Post Purchase

In preparation for the arrival of my new vessel, I had to go through the typical hoop jumping of any new boat owner.

Insurance for boating and towing, financing, and most importantly a place to keep it.

Insurance and financing are individual items that are so totally unique to every person, I won’t go into that.

However, where to keep your boat is a common issue.

The West Wight Potter 19 can be stored in a large garage if it has a folding tongue or an exceptionally long garage. Even though I’m an apartment dweller, I do have a garage. However, it’s not that spacious.

Since I don’t have a yard I’m left with either marina or storage. Storage won out hands down. Marina berth’s are incredibly expensive and you still have to store the trailer itself somewhere. On top of that it kills the purpose of having a trailer able vessel you can travel with when you have to first pull the boat out. Plus, sitting in salt water builds up gunk on the hull and rusts the daggerboard.

The other option (since I’m a military reservist) is in a local bases Morale Welfare and Recreation storage lot, but no spaces are available, yet.

So, I found a storage area nearby that wouldn’t break the bank. Unfortunately they don’t have covered spots and they have trees and a dirt lot.

What’s that mean? I need to cover my baby.

And since this was spring pollen season the need was immediate. The last thing I needed were leaves and pollen stains ruining the excellent finish of my boat.

Two large tarps and lots of white parachute cord along with the aid of my able bodied kung fu kid and we were able to cover it to the gunwales for nearly the entire length of the boat.

They were already in my hurricane kit so the price was right. Lowe’s has very large tarps which could save you the hassle of stringing two together like I did. I would bet they are more durable than mine. Make sure you get it big enough to go over the main mast resting in the yoke and reach the gunwales on both sides.

Some cover notes: I do not recommend using bungie cords because they maintain a constant pulling pressure on the tarps. Tarps aren’t great for handling constant stress and the sun adds to its deterioration. Use some form of non-elastic tie downs like parachute cord or straps. If your tarp has grommets or you can add some, makes sure they don’t rust against your hull or it will stain.

The other option is to buy the West Wight Potter 19 cover from International Marine. My last check showed the cost at $850. I decided this was too pricey than I wanted for now. Comparative pricing I could buy covers large enough ten times over and still have money to spare.

Since I’m in Florida, hurricanes can be a concern. I intend to investigate trailer and boat tie down options before the season.

Sailboat Prelude and Purchase

Prelude and Purchase

I’ve been enthralled with sailing since high school, when my father arranged a week long charter in the B.V.I.’s.

As life has progressed for the past thirty years I’ve whetted my appetite mostly by day dreaming and living vicariously through others, pouring over plans, occasional day sails, and more recently, joining sail clubs.

As in all things, a change of life circumstance created new opportunities. Like pregnancy, there is no such thing as the perfect time and I decided to jump in and buy my own sail boat.

All the daydreaming helped me formulate a baseline of what I wanted. Still employed, I didn’t need a deep water cruiser, though I did want something that could accommodate two for a number of days. I wanted to trailer it, for storage and mobility. It had to be light enough for my current vehicle (a 2007 Mercury Mariner) to handle. A large volume production base to draw on the experiences of others, accessories and support. A still functioning manufacturer is a plus. Buying it used to save myself the depreciation was another point.

Which got me to the MAC26 (X or M) or West Wight Potter 19.

I finally went with a West Wight Potter 19. Why? Size for ease of storage (7 feet shorter overall). They were less expensive ($6k to 8K for the same model year). Cost of outboards were less expensive (max 5 HP vs 50 HP).

Through constant hunting, I found a WWP19 before it went on the market through members of the West Coast Trailer Sailor Squadron. The previous skipper of the “Minnow” referred me to the skipper of the “Red Tag”. I have to say that from the pictures I saw and the information I was incredibly excited.

A long road trip and only an hour and a half on scene and I committed to purchasing the “Red Tag”. A week later I drove back and took possession of “Red Tag”.

“Red Tag” is a West Wight Potter 19 Premier with a 5HP and Pacific “Baja” trailer. It has a roller furling jib, depth sounder, vhf radio, two gel cell deep discharge 12v batteries, integrated 10 amp battery charger, and a unique hull color that looks blue from a distance and a very dark forest green when close. That only scratched the surface, but was more than enough to convince me.

