Grab Bag Thursday – Mini ‘Puters and Sled Safety – More

Post by blogger | March 26, 2009      
Backpack computers.

Backpack computers.

Whew, that was a whirlwind Spring Break with the family. Ended up skiing five days in a row, rest day yesterday, perhaps a few pow turns later today. Leaving for Europe and Silvretta traverse all too soon, so I’ve been setting up a cool new travel computer.

More below about computers, first, one more photo from the Elk Mountains.

Backcountry Skiing

Tuesday, Elk Mountains. The storm dropped more overnight, we got in two complete laps with a picnic in between. Light wasn't that good for photos in the open bowls, but I had fun playing around with Photoshop on this one. Yep, that's our boy.

Back to computer issues. I tried blogging from my PDA. That stinks if you want to do much in the way of writing, or process photos so they look at least semi-pro. Instead, WildSnow will attempt blogination on an Acer Aspire One miniature computer. Been configuring the little guy for the last few days and the tiny box of tightly packed electrons seems to be working like a champ. Blogging from the Acer now, along with building as many shortcuts and automations as possible, e.g., why compute when you could be making turns?

Backcountry Skiing

The backpack computer? It probably needs some sort of hardcase, and the power supply extension cord weighs nearly as much as the cpu, time for a mod on that!

Backcountry Skiing

Gear news from Dynafit, they appear to have a perfected jumbo crampon, inside dimension 110 mm. Via a carefully designed system of molded ribbs, these aluminum harscheissen are quite strong for their weight. Testing is ongoing -- at the moment they're up in Alaska with a guest blogger.

Burly Dynafit Comfort heel posts (volcanoes).

Check out these burly Dynafit Comfort heel posts (volcanoes) that B&D Ski Gear might start selling. To inquire,see their advert in left sidebar. About time someone aftermarketed these things, as the OEM model, while lightweight, is a bit fragile. B&D's version is also slightly taller, yet can easily be cut down if you don't like the extra rise.

Backcountry Skiing

I've had this one on my desk for a while. When you buy a new snowmobile, it comes with a safety book that's full of good backcountry novice info. BUT, ever wondered why all those sledders keep getting killed in really stupid avalanche accidents? Check out their safety book -- not one word in there about the white death. Time for a new edition. Hello???


17 Responses to “Grab Bag Thursday – Mini ‘Puters and Sled Safety – More”

  1. Tom Gos March 26th, 2009 10:01 am

    Lou, since you’re going to be lugging the weight of that little computer on the Silvretta, why not go one step further and take a GPS along too? You could then upload your tracks each day so that we could follow along via Google Earth somehow. That would be cool.

  2. Lou March 26th, 2009 10:07 am

    Hi Tom, great minds think alike. I’m bringing a GPS, which is essential for a self guided trip (provided one can get the proper waypoints installed, which I’m having a tough time with.) Am also working on getting that integrated with Google Earth, and figuring out a way to do it all quickly enough so I still have time to sip a nice big Austrian beer or two after the day’s travels! Several of the huts have Internet, so I’ll blog from those locations, but might have to delay the trip reports for a day or two when we’re at the more basic huts. It’ll be interesting.

  3. Tucker March 26th, 2009 10:15 am

    Lou, I’ve used Google Earth while kayaking to find GPS locations for features on a river (waterfalls, parking spots for put-ins, etc). Then I loaded the coordinates into my Garmin, which worked really well. Very neat to have the Garmin direct you down a dirt road and instruct you to stop in the middle of the woods, then a minute walk brings you to the exact spot you’d seen from the sat image on Google Earth.

    Might help, if you know your starting point on the tour.

  4. justin March 26th, 2009 11:33 am

    I’ve looked at those mini-comps at Costco before, will wait to hear your report on it!

    Interesting about that snowmobile handbook. Actually had a sledneck in my avy 1 class this year, was interesting to hear his thoughts/feedback on why he was in the class (seems like it mostly boiled down to a lot of slednecks have the ‘it can’t happen to me’ syndrome and a 2 stroke security blanket).

  5. Eric March 26th, 2009 4:41 pm

    Can you point to where in Google Earth you put the tracks and how to load into Mapsource?

