The amazing brain

As many of those close to me know, my Mom had a massive stroke back in November 06. The whole situation is really messed up since my Mom is pretty young at 59 years old. But in dealing with this and learning how the mind or brain works has been a very interesting ordeal. My Mom almost died and thankfully she is still around, but I never thought this would happen to her or I’d be in this situation where I have to be taking care of her.

During all of this, Time Magazine had an excellent issue that had a lot to do with the Mind;


Having dealing with someone who has “brain damage” and reading this article really makes a connection with my understanding of the whole situation. The Brain isn’t something that is hardwired or fixed, but a flexible, adaptable organ that can adapt to certain situations. For example, the neurosurgeon that saved my Mom’s life said that everything should regenerate within two years. That’s a pretty positive statement from a doctor.

This issue really made an impact on me.

I saw this tonight on Newsweek, but hadn’t had a chance to read it:

  • Unlocking Minds

zyxel G-570S

I got a chance to evaluate a Zyxel G-570S Access Point. I guess I should say that I am still evaluating it. I usually doing something on my G4 Powerbook when putting our son to bed. I’ve been frustrated since I appear to sit in a dead spot and my wireless connection crawls along. Now, I am running an older WRT54G with dd-wrt on it. I love the firmware and the community around it so I’m an going to continue to use it. I thought it would be great if I could extend my wireless network in my house to cover the area where I sit when I put my son to bed. When I was using a NetGear router, I actually made a parabolic reflector out of cardboard and aluminum flashing tape to direct my signal to the second floor of our house; it worked as there was an increase in signal strength! But the reflector I made fit nicely on the Netgear but comes no where close on the WRT54G.

The G-570S looks sharp. I like the look and size of it. It is easy to set up as an AP or even as a bridge, but trying to grok the AP+Wireless Client seems a bit beyond the normal manual. The manual isn’t clear on this, but if you select the AP+Wireless Client option, it looks like it wants the MAC addresses for WDS. From what I understand about WDS, the wireless stations will only talk to each other; not accept any connections from clients. Here, the manual leaves a little to be desired. Of course, the manual seems to suggest that if you used only the G-570S in your wireless network, this would automagically work all seemlessly.

Here’s my beef. My wireless network is using WPK and both stations support that. But if I try using AP+Wireless client in the 570S, it only lets me choose between WEP and Disabled. It appears that a newer firmware released in March will let me select WPK for the wireless security, but I haven’t had much luck getting it installed.

As far as using this thing as a pure access point, it’s great; works well and the signal is strong. The menus are some of the easiest I have seen which means my parents could figure it out. I think it’s a nice device. I’m going to muck around with it and see what else I can do with it.

ZyXEL G-570S

geocaching and the mio c310x

I said in an earlier post I would write about what I thought was the sweet spot for using the c310x for Geocaching. I can’t believe how much faster and accurate it is than my older eTrex. Around my office I have several geocaches I can walk to in a matter of minutes. I now realize that you can optimize your settings and have a pretty good success rate.

You should know this screen well:

First, I recommend you put your mio into “pedestrian” mode.

Notice that when you select Pedestrian, everything that you’d need in a car is disabled. This is under the Route Options from the main settings menu.

Next, check out your advanced settings:

Pick Route Options. This threw me big time when I first tried to Geocache with this unit. Uncheck “Keep Position on Road.”

This will show your real position. Now, I have been Geocaching in downtown Atlanta, so this has worked well for me.

EDIT 090407: I remembered that the Advanced menu you see “out of the box” is NOT the same as I posted above. I had forgotten that I had installed “MoonBear’s” skin to get a faster fly-over. However, the “Keep Position on Road” option should be on the main advanced menu on a unhacked c310x. His skin is number 8 on the folllowing page:

Since I took these screenshots, I’ve skinned my Mio so my menus now look really different. Good luck!

