Nobeltec alert, & other product problems
Yike. It seems that Nobeltec has guaranteed its support staff a busy holiday season by issuing the ominous sounding alert above along with update 9.3.2240 to its VNS and Admiral charting software. The exact chart regions/software combinations that have the problem are listed in the bulletin, and include the Northstar 972 but not the Simrad GB60. The good news for anyone who has trouble with the update is that Nobeltec recently extended its support lines to 13 hours a day during the week and 10 hours a day on weekends. The bad news for some is that with this update Nobeltec removes the ability to import S57 vector charts—for most people that means the free ENCs offered by NOAA—and even disables those already imported.
Now I can’t get too worked up about this as, to my knowledge, the ENC portfolio is still quite incomplete, and the holes are everywhere around the U.S., so I don’t imagine anyone is using them as their primary chart format. But some, like sailors on the SailboatOwners.com message boards (and Sailing Anarchy, and the SSCA), are darn upset. I would caution anyone about to write, “I will never…..Nobeltec again” that they might want to wait and see what the company does with C-Map’s serious cartography assets. They recently announced that the switch from Passport to C-Map is “due out in spring 2008”, and Jeff McLaren has some dope on the new VNS/Admiral MAX Pro editions here.
Now Nobeltec is certainly not the only company with product issues or upset customers. For instance, note the SailboatOwners.com poster complaining about how very quiet Rosepoint (Coastal Explorer) has been. I’ve had several emails about this, even heard theories that the company is about to fold its tent. In fact I saw them at the fall shows, showing off some neat new features; but why they haven’t issued any (promised) updates in so long, I have no idea. I’ve also heard from solid sources that Sirius accidently introduced a bug into its satellite weather product such that the Nexrad radar display—arguably it’s most valuable feature—doesn’t always correspond to reality! I’ve also had several reports of bugs in the Raymarine display of Sirius Weather that sometimes result in wrong storm cell vectors and/or buoy wind speeds (mentioned back in a March bug list, but apparently still an issue).
So, think about it. Some theoretically well-equipped navigator could be out there today eyeballing an electronic chart on which a lot of important info “may not display correctly” (see top), or a live weather display that may not be truthful. And these are just the issues I’ve heard about. Need we remind ourselves of the navigator’s dictum?