We just heard some sad news. Our lawyer and long time friend Rollie Faulkner had a heart attack yesterday and he lies in intensive care. That saddens us and makes us wish that we could be there to comfort his family. Get well Rollie. Get well.
Yesterday I found a WIFI connection to the Internet and went berserk. I fixed up my acme net email account. I cleaned out my inbox and replied to all emails needing answers. I downloaded updates to Windows XP and to our Lowrance GPS. I got new schedules for the NOAA SSB high seas weather reports (I’ve been missing the reports recently because they changed the broadcast schedule.) I registered software online. I downloaded literature for the Sailmail SSB radio email. I got a replacement copy for the Ham University Morse code program. I got the Garmin GPS hooked up with the computer and tested it with three of my boating programs. In fact I wasted the entire day playing with the computer. Libby looked disgusted. Playing on the computer all day was supposed to be part of my past life, not the present one.
Interesting. The same software and GPS hardware that did not work under Windows 2000 did work in Windows XP. It had to do with comp port numbers. The USB-to-serial adapter created COM5 in W2000. The programs only recognized COM1 COM2 and COM3, and therefore didn’t work. Under Windows XP, the adapter appeared as COM4 and all three programs recognized it.
On the plus side of technology, the upgrade for the Lowrance was slick. I went to the Lowrance web page, downloaded Java runtime, downloaded an applet for the upgrade. The applet then ran and downloaded the new software release directly into the SD memory card that I borrowed from our digital camera and stuck in the slot of the computer. When it was done, I took the SD card, inserted it into the Lowrance and powered up. The Lowrance detected the card and automatically ran an internal program to replace its own operating software with the new release. Then all I had to do was return the memory card to the camera. Slick. Especially slick considering that 20 years ago I would have been fiddling with ribbon cables and DB25 connectors trying to make a custom cable to connect two devices.
We set out this morning early destined for the Intercoastal Waterway (ICW). The day started near freezing.
I also paid a price for yesterday’s Internet binge. As we set out, I discovered that these waters were exactly in the intersecting areas of three sets of chart kits. To make it worse, the kits overlapped some, and all three of them were replete with multiple views and cutouts of the Norfolk area. Still worse, we needed to make a choice on the ICW of one of two ways to go, but I couldn’t find the place on the charts where the fork was. Never fear, our trusty Lowrance GPS could help sort the confusion. But “Oh No” the Lowrance is misbehaving today. It forgot the local compass variation of 10 degrees 45 minutes for here, and on the map it seemed to show that things below Norfolk disappeared into hyperspace. Wait a minute I thought, I just upgraded yesterday. (The slick upgrade I bragged about above.) Could it be a bug in the new release? Before calling the support line I tried an old trick. I powered down, removed the chart chip, reseated the chip, and powered up again. It worked! The experience was reminiscent of the days with my Apple ][ computer and with the Prime computers at work. Reseating the chips and the boards was standard operating practice in those days when computers acted up.
We had a fine ride into the bay then into Norfolk harbor, and past the navy base. We passed 8 aircraft carriers, 2 submarines and numerous other war ships. It was very impressive.
Just as we passed downtown Norfolk where the ICW really begins, Libby spotted the USS Wisconsin in a berth on the side of the river. Wow! I had a great time a year ago touring the USS Texas in Houston. But the Texas was commissioned in 1910 whereas the Wisconsin was commissioned in 1944. I squealed for joy. Luck would have it that there is a marina only a few hundred meters away. We pulled in and secured a berth for the night. It felt so warm, more than 70 degrees. What a nice day.
Libby took off to see what was fun for her in downtown Norfolk while I headed for the battleship. We were both back within a half hour. The battleship is closed Mondays. Libby heard the bad news about Rollie. We’ll regroup and figure out an alternate plan. I asked the marina guy about checkout time tomorrow. He said, “When you get back from the USS Wisconsin.” What a nice guy.