Monday, July 20, 2009

Loaded for bear

I didn't get a heck of alot of sleep last night. Too much belated research. We continue to load up Landshark including recent acquisitions from the AAA. I had forgotten (lost? egads!) my AAA card, but they hooked me up anyhow. Even with the wide angle lens it was hard to capture the shelf of AAA books. And I've got a whole bag full of maps in case the GPS gets hit by lightning.

Speaking of the GPS, I finally buckled down and bought a MS product which was not Office or an OS. A Garmin 760 w/ MSN direct, built in blue-tooth and MP3 player. The MSN direct works directly w/ the GPS so I can see traffic, and more importantly, the cheapest gas around. When one is filling 45-50 gallons, a few cents makes a huge difference. We've filled two tanks so far saving $0.10 / gallon off the cheapest price I would have found.

In other electronics news, we also have a Verizon portable hotspot. It hooks into the Verizon network and then provides wifi so my iTouch and Martha's computer are both hooked up. We'll use wifi in campgrounds, but when on the road or further off the beaten track, we're still hooked up. Awesomely convenient.

Enough procrastination. I need to get back to loading up the Shark.


  1. Hope you have better luck with the Verizon 3G network then I did recently with AT&T's. It worked well in the cities and on major (think interstate) highways. But, on state highways or in hilly, remote areas there was just about nothing.... Very cool that you have the portable hotspot, though. I've read about people that rig up special "wifi antenna" dealybobs for use in RV campgrounds because the signal doesn't always cover all the spots equally. (

    Having used both the "built-in" nav system (Toyota Sienna) and a portable (Tom Tom), I find things I like about both. I like the "always there... always ready..." part of the built-in one and the nice big screen right there. I like not having to worry about securing it when I leave the car. I like the integration with the reset of the entertainment systems in the van. I don't like static update via (expensive) DVDs from Toyota. I don't like having to be IN the car to program destinations. On the eve of a big trip, I find myself sitting in the driveway punching in destinations to call up during the trip... a laborious process that I'd rather just upload. I don't like the way the controls get deactivated while you're moving... it's a safety feature, but it means my "co-pilot" can't even set a destination or unless we pull over.

    I'll be interested to hear about your Garmin experience. I used our TomTom in France and it was definitely a "marriage saver". :-) Small screen, dangling cords and constantly securing at every stop were the main drawbacks. [I didn't even want to leave the suction cup or cords visible while parked.]

  2. I'm a huge fan of the separate unit (totally at odds w/ Martha). First, it's cheaper. Second, it's more up to date. Third, if it breaks or annoys me, I can buy a different one and still get off cheaper than the one that we had factory installed in the prius. Oh, and fourth and most important, it lets me change locations while driving. The Garmin also has an FM antenna & MP3 player which I figured out two nights back. So, I start playing music on it, and tune to 88.1 (or any FM station I like) and it will playback. Unfortunately, I only have a 2G SD card, but if I had a 32G it would have held all of my audio books and music collection.

    And yes, the 3G Verizon network has been unimpressive, but it does help a bit when the wifi is down. Since I did not sign up for a contract, we'll turn it off the moment we return. And if we go camping again, will re-activate it. Either a wifi amplifier or cellular amplifier (or both!) would be an outstanding addition. And in the large spaces between cities, there's nothing on any type of connection, MSN, Verizon or Wifi.