Gizmo PAN, adventures in Bluetooth #1
Good times: I spent most of yesterday testing electronics on Gizmo and visiting around Camden Harbor. One system I was mostly pleased with is this little wireless communications and navigation PAN (Personal Area Network), if I may apply a long name for what’s a fairly doable setup these days (bigger picture here). The Palm Centro is running ActiveCaptain Mobile and has the Region 101 raster portfolio loaded on its 1gb micro SD card. That’s a single 353 mg file containing all charts from the Canadian border to Block Island, which scale, zoom, and pan very quickly, and look good. Better than the photo(s) actually, if you put the Centro’s transflective screen in direct sunlight or use its full blast backlighting in heavy overcast conditions.
ACM is getting GPS data from that i-Blue solar bluetooth unit, which was quite easy to setup. Which is good, because due to limitations of the Centro’s Palm OS (I think), ACM shuts down whenever you make/take a call or use another app (like the great freeware Tide Tool). But when you start it again, it finds the GPS automatically and quickly. Note how I’ve tried to label the i-Blue (now available at Amazon) with hints about what its three multi-color, sometimes-flashing LEDs are trying to tell me, which is something that should have done at the factory! (A lot of us have way too many flashing LEDs trying to communicate something or other to us.)
At any rate, ACM as a little-screen plotter is quite cool, but it really shines when you ask it to query the ActiveCaptain site for user-generated info on marinas, anchorages, etc. I seemed to have a decent EVDO connection on Gizmo (unlike my office), and ACM quickly snatched whatever category (or “all”) I requested for whatever area was on screen. Then as I selected individual icon details, reviews, etc. with the stylus, it did successive downloads; in other words, it sips data—good if, like me, you’re on a limited plan—but it’s quick about it. I couldn’t update the Camden Public Landing transient docks as having AC power now, but ACM told me that the function is coming. Finally, I am testing a pair of Dragon V2 headsets, and used one yesterday in my PAN. I’ll have lots more on Dragon performance later, but for now will note that it’s exceptionally comfortable to wear, at least in my ear, and works well in regular cell mode. I could be using ACM or have the Centro tucked it away while I drove and would still be informed of a call via Dragon chirps, and could take it with a tap. But I did get nervous that someone on the USS Whidbey, arriving to help us celebrate Windjammer Weekend, might think I was something other than a geek in a ridiculously over-equipped 14′ skiff.