The maps, man. it’s all about the maps

Okay, I’ve been reading up on this, so I think it will work. As you might have read, we went on a Florida vacation to Orlando. We are in Atlanta and drove our Eurovan down. I am also using my new Mio c310x and trying to put it through its paces. Yes, the maps are two years old, but come on… roads don’t change that often. Actually, the condo we rented was in a new neighborhood so it wasn’t on any maps, even Mapquest. However, Google! Earth did have an image of it. So I created two POI’s; one for the house itself and the intersection that was on the map. It worked well.

On the way down, we met up with my brother-in-law who we were sharing the rental with. So our caravan of, well.. vans, continued on down to Orlando. Traffic was really bad in Georgia due to the construction. It appeared they were repairing bridges but it took much longer than it should since it was stop and go for most of the ride in Georgia and traffic only reached the speed limit for a few minutes at a time. At one point, we put our faith in the GPS and took it off the highway. It was a nice diversion and we saw some of the small towns that are famous in Georgia. We got back on the highway near the Florida border and started making up for lost time.


Then, we saw some thick, black smoke up a ahead. The road was closed and we were about 3/4 of a mile from the actual closure. We could see firetrucks and other emergency vehicles. At one point, a flat-bed tow truck with sirens came racing up the side of the road with a back-hoe on it. The smoke died down and we were ready to get moving again. Then, more smoke on the other side of the road. The fire had jumped the highway somehow. We were parked on the highway for about 1.5 hours and everyone was walking around and talking. It was actually really nice. The weather was perfect in the mid 60’s and there was a pretty good breeze blowing. Plus, a fire always smells nice when there is just a little nip in the air. Someone said that they heard from their Mom that it was brush fire and an accident (unrelated apparently) that caused the road closure. Looking back, I wish I took more pictures since it was pretty cool. My brother-in-law took video.

In the second picture, you can see the blackened area that was burned. We drove by and could feel the heat from the fire. This was about one mile from the end of the Florida Turnpike; they waved us through and did not collect any toll. When all said and done, what should have been a seven hour trip took just a hair under 13.

The trip was great and we all had a wonderful time. We all enjoyed Disney and had a nice time puttering around the Orlando area.

While we were down there, I got the bright idea to start recording our tracks doing various things. This is the return trip from Orlando. Don’t worry, I edited the ending point so you couldn’t figure out where I live if you didn’t already know.

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If this works, you should see Google! Map of our return trip above. I have a couple of other maps to add but it is late and I’ll just update this post probably tomorrow.

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The above map is the very beginning and about the last 1/4 of our day there. We spent around 13 hours there and just the recorded tracks covered 6.5 miles. That’s a lot of walking. We estimate that we all walked over twelve miles over the course of the day with waiting in lines and what not. I think the line is broken up since I specified 300 data points in the route. By default, the Mio updates the route every one second and I think maybe for walking, it might make sense to change that to a higher number.

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The above route is when we went to a place called the Mercado, which is now about to be demolished. It was a great place. In fact, it was one of the only places that I felt like no one was trying to get into my wallet. If you look at the northern end of the track, you can see where we went in and looked around only to find a ghost town. It was sad. This place was great. In the middle you can see where we played miniature golf. And near the bottom you can see where we had dinner and I walked around with the twins outside while the rest of the folks finished their meals. Again, the track must be broken up since the settings hit the 300 data point limit.

I really wanted to post these maps as a proof of concept. I think it worked okay. WordPress seems to have some indigestion around the iframes but that is something to tackle on another day.


We got back from vacation late yesterday and I’ve been trying to noodle the best way to put some Google! Maps content in the blog.  I would have been all over it tonight, but I had to get ours and my mothers documents ready for 2006 taxes; I am visiting my CPA tomorrow.  If I may be so bold to give a plug for my accountant; he’s great:

  • Bennie King, CPA

It’s late and I am pretty wiped out, but we had a great vacation, and I’ve got a lot to share about my Mio.  So maybe I’ll get to it tomorrow.

Thanks, everyone!