2022-05-02 – Awkward Compatibility

In order to keep up with the latest and greatest technology, I do a different equipment set update each year:

1st year: Computer upgrades
2nd year: communication upgrades
3rd year: photography/videography upgrades

This year, I ended up doing mostly communication upgrades, with a focus on cellular technology. The main driver in this process was the acquisition of sprint buy T-Mobile. A short while after that acquisition, T-Mobile started forcing customers to change equipment, whether they were fully ready to do so or not.

So my planned (computer) and unplanned technology updates for 2012 are as following:

  • New laptop (Dell 5515 touch with Windows 11)
  • Mobile hotspot (T-Mobile MiFi)
  • New phone (Apple iPhone 12 pro)
  • New tablet (Samsung 8 inch android tablet)
  • New vehicle tracker/Wi-Fi (T-Mobile Sync Drive, 2 units).

Upside: save the iPhone, none of the T-Mobile gear cost a nickel — effectively a free upgrade over the next 24 months

Downside: lots of reconfiguration and some compatibility issues between the MiFi and my Wyze cameras. The latter is been particularly annoying. I’ve spent hours and hours trying to solve the problems by downgrading the Wi-Fi security, clearing cache, doing factory reset, and a variety of other things to no avail. All the work I did last season getting a five camera mobile security system running has been totally destroyed by the upgrade process. I am miffed.

This evening I will go through the packing list and make sure I have everything packed and ready to go for the trip. I have had some equipment changes lately, so my 2019 daily checklist will have to be updated. I can pack using the marked up edit copy then print the 2022 version at my local Office Depot. This is all just part of a pre-trip ritual, but sometimes it gets old.

20210508 – Travel Day 2 (Springfield,MO – Oklahoma City,OK)

ROUTE: Springfield, MO – Oklahoma City, OK:

0700 – wake-up call

0825 – Arrive Cracker Barrel, for Lisa M’s (and granddaughter Angelina’s) birthday breakfast

1000 (approx) – Depart Springfield on I-44W
But goof around with a harmonica first!

(insert video later)

1100ish- Enter Oklahoma. Sing the state song (an old ritual of mine).
Pull out a $20 bill for tolls (about $10 between the MO-OK state line and OKC).

 

1430ish- Refuel at Tulsa

 

xxxx – Arrive at Avid Hotel, OKC. So glad they have an elevator, as this makes dragging bags much less work.

1730 – Grab dinner at Golden Palace, an excellent Chinese buffet on the Meridian strip.  Unlike Zio’s, the Italian restaurant several blocks south, the Palace had no waiting line (but lots of people dining, just the same). Given that COVID-19 has driven so many restaurants out of business, I’m delight to see that pretty much every restaurant on Meridian (between the airport and I-40) seems to be thriving.

1800 – Do  a little computer and battery maintenance. Charge up the AX53 camcorder batteries that arrived the day before I left of this trip.  Adding these batteries gives me nearly 8 hours camcorder running time between recharges!

2000 – Watched Guardians of the Galaxy, Volume 2 on the room TV. Still a fun flick after a number of viewings. Our generation is very fortunate to enjoy the genius of Stan Lee, creator of the Marvel universe.

2200 – Charge the Fitbit, listen to my bible podcast, and drift off to sleep.

20210507 – Travel Day 1 (Bolingbrook,IL-Springfield,MO)

ROUTE: Bolingbrook, IL – Springfield, MO:

06:00 – wake-up, shower, etc.

07:00-11:00 – work from home, online, that is. (Don’t lots of folks do that now?)

11:00 – Lunch at Charlie’s (Bolingbrook Clow International Airport).
(They have scheduled flights to Canada, so ‘International” is quite real.)

12:12 – Depart Bolingbrook Airport, traveling southwest on I-55S.

14:09 – A brief pit stop in Atlanta, IL. Still good on fuel!

14:22 – Resume southwesterly course on I-55S

15:25 – Oh no. traffic jam!

17:28 – Refuel at St. Clair, MO, just west of Six Flags enough to avoid paying a premium price for gasoline.

2100 – Arrive at Red Roof Inn, Springfield. Check in then eat dinner at Jimm’s Steakhouse and Pub. Had the monstrously generous prime rib dip (like a classic French dip, but using prime rib). Too much food!

2315 – bed time.

 

 

20210502 – 2021 Shakedown Cruise #2

After building a fairly long list on shakedown cruise number one, it just makes good sense to do a second shake down and see what remains that list.

1145 – Lunch with Joe and Barb

1400 – Depart for Iowa 80 Truck Stop in Wolcott, Iowa. It was, at one time, the world’s largest truck stop. Supposedly a larger one was being built in Russia, but I’m not sure that ever happened. Needless to say, the place is huge, and technically qualifies as a national landmark.  It also happens to be reasonable distance from home. Depending on conditions such as weather, construction, traffic, the drive can be anything from 2 to 3 hours. (And on this occasion, it was just barely two.)

