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Old 10-05-2012, 05:53 PM   #61
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Well, there are trails, some rougher than others. Some forests allow "cross-country" travel, meaning one can go anywhere and not using the trails.

The danger depends on the speed of travel. I am usually fairly cautious. I ride for sightseeing and exploring, not for the thrill of speed. A few times, I got carried away, but quickly came to my senses. My son also rides along on his bike, so one of us can go for help if the other gets hurt.
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Old 10-05-2012, 06:00 PM   #62
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...(snip)... Inside cities, satellite signals tend to be blocked by buildings on both sides of narrow streets, and GPS often does not work anyway.
...
So it sounds like GPS is not useful while walking in a city. Back to the drawing boards.
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Old 10-05-2012, 06:25 PM   #63
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So it sounds like GPS is not useful while walking in a city. Back to the drawing boards paper maps.
FIFY.

Or you can find an intersection and stand in the center of it to get clear line of sight to the GPS satellites. Then, also look at the names on the street signs, to verify agreement with the GPS display, and the backup paper map.

While RV'ing through mountainous roads along river valleys, or through heavily forested roads, we lost GPS signal quite often, but it was usually momentary until we got to a clearing. And when hiking or motorcycling through the forest, of course I often had to get to a spot with clear sky to get a position fix.
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Old 10-05-2012, 06:35 PM   #64
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So it sounds like GPS is not useful while walking in a city. Back to the drawing boards.
It's a problem if you have very tall buildings close together like downtown Seatlle, but not a problem usually.

When we travel (not in our car), we use the iPad as our GPS. You don't have to buy maps for the iPad .
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Old 10-05-2012, 06:50 PM   #65
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I understand that maps for smartphones are not stored on the devices, but downloaded from the wireless network as needed. Is that correct? Is it the same with the iPad?

Not a user of iPad or iPhone, but I saw something recently about a contention between Google and Apple regarding map applications. In my opinion, Google map with the satellite views and street views is very impressive. Ditto for Google Earth.

Too bad I often RV into areas without any internet access to look up the roads and terrain on Google Earth to complement the map on my laptop, which is quite meager by comparison.
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Old 10-05-2012, 07:34 PM   #66
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I'm not a heavy user of Maps on the iPhone but a couple of years ago, I couldn't find this restaurant on some narrow street in Taormina so I turned on my Mifi with a Telecom Italia Mobile SIM to find my location relative to the street and restaurant I was looking for.

Otherwise, it's much easier to have a paper map that hotels typically hand you.

The interesting potential is with augmented reality apps where you'd hold up your smart phone and it would determine your location and the direction you were pointing the camera and would overlay the live pictures with labels showing any interesting landmarks, like where a subway entrance would be and what kind of reviews a restaurant has.

I believe the Yelp app. does that, though you can just have it display restaurants relative to your current location.


There's also suggestions that the new Maps app. may cache a lot of data so that you can use it even when offline. For instance, supposedly one person was using it in San Francisco and then turned off the data connection to see how much map data had been cached and he could go out to Utah.

Google lets you specifically download 50 square mile or radius map tiles, which you'd be able to browse without a data connection, on Android phones and tablets.
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Old 10-05-2012, 07:37 PM   #67
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I understand that maps for smartphones are not stored on the devices, but downloaded from the wireless network as needed. Is that correct? Is it the same with the iPad?
That's true, you need an internet connection.
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Old 10-05-2012, 07:38 PM   #68
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BTW, in case you weren't aware, you can buy apps. which will store maps on your device so that you can use them for turn by turn directions without a data connection.

They're almost as expensive as a standalone GPS but smart phone has more power and a more responsive screen than a Garmin or TomTom so there's the potential for a better UI.

But these apps from TomTom and Garmin do not have the best UI compared to other apps. Maybe still better than a standalone GPS though.
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Old 10-05-2012, 08:03 PM   #69
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Once the US DoD opened up the GPS to civilian applications, and when the technology allowed building these smartphones with such compact electronics, the proliferation of apps on these smartphones has been truly amazing.

