Tag: GPS

Come Home Alive – There’s an App for That

Search and rescue team attends to injured caver

Christopher Van Tilburg talks on Outside Blog about a search and rescue operation that went far better than usual because the stranded hikers had a smartphone. Rescuers were able to get detailed coordinates and guide the hikers to a safe pickup location. Maybe smartphones should be basic equipment?

If you are an adventuresome smartphone user, by all means check out survival apps such as the one from Mammut, a free survival app geared to skiers and snowboarders. BuddyGuard is another offering, one that automatically phones home if you become incapacitated. However, with a price of $120 you’re edging into personal beacon territory.

One thing to consider is how often you will be traveling outside of cellular range. If you’re out of bars, your smartphone might seem a little stupid. WoodsMonkey has some tips on how to use a smartphone as a survival tool even when you’re out of range.

If you want the Search and Rescue to find you when you’re really out in the wild you’ll need something more like the Spot Personal Tracker. This device actually sends your coordinates to a satellite which then communicates to a server and sends an email to prearranged parties. These beacons require a subscription service and they are limited in their ability to send messages. But you can work out a prearranged deal with friends or family to start a search in your last marked location if you fail to check-in.

None of these devices replace good old fashioned common sense but they do promise to shave hours off your own personal 127 Hours ordeal.

Free National Park Guides for Your iPhone/Android (April 24 Deadline)

In honor of National Park Week, Chimani is offering free downloads of their popular National Park smartphone guides. They have a selection of apps for both iPhone and Android. The Android apps, usually $4.99 are discounted to 99¢ but they also have free “Lite” versions.

Kerry Gallivan, founder of Chimani, says that his company’s guides are designed to be essential equipment for travelers:

I like to think of these apps within the tradition of the telescope or astrolable of our adventuring ancestors instruments to help us navigate the natural world (terrain and trails) and provide insight into its workings (the weather, moon phases, tides). All of this information is presented on an intuitive user interface that is visually well designed, includes professionally designed maps, up-to-date and well-researched content, high quality photographs and rock-solid programming.

The apps include detailed maps, driving tours, park schedules and info to assist photographers. They’re definitely worth a look.

Chimani Parks smartphone apps via TUAW

For “Mind Like Water” Use a GPS

Garmin Nuvi Frees the Mind

Last week’s trip to Seattle and Portland was the most enjoyable time I’ve ever spent driving in two unfamiliar cities. Nevermind the list of crazy place names: Tukwila, Puyallup, Newaukum, Tigard, Tualatin to name just a few. I was at peace. I had achieved mind like water.

Apparently I use a lot more brainpower than I ever realized by trying to reconcile a mental picture of the highway map with the geography that I see as I drive. Keeping all those Tukwila’s and Tualatin’s straight, along with North, South, East and West is a real pain in the brain.

The Garmin nüvi GPS that I picked up on Amazon – at a heck of a good price by the way, keeps all that information straight and feeds to the driver on a need-to-know basis. One of the most useful features is the little arrow in the upper left corner showing the direction of the upcoming turn, along with a mileage countdown ticker. This way I could plan ahead which lane to be in.

Driving with a GPS isn’t entirely new to me. I’ve got a Garmin StreetPilot on my motorcycle. But this is the first time I fully appreciated how much freedom and peace of mind a person gets by not trying to mentally juggle an agenda.

Keeping need-to-know information outside of your brain is called metamemory. It’s what productivity experts like Mark Forster and David Allen specialize in. The idea is that everything you need to think about goes into a trusted system and the system feeds you the information exactly when you need it.

A GPS, with an up-to-date city map, is a trusted system and on this trip it worked great. It makes me wonder how much brain-strain a person could eliminate in a familiar setting. Programming shopping stops into your GPS might just give you peace of mind doing the weekend errands.

Reviews of the Garmin Dakota 20 GPS

The problem with the GPS market is that there are too darn many good units for outdoors use. Makes my head swim. The Garmin Dakota 20 is a ruggedized unit great for hiking or cycling, with a suite of additional features such as exercise management and a three axis electronic compass. A built-in track manager lets you store tracks up to 10,000 points (breaking the 500 point barrier on other devices). But it’s got some quirks so read the reviews carefully.

Via Navigadget.

Read reviews of the Garmin Dakota 20 GPS receiver:

Diary of Scott Morris