1559 – Cross the Mississippi river on the interstate 80, entering Iowa. (Upon inspecting my video after returning home, I find out that the crossing was captured on the starboard wyzecam. A nice surprise: the camera system delivered on its promise)

(insert link to crossing video later)

1615 – Arrive at the Iowa 80 Truck Stop. As it turns out, the shakedown cruise is also a test of the driver. I make a hasty run to the bathroom, and discover I am in real need of some Imodium AD. Given that I had a recent battle with “full on” diarrhea, I don’t mess around: I take a large adult dose of this medicine immediately (and do not have a problem with “digestive distress” for the rest of the trip, thankfully). I take a quick moment for some photos at the truckstop. To paraphrase Peewee Herman, “It’ll last longer if you’ll take a picture!”

1645 – Make a brief stop at the National Weather Service, located at Davenport airport. Grab a quick picture of myself in front of Weather radar

1655 – head back across the Mississippi and onward to home

1915 – Arrive at home. Goodness, I made good time driving back. The WyzeCams seem to be dropping out every once in a while, perhaps because the laptop is running low on space on the way back, but I do not stop to investigate. I just want to get home given the delicate state of my digestive tract.

2030 – Time to call it a day. And a good day it was. It seems the afjustments that I made in response to the to do list from the first shakedown cruise have been effective. I did not test the camera mounts but have a pretty good idea that I need to adjust the friction on the I pistol grip for the DSLR camera.

20210425 – Push for Progress

0730 – Wake up; laze about
0900 – Attended online church service
1000 – Now the whittled-down list is like this:

  • Inventory camera/video gear
  • Pack clothing for trip
  • Walk through ‘to do’ list from van shakedown cruise
  1. The camera mounts easily loosened up. Fortunately, the camera “droop” did no damage to the cameras. – tightened these up. Let’s see what a second shakedown cruise yields. Worst case : add bungie cords to hold the mounts in place.
  1. The dashcam needed to be tested beyond seeing it power up and display a video of the road ahead. – checks out OK — appears to have the correct settings
    1. Cabling clean-up has yet to begin – DONENote: The cable housing must be a dark color, to avoid unwanted reflections on the windshield. These are visiually distracting and could even lead to an accident. Color matters. We need them all for their best use.
    2. Luggage space needs to be reclaimed. – DONE
    3. The antenna cluster needs to be road tested. It was ‘indoors’ today. One antenna needs to be glued to its mag-mount. – TESTED! Port side broadband antenna need repair or replacement; it falls frequently, making it unusable. All other antennas are OK.

    4. The GPS puck is seen by Franson GPSgate, but it’s output is not seen by GRlevel3 or other applications – Reran Wizard: COM3 input, COM6-10 output (use as input for applications). GRLevel 3 and DeLorme Stree Atlas — yes, I still use it, as no suitable replacement is available — were tested with COM7 and COM8, respectively.
    5. The iPhone bracket need to have the stabilizer arm glued into place. It came off in my hand! What the heck?? – NON-CRITICAL
    6. The rear seat’s Android tablet needs to be re-installed. – OPTIONAL – it is not needed for this trip.
    • Get another weather reading on Kestrel 5500
    • Ask neighbor if I can borrow long ladder on Tuesday pm
    • Test video cam batteries (after charging)

      1831– At the evening meal break, the list is like this:

      X     Walk through ‘to do’ list from van shakedown cruise
      X     Get another weather reading on Kestrel 5500
      X     Test video cam batteries (after charging)
      X     Inventory camera/video gear
      *     Pack clothing for trip
      *    Ask neighbor if I can borrow long ladder on Tuesday pm

Wow! I made it through the entire TECHNICAL portion of the to-do list.

I’m tired, but I could leave on 30 minutes notice (and that’s for packing clothing and medicines).

I confess : I’m pleased

2141 – Time to call it a day and get some well-earned sleep.

2021 Test Drive 1

I took a 90-minute test drive of the chase vehicle and the technology onboard

Here’s a list of issues I’ve found:

      1. The camera mounts easily loosened up. Fortunately, the camera “droop” did no damage to the cameras.

  1. The GPS puck is seen by Franson GPSgate, but it’s output is not seen by GRlevel3 or other applications.
  2. The dashcam needed to be tested beyond seeing it power up and display a video of the road ahead.
  3. The cabling clean-up has yet to begin, but should be a fast task. Last year’s set up is unchanged, except for the mysterious disappearance of the original dashcam micro-USB cable. I replaced it today, but have some disconnected cables dangling.
  4. The rear seat’s Android tablet needs to be re-installed.
  5. Luggage space needs to be reclaimed. It’s full of bric-a-brack at the moment.
  6. The iPhone bracket need to have the stabilizer arm glued into place. It came off in my hand! WTF??
  7. The antenna cluster needs to be road tested. It was ‘indoors’ today. One antenna needs to be glued to its mag-mount.

All this amounts to another weekend afternoon spent with this new ‘to do’ list.