  6. JamesL March 26th, 2009 4:29 pm

    I use Garmin MapSource software to interface between the GPS unit and Google Earth. MapSource came free with the purchase of my GPS unit a few years ago? GPS tracks can be viewed and saved in Google Earth within a couple of mouse clicks. Waypoint lat/lon can be attained through Google Earth, and then be loaded into your GPS unit via MapSource. Very user friendly software while sipn’ on beer! Have Fun!

  7. RobinB March 26th, 2009 6:23 pm

    You should consider trying out Memory Map. Great piece of mapping software, and runs very well on the mini computers as it seems light on resources. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a piece of software that deals with large graphic files (scanned maps) as smoothly and glitch free as MM.

    Seems like there might be the makings of a blog series here… digital maps, netbooks, GPS integration etc.

  8. JamesL March 26th, 2009 8:30 pm

    Eric – With MapSource open, connect to GPS unit, and download the tracks or waypoints that you collected in the field. Next, click on View in the toolbar, and then click on View in Google Earth….. . You can save this as an interactive Google Earth file (.kml) or an image (.jpg). You can also take coordinates from Google Earth to creates waypoints in MapSource, and then load them to the GPS unit. Any pre-determined routes are created in MapSource or other mapping software, then loaded into the GPS. All this technology is great, but will it work on Lou’s tiny computer?

  9. Chris March 26th, 2009 8:58 pm

    Hey Lou –

    Do you still have that Spot Messenger you reviewed awhile back? If so, why not just use the tracking service to upload your tracks to Google. Put a link on the blog and we can track your progress in real-time! Won’t help for route-finding, but will eliminate the drudgery afterward that will interfere with your beer drinking. Just a thought…

  10. Eric March 27th, 2009 5:31 am


  11. Dominik March 27th, 2009 6:21 am

    Hi Lou,
    First of all I want to thank you for the info about zzeus vs zzero fit 🙂
    And the second thing is that I found an Austrian website, where you can find hundrets of skitour tracks. Among others Silvretta Durchquerung = Silvretta Traverse:
    I hope this time I can help 🙂

  12. Lou March 27th, 2009 6:35 am

    Chris, my son has the Spot Messenger, so no go on that. Here in Colorado I use my ham radio for emergency comm, if I was doing more road trips I’d get another Spot. In the Alps you can get a cell phone connection from many of the more popular places, though there are plenty of dead spots. Having a Spot over there would be nice, though I don’t know what the response time would be for a “911” call on the thing, and that is always the mystery. At any rate, no Spot this trip, so I’ll have to use other means to geo-blog, no guarantees on that. First priority is to find the route, then we’ll blog it (grin)!

  13. Mark March 27th, 2009 7:18 am

    Stunned to hear of Shane McConkey’s passing. Prayers and condolences to his family and friends. We’ve lost a true industry innovator.

  14. Jim March 27th, 2009 9:38 am

    Hi Lou, Thanks for showcasing the B&D burlier heelposts for the Dynafit Comfort. I’ve used these for a few weeks now and they are way better than stock. Cut ’em down? Howz about even taller ones for us steep skinners in the Wasatch?!

  15. Lou March 27th, 2009 10:13 am

    Jim, yeah, the AM extended height model is something Bill should make. AM could stand for Andrew M. or dawn patrol, or both (grin)!

    Bear in mind that adding height to the Dynafit heel post increases leverage and will wear out the heel unit bushing quicker, and could stress the spindle.

  16. Ali E March 27th, 2009 12:15 pm

    Hi Lou

    I’ve just come back from the Silvretta and can confirm that the Jamtal Hut has internet and WiFi; I logged on using my Apple iPhone; pretty cool at 2156 metres in the middle of nowhere! We also stayed at the Wiesbadener, but that doesn’t seem to have internet. It was a short 3-day tour, so I didn’t get to try out the other huts. Snow conditions were fantastic and I shredded the pow with my new Manaslu/Comfort set-up. Enjoy!

  17. Chris March 27th, 2009 3:13 pm

    When do you think we’ll see those ski crampons for my Coombas?

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Welcome to Louis (Lou) Dawson's backcountry skiing information & opinion website. Lou's passion for the past 50 years has been alpinism, climbing, mountaineering and skiing -- along with all manner of outdoor recreation. He has authored numerous books and articles about ski touring and is well known as the first person to ski down all 54 of Colorado's 14,000-foot peaks, otherwise known as the Fourteeners! Books and free ski touring news and information here.

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