Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Yak-Attack Addendum: Tech Toy Review

Tech toys: I love them. Yeeees, I do.

I was the first kid on my block at age 65 to get involved. I bought both the Kindle 3 e-reader and the Original Nook. Why not? It was my birthday. They were fun, until the 7" Google Nexus tablet came out. Clearly, I was spending too much time watching CNET video podcasts with Molly Wood and the gang. Had to have it a.s.a.p. It was fun (still works, too). Then, the Nook tablet came out - the big one with micro-sd expansion port. Nice screen, but heavy. I keep it, but I hardly use it now.

After all, the Kindle Fire 8.9 came out and it was faster and I had a lot more invested in the Kindle ecosystem. They made me a great interest-free payment deal for the larger onboard memory option. I love it, too. I use it every day. Last year -  another self-birthday gift - I finally bought the Apple iPad Mini 3 because of the retina display and my connection with the Apple ecosystem of music, movies, podcasts and that it runs much nicer apps. It was great, too, until I dropped in on the corner while trying to put on a "protective case". Is that poetic or what? It still works, though.

This little tech toy was a gift and I am really thankful. Like all these little gizmos, there is a learning curve, how it works and how you have fun playing with it. This little gem does just fine without any interference from the user. Once you set it up with four basics - Current time, 12 or 24 hour time, yards vs km, and temperature F or C - that's it.

Photo courtesy of the Amazon.com website, where this unit was purchased.
Once you're ready for your hike, bike, yak trip or road trip, just turn on the unit, press the little "walking person" button on the left side and the unit acquires the satellites and records current temperature, compass and GPS information and at the end of your trip, will give you even more statistics. With all the interest in physical activity monitors, run keepers and step counters, this little unit is a worthy addition to those.

As if this wasn't interesting enough, it does even more when you upload your trip data to your personal Bushnell account through free downloaded software when you register your unit for potential firmware updates and upgrades. Plug the unit into your USB port, the software initializes and asks for your log-in and password. Once you do that, automatic download of your trip(s) data begins.

Within seconds of uploading your collected GPS data to the website account, a map of your hike, bike or in my case, kayak trip will appear on your computer screen. With another click, you can get a view of your trip overlaid on a Google satellite image. I haven't discovered a way to download the image to my own computer, but I did manage to take a screenshot, which saves the image to a special folder in the Pictures Library of my Windows 10 OS computer. Additionally, there is an automatic upload to your Facebook account, but I don't use it since I recently deleted that account.

It should be noted that screenshots are downloaded as .png files, which must be washed through some imaging software and reformatted as .jpg files for uploading and sharing. I learned that too.

Map view of my 6.7 mile Kayak Trip from Hardin Ridge/Lake Monroe, Indiana. (click to enlarge)
The account software records the trip under that date and time the data was originally collected. The other data collected, time in/out, mileage, average speed, etc., is accessed by a tab at the bottom of the screen. This information adds even more to your enjoyment. You also have the option to "title" the trip, which is nice. There is added motivation that the column on the left should be filled-up and filled-up with the fun you've had along the way.

If you click on the map, you can see a small circular spot on the trip back to the boat ramp. Since I have no rear-view mirror and the mind does wander, I decided to do a "Crazy Ivan" - a technique I wondered about when I first heard the term while watching the movie, "Hunt for Red October". (It seems that Russian sub commanders turn suddenly to see if anyone is following them.) I just paddled a 360 turn in place, then continued along my way - just for fun. I chuckled to myself and I grinned through the phrase, "Crazy Jim" instead. Ha-ha.

Here's the satellite view. Thanks to Google, this makes a nice bit of recording "My Planet Earth" and where I've been. I must admit, there is a certain level of pride that goes along with this. The trail from my camp site begins with the green hiker symbol and changes to the red symbol when I hit the water. How it does this automatically, I don't know. I made no adjustments or extra "touches" on the unit buttons.

Satellite view of the same Kayak Trip. (click to enlarge)
Although I've had this device for some time, I am  really, really sorry that I never used it until my third kayak day trip on Lake Monroe just a few weeks ago. I'm really sorry, because my first kayak trip since my kayak was delivered back in September, 2015 was back in November when I paddled through the marshes and wetlands of the Gulf Shore at Davis Bayou, near Ocean Springs, Mississippi. I took two different trails there and one more at a different wetland in a nearby area. It would have been fun to see - for comparison.

Nevertheless, as long as I have three-AAA batteries in my fresh inventory, I won't forget to take it with me again. For the record, I'm using their latest and greatest "Quantum" from Duracell. Like Captain Kirk on the USS Enterprise, you just never get tired of telling Engineer Scotty, "More power!"

The unit is weather-proof, but I wouldn't drop it in the lake, if I were you. You can sweat all over it without fear. I can vouch for that after my paddling trip on the water. I kept the unit tucked under my pfd (personal flotation device) and on top of my perspiration-soaked t-shirt. Had it been a weekend day on the lake, I should have tucked it into a waterproof bag due to rough waters of passing speedboats, pontoons and jet skis. They create a strong wake and have no mercy on kayaks or canoes hugging the shoreline (mostly). As this was a week day, there were few such vehicles, although I did find a quiet cove where my video camera caught lots of activity. I'm working on that video, too.

I just wanted to post this little addition as an aside from my original trip posting. I'm just so impressed with this device, which is hardly a toy, but just as much fun.

Heading out for a great day Yak-Paddling. See ya out there!
Take some of your tech toys, cameras and pocket video cameras. Sharing "selfies" seems to be the thing to do these days. I guess with the many features of smart phones today, just take that. I did, but I didn't use it. I kept it in a waterproof bag strung around my neck - just in case I needed to make a call from Davy Jones' Locker. There are cameras made for wet environments. Phones are not that type of device.

Enjoy the road, enjoy the woodlands and lake lands, but most important, enjoy your life all along the way. See ya out there.



  1. that is a cool little gadget, right up your alley! awesome...You'll get back to Mi crooked letter crooked letter i ... LOL

  2. Yep. If I don't go there, I'll go somewhere. Wears me out after a couple of hours of paddling, but it's a good kind of tired. These type of toys keep me motivated.

  3. yep, and you'll have nice biceps! ;)

    1. Actually, most of the paddling work uses shoulder, waist and core muscles. Even the leg muscles get into the act to push on the foot pegs to gain more power on the paddle pulling stroke. I don't get into a hurry, but rather content myself to a smooth rhythm to gain aerobically. Besides, it's exercise I enjoy. Thanks for your comments.

  4. i guess you're right about the shoulder, waist and core (sitting here faking the row) yep! that's where it would hit, spongebob smarty pants (or wet pants ...lol)! I would turn it over and drown.

    1. You'd be fine. Balance is important - for sure. Wearing a life jacket is required, for obvious reasons. I think I'm a competent swimmer and I always wear my pfd, but when wakes and waves hit from broadside, they do tend to rock the boat. Always turn the boat into the wave at 90 degrees and ride the wave that way. If you wear a big, floppy hat and sunglasses, you'd look good in a kayak. Which brings me to another safety thing, kayaking alone isn't a good idea, but I do it all the time just the same. When I was first learning, I paddled with a lady from the Mississippi DNR who wouldn't stop talking the whole trip. She put the "YAK" in kayaking. I prefer the peace and serenity of the sights and sounds as an observer of nature rather than a noisy intruder.

  5. and lets not forget the sunscreen! :) and I would agree, silence really is golden.

  6. Yes, you are such a paleface.. (not that there is anything wrong with that).