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Written By: Gary on November 27, 2009 One Comment

So I tried out CoPilot Live North America GPS turn-by-turn software. First off let me point out it’s on sale for $24.99 through December (and then it goes back to $34.99) and it appears to include free quarterly updates (with no time limits listed as of today). Secondly please note that North America is defined as USA and Canada. FYI, if you don’t have an iPhone and you’re hoping to get one for the holidays, buy it now! It should work later just fine (at least all the sale and free apps I bought before I purchased worked fine.

copilotapproad.jpg

It’s awesome! You can use it in spoken turn-by-turn mode with or without the street names, only one voice (Frank) does the full street names, but I don’t like that on GPS devices (I get long names like “turn right at next exit Grand River / US-5 / 10 mile road”) and it’s too long for my attention span so I use Lisa (or John). In short mode I think it should speak the highway exit numbers though, it actually sounds truncated the way they do it.

It’s really easy to pick addresses from your address book and save as favorites, it did give me a little problem with my home address the way I had it in my address book but not any of my others (I’m not sure why). If you’re typing in an address it’ll let you use zip codes which I like. You can also search by business name (such as Detroit Science Center) and it’ll add to favorites or even make a call for you. It’ll also show routing for cars, walking or biking. It’ll let you play back your tracks, which would be great for hiking but this has got to eat your battery though.

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My biggest complaint is that while it integrates the iPod player into the application, it doesn’t pause the iPod part of the iPhone when it’s speaking; but this is listed as one of the next upcoming features. My second biggest complaint, is that sometimes I don’t feel like they followed iPhone interface guidelines and you have to think sometimes when picking out and typing things (mostly in the search areas).

The 2D maps will let you pinch / zoom like many iPhone map programs will. And it works in landscape or portrait modes. While I like portrait better, the fonts of turns show up bigger in landscape.

It’ll give you live weather for where you are too!

It’s probably the biggest app I have, it’s 1.3 GB, that’s a 1/12 of your 16 GB phone! You can get more info here: http://www.copilotlive.com/iphone/

CoPilot Live North America

Bottom line: If you don’t have a turn-by-turn GPS for $34.99 this is a great deal. For the $19.99 sale price (for only a few days) it’s an even better bargain.

Accessories: I’d recommend a car charger or external battery to charge your phone when walking or biking.

Written By: Gary on August 23, 2008 2 Comments

So my Mom got me an early birthday present, it’s a portable Garmin eTrex Vista HCx GPS. This has been on my Costa Rica to do list so she asked me what I wanted at just the right time. Obviously, it’s a specific model I picked out for her and it’s been great the little bit of time I’ve played with it this past week. It’s got the color display, the compass (this is an extra) and the memory chip expansion. It’s a whole lot easier to us than I expected it was almost Apple-ish in it’s use, but there are too many buttons (it’d need a touch screen to make it a little more intuitive).

As of right now it’s telling me we’re at 7,284 feet and traveling at 527 miles per hour (we’re somewhere south of Cuba). That’s seems a little low to me (I thought they didn’t let us use electronics until 10,000 or 15,000 feet) but maybe it’s having a hard time tracking out the window of the plane (but that’s not really my area either). I’ll be sure to upload some of the tracking info later superimposed on a map. I’ve always been into maps so it’s a fun gadget for me.

I wanted it for Costa Rica for a few reasons:

  • the signage for the roads are awful and since some of the roads are so bad you don’t want to backtrack unless you have to.
  • When I’m hiking I’d really like to know how far I’ve wandered away from civilization and have a better idea if I’m walking in circles.
  • Maps here aren’t the greatest so maybe one of the Points Of Interest (POI) will help me find something I’ve been missing.This portable unit only has basic highways and major roads (roads like Telegraph and Michigan) for the US, it’s assumed you’re using this for specifics like hiking any you’re going to buy the topographical maps for it, but it does have exit numbers for the highways and food and gas info for those spots. I think you need to purchase the local maps for turn-by-turn directions but I never got a chance to play with that.

