio license back in August, I picked up a book to study for the General Class license. It’s a much more technical test with more questions on specific frequencies, power, components of receivers and transmitters, antennas and general electronics. I definitely didn’t study as much as I would have liked, and I didn’t ace the test this time missing 4 of the 35 questions (out of over 480 possible questions), but that is well within the passing level. So at the BARA Hamfest at Westwood High School, I became a General Class Amateur Radio licensee. Thanks to the BARA VE’s for randomly picking out a good test for me to take. The asked if I was interested in the Extra test, but I just laughed. That will take some serious studying.
Since getting my license the beginning of August I joined BARA – Bergen Amateur Radio Association – which is a local amateur radio group that meets in Ridgewood, NJ. I also participated in my first contest which was the ARRL 2007 September VHF QSO Party.

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Aug/07

31

CQ CQ this is K2DSL

I have always been interested in scanners and ham radios. Over this past summer I finally said I was going to do it and studied for the first level ham radio license. In early August I successfully passed and received my Technician Class license.
Within a couple days of passing, I was automatically assigned callsign KC2SAU. They allow folks to pick their own vanity callsign so I applied for K2DSL and just received approval. So, on the airwaves, I’m K2DSL.

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Feb/07

21

My train derails but I wasn’t on it today

The normal train I take, and the car I ride in (along with a co-worker I commute with) derailed this morning. I got an email from the co-worker right after it happened. I happened not to be on the train today and working from home because of an appointment.
They just showed it on TV with 3 cars off the tracks and 2 leaning up against a pole. 150 people reported on the train and no injuries. Here’s a link to the first report by ABC on their web site – NJ Transit train derails.
For a change, I was in the right place at the right time.

Feb/07

18

Pets and death

My kids love pets. We have a cat for a few years now. Our neighbor has lots of pets. One cat named Rusty hung out with our cat a lot. It got to the point that whenever the house door was open, Rusty would come in. The kids really got attached to it and when the neighbors mentioned they might move, the kids wanted us to adopt Rusty. I said absolutely not! One cat is enough, plus Rusty already had a family.
A week ago, my wife was putting out the trash and I was on the train home from work. She turned around and the neighbors cat was dead on our lawn. I don’t think anyone knows what happened and why Rusty died, but my wife and the kids were heartbroken. She was balling when she called me to tell me. My one daughter was home but my other daughter wasn’t and I had to tell her when she came home. I can’t even imagine what will happen when our cat goes. Hopefully it will be a long, long, long time.

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Sep/06

2

Wow – long time no post!

I looked to see if the software I use was upgraded and it was so I backed things up and upgraded. Then I looked and the last time I posted anything was the previous time I upgraded the software. I guess I fall into the “Not a very active blogger” category.
So what has happened in the past 6 months? Launched a few new platforms at work with a great team of developers. The commute still isn’t bad which I’m sure shocks everyone that knows me more then it shocks me.
Went on an awesome Alaska cruise/vacation that was worth every penny, though I don’t want to know how many pennys it was. Over 3,000 pictures were taken in the 2.5 weeks we were on vacation.
Found geocache #600 though I didn’t do as much caching over this summer then I have in the past.
My little brother Barry has been on a couple more TV shows, the last being a good part on Windfall with Luke Perry.
The girls are ready to head back to school as 6th and 7th graders. Boy I’m getting old.
That’s it until next time and hopefully not the next time I upgrade the blog software.

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