gordon.dewis.ca - Random musings from Gordon


Archive for January 2008

Charming weather we’re having, eh?

January 30, 2008 @ 08:01 By: gordon Category: Weather

TAF CYOW 301139Z 301212 07008KT 3/4SM -RA BR OVC002
TEMPO 1213 5SM BR OVC008
FM1300Z 23015G30KT 6SM -RA BR OVC020
FM1500Z 24020G35KT P6SM OVC030
FM1700Z 24020G35KT P6SM BKN030
BECMG 2224 24015G30KT
FM0500Z 24012KT P6SM SCT040

Translation: Stay in bed. (I know I wish I could!)

Basically, the forecast is saying it’s going to be very windy throughout much of the day with rain, rain and snow, snow and blowing snow at various points during the day. Freezing rain isn’t listed (in fact, the freezing rain warning ended a little over an hour ago), but as of the time of this post the civil forecast still has a flash freezing warning in effect, so there’s a chance things could get quite messy.

I imagine the afternoon rush hour is going to be a lot of fun.

Geocaching with three teacher friends

January 28, 2008 @ 19:48 By: gordon Category: Geocaching

I headed out Sunday afternoon with some teacher friends to introduce a couple of them to geocaching (one had gone caching with me before).  We met up at P23 on Dolman Ridge Road in Mer Bleue and donned our snowshoes.

IMG_0325 The first cache we tried was A poplar rest spot (GCKGHY), a traditional cache hid in some trees a few metres off the road.  We followed a suspiciously convenient set of foot prints and spent a few minutes checking out the various possible locations before spotting the cache.  I left my traditional mini-Sharpie marker and picked out a small rubber duck that is the trademark signature item for some other friends who geocache.  We signed the log and headed back to the road.

The next closest cache was the first waypoint for Horsing Around! (GC11M7B), a multi-cache.  For those who don’t know, multi-caches are geocaches where you go to the first waypoint and find a tag (usually) with the next set of coordinates you have to visit.  Sometimes, there’s only one redirect, like my GAG6 – Take The High Road (GCNBXX).  In this case, however, there were six or seven tags that we hunted down over the next hour.

IMG_0331 Finally, we came across a toy horse in the middle of a field and figured we were at the cache rather than yet another redirect.  A little searching revealed the cache container near by.  We excavated it from the snow, traded some swag, signed the log and took some pictures with the horse.

Looking at the GPS, we decided to head off through the woods to a traditional cache a few hundred metres away in a clearing in the forest called GAG10 – Gnomes Catapult (GC12F4G), which was placed for the Go And Get ‘Em 10 event held last spring.

Trooping through the brush, we came across a single set of cross-country ski tracks in the middle of nowhere that passed right by the geocache.  It appeared that the skier stopped at the cache, but it doesn’t appear they logged it.

IMG_0353So, we opened up the container and made some swaps, took the obligatory pictures and headed back to our cars.   On the way out, we came across tracks in the snow made by a field mouse or a vole that ended in what can best be described as a "splat".  Surrounding the splat were feather prints, so I assume that the little creature was snatched up by an owl or hawk that was looking forward to a fresh dinner.


The area seemed to be a popular hunting ground because a little bit farther along we came across a similar crime scene, except that here two tracks went into the splat, but only one came out.

Mother Nature can be a harsh mistress, can’t she?

More pictures from this outing can be found here.

Hands-on with the Eye-Fi

January 26, 2008 @ 12:08 By: gordon Category: Gadgets, Photography, Reviews

Eye-Fi Wireless 2GB Secure Digital Memory Card SD

Updated: I’ve added pictures.

A little while ago I wrote about coming across the Eye-Fi while surfing the ‘net.  An Eye-Fi is a nifty 2Gb SD card that has the ability to connect via WiFi to upload its pictures automatically to a variety of destinations.  Earlier this week I decided that it was time to pick one up for myself, so I visited the Eye-Fi website and perused the list of online retailers.  None of the retailers listed seemed to offer shipping to Canada, so I ordered one from Buy.com who were offering new Google Checkout users a $10 discount and had it shipped to the UPS Store just across the border in Ogdensburg.  It shipped promptly and arrived at the store yesterday.  I drove down after work on Friday and picked it up.

Upon returning home, I opened the courier bubble pack and was happy to see that it wasn’t sealed in one of those annoying plastic packages that you need a chainsaw to open, but rather simple plastic wrap.  Opening the clever sliding package, I found the orange Eye-Fi chip in a sleek USB SD card reader.  The instructions consisted of four basic steps:

  1. Plug it in and wait for Windows to identify it.  (There’s also a set of instructions for Macs.)
  2. Install the software from the chip in the reader.
  3. Configure the Eye-Fi card for your wireless network and also where you want it to send the pictures.
  4. Put the card in the camera and make sure it’s working.

