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May 1, 2013

A satellite communicator for the rest of us


Below, excepts from Michael Hsu's April 26 Wall Street Journal review.


Although the summit of Mount Everest has cell service, the majority of the earth does not. The DeLorme inReach SE, an affordable satellite communicator available next week, lets you send and receive 160-character text messages — including emails, tweets and Facebook posts — from anywhere in the world. It's not reliant on terrestrial cell towers, instead connecting to Iridium's network of 66 low-orbiting satellites. Unlike with a cellphone, the coverage has no dead spots, on land or sea, even in the most remote locales.

Satellite phones may bring to mind military operations (in fact, Iridium supports U.S. installations world-wide), but the stripped down functionality of the inReach SE brings the technology to a price point better suited to adventurous civilian travelers. The device won't let you make voice calls or surf the Web, but it does offer a host of safety features: It can map a bread-crumb trail of your coordinates so that people back home can track your whereabouts from any Web browser. Should calamity strike, you can use the device to send a distress signal to the GEOS International Emergency Response Coordination Center, a search-and-rescue service that will coordinate with local authorities to send help your way.

Service costs about as much as a Netflix subscription. Plans intended for emergency use ($10 per month with a 12-month commitment) let you place unlimited SOS alerts and include 10 text messages per month. More robust plans that allow for up to 120 messages and unlimited tracking top out at $65 per month (these have a four-month minimum, ideal for seasonal use).

The gadget does share a constraint common to all satellite-connected gear: Line of sight to the sky is required for connectivity. The inReach SE doesn't work indoors. And as is the case with many satellite devices, which tend to have a Crockett-and-Tubbs vibe, using the inReach SE can feel a bit retro. It looks like a chunky walkie-talkie, and the stubby external antenna is a real honker by today's standards. Composing messages on the "virtual keyboard" using the four-way-arrow button is tedious, but the InReach SE can pair with an Android or iOS product via Bluetooth; a free app lets you control and enter information into the device using your smartphone or tablet's touch screen.

Sleekness, however, is likely not a primary concern for those descending into the depths of the Grand Canyon or traversing Death Valley. What you want in such cases is peace of mind.



May 1, 2013 at 08:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Intelligent life in our galaxy: Not if but when


Read this article and tell me that's not the only logical conclusion.

Up top, our home galaxy face-on as seen by who knows how many intelligent species over the millenia, mulling over whether to obliterate us or say hello.

May 1, 2013 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Hippo Bath Plug

Screen Shot 2013-05-01 at 11.48.54 AM

"Not suitable for children under the age of 3 years."


That's about 10% of my visitors.

Oh well.


May 1, 2013 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

What we do well


Wrote Christopher P. Millard: "A great diagram from Lean Analytics. This should be taught in high school/college."

By then it's too late.

May 1, 2013 at 08:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

27-LED Superbright Worklight/Flashlight with Integrated Hanger Hook & Magnet


That's a lot of tech for $7.69 (batteries included).

May 1, 2013 at 04:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

BehindTheMedspeak: Nothing compares to sleep

I woke up at 3:52 a.m. yesterday after going to sleep around 11:30 p.m. and I felt terrible, like the world was ending.

I'd just visited my excellent new dentist Monday and received the equivalent of the death sentence for my teeth, after an exhaustive workup involving a zillion x-rays, 3-D models and molds, instrument-aided precision measurements of angles and functionality, and high-resolution photographs: 25% of those that remain have cavities, several others are on the verge of breaking off, and the whole shebang is heading in the direction of one of those Li'l Abner families where the only tooth among the whole clan is junior's one incisor.

I was morose the rest of the afternoon and kind of slunk around the house, trying to stay in physical contact with Gray Cat as much as possible to soften the blow.

And boy, she is the softest creature on planet Earth, by a long shot.

Besides being the greatest anodyne to the sort of spiritual black hole I was in that I have ever encountered in my time here among you — oops, sorry, I meant since I was born.

But I digress.

I got into bed early for me (usually around 11:30, Monday it was 10:30  p.m. or so) and read my wonderful book, "The Flamethrowers," till I fell asleep, only to awaken some four hours later in the wee small hours.

Wait a sec... what's that music I'm hearing?

Everything seemed hopeless and useless.

I couldn't get back to sleep but was too physically exhausted to get out of bed and go downstairs and make some tea and begin Tuesday.

So I read my book for a while and then I must've fallen asleep without realizing it because when I next opened my eyes it was 8:40 and I felt like a million bucks.

Everything was good: my teeth didn't even cross my mind.

Couldn't wait to get up and play two (it's an Ernie Banks thing, for those of a certain age. heh).

But I digress yet again.

Even Gray Cat was excited, racing around the bed with energy and tons of giddy-up.


That's what I'm talkin' about.



All good in their place but the #1 cure for a bad mood is a good night's sleep.

And you can quote me.

If you are not satisfied with this medical advice, email me (bookofjoe@gmail.com) and I will cheerfully refund twice what you paid for it.

May 1, 2013 at 12:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

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