Everything was in excellent shape and I couldn’t have asked for a better turn key purchase.

Dave was “Red Tag’s” owner and gave me the inside track on how to arrange an AC unit, the basic operation of things to keep in mind, key things that can make life easier for prolonged cruising, along with a healthy encouragement to join the West Coast Trailer Sailer Squadron. He handed me original documentation, instructions, and even a small solar panel for trickle charge of batteries.

In no time I was on I-75 traveling home with the foundation of a dream that’s been percolating for over thirty years. I couldn’t help but glance back in the mirror, think of all the things I needed to do and daydream a bit about where to go.

By that evening I had her nicely nestled into her storage spot. Then I realized she was under trees.

Financial Recovery for Me

As a recently single person I’ve established complete control over my budget. In the past I always compromised based on whatever was going on in a marriage or it’s fallout. Now that I look back at a cumulative total of nearly eighteen years of marriage I realize I’ve blown MILLION$$ on nonsense.

Some spent on “therapeutic” vacations meant to mend a troubled relationship. A lot spent litigating over important things and sometimes over nothing at all. The rest on homes over sized for the balance between our life goals and our budget.

Coming out of this last marriage, I developed a budget and a financial plan. I felt validated when I listened to Dave Ramsey’s “Total Money Makeover”. Much of what he recommends I had already integrated in my plan, however key elements for his order of priority and focus made excellent sense for me to refine and improve my plan. It’s not a get rich quick scheme. It’s a definitive get rich plan if you follow it and live it.

I won’t cover it in detail since there is so much out there as far in reviews and critiques.

I will say that I personally HIGHLY RECOMMEND this book for anyone and everyone. I bought the CD’s and listened to them several times, taking notes with a different focus each time.

We ALL use and need money. For something so important to all of our lives we do ourselves harm when we don’t take the time to learn. At the very least check it out at a local library.

Lenovo Ideapad Y510 Review

My model came with 2GB Ram and 250 Gb hard drive. The laptop has a 15.4 WXGA TFT with integrated camera AntiGlare widescreen driven by NVIDIA GeForce Go 8600M GTS 256MB for excellent images. The laptop is a slim format with a brush texture on the top lid. There is no latching mechanism.

Power up shows a neat graphic making you aware of Lenovo’s Veriface facial recognition software is installed. It’s intended to give you the added feeling of security and that added whiz bang.

Windows Vista Home Premium is installed and powers up easily enough. More on that later.

I focused first on examining the architecture and hardware. The laptop has an integrated web cam over the screen. On the left 2 USB ports, an Ethernet port, 1 firewire, 1 vga port a mini pci slot and the power port. On the right 1 USB port, a PS2 mouse port, a mic jack, a speaker/headset jack, the Dual Layer DVD burner, phone line jack and a slot for a laptop lock. The rear edge is slimmed and has ports. The front edge has two very tiny holes at the corners for integrated microphones, an IR lens/port, a memory card clot, three indicator lights (power, battery and stereo sound indicator), and a small micro slide switch for turning off the wireless adaptor. The top side has a volume control that’s orange, with surface level media buttons that highlight interchangeably when a circular button was depressed, a surface level mute button, a user defineable surface button, and media button that calls up media settings.

I found the wifi switch comforting when in unsecure areas. It’s nice to be able easily and quickly flip a switch to prevent wifi access instead of working through the menus to shut things down.

The hard drive configuration was irritating. My 250 Gb hard drive was partitioned into 29 Gb system, 188 Gb for anything, and the rest is in a hidden partition for system backups, although I have no idea when or how to use it. I had to use Vista’s ability to redefine the default documents folder and everything else to be on the unspecified partition.

The Veriface software seems to work okay, however it can be annoying when trying to log on in low lighting or when you don’t want to wait for authentication which takes a few seconds. I found that to use the webcam with messengers I had to disable the Veriface software. I’ve since tried re-enabling Veriface and haven’t been successful.

Lenovo also loads Shuttle Center II in their build. However I don’t get the sense of a media package that steals the entire functionality of such a powerful machine when most people want to multitask while listening to music.