The only thing I did that’s not on that list was reboot between steps 2 and 3.  I also updated both the Eye-Fi Manager software and the card’s firmware.

I configured it to send pictures to my Gallery2 site.  All it needed was my username, password and the URL to the gallery.  I took a couple of pictures and watched as they were retrieved from the camera.  The pictures ended up in an album with today’s date in the name.  Very cool!

So, basically, I can take pictures and when I get home, all I have to do is turn my camera on for a couple of minutes to allow it time to transfer the pictures.  Very very cool!

At just under $100, it’s about four-times as expensive as a conventional 2 Gb SD card, but then those cards can’t wirelessly transfer their pictures to wherever the owner wants.  Definitely worth checking out!

Read the rest of the article to see the pictures


Upside-down Internet

January 21, 2008 @ 01:54 By: gordon Category: Seen on the 'net

I stumbled across a very creative solution to people who use someone else’s open access point without their permission.  It was creative enough that it made it into xkcd:


Porcupines and flashlights

January 17, 2008 @ 23:57 By: gordon Category: Geocaching, Photography

IMG_0284While out with an impromptu geomob this evening, we came across a big porcupine minding its own business munching on a small tree.  Naturally, we pretty much surrounded the tree and took pictures of it.  I had someone with a huge flashlight standing on the other side of the backlight the poor creature.  The result is to the right.

Lamp post cache causes bomb-scare in Plano, Texas

January 16, 2008 @ 12:52 By: gordon Category: Current affairs, Geocaching

I wrote an entry at the end of December talking about the problems with lamp post caches (LPCs). Barely three days later there was an bomb-scare incident in Plano, Texas involving a lamp post cache in a parking lot. I contacted the Plano Police Department to learn more about the incident.

Around 1pm on January 4th, the police department in Plano received a call from security officers at a local Wal-Mart store reporting suspicious activity around the base of a light pole in their parking lot. One or more persons were observed placing something under the cover at the base of the light pole.

The object in question, of course, was the container for a lamp post cache (LPC) that had been placed in the Wal-Mart parking lot without the knowledge of Wal-Mart.

According to one of the Public Information Officers at the Plano Police Department, had the geocacher who hid the cache contacted Wal-Mart for permission before placing the cache the 14 officers, two bomb trucks, a bomb trailer, a fire truck and a medical unit would not have been dispatched. Instead, they had to be dispatched to respond to an unknown device, a situation that may cause concerns for responding officers. And they were there about 3 hours before the incident ended at 4:21pm.

“If the individuals hiding the item would of contacted Wal Mart this would not of happened” [sic] said Officer Rick McDonald of the Plano Police Department in an email to me earlier yesterday (Tuesday). He also noted that “with the times of today Homeland Security issues are very high and suspicious activity around populated stores draws a lot of curious calls.” Police encourage the reporting of suspicious activities like those the security officers observed.

In this case a non-trivial amount of manpower was expended because someone didn’t follow the rules, specifically the one that says “you assure us that you have adequate permission to hide your cache in the selected location.” Because the investigation was on-going, Officer McDonald could not comment as to whether the owner of the cache in question has been contacted by the police. He was able to confirm that the cache container was not destroyed by the bomb squad.

If the geocaching community as a whole doesn’t exercise better judgement and respect the fairly simple self-imposed rules in place with respect to placing geocaches, we will increasingly find ourselves unwelcome where we previously were.

Happy Birthday, Granddad!

January 14, 2008 @ 10:18 By: gordon Category: Current affairs, Family, General

My grandfather is celebrating his 100th birthday today.

Since being born in 1908, he been around for…

  • the sinking of the "unsinkable" Titanic
  • the first crossword puzzle
  • The Great War (which wasn’t so great)
  • The Great Depression (which also wasn’t so great)
  • World War II
  • 16 Canadian Prime Ministers
  • 18 US Presidents
  • Four kings and a queen (not a bad poker hand)
  • the building of the Berlin Wall
  • the tearing down of the Berlin Wall
  • the first satellite in orbit
  • the first dog in space
  • the first human in space
  • Man landing on the Moon
  • the formation of The Beatles
  • the break-up of The Beatles
  • the invention of the colour photographic process
  • the invention of the fortune cookie
  • the first trans-Atlantic phone call
  • penicillin and bubble gum (in the same year!)
  • television
  • the Internet
  • email
  • spam
  • the invention of the pocket calculator
  • the first man-made object on another planet
  • the end of smallpox

More significantly, he’s been an important part of my life since before I can remember. 🙂

Happy birthday, Granddad!!!