Thursday, September 20, 2007

Garmin StreetPilot c330 - Don't leave home without it!

I bought this little Garmin GPS on eBay a couple months ago and have, just now, had the chance to check it out on a long trip. It is safe to say, I am hooked! After three weeks of traveling from Austin to San Francisco, and many stops between, I can honestly say I will never again use a paper map to find my way.

How many times have you been in a strange city at night and wanted to go out to a certain restaurant or bar? You know what a hassle it is to try and read a map while struggling to see in the dark, watching for traffic, while not even knowing which way is North. Tell this little Garmin to take you to the nearest Jack in Box and your problem is solved! It will give you turn by turn directions, then tell you how to get back to your motel as well as the time you will get there.

The high points:

1. Nice display, not huge but, large enough to see clearly

2. Speaker is loud and clear enough to easily understand voice directions

3. Extensive database includes almost anything you could ask to find - hotels, food, entertainment, attractions, rest stops, etc, etc.

4. Satellite locks happen quickly, usually within 30 seconds.

5. Price: about $150

Low points:

1. Slow processor but, see number 5 above. Seldomly a problem but, if satelite lock is lost for any reason, can take 15 seconds or so to recalculate the route. It is possible you might miss a turn during that time.

2. This is not really a criticism of this particular unit but, with any GPS you are likely to occasionally lose the satelite lock if in a downtown canyon with tall building on both sides of the street.

Relief From the Heat

After the long hot and humid summer of Austin, this was a welcome change. Here we are three days ago in Durango, Colorado. That white stuff all around the car is a mixture of small hail and sleet. Temperature at the time was 36 degrees.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Heading East Again

I really did not get a chance to post immediately after the second day of the San Francisco Singularity Summit. We are now back in Las Vegas and have been here for about three days now, just doing our part to support the casinos through our generous donations. As I write this, it is 2AM and we just made it back to the room.

We are leaving here in a couple of days and heading to Albuquerque, NM to spend a few days. The primary reason for going there is the University of New Mexico's Museum of Anthropology. It is just incredible and, when we visited a few years ago, we only got to spend about half a day there. We swore at the time that we would come back when we had no schedule and could stay as long as we liked.

By-the-way, the Singularity Summit was excellent and very thought provoking. I imagine we will attend again next year and, if you are interested in that sort of thing, I would highly recommend it.

After we leave Albuquerque we are planning on going to Durango, Colorado to ride the narrow gage train to Silverton. I suppose we will be in Durango for a few days, then will start heading back toward Austin. Unfortunately we will miss ACL this coming weekend in Austin.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Singularity Summit 2007 - Day One

Today, we are in San Francisco for the Singularity Summit on Artificial Intelligence and, at the moment, are sitting in the auditorium listening to one of the speakers talk about open source development software that will allow any of us to write customized algorithms to test in Advanced General Intelligence systems.

More on that later but, first a little about getting here. On the way out we spent one day in Las Vegas then went to Bishop, California on Thursday. After the hot and humid weather we have been having in Austin, it was refreshing to wake up to 38 degrees on Friday morning. Friday we left Bishop and headed for San Francisco by way of Yosemite National Park.

The Singularity Summit 2007 is a complete sell out this year and is hosting about 1,000 people who are interested in the field. Here is a phone camera photo from inside the conference room.

I have been pleasantly surprised at the speed of the Internet connection here in the conference room. They told us at the beginning that there was only one pipe in the room and, sitting here, I can see several hundred other bloggers and surfers in the audience right this minute. Must be a pretty fat pipe because it is quite speedy. :-)

More to follow tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Scottsdale, Arizona

Now, back to the West coast trip. Peggy is having one of those biggie birthday years in a few days - turning 60 on 911. I know some people don't like to disclose their age but, she can brag about it because she looks younger than her years.

Anyway, we thought it would be nice to spend her birthday in Reno and, on the way we are attending the Singularity Summit on Artificial Intelligence in San Francisco. Lots of great speakers lined up to talk about a subject in which we are very interested.

Here is a photo of about 1/1000th of 1% of energy generating wind mills in West Texas. Pulled over and took this from IH 10.

We have decided we don't much like Scottsdale, AZ. Have you ever been to Sun City - this is a whole, major city that looks exactly like a Sun City. Everything is earth tones, there are no signs, and the small business names they allow on the side of the buildings are nearly the same color as the building itself. What a boring place! If these people saw South Austin they would think they were in the Twilight Zone.

Catching Up

OK, obviously I have not been posting to the blog but, I have a pretty good excuse. It is probably no big news to anyone that when Peggy and I get an idea, we tend to jump in with both feet. About a month ago we it occurred to us that we should get a motor home and sell our place out in Lago Vista. So the next day we started moving the things we could not bare to part with and selling everything else. Plus we made a rule that those things we were keeping had to fit in a 10 X 10 storage building or they were history.

So far we have given away, or sold, 4 van loads, 6 pickup loads, and a 16 foot trailer load of stuff. Plus we have moved all the “keeping” stuff to storage. As soon as we get back from the West coast the real estate is going up for sale.

Peggy and I are on our way to San Francisco and, today, are cruising along IH 10 between Las Cruces and Scottsdale. More to follow ....