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Google provide another search vector

Google Labs is in the process of developing a new application called Google Fast Flip. It promises to give the user ‘a new reading experience that combines the best elements of print and online articles’ and one of the developers, Krishna Bharat, wants the public to give their feedback on the trial version that has just been launched.

Firstly, it is important to understand why Google Fast Flip was introduced in the first place. According to industry insiders it is to help resolve the conflict between an ailing newspaper industry and companies such as Google and Yahoo that aggregate content online. Apparently what is needed is to encourage people to read more news from actual news sites, and to do that, we need faster navigation of media-rich news content online.

A recent Senate hearing heard how Google have tried to resolve the issue through using living URLs to direct news searches to the relevant source.

Google FlipThe idea is that all news stories will be at a single updateable URL, and therefore easily found by anyone searching a story.

This will, in theory hand power back to journalists and those in the news industry; and combined with faster page navigation, it will feel like Google has donned the Santa hat. This all seems rather altruistic for a search company, and has therefore raised suspicion about the real reason behind Google Fast Flip….

I have tried it using the search term “Sailing” and it is very fast at bringing up dozens of publications and news stories in a much more attractive way than the normal search. So why don’t you add it to your bookmarks or iGoogle page and give it a try – click on the picture above…

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C-Map 4D - are they joking?!

Jeppesen Marine has launched their new C-MAP 4D product in Asia, and it is pre-loaded into the Raymarine E Wide Hybridtouch series! This is really interesting in itself since you have had to use Navionics charts if your want Raymarine electronics up to now. By the way the E Wide series is touchscreen but retains the buttons – which I think are easier to use when underway – unlike the Garmin GPSMap 5012 which has touchscreen only.

What Jeppesen say is that “time” is the 4th dimension, but what they mean is that they will update the chart data “continuously”, ahem , actually content is updated “at least” twice per year, and in some regions three times per year. This is not exactly continuously but to be fair it is more often than any one would actually update their charts normally. So 4D…well its sounds at least one better than 3D doesn’t it? – I just hope it isn’t the same as the fee paying annual service they launched called Quick Sync

So what can you expect of C-Map 4D. Well its the pretty much the same as the Navionics Platinum+, and the BlueChartg2 Vision. All offer full 3D charts, satellite image overlay, port and harbour aerial photography and detailed port information.

CMap4D

C-Map 4D

Navionics1

Navionic Platinum Plus

Bluechart g2

BlueChart g2 Vision

But C-Map make the following additional claims for their 4D software:

C-Map 4D – are they joking?! → Click here to continue reading →

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Make an iGoogle “Sailing” tab your home page

A number of fellow loafers at the marina showed interest in using the tab that I have created within iGoogle to gather together items of interest for sailing. If you havent yet created an iGoogle page of your own I highly recommend doing so – have a look at this video to see how easy it is.

After you create your iGoogle page then you can create “tabs” which house different collections of widgets. For example I have a “tab” called “Local” where I see all the local entertainment and news. Similarly I have created a tab called “Sailing” see screenshot below.

iGoogle page

Why bother? – well if this is your default home page then you have in one place almost all the info you want from tides, to hurricane warnings, to news to weather info and of course links to your favourite blogs and web sites. The service is free and there are no adverts…

If you are interested in which widgets to add I would be happy to “share” the sailing tab that I have created just use the contact form to request the tab – once you have downloaded it it is entirely yours with no connection to me:-)

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Buy Raymarine AIS500 or buy £800 of Raymarine shares?

AIS500 I applaud Raymarine for having brought this unit out earlier this year, it is good product marketing and market positioning (pun intended:-)

But if you already have a reasonably sophisticated set up, and already have AIS, is it worth spending £800+ to upgrade to this unit?

Here is my take on the list of features for the AIS500:

Feature Comment
* Class B AIS Receive & Transmit Good – and so do all the competition at this level
* Dual Channel AIS Monitoring Ability Good – and so do all the competition at this level
* Targets displayed on chart and radar screens Clever – but I normally overlay radar on the chart plotter or display AIS targets on the chart rather than the radar which could be very confusing if not misleading due to the different methods of target acquisition
* LED Status Indicator Good – Surprising omission on so many marine electronics and very annoying when there is no status light and you are troubleshooting.
See my posting here on the RaymarineAIS250
* NMEA 0183 – Compatibility with Raymarine A, C, E and G Series Good – the great majority of Raymarine users must be on C series (or lower) still.
* Buddy Tracking via Raymarine MFD – Distinguish favourite targets (MMSIs) from others by adding to favourite list Clever – but is this really needed – oh ok could stave off boredom in some situations to switch between “favourites” and “all” targets. In between calling your buddy on the radio…
* Silent Mode – Turn off transmit function during tournaments or races if you do not wish to be seen. Good – But only if you expect to be sailing in regions where piracy is possible – not really a problem in the Solent – yet!
I did refer to this as a good thing in my posting here:-)
* Built-in NMEA multiplexor Not Good – I have a principle of using separate dedicated pieces of electronics instead of multifunction devices ion this situation. A faulty multiplexor can take down the whole backbone and all links between devices I would not want to troubleshoot that with a device that was doing so much else as well.
See my posting here on multiplexors.
* VHF Splitter – No need to buy a separate antenna. Utilize your existing VHF antenna and cable. Not good – don’t use splitters on your VHF cable!. keep the radio and its aerial as separate as possible. Yes I know that DSC has meant connecting the VHF to the NMEA circuit – but just don’t mess with the VHF aerial. This is a critical lifeline. Install a separate VHF aerial for AIS on the pushpit IMHO.
* Includes dedicated external GPS antenna (16 channels) Not good – as per comment above. Keep the GPS separate, you probably already have one, get another one for backup don’t get one built in to another multifunction device.
* Configure via PC Software
* Software upgradeable through PC and RS232
Ok – but why use serial connections and then very probably a serial to USB convertor when you can use high speed USB. Most modern laptops don’t even have serial ports
See my posting here on serial / USB convertors

I last did a quick survey of transponders (or are they transceivers) in June 2008, but I have held off updating this since I believe that we can expect another revolution in AIS for small boats in the next 6 months.

On that basis I would not buy the AIS500 now, if you already have AIS – if you don?t – then it is a very capable unit with the benefit of a back up GPS.

If you already have AIS and you want to spend £800 buy Raymarine shares, if you made 30% profit when Garmin buy them, that would be an extra £240 to spend on the next generation AIS – then again shares can go down as well as up:-)

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Download Maretron Software FREE!

Maretron have allowed a free download of their excellent drawing software for free here.

Using this software you can:
* Design NMEA2000® Networks
* Document network Design Decisions
* Analyse NMEA2000® Networks
* Automatically Generate Bill of Materials (BOM)
* Create Network Configuration Files
* Print Schematics and Reports

N2KBuilder™ software is a powerful, free PC-based tool for designing and verifying the integrity of NMEA 2000® networks. The N2KBuilder™ software, when installed on a Windows PC and used as part of an integrated design workflow can be used to layout, document, and validate the design of complex NMEA 2000® networks. In addition, it will directly produce a Bill of Materials (BOM) for Maretron® products, eliminating guesswork and transcription errors.

I have used it to map out a schematic of my old NMEA0183 network too..I know that this undermines the built in checks and balances but at least I get a nice schematic diagram..which I previously had to keep up to date using Excel and pasted images.

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