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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Catch Up

I am going to try and catch everyone up on the Current Jumper. We are still in Jax Beach, but Gordon has his NEW computer!! He has been working very hard at loading all his programs, some of which will never work because he now has VISTA and alot of his programs are too slow. The navigation back up system comes to mind, it will now be loaded onto my computer!!

We did do a couple projects last week, Gordon made me my dish keepers! We have made ajustments and re arrainged the storage areas and are pretty happy with the out come. It has made more room for our glasses (we did part with a few) and misc. bowls. We have also re-organised the food storage compartments and updated the inventory. Anyone interested in some MRE's??

Gordon and I are getting our excerise in, too! We have walked up to 6 miles in one day, in the rain, up hill, and with Schooner!! By the way, Schooner is begining to look like herself again. She has a waist line and her wooly fur is coming off in handfuls!! She is still tender on her back and left leg, Leslie, and could use your magic!! She isn't improving with my massages...haha

Sunday, Chip and Kay from Beso, came in on their way south. We had dinner and caught up on grand children, our boats and of course OBAMA!!! It was great to see them and we hope to catch up with them soon.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

What Do You Mean, It Works as Advertised!?!

I mentioned in the last blog, that I had to hook up my “Signal Seeker” before I could continue the set-up on my laptop. As a result of that article, several people have E-mailed me and asked me about the unit and what it does. So, I thought I’d write a short piece on this unusual device and what it does for us.

Kim and I first learned about the Signal Seeker from our friends on BESO, the 40’ Nordhavn Trawler. Our two boats would pull in somewhere and dock, or anchor, near land and, while neither Kim’s or my computers showed any sign of Wi-Fi, BESO would let us know they were on the Internet. They’d be getting weather updates, talking on Skype and doing E-mails while we were in Information Dead Zone mode. In a word, it really stunk! So, when the product finally became available (they were ALWAYS sold out) we snapped one up.

The Signal Seeker is a small 4”x3”x1”, USB powered directional antennae that will magnify a Wi-Fi signal to the Nth power of Unbelievable. For example, as I write this, I’m logged onto a Wi-Fi router that services a 20”x16” boater’s lounge. The lounge is inside a concrete building, that’s 500 yards from the boat. If I had my laptop with built in Wi-Fi card in the lounge, I’d loose the signal as soon as I walked 10’ outside the door, but I’ve got 4 bars of fast Wi-Fi with the Signal Seeker. It comes on a small base, with mounting slots and screws, that will attach on any flat wood or metal surface. BESO uses a Crown Royal bag that’s half full of gravel to stabilize theirs, while I mounted ours on a wood disk with center post, which fits down the drive handle socket on our halyard winch. So, the Signal Seeker is completely adaptable to the user’s particular situation and requirements.

To use it, just install the enclosed software (let them know when you order if you use Window's Vista) and plug the Signal Seeker into a USB port on your computer. When it launches, rotate the antennae until you see a signal on the controller window and log on to the Internet. It’s as simple as that.

When it comes to customer service, we’ve never seen anything like Welkinware, the distributor. They have NEVER failed to answer our E-mails (usually within three hours and never longer than 12) and they've always provided an accurate solution to any issue we’ve encountered; plus they return your E-mails on weekends! It just doesn't get any better than that.

The bottom line is, if you own a boat or RV and want Internet access where you never dreamed it existed (and that includes some pretty remote islands in the Bahamas and Caribbean) or you just need to amplify the signal from which you receive your current Wi-Fi, spend the $99.99 on a Signal Seeker. It's the best investment you’ll ever make.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

OH NO! Not A New One!!

Saturday started off as a great day. The reason being that, shortly after breakfast, I got a call from the local Best Buy store. Chris, the voice on the other end of the line, informed me that the store had received an E-mail saying that the Geek Squad was not going to dump any more money into my laptop and had authorized a full replacement at their store. You can imagine my excitement at the prospect of getting a new laptop, and for FREE no less! So, with all of the fervor of a six-year old, skipping down the sidewalk on the way to the local candy store, I got dressed, and with Kim in tow, headed for Best Buy.

Upon our arrival at Best Buy, we entered the store and went straight to the computer department. There, laid out in row upon row, were laptops of all sizes and configurations. Gleaming wonders of metal and acrylic, each more powerful than the room-full of computers that sent the first men to the moon and one of them was going to be mine! Josh, the salesperson in the department, soon narrowed the selection town to two models, each with the same capabilities as my defunct unit, but much more powerful in calculating power. After 15 minutes or so of questions and answers, our decision was made. Josh, Kim, the new laptop and I all headed to the service counter and, ten minutes later, the exchange was finalized. Joy of Joys, I have a computer again!

On the way home, we stopped off at the neatest little restaurant for lunch. GRINDERS CAFE, on Atlantic Blvd, in Jacksonville, is home of the best sandwiches in town. If you can imagine it, Keith, the manager, will put it on a 12” sub roll; complete with really great fries or home made potato chips, made fresh with each order. Jay, our waitress, who’s a native of South Carolina, took care of us like royalty and made our stop at GRINDERS an unexpected treat.