I won’t take up a lot more time to go through more of the software. I do have one rant. Why in the world would Vista not have a fax function? I thank goodness I have Windows XP and Linux to keep me operating. The details of my Vista experience will come in another post.

The Ideapad is really a fantastic machine. I question some of the default build choices, but have no regrets. Definitely more than enough machine for everything I need and lots of horsepower and storage to spare.

Ubuntu 6 – Install Review

If you’re familiar with this blog, you’re aware that I’ve reviewed Ubuntu before. I’ve decided to break the total Ubuntu 6 review in multiple parts to allow for detail and clarity.

These installs are documented in the order I remember them, not in a true chronological order.

The Installs:
#1 – I fired up my test bed platform with it’s version of Ubuntu 5 after being shelved for a while. After performing all the prompted updates it automatically integrated a feature on the update tool that allows you to initiate automatic upgrades to the latest version of Ubuntu. With a few checks of documentation, I started the upgrade.

My test bed (at that time) was a Compaq Presario with an AMD k6/450 mhz cpu and 184 meg of ram and 8 meg of that used as shared for video and 7200 rpm 40gb HD. Certainly NOT a speed demon.

The upgrade took many hours. I lost track being involved with many other things at the time, but think it was somewhere around 6 to 8 hours that it completed. Then there was the reboot, which took quite a long time with all the module changes, kernel over writes and package updates.

As soon as I booted up with the Ubuntu 6 that was downloaded, it prompted me to do more updates. Makes sense. Again with more updates and a few more hours of recycling and package building. I occasionally monitored the messages and saw strings of errors. Whether they were serious remained to be seen.

Eventually the desktop appeared in what I thought was the Ubuntu 6 desktop, although later learned a few things weren’t quite right. Comparing this desktop to a full install of Ubuntu 6 [upgrade vs cd install] I noticed the packages from Ubuntu 5 were still intact for the most part. However, the default toolbar at the top of the desktop in Ubuntu 6 has a little red icon all the way to the right for shutdown and it was missing on my install.

Overall, understanding the age of the test-bed, it went fairly well.

#2 – I also performed a load from scratch on another PC. 1 GB AMD Athlon with 256M Ram, 40 GB hard drive, 64 M PCI video card, and an atheros wifi card using the Ubuntu 6 latest install CD.

As expected, this went swimmingly fast in comparison. A couple hours to build from scratch on CD. The messages showed no errors and the desktop appeared very sweet and smooth. I installed a nic card and the update process went very smoothly with all packages. Still no errors. I had enough horse power left over to easily search the documentation for advice on Wifi while the updates were loading.

Documentation steered me to a wonderful tool called Wifi Manager. I am using an atheros wifi card which is already integrated with the kernel level I have. Wifi manager made it very sweet to configure and utilize. Some awkwardness with this is the prompting for a password for a Gnome Key…. I didn’t want to fool with it, but on the surface there didn’t appear to be any way around it.

Once I got it installed and configured for my wifi network (802.11g with WPA TKIP) everything connected easily. While connecting a nice little icon shows up with two spots and graphic that moves between them as the card talks to the network. The spots turn green as the authentication process moves forward. Once the connection is successful, the icon is replaced with color coded bars to indicate strength of the signal.

This definitely beats having to play the entire manual configuration game I’ve had to perform in the past.

# 3 – Install to the test bed again from scratch with Ubuntu 6 install CD. (The very same test bed used in #1 above with 384 M ram and a 5400rpm 20gb HD.) In summary this install was much smoother and the desktop appeared correct and true to the default as designed. However, the install took a little less time since I didn’t have to perform the upgrade from scratch. I was still prompted through updates after the initial reboot.

#4 – Identical to the system used in #2, only loaded from scratch with Ubuntu 5, then upgraded to version 6 and then updated through the default tools. I received multiple errors in the install process.

The why and wherefore were ignored. I ran across the desktop default discrepancy previously mentioned in install #1. There also seemed to be package problems, synaptic package and update packages challenges.

I did get it to the point of loading the wifi manager and making connections. However, the continued errors caused me frustrations so I gave up, wiped the drive and moved on to install #2.