While I like to do actual travel, I will admit that I have found myself often spending time looking around on the Internet to play armchair traveler, compared to the past when I would watch the travel channel or travel video on DVD. Maybe young people do that with their smartphones, as these devices become the window into the real world with all those virtual or enhanced reality apps.

It won't be long now until we all live "in the Matrix". Maybe I am already, but still denying it.
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Old 10-05-2012, 11:56 PM   #70
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Anyway, the Navy guys should be happy with semaphores. What is its equivalent baud rate, I wonder? It could not be too far from the baud rate of their VLF link, right? And both, I am sure, are high speed communication relative to the smoke signal that the Indians used. Heck, wasn't that about 1 bit per 10 seconds? What would be the highest bit rate of a proficient Indian smoke signaler, under ideal conditions (good visibility, no wind, etc...)? And I mean an error-free bit rate, not that of an ambiguous message that would have to be retransmit due to lack of confirmation.
PPS. My memory failed me. It was the ELF link that could really reach submarine depth. It has a speed of a few bits per minute! Now, that is slower than smoke signalling, I think.
VLF and ELF were originally designed for bellringers and launch orders, so they didn't really have to use many letter groups to get the point across. You had a limited number of characters and rigid rules on interpreting ambiguous groups.

ELF was painful, though, because it'd take up to 10 minutes before the receiver's computer would spit out a letter.
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Old 10-06-2012, 05:41 AM   #71
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Wow, this thread touched a few nerves!

We have two Tracfones (cheap prepaid ones) that I use about five minutes a month and DW uses perhaps twice that.

We have and occasionally use a GPS ($99 at Walmart) but it's about four or five years old now.

For photography we have a nice DSLR with multiple lenses, two flashes that talk to the camera and each other for the highfalutin' stuff, and a couple of point 'n shoots.

But I see guys at work with their phones and paying $120/month or more for them. Lessee, in ten years that's gonna be over $14k cash after-tax money and they will have what to show for it?

No thanks.

While I like new toys it's never occurred to me to sell a body part for an upgrade though.
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Old 10-06-2012, 07:01 AM   #72
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Semaphore flags, actually.
Nice new avatar...
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Old 10-06-2012, 10:08 AM   #73
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While I like new toys it's never occurred to me to sell a body part for an upgrade though.
I wonder if they'd take fingernail clippings?
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Old 10-06-2012, 11:42 AM   #74
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I currently do not subscribe to any wireless data access. When I saw what they charged for a few GBs of traffic a month, I decided against it.

I was a MSDN subscriber for a long time to get access to software update from "Micromush" . A single download of a new Windows version or new compiler version takes 2 or 3 GB easily. And then, between my surfing on youtube and my wife's watching of on-line movies, who knows how many GB's we pull through the cable modem per month?

I once read a blog of a full-time RV'er who did not watch his wireless usage, and was faced with a monthly charge of more than $2K. Ugh... So, I decided that when I go RV'ing, it is also a time for me to try to curb my internet addiction. I often go to places where there is not even wireless voice anyway.

PS. Wireless data HAS to be expensive. The spectrum bandwidth is truly a limited resource, like land. You do not get economy of scale. More people moving to SF or Manhattan does not result in housing costs being cheaper there. And people are using smartphones more and more everyday. The high cost is a way to regulate usage, besides bringing profits to the carriers. Still, if you look at the finance of telecoms, they are doing OK, but not great.
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Old 10-06-2012, 03:56 PM   #75
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Confession. I have both an ipad (Christmas gift from DH) and an iphone (4). The iphone (to me) has become nearly indispensable. I use a budgeting app, a shopping list app, a stock market app, google maps with gps, in addition to playing my music through the car's sound system. Oh, and I use it for texting and phone calls.

But we can afford it. When we upgraded to the iphones, we were able to keep our old minutes plan ($40 for 300 shared mins). We did have to get data plans. ($30 each for unlimited data). The ipad uses wifi only, so no data exprense the. But if we ever want to cancel the data plan, that is an option. The phones will use whatever wifi signal is available.