From GRINDERS, it was back to the boat, where I cleaned off my desk and made ready to boot-up and load up my new laptop. I took it out of the box, read the directions (yes, a guy who reads the directions) and was suddenly overcome by a feeling of sheer terror. Why? Because I realized that almost all of my computer add-ons and software might not work. You see, all of the new Windows computers on the market use Vista, which is a 64-bit operating system, to run their programs and add-ons. Everything I own in the way of software and extra equipment was built for a 32-bit system (Windows XP.)

Without proper 64-bit drivers, printers, scanners, GPS units and software become worthless. Heck, I couldn’t even get my Signal Seeker working, so I’d have Wi-Fi, which is essential for setting up a laptop these days. So, using Kim’s computer (she doesn’t really like loaning it out, even to me; and I can’t blame her) I sent off an E-mail to Signal Seeker and first thing Sunday morning (Yes, they actually responded on the weekend) they had E-mailed me new drivers and I was connected to the Internet in no time.

It took another three days to finish the software and hardware installations on the new laptop. The final score was:

· I lost the use of my portable scanner (a new “compatible” model runs $179.00.)
· I lost the use of my Maptech “Offshore Navigator” navigation software (they require you buy a new version at $499.00 per copy.)
· I lost the use of several small programs; chess, board games, card games, etc. (no replacements.)
· I had to upgrade my Virus Software (for a small fee.)
· I had to upgrade my Adobe Acrobat Software (for a small fee.)

The bottom line is, I have a new laptop, which is faster than one can even begin to imagine, but somehow, I can’t help feeling like a guy who’s been given a high-dollar, stereo turntable to play his old, 78 rpm, ceramic records. We’ll see!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The Sun is Shining

The last 3 days it has rained and rained and rained some more! We did laundry yesterday and tried to clean up the boat, however we were fighting a moisture problem due to it being so cold and wet outside. I say cold, which most of you just laugh at… it was only 50°. Today was not much better, although it was sunny with bright blue skies, so we were able to get out and about!!

We finally left the boat and went on a mission to find some wood to build a dish keeper…I’m tired of fighting my dishes!! The kitchen is soooo small and space is limited. The dish rack provided by Hunter is inefficient to say the least, so for 2 years I have looked for something different. The other day I sat down and designed something that will work and now I await Gordon to make it happen! We were unsuccessful in finding any wood, other than Balsa wood, within walking distance of the boat, so that will have to wait until we get a car and hit Home Depot! We did, however, have lunch at McDonald’s!! Nothing like a burger and fries to make the day!!

We have become so accustom to walking everywhere that we have made a game out of finding money!! Yes, I said money, otherwise known as pennies!! Now that I have 2 contacts, I have been pretty lucky. We crossed a big deserted parking lot and I found 8¢ and Gordon found 6¢. Then later, on a sidewalk, I found another penny for a total days profit of 15¢!! That’s 15¢ we didn’t work for!! And while I’m on the subject of money, let me tell you this one about BANKS!! While cleaning up yesterday I came across 10 rolls of NICKELS…change we rolled up 2 years ago that never got to the bank. Simple enough to stop at a bank and exchange it for paper, right? Well, 5th/3rd and a Compass Bank turned us down!! Of course, Gordon had to tell the teller at Compass Bank “we made a living out of shorting the rolls by a nickel.” That was after she told us we had to be account holders in order for them to recoup any deficit in the rolls (these are the same guys who can't account for $350 billion!!!) In the end, however, it worked out. McDonald’s took $6 worth and Hobby Lobby the other $8!!!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Arrested by the CIA

Although it’s now the 10th of January, Kim and I are still in Jacksonville Beach, Florida. We’re not as far south as we’d like, but we are nice and snug in the Palm Cove Marina; one of the ICW’s best-kept secrets. This full-service marina is clean, well organized, has an incredibly nice staff and is located within easy walking distance of all kinds of shopping. Ah, but I digress.

So, why are we still here? Well, it seems that the boat’s laptop requires a third pilgrimage to “Geek City,” that super-secret bastion of technical excellence where Best Buy’s Geeks restore electronic devices to “like new” levels of performance (Yeah, RIGHT!!) That “like new” thing must be why, after returning from Geek City just 25 days ago and having every possible component replaced, my laptop’s keyboard suddenly quit in mid e-mail. So, bright and early the next morning, it was off to the local Best Buy/Geek Squad field office with broken laptop in hand. There, we joined a small group of people waiting outside for the doors to open.

