# Friday, 28 October 2005
I found my first geocache at lunch yesterday.  Vikki and Carter (my wife, and our dog) came over to help.  Pretty fun stuff.  It was actually a “multi-cache” meaning that the initial coordinates get you a piece in a puzzle, which leads to the next set of coordinates, etc.  Bascially it’s a treasure hunt for technologically enabled grown ups.  I can see it getting to be a habit forming kind of hobby.  From looking at the maps, there are plenty more caches near both work and my house to keep my busy for a good while.
Friday, 28 October 2005 09:48:03 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)  #    Disclaimer  |  Comments [0]  | 
# Wednesday, 26 October 2005

I did a little geocaching with some friends this summer, and really want to do some more.  To that end, I just got my first GPS, a Garmin GPSMAP 60C.  So far I’m totally digging it.  It gets great reception, even in the car, and the color screen is super easy to read.  It’s even got some nice built-in geocaching features, like the ability to mark a cache as found, and recording when you found it. 

The USB interface is super easy, and I was able to upload/download waypoints in no time.  I have yet to try downloading a route, but that will be next.  I haven’t shelled out for the mapping software yet, so I have to content myself with the basemap, which isn’t much to go on, but should be enough for highways at least.

I’m hoping to get in some ‘caching this weekend, so we’ll see how well it works in the field.

Wednesday, 26 October 2005 10:07:12 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)  #    Disclaimer  |  Comments [0]  | 

While I’d consider this more of a “survival kit” than a “72–hour kit”, it’s still a neat idea.  I really like the way the saw blade is mounted on the tin.  Plus it’s always fun to see what people make out of Altoids tins…

Wednesday, 26 October 2005 09:59:55 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)  #    Disclaimer  |  Comments [0]  | 
# Tuesday, 18 October 2005

As I mentioned last week, we had our first city-wide emergency comm drill in Hillsboro this past Saturday.  Overall, it went pretty well, but I definitely came away with some key learnings:

  • Get your Amateur license.  If you want to be able to reasonably expect to contact an Emergency Operations Center, or something similar in your area, ham radio is the way to go.  In case you haven’t heard, you don’t have to learn Morse code any more to get your technician’s license, and the test isn’t hard.  Check out Gordon West’s test prep materials.
  • If you don’t have an Amateur license, and you only have an FRS radio, you’d better get up someplace high.  While talking on your radio from a tree may be inconvenient, it’s about the only way you stand any chance or reaching someone more than a few blocks away.  I was stationed on top of a parking garage, and I only heard people on FRS radios if they were up someplace high, like a roof or a hill.  On the other hand, I had no problem hearing hams from all over town.
  • Check your equipment.  Several people found that their equipment didn’t work the way they thought when they went to use it.  Particularly a problem with fixed installations, where things tend to work loose eventually, get out of whack, etc.

Hopefully this won’t be our last drill, and we’ll learn more then next time.  Again, though, the one big takeaway from this and from everything post-Katrina is that when all else fails, ham radio works.

CERT | Radio
Tuesday, 18 October 2005 12:54:30 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)  #    Disclaimer  |  Comments [0]  | 

TokyoFlash has a new Morse code watch that tells time either audibly or in LEDs using Morse code.  Very cool, and good practice to boot.

[via Gizmodo]

Tuesday, 18 October 2005 09:57:51 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)  #    Disclaimer  |  Comments [1]  | 
# Wednesday, 12 October 2005

We’ll be running an emergency communications drill in Hillsboro this Saturday morning, October 15th.  Details are here.  Basically the idea is to see how many people can reach the county EOC (Emergency Operations Center) from their homes via radio.  Any radio will do.  The EOC will be monitoring amateur (147.4) FRS (channel 9) and CB (channel 9).  Some of us hams will also be monitoring the FRS channels in an attemp to relay messages to the EOC from FRS users.  I’m hoping that when people see how far they can actually reach with their FRS radios, they might be encouraged to get their amateur licenses. 

If you have a radio, and you live in Hillsboro, get on the air at 10:00.  We’ll be listening.

CERT | Radio
Wednesday, 12 October 2005 09:51:05 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)  #    Disclaimer  |  Comments [0]  | 
# Monday, 10 October 2005

After seeing Serenity, I was really jonesing to watch the Firefly series again, but alas, my copy was lent to a friend and thence disappeared into oblivion.  So…

I ordered a new copy, and it showed up on Friday.  Pure goodness.  I’ve gotten through the first 4–5 episodes already.  What’s not to like?  The dialog is fantastic, the future both well crafted and highly plausible, and the acting was quite good for what it was.

It’s always a joy to watch Joss Whedon’s shows.  It’s nice to know that there’s someone out there who doesn’t assume their audience is composed entirely of knuckle draggers.

Monday, 10 October 2005 14:54:14 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)  #    Disclaimer  |  Comments [0]  | 

I upgraded both this blog and my food blog to the tip of the dasBlog CE 1.8 source, and had no problems at all.  I love how smoothly the content upgrader from 1.6 works.  I’m digging some of the new features too, including built-in support for FeedBurner

Kudos yet again to Scott and Omar et. al.

Monday, 10 October 2005 10:28:53 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)  #    Disclaimer  |  Comments [0]  | 
# Monday, 03 October 2005

Kudos to Joss for making such a good transition to the big screen.  Vikki and I went to Serenity yesterday, and we were both impressed.  I thought they did a great job of preserving the best parts of the show, while coming up with a story that could be self-contained in two hours. 

Several reviews I saw complained about the lackluster special effects.  To them I say:  that’s not the point.  The effects were comparable to what was in the show, and that’s all that was required.  If you spend all your time on effects, you end up with something as crappy as Episode II.  The whole point to Firefly/Serenity is the character development. 

I do think that if you haven’t watched the show you won’t quite grasp some of the subtler bits of the film, but probably not so you’d notice. 

Overall, well worth seeing whether you’ve seen the show or not.  If only they’d stuck with more of the banjo music…

Monday, 03 October 2005 09:42:06 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)  #    Disclaimer  |  Comments [0]  |