Monday, December 04, 2006

Switching to the Dark Side

I´ve owned and used Apples since the old Apple II days. Remember those tiny black & white screens with nothing but text? Wow, they did amazing things, having grown up in the pre-computer, pound it out on a manual typewriter, era. I was pretty good at typing (on a typewriter) after college because you didn´t dare make an error or you had to retype the entire page! That´s when I learned to think first, type later, which is exactly opposite to what today´s computer users do, if the Internet is any indication. Well over the years I used, abused, and learned to love and hate a long string of PCs and Apples. I really loved my $3000 Powerbook 180 maxed out with 8 mb of RAM. In fact, I still have it and I fire it up periodically to remember the joys of System 7. I bought one of the first iMacs. It was so cool and blue. Then, when we took off to go cruising for a few years I got a neat new 12-inch iBook to have for onboard writing and some navigation with GPS NavX. It worked great until it stopped working great one day a couple of months ago, but the seeds of disatisfaction had been sprouting for most of the last year. First I discovered there was no software for allowing speedy email services like GMN or Ocens to work with my Iridium phone. Then I found out that there weren´t a whole lot of charts available for GPS NavX, at least outside of the U.S. Then I discovered that when things go wrong with an Apple outside the U.S., you are on your own. Every third world country has PC repair guys on every other street corner, but Apple folks are nonexistant. Need something ordinary like a new hard drive--forget it with an Apple. So Apples violated one of my hard and fast cruising rules--don´t have it onboard if you can´t either fix it in Timbuktoo by yourself, or if you can´t live without it. So, I´m going over to the dark side and getting a new PC laptop. I hope it isn´t too scary over there.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

John --

Can you speak to the issue of laptop navigation. I have a Dell laptop and have been downloading a ton of NOAA raster charts to use with a free version of Maptech. I think it is amazing technology and have been practicing with it at home. I can't believe all the charts are available for free and how good they look and work on the laptop. But, I have not used the system on the boat and probably won't until next summer when I will start a family cruise.

Why would I need a chartplotter with this laptop stuff? What are you using? Pro/cons?

Thanks,

Pat

Pearson 424 -- Jubilee

John J. Kettlewell said...

I use a laptop for my chart plotting and think it is great. I wouldn't buy a separate chart plotter as the laptop is more versatile. You'll find the free version of the Maptech software is too limiting as you can't interface with a GPS to get real time positioning on the charts. I use a few years old version of the Maptech Navigator that works with a tiny USB GPS unit. The free U.S. raster charts are great and I use them too, but outside the U.S. you'll need to obtain charts from various sources. Make sure your charting program or programs can handle various formats.

Anonymous said...

GPSNavX works with the Maptech BSB charts..

http://www.maptech.com/water/digitalcharts/index.cfm?infopg=buy

Our other product MacENC works with both the Maptech charts and S-57 ENC vector charts. Primar has a wide selection available..

http://www.primar-stavanger.org/

GMN will have an OS X client for their XGate email system very soon.