Now, I’ve always had a theory about how the Geek Squad transforms trainees into CIA’s; Counter Intelligence Agents; the nerds behind the counter. I believe that, during the brainwashing phase of their training, an altered version of the passage in the King James Bible, the one about inheriting the earth, is played repeatedly as they sleep. Eventually, they come to believe it’s the Geek, not the Meek, that does the inheriting, which makes anyone on the other side of the counter (you and me) a non-inheriting, lesser being. Rest assured, the staff at store #429 did nothing to dispel this theory.

When the doors open, I approach the Geek Squad service counter as if I were Kramer, waiting in line for soup from the Soup Nazi. For nearly 10 minutes, I stand patiently at the Geek Squad Counter of Knowledge, listening to the sounds of conversation and laughter emanating from behind the Geek Squad Mystic Curtain of Customer Exclusion. I finally venture behind the curtain and advise the two Geeks present that they have customers. Instead of being greeted with a smile, however, I’m promptly yelled at (Yes, yelled at) for entering an employee area, told that they’ll be out when they’ve finished getting ready (it’s 10 minutes after 10:00 am and they aren’t ready yet?) and instructed to go back and get in line behind the service counter.

Another 5 minutes passes and a third Agent, obviously late for work (fastening his badge to his belt and clipping on his pseudo-tie as he walks briskly into the Geek Squad arena) enters from stage right and beckons me to the counter. I venture forward and, on cue, demonstrate the obvious; the keyboard doesn’t function. Additionally, I present my paperwork from the laptop’s last three Geek City visits, but the CIA doesn’t even look at it or the laptop. Instead, he goes to the store computer, pulls up my customer history and enters into psychic communion with the data stored within.

Five or six more minutes pass without any acknowledgement from Agent Shaun that I even exist. I take a chance and ask His Geekness what he’s looking at in the computer and am told, “Your records.” I reiterate that I have hard copies of all of the laptop’s work orders in my file, but am rebuked by Agent Shaun as he states, “But I have the correct ones.” I can only infer that I must spend my idle time making fraudulent copies of Geek Squad work orders for fun and profit.

More time passes (it's now 10:27 am.) Suddenly, Agent Shaun comes out of his trance and tells me that, in his benevolent wisdom, he’s sending my laptop to the Emerald City for a fourth time and that he’s also requesting they replace my old computer with a new one (I’d have been happy if they’d fixed my computer correctly the first time, I like that laptop, but I must have low expectations.) I’m told that the repair or replacement will take between two and three weeks (the normal time, I’m told, for this type of issue) and can only be consumated at this store. I’m then given a receipt for my laptop, informed my audience with the CIA has ended and pointed toward the parking lot.

Upon returning to my car, I take a close look at the receipt and am astounded by what I see. I may not be the brightest bulb in the pack, but I’m bright enough to see that what’s written on the receipt and what I’ve been told don’t jive. You see, today is the 6th of January. Two weeks from today is the 20th and three weeks from today is the 27th. Clearly, however, the scheduled date of return that’s written on the receipt is the 14th. So, here we sit in limbo, waiting on a repaired or replacement computer, that may or may not come between the 14th and the 27th of the month, that may or may not need reprogramming with all of the software that was on the original computer and that may or may not work reliably. Personally, at this point, I think Kramer had it easier getting his soup!

Monday, January 5, 2009

Check out the twins!!

I was going through my pictures, since I have had to redo all of them, I thought you would like to see my two grandbabies...

Emeryn Harper is on the left, 2008 and Havyn Ansley is on the right, 2006.
They look pretty much like twins,don't you think? I didn't think so until I found these pictures,and now I will have to agree with everyone else.

Life is so quiet except for the parrot onboard the boat next slip over...he whistles at Schooner and Schooner get really confused...pretty funny to see. Otherwise I am setteling back into boating life and ready to move on.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Back Home!

We hope the New Year finds all of you in good health and recovering from the holidays!! We are back aboard the Current Jumper and to our own bed…visiting is fine and sleeping on a blow-up bed is ok for a few days but for over a month it’s best said I’m glad to be in my own bed!!! I do miss hearing “Nana, Nana, Nana” though!

We have been rushing around restocking supplies and cleaning up the boat from it sitting for the last 2 weeks but this afternoon we took time off and went to a movie!!! We went to see Marley & Me. If you are a dog lover or not this is a wonderful movie to see and I highly recommend it. Even Schooner enjoyed it, although she slept after the popcorn was gone. We are going to stay here in Jacksonville Beach until at least until Friday when forgotten Christmas gifts will arrive…it will tough to enjoy the 80° temps expected the rest of the week!! LOL Then we will head further south destination unknown right now.

I do have a bit of a dilemma, I lost my left contact lens; (during the movie) too much water flowing from the eye!! I kind of have a spare although it’s a different prescription. I haven’t had my eyes checked since December 2005 but I’m going to try to get a replacement sent to me from Ohio in the morning. I think I’ve done pretty damn well in the last 4 years at not breaking or loosing one!!! In the mean time glasses will work inside and I will just be blind when we go outside… thank heaven for the dark sunglasses!!!