My Life With Garmin, Part 2

July 25, 2011

It has been ~6 months since I last posted on this topic, mostly because I have been flummoxed with trying to work honestly with Garmin’s locking techniques for maps I own and simply want to combine on one card.  Perhaps their entire approach will deserve attention on the Inspector General of the World blog.  Time will tell…

While seemingly on topic, but not:  I was very excited and pleased by the team finish of Garmin-Cervelo in Tour de France and the success of several individual riders, among them Tyler Farrar for his stage 3 win.  Alas, the HTC setup for Cavendish is beyond compare.  Watching the last two minutes of stage 21 and listening to Phil and Paul as Thor peels off really makes the point.

But this isn’t about biking.  It is about my struggle to download “Alaska Enhanced Topography” that I purchased from Garmin, for Tobae and my upcoming Alaska trip.  I tried several times on Friday, always seemingly stopped midstream.  Eventually I sent a note to Garmin Technical Support which gave me an answer.  The only way to achieve success is to have a card in a card reader, not the device itself, which is an eTrex Vista HCx, and let the transfer to the device itself fail!  Then I would have an option to write to the card reader.  Even though there is never a diagnostic that tells one this when having the card in the device and seeing plenty of open space.  Nor is there an FAQ on the Garmin web.  Nor does one get any knowledge from Googling all sensible combinations of words.  So as I finish n+1 transfers of 1.7 Gb of data on my office connection at ~1.1 MB/sec, I will post this if the transfer is successful.  Then to home, to bed, and to Vancouver for a couple of days.

May this post help somebody.  I rarely use tags, but this one is tagged Garmin.  Love/Hate!

Non-Stop Fourth

July 4, 2011

Tobae, Luna and I began today by visiting one of our family classic hikes, Dickerman Mountain.  (A pet peeve:  it is Dickerman Mountain, not Mount Dickerman…).  For many years this was our traditional Mother’s Day Hike, always encountering snow at about 4000′.  The trail gains 3800′ from the 1900′ trailhead, and so there were always four ~1000′ M&M stops for Daniel and Mark when they were little.  In the days of analog cell phones, we would call Tobae’s mother and my mother from the summit.  Not possible anymore, that’s progress?  Eventually Dickerman Mountain was supplanted by Mother’s Day skis of Mt. St. Helens south flank, but there are still one or more ascents of Dickerman each year, with the trailhead just a hour from the house and none of the traffic hassles of North Cascades, Stevens or Snoqualmie.

With the immense snow pack this year, the conditions seemed perhaps a week post Mother’s Day in a normal year, snow level a bit higher (making the crux, crossing the creek at 4100′, much more sporty with a snow bridge weakening daily).   My knees are not the best (but much better than 10 years ago), so Tobae, the Energizer Honey, and Luna separated from me at 3400′.  And I eventually stopped for lunch and turned around shortly after the snow bridge crossing.   Tobae and Luna of course summitted and had caught back up with me not too far above the trailhead.  It was a gorgeous day and we all had a great time.

Arriving home at 5:30, we got unpacked, and I scanned Facebook.  What a vicarious thrill:  Tyler Farrar won Stage 3 of Tour de France.  30 years ago when I met Tobae, her housemates were Tyler’s parents Ed and Cindy Farrar, and while we don’t see them often, they are dear friends.  A huge thrill.  I’ve been remiss in getting the Tour recorded, but that is now fixed.

But we will watch it later.  Our official summer drink, Mint Juleps, are ready.  It is more comfortable outside.  Potatoes are in the oven, salads are made, and so out to the deck.  I’ll get the steaks going in awhile.

Computing Updates

July 3, 2011

I have completed a number of updates in my computing environment this weekend.  Not without some frustration and annoyance.  Tempered by a great finding.

The last thing I do on Friday afternoon is to check for OS X updates and App Store updates and Windows updates while I am connected to high speed internet at UW.   (For OmniFocus users: I have a ‘High Speed Internet’ context…).  Then I sync my iPhone and sync my iPad.  Then I close iTunes, as a hedge against unknowingly downloading large sized podcasts over the weekend, exhausting our sadly lacking bandwidth at home.

Since replacement of my SuperDrive that had died,  Software Update prompts me to apply SuperDrive Firmware Update 3.0.  But because I was up to date with OS X, the firmware update fails…this issue and the workaround is documented by Apple and involves using an empty hard disk to do a clean install of OS X pre-10.6.5 so that the firmware update will run.   That this article is dated January 7, 2011 and they don’t just fix the updater, who knows?  But with one of my weekend tasks being replacement of the 320 Gb hard drive in my MacBook Pro with a new 500 Gb disk, the time seemed right.

I attached the new drive via my nifty Granite Digital Emergency Drive Copy Standard Kit.  I mounted my “OS X Installation DVD” (which travels in my briefcase in the form of a bootable 16 Gb micro-SD card).  And so began the ~1 hour process of installing OSX 10.6.0.  Most of the time is waiting for the USB 2.0 bottleneck, so it was a great opportunity to read the NY Times on my iPad.

However, one of the iPad App updates on Friday was to NY Times for iPad 2.1.0.  And alas the updated app didn’t work.  Judging from the several hundred one star ratings it has received this weekend at the iTunes store, I was not alone.  Lots of angry people!  (I’m pretty sure that updates shouldn’t be released on the Friday before a long weekend.)  But buried in the many complaints, the fix became evident: uninstall the app, then reinstall the app, then deal with the dreadfully slow authentication engine for my NY Times account and it works.  However I needed to use iTunes for that and my computer was busy with the nuisance operating system install.  I read the new issue of the Economist instead.

Sure enough the Firmware Update ran just fine.  But what is Apple thinking?   How much time has been wasted, either of users or with visits to the Genius Bar?

Now it was time to clone my 320 Gb disk to the new 500 Gb disk.  First I got the NY Times working again.  Then shutdown all programs and let it fly.  Just 6 hours later the drive was ready.  I am lucky to have the “late 2008 MacBook Pro unibody” which makes changing the hard drive a piece of cake, especially since I have a Torx T6 screwdriver to shift the mounting studs.  Thanks to for cataloging the necessary tools.

But more so, thanks to for asserting that my computer could take 6 GB of memory.  Apple says 4 GB.   I began to explore and eventually discovered this blog item on the OWC web:  Secret Firmware Lets Late ’08 MacBooks Use 8 GB.   I am keeping my Phillips #00 handy…I should have memory in hand by Thursday.