In summary:

Overall the installs went pretty well. Especially with the install from CD’s.

In upgrading, it appears that residual links, packages or something creates discrepancies that may cause as much frustration as I ran into.

If you have a choice, I would recommend installing from scratch with the Ubuntu install CD rather than upgrades, especially on older systems.

When upgrading between levels in this case or with any OS, I would ensure you back up your data (which all good techies should do periodically anyway) prior to committing your system.

Passing of a Techno-Soul

It is with sad heart and long face that I pronounced the surprising death of a long standing emblem of versatility and team spirited support in my household.

This simple Compaq Presario 5360 held it’s head high when upgraded from 95 to 98 as buggy and flawed as they were, enduring BOSD’s repeatedly and the occasional reformat to eradicate the last infestations of malware. It stood stalwart when replaced by new technology to reign in our household, subordinated to the role of ‘test bed’.

It saw a reprieve restored to full and continuous use when the household grew a new live-in member, though not the glorious position of top-dog it felt it once again had a purpose to fulfill in satisfying the needs of a teen-ager.

Ultimately, as with all things, it grew older. Obsolete was the word. Once again, pushed out of the production line into the shadows. But powers that be saw clearly that the Comapq still had a life of positive contribution once again as a test bed. With memory upgrades to the max, it underwent multiple makeovers and changes. Windows XP, Red Hat Linux 9, Knoppix Live, Ubuntu 5, Ubuntu 6 and Knoppix hard drive install.

Although 8 years old (born 1998) it’s demise was a complete surprise. The tester at the time had been trying to overcome configuration issues and startup hangs through multiple power on resets. Maybe this was an indicator of impending doom? No one will know for sure.

Then, the display refused to show anything. Never a good sign in any pc. Emergency response was called in and mobo diagnostics instituted. Power on resulted in immediate BIOS 13 results with no other result leading to or following after. Time was running out as more research was done. And finally after several attempts to find life on 6 August 2006, CQ5360 was officially pronounced toast.

In true tradition of any technology driven household, it was dismembered for all that was salvageable and desireable. It’s remains have been parked unceremoniously awaiting final disposal for display or disposal.

And thus we honor the passing of a little techno-soul.

Yahoo Video – Excellent!

First let me say, I love internet video blogs and shows. They fill the void of a busy office environment and provide stimuli that imitates something of the sociability factor that is lacking in isolation.

Before work I was cruising the net checking out the new Yahoo format. On a lark I decided to go the Yahoo Finance section since I like to try to follow market trends.

To my very pleasant surprise they had Yahoo Finance videos.

The biggest drawback of itv or internet video segments is that they are present on individual sites and you actually have to stop what your doing to drop from site to site to launch that individual segment. As valuable as that video segment my be, it still requires more manual intervention that operating a simple remote control as for a tv.

So, as Yahoo Finance video section appeared, I saw multiple channels of information with a plethora of segments that are as short as a minute to as long as seven or eight minutes, but total about thirty minutes per channel. Once you chose a program channel (example: SmartMoney tv) and click a video segment, the segment launches in a separate browser window (I use FireFox latest version). When that segment ends, the next segment begins and the entire channel plays on a continuous loop until you choose a different channel and segment to launch. If a segment launches that you’re not into, hit the next channel button.

Right click with your mouse on the screen and a menu appears for normal video controls. For those that are gluttons for overload, I discovered you can launch multiple video segments at the same time and they will play without degrading each other.

There were very short commercial segments that popped up, but I thought was a minor thing in comparison to normal television advertising. Roughly thirty seconds for thirty minutes on average on Yahoo as compared to seven and a half minutes for thirty minutes of broadcast.

Another minor drawback is that many of the segments don’t have dates in their logos and the commentators don’t always mention it. So you may be watching a segment that is a few days old without realizing it.

If you want to find the total range of channels look in the middle of the Yahoo Home page (not from My Yahoo) there is a frame that has a video tab with a large selection of segments to choose from all the major networks and agencies covering news, entertainment, health, finance, etc. etc..

I’m very pleasantly surprised and have every intention of coming back to this service. It’s nice to finally have an itv service that is simple to work with and provides me almost everything my TV used to. Give it a shot.