DVD on a plotter, not bad

Ben Ellison

Ben Ellison

Panbo editor, publisher & chief bottlewasher from 4/2005 until 8/2018, and now pleased to have Ben Stein as a very able publisher, webmaster, and editing colleague. Please don't regard him as an "expert"; he's getting quite old and thinks that "fadiddling fumble-putz" is a more accurate description.

4 Responses

  1. Don Parker says:

    Maybe chartplotters will soon store recipes?
    Sorry, Ben, even if they supply keyboards and open them up to run Windows applications, I refuse to buy PCs (aka plotters) from Marine electronics companies. I prefer to select superb software like Coastal Explorer, and run it on either of my three redundant notebooks aboard, which surprise no one when they run spread sheets, DVDs, etc. I’m waiting for a self-contained radar overlay/MARPA product packaged like the new Garmin but offering a USB cable to my standard Windows PC. The longer it takes, the more I lose respect for the electronics companies who prefer to gouge us for camouflaged PCs that are not generally useful. After thirty-five years in the computer business, I’m amazed that they’re succeeding at this, plus their proprietary networking games, for as long as they have been. Perhaps our young business candidates are lazier/less hungry today than during the seventies and eighties when entrepreneurs ravaged such predatory business positions then practiced by companies such as AT&T, DEC, IBM, Memorex, etc.
    Fortunately we have keen commentators like you that point it out when the value added doesn’t justify the price. You do that don’t you?

  2. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Nothing to be sorry about, Dan; I’m happy for you and all your laptops. Please tell us more. Do you use one in sunlight or where there’s any chance of spray? If your boat goes fast or heels, how do you handle a keyboard or mouse? Why would you want a USB radar instead of Garmin or Koden’s Ethernet scanners? Finally, do you think there is a universal standard of value? And regarding the value of marine electronics, how do durability, viewability, and simplicity fit in?

  3. Don Parker says:

    It’s Don, Ben.
    I use the Grand Tec “indestructible” keyboard (silicon like; sticky) and a Logitech trackball (trackball under a Stamoid blanket) plus a SeaView display, like Brad Christian. I’ve also toyed with the nice Panasonic tablet that Nobeltec sells, but I’ll wait for a larger screen version, which shouldn’t be long in coming, given the rate at which PCs evolve. I’m unaware of a stability problem, such as you allude to, using these tools under the dodger on my 42′ sailboat, or below at the nav station.
    USB versus Ethernet at the lower layers of interconnection is the not the issue, Ben. Recognizing radar as merely another transducer along with GPS, sonar, etc., is what needs to be illuminated. The radar/arpa datastream should be openly defined and available to Nav Software authors just like a stand-alone GPS interface. But, megalomaniacal marine elex vendors disdain such commoditization as evidenced by the disappearance of most stand alone dumb GPS sensors and proprietary integration of d/s sounders into proprietary networks. I should be able to buy a Garmin radar and have Coastal Explorer recognize it, not unlike the way Windows knows how to work with a Canon or HP printer. And, I should be able to operate that same radar on my power boat when I run “The Cap’n” while on Coast Guard Auxiliary patrol duty.
    You may be too young to have been familiar with the times when word processing systems were comprised of proprietary hardware and software. There were also special, separate computers for inventory, engineering, banking and what have you. You’re certainly not too young to know that Panasonic and their “Toughbook” competition are continuously leapfrogging each other in terms of the “durability, viewability, and simplicity” you refer to. If the Marine Elex vendors are good at it, perhaps they’ll soon begin competing for Police, Firefighter and military business. What is more likely, however, is that more people will realize that you can buy two or three increasingly outdoorsy notebooks plus Nav software for less than a large screen chartplotter accruing critical redundancy and broader applications support in the bargain. If I had seen proprietary computers (analogous to today’s chartplotters) as good values, when I was in the computer biz, I wouldn’t have the IRA income that allows me to buy and play with my toys today.

  4. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Thanks, Don, but you’ve put up so much material for constructive debate, that this comments section doesn’t seem like the right place. I will try to address some of your points in future entries. One factual issue, though: where did you get this idea about “the disappearance of most stand alone dumb GPS sensors and proprietary integration of d/s sounders into proprietary networks”? I see quite the opposite.

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