No, I would not sell a kidney for one, but I'd cut some other discretionary item before giving it up. I love the feel, the design elegance and the quality.
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Old 10-06-2012, 05:06 PM   #76
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$35/month for me on virgin mobile gives me unlimited data, talk, text here, great video cam, exceptional photos, free apps include voice gps, hookup to car ubs for audiobooks, etc., etc., etc.

DH will upgrade to the iPhone 5 later this fall for almost twice that.

Neither phone is a necessity but we don't care. Everyone decides what's important to them. We will continue to own only one little old house and drive our long paid-for cars. I imagine the cost of a smart phone and full service is still a lot less than maintaining an RV.
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Old 10-06-2012, 07:13 PM   #77
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$35/month for me ...

...still a lot less than maintaining an RV.
Oh, my lady! We are only talking about people who spend more than they can afford. And then, even if we can afford something, it's the matter of having enough time to play with all these toys. Time is limited too. It certainly is for me.

And yes, $35/month is not expensive at all. Even a cheap guy like me wouldn't mind that. And of course $35 is only 10 gal of gas for my RV, which moves it only 93 miles (barely out to the outskirt of town, and back).

What's going on? I couldn't find wireless data as cheap as everybody else is getting.

Just now, I checked T-Mobile, a carrier that I used in the past. Of course, they offer many plans, but here's a plan that says: Unlimited Talk, Text, and Unlimited* High Speed Internet, $70/month.

What's that * by the word "Unlimited"? Oh, it's unlimited until you get to 5GB/month. How can it be "unlimited" if there is a quota? Does this mean that when you reach the quota, they slow your speed down to a trickle?

Would that 5GB work for me? So, I go to the Web site of my cable company, and check my account. It says I used 66GB the last monthly cycle, out of 200GB limit. Until now, I never knew there is a limit, obviously because I never reached it.

What is also interesting is that they say my single-day usage was as high as 6GB in one day, and as low as 0.1GB/day. Interesting! How do I reconcile the seemingly discrepancy I just found? That is, the data traffic I use in one day may be as much as a smartphone uses in one month.

Perhaps I pulled down a lot more data with my big screen PCs than the smartphones do. Or, I surfed way too much compared to the smartphone users?

OMG, I am "in the Matrix"!

PS. By the way, I was not home much last month due to RV'ing (that doggone expensive activity, like you noted!). Else, my monthly traffic would be a lot higher than 66GB. However, my max usage of 6GB/day means that I could be close to, but not over the 200GB/month limit, as 6*30=180GB. Without all of this discussion, I would not know how much of a traffic hog my wife and I have been!

I am "in the Matrix"! Arghhh... Arghhh...
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Old 10-06-2012, 08:32 PM   #78
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Ummm... we never had a telephone until I was 15 years old, and that was a 4 party line.

Our current minutes on Vonage average 120/mo.... $9.99 plan.

To all... Who do you talk to
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Old 10-06-2012, 08:42 PM   #79
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I talk to nobody. As stated earlier, my cell phone is turned off. My landline is picked up by the answering machine. This is so that I can surf the Web without interruption. I am a single-minded guy. I do not multi-task.

And because I suspect that I am really living in a Matrix, I surfed and found this article written by a professor of Philosophy at Oxford: What's the probability that we're living in the Matrix?

Conclusion: "You are almost certainly in a simulation".
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Old 10-06-2012, 08:53 PM   #80
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FYI T-Mobile and Virgin Mobile have decent unlimited data plans for under $40/mo. Check out the "Walmart" T-mobile plan for example - T-Mobile $30 Wireless Airtime Card - Walmart.com Unlimited text and 4G data plus 100 minutes call time - 1 month of service. I am sure there is fine print, but that was a smoking deal when I researched it this summer, if it fits your needs (lots of data, not much talk time). The virgin mobile is a little more expensive but gives 300 minutes talk time plus unlimited data (not sure if 4G).
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