20190511 – T-2: Oklahoma Bound

This morning I woke up in Springfield, Missouri. Did not need an alarm clock, as one of my Motel neighbors (who I will simply call #MethMom) was shouting over the second floor balcony to her friends that this motel was “no f***ing kind a place for my f***ing kids!”  If memory serves, this is how certain moms in Missouri (and other states in the Midsouth) indicate that there is no pool for the kids. No matter. I am awake now.

After a quick round of dental hygiene (to remove that taste that I can only describe as “Walt and Jesse starting a meth lab in my mouth”) and a quick cuppa tea I was ready to face the day.

After a quick round of dental hygiene (to remove that taste that I can only describe as “Walt and Jesse starting a meth lab in my mouth“) and a quick cuppa tea I was ready to face the day.

I spent a little bit of time in reviewing yesterday’s photos and getting the updates for yesterday‘S blog page started

Today’s weather is gray and drippy day, a fairly common sight after the good storms have passed through the area a few days earlier. A quick look at the SPC outlook seems to indicate that the next few days are going to be for a little bit quiet, weatherwise. So will be playing tourist and various natural wonders instead of chasing. That’s the way it goes.

I checked Facebook and responded Do a post asking about “what equipment do you use when you chase” as follows:

COMMS:
* Kenwood TMD-710GA 2m/440 ham radio
* Radio Shack PRO2067 500-channel scanner
* Radio Shack TRC-519 CB Radio

INTERNET/GRlevelX(Radar)
* HP Pavilion 13×2 laptop/tablet
* Arnova 10-inch Android tablet

NAVIGATION:
* AVMAP GeoSat6 GPS
* Garmin 18X GPS puck

I also carry a good assortment of cameras/camcorders.

* Nikon D7000 DSLR (plus a lens collection)
* Two GoPro Hero2 cameras (w/3-D frame, various mounts, including the popular suction mount)
* Sony AX-53 4K camcorder (plus zoom and telephoto lenses)

Next stop: Sid’s Diner in El Reno. We arrived about an hour before closing time. I had the King Burger Deluxe, Paul the BLT, and so on. We had a moment of dismay when the British Contingent  realized no beer was available there. We survived, however.

Final tourist stop for the day: the Twistex Crew Memorial. We let Simon try his hand at rural Oklahoma driving  He negotiated gravel roads, muddy ruts, and got us to the memorial in time for some great photos, including shots of a beautiful classic western sunset.

After a quick WalMart stop, we returned to the hotel for a good night’s sleep.

(Photos to be added later)

 

07 May 2013 – CHASE 2013 – DAY 7

07 May 2013 – CHASE 2013 – DAY 7

06:47 – Wake, shower

08:15 – As I’m toweling down from my shower, I get a call from Danny: briefing over. I had written 08:30 down. Oh, crap! “Run, Forrest, run!”

08:30 – Depart Plainview, heading north to Kansas.

10:22 – Continue north from Amarillo,TX, after a stop for bathrooms and a McDonald’s run.

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11:00 – stopped at (adjacent) Walmart and Verizon stores in Dumas, TX. Dang! They do not carry the myCharge device I wanted to buy. Jenna is getting good use out of mine, but I still need one, too. I’ll try to find one later.

11:40 – Angled northeast toward Guymon, OK on US54.

12:06 – Cross into Oklahoma at
Texhoma.

13:30 – Lunch at the Subway in Hugoton, KS

14:00 – Continue north on KS25 through Ulysses, KS. Developing storms are building to our north.

15:00? – pit stop at Lakin, KS

16:05 – Headed north from Scott City, KS

16:15 – east on KS4 toward Healey

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1745 – Heading south towards Dighton on KS23, we briefly encounter quarter-sized hail. (I submitted an mPing report.)

1806. – Charged east of Leighton toward Ness City. Trying to get ahead of our hailer.

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______ – We catch a photogenic storm. Many photos, which Jim Reed will critique for me.

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23:00 – Arrive At Dodge City Days Inn. A neighbor is engaged in a knock-down, drAgged-out argument; the hallways look like something from The. Brady Bunch era. Wow!

23:30 – We grab dinner at Applebee’s, then turn in for the night.

(More photos soon)

06 May 2013 – CHASE 2013 – DAY 6

06 May 2013 – CHASE 2013 – DAY 6

10:00 – We sing Happy Birthday to Bill Reid, our meteorologist and main guide. Bill does the weather briefing: chances for storms are rising, chance of severe to be non-zero, too.

11:00 – depart Van Horn, TX for New Mexico. We are positioning to be close to the OK/TX Panhandle – western Kansas area tomorrow.

_____ – stop at Guadalupe Mountain (highest point in Texas) for photos.

_____ – stop at NM/TX line for photos of the welcomes signs.

13:45 (CDT) – stop at Danny’s Place (REAL PIT BBQ) in Carlsbad, NM (the one with the famed Carlsbad Caverns).

17:45 – Exit Roswell, NM via US70N. Fueled up. No aliens sighted.

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