Building comms for Battle Mountain

Shortly after returning to Sonoma county, I got in touch with a friend
from my IHPVA/WHPVA, Steve Delaire of Rotator Recumbents. Though no longer in the recumbent business, Steve is still active with IHPVA.

From what I can tell IHPVA now pretty much just does one thing– they run a one-week speed event outside Battle Mountain, Nevada.
Speed events are fun but I have always been more interested in practical applications of human power, like commuting by bike.

Still and all, Steve told me he had volunteered to work on communications for the event.  Providing communication support is
interesting to me. So I signed on to help.

There is no cellular network out there in the middle of Nevada, so mobile phones are useless. They’ve already tried handy talkies, which do not have enough range.

There is a nearby 2m repeater, so my first idea was to enlist local
ham radio people. Turns out that approach had already been tried and they are not interested in helping.

Steve’s idea was to use WiFi and smart phones. I am not convinced this is the best approach but it is certainly interesting to me, so it’s
what we’re trying. Steve still has more optimism than I about the
limitations of WiFI in smart phones. 🙂 My experience indicates that
you need a good antenna to make wifi work over more than about a hundred feet and I’ve never seen a smart phone with a good WiFi antenna.

But I love working with all these goodies, so I dove in.

Continue reading Building comms for Battle Mountain

ArcGIS on a Mac

I should have written many posts by now, so much stuff is going on.

A hardware failure in June inclined me to retire my beloved 2009 13″ Mac Book Pro and to replace it with a brand-new 13″. It is better in just about every way. My beloved told me to get the top end model, so it has the fastest i7 processor, 16GB RAM, the 1GB SSD. I thought the Retina display was just hype but especially for my old eyes, but now I find every other screen looks blurry and faded.

It is smaller and lighter, in part because there is no built-in DVD drive. I got an external USB drive for $30 from Newegg.

Committed as I am to doing GIS on a Mac while living nomadically, I went through a week in July of testing VirtualBox, VMWare Fusion, and Parallels 9. Parallels 9 won the contest. I was able to directly import my existing VirtualBox VMs into Parallels and I have not looked back since.  For me, it’s the video driver. Parallels has the best out of the three. Very important for graphics intensive programs like ArcGIS and Topo.

ArcGIS 10.2 and Delorme Topo 9 work great. I was disappointed by VMWare Fusion, especially since ESRI specifically mentioned it in ArcUser magazine. Don’t bother. Use Parallels.

It was not clear to me at the Parallels site, but you can install it and select “trial” mode, just download and run the installer without paying for anything. The same is true for VMWare Fusion, and you can install them both at the same time, you just can’t run them at the same time.

Parallels 10 came out in September,  I upgraded, and yes, it really is better and faster. Upgrade if you have version 8 or 9 — it’s only $50. It’s worth it.