17 December 2006

Busy Lately

So, Jeannette and I have been working for the last several weeks on a paper to present at Embedded World in February, but it was due on Dec. 15th. We had it finished a week early to go through the appropriate approvals at work, but we were a bit naïve to think that our first shot at our first paper ever would just sail through the approval process. I actually believed that people would like us to trumpet our company's products and show the world it is easy to put them together in interesting ways. Well, it isn't that simple, it turns out, and it is even more difficult when the headquarters in California declares plans to reorganize and save money (meaning job cuts) the day after you put the paper in the approval loop. Needless to say we missed the deadline, and since the dust hasn't settled on the work situation, the whole presentation thing is on hold (if not altogether off).

Since we didn't get the paper signed off, I don't want to say much about it. But it involves GPS, wireless communication and my camera. Since it doesn't look like I will be able to build the gadget any time soon, I decided to take a look at GPS alternatives. You see, from the photo below, to do this right, I have to carry my GPS, tethered to the camera by 7 feet of cables, while trying to operate the camera and zoom lens at the same time. It is a pain.

The Geotagging Cable Clusterfunk.

So taking a cue from a guy on the Digital Photography Review forums, I decided to go with the Bluetooth GPS route, which eliminates 6 feet of the cables, like so (not my picture):

So I need to find a replacemeny for my ancient, by technology standards, Garmin GPS-12 that I got for my birthday from my dad in 1999. I hate to get rid of a perfectly good piece of tech, but this unit is getting long in the tooth. The sensitivity isn't great and it eats batteries like crazy. And it is bulky. So I have been searching for the new candidate. And I think this is what I want. It is a tiny little super performance GPS receiver that is solar assisted. That is, the battery lasts 50% longer when the solar panel is exposed to the light. Yeah, it would be cool if it could be powered 100% by light alone, but we're not there quite yet, technology-wise. Maybe someday. Until then, this baby is small enough, quite powerful and it spews its data out via Bluetooth, eliminating the cables.

But I have run into snags. I am having trouble finding it in Europe (there are several on Ebay, but people keep outbidding me!). In addition to that, I am having trouble finding the Bluetooth to Serial Converter that I need anywhere in Europe for a reasonable price. And Ebay isn't helping there either.

So, hopefully I can get those two pieces (Santa, are you listening?) soon, and get rid of this cable fiasco. And then, I need to figure out how to deal with the other part of the little gadget we wanted to make. But I'm not gonna talk about that, at least not right now.

11 December 2006

Sunrise over the Neckar

Sunrise Over the Neckar

One thing nice about the short days this time of year is that I am usually awake to see the beautiful sunrise. Well, not the actual sunrise, since the horizon (and thus the sun) is blocked by several rows of buildings, but the nice effects of sunrise are quite visible. This morning, just before leaving for work, I saw this out my living room window and had to take a picture. The colors never are quite the same as in real life, in this case, the sky was much more pink than the camera saw it.