    In anticipation for this trip did purchase the detailed maps for Costa Rica. The unit had very limited details before that upgrade, although I think it still would have helped me orient myself quite a bit. I purchased them from www.NavSatCR.com who does about 3 updates a year and then I can purchase future years for a lot less. They actually sell cheaper 10 day and 30 day versions so if it’s just a one time trip you don’t have to invest as much, but those maps actually stop working after that time frame (I purchased the non-expiring ones). From reading around, the folks at NavSatCR seem to be the place for Costa Rican GPS maps.

    I also purchased a mount for handle bars so if I rent an ATV, scooter or bicycle it’ll help with getting around that way too.

    As I’m wrapping up writing this, we just left the air above the Atlantic Ocean and passed into El Salvador…

  • Written By: Gary on April 9, 2008 No Comment

    So when you take digital pictures, it records the date and the time with the picture. I’m a little slightly obsessive compulsive about the settings on the date and time and when my two cameras are both set for different time zones and neither of those are the correct time zone it tends to annoy me.

    So from now on I’m keeping my camera’s set to GMT (Greenwich Mean Time) so it’ll always be consistent. If you don’t know, this is the time zone where the clocks are set at “0”, for example when you set you clocks to EST (Eastern Standard) it sometimes says “-5” hours, that’s 5 hours off from GMT. I’m not sure how this will work for me in the long run but for now it seems like it will be consistent for me.

    The biggest problem I see for now it is that other devices like my camera phone will till record in the current time zone. But since its a phone, the time on that should always be correct, unless of course I’m traveling in a country where I don’t have reception and the clock would be wrong…

    Written By: Gary on August 25, 2007 No Comment

    So I made it to Chicago, even with the traffic reports not helping me any (actually I had two ways to go and choose the one that I hadn’t heard any numbers mentioned so maybe it did help). The weather is awesome right now and looks like it will be great.

    SRO_ChicagoOn the way in, I was starving and I headed straight for Standing Room Only to get some ribs. It was the last meal I had the last time in Chicago and they were delicious, so I made it my first meal this time around. Google maps on my phone helped me get here, I sure wish it had GPS to figure out where I am so that when I want directions and I’m don’t have an exact location that it could figure it out for me!

    I think I might take a short walk, and then go check in. I’ve got to get this car into the hotel parking so I don’t need to deal with driving/parking any more today, then I’ll see if I can hook up early with some of the people I’m meeting later on. I had planned on being in town hours and hours ago but yesterdays delays resulted in my not getting enough sleep and flooding delays encouraged me to do some shopping in Michigan City before getting too close to Chicago in hopes flooding would die down..

    Written By: Gary on May 29, 2006 No Comment

    Nonsequitur060528So I really liked today’s edition of Non Sequitor. It really shows what technology should and could do and how people could relate to it better (sarcasm inserted all over the place).

    I just thought this cartoon was hysterical and wanted to share it. You can see this comic every day at the Non Sequitor site. (If the above link breaks you can see the comic by clicking on the image).


    Plus she uses my word that I’ve found all sorts of uses or lately, “bonehead”….

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    Written By: Gary on April 7, 2004 No Comment

    “When the 40,000 subscribers to Reason, the monthly libertarian magazine, receive a copy of the June issue, they will see on the cover a satellite photo of a neighborhood – their own neighborhood. And their house will be graphically circled.”reasoncover
    How cool is that?!? I wonder how many people will notice it right off the bat? FYI Nick Gillespie is the editor of Reason, so his name is on the sample. They focus a lot on custimization of magazines ads and catalogs.

    “What if you received a magazine that only had stories and ads that you were interested in and pertained to you?” he asked. “That would be a magazine that everyone would want to read.”

    FYI – If you subscribe by Friday, April 9th, you’ll get the personalized issue with your subscription. (A least that’s what their web site says)


    From the New York Times:

    On one level, the project, sort of the ultimate in customized publishing, is unsurprising: of course a magazine knows where its subscribers live. But it is still a remarkable demonstration of the growing number of ways databases can be harnessed. Apart from the cover image, several advertisements are customized to reflect the recipient’s particulars.

    Nick Gillespie, editor in chief of Reason, said the magazine, with an editorial mission of “Free Minds, Free Markets,” used the stunt to illustrate the cover article about the power and importance of databases.

    The original article http://www.nytimes.com/2004/04/05/business/05reason.html

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