Facebookery

I have this simple Facebook app, and now I’m going to try it. If you found this from Facebook, congrats! If not, oh well.

Press Release

If you read this blog, you undoubtedly have already seen this. I thought I’d post it here so that Google will follow along in search results.

To be honest, this is uber-flattering to me, and makes me blush every time I read it or have someone talk about it.

College Student’s Tech Savvy Allows Fargo Salvation Army to Expand Flood Service Area

FARGO, N.D. – April 14, 2011 The Fargo Salvation Army recently expanded its flood relief service to 4,600 square miles, a feat made possible by North Dakota State University senior Andrew Lynch. The 21-year-old majoring in electrical engineering walked through The Salvation Army’s doors during the 2010 floods, asked to volunteer and has been an invaluable asset ever since.

Through Lynch, the Fargo Salvation Army has been able to:

• Deploy its mobile kitchens to communities much farther away than was previously possible, thanks to Lynch creating a large-screen electronic mapping system. In real time, dispatchers can monitor river levels, locate mobile kitchens and tell the drivers precisely where they need to go to serve the most people in need.

• Save hundreds of dollars in dispatch expenses. Lynch created a text messaging system for on-call disaster teams that eliminates the need for The Salvation Army to buy pagers that cost well over $100 each.

“Lynch has been a huge asset to us,” said Steve Carbno, disaster services manager for the Fargo Salvation Army. “And that’s just the tech side of it. He has such a compassion for helping in any disaster we respond to. When there’s a fire, you can tell he’s genuinely hurting with the family. We don’t see guys like him come around often. It’s phenomenal to watch. For all he gives us, it’s remarkable that he still has time to be a full-time college student.”

The Fargo Salvation Army has begun to scale back its flood response, but continues to serve where it is needed. Individuals or communities in need of cleanup kits may call 701-232-5565.

To donate to the Fargo Salvation Army, call 800-SAL-ARMY or mail a check to 304 Roberts St., Fargo, ND 58102. Be sure to designate your donation “Fargo floods.” To volunteer, call the Fargo Salvation Army at 701-232-5565. Click below to make an online donation.

Review – Wouxun KG-UV3D

P1020215.JPG This is a review of the newest radio in my collection, the Wouxun KG-UV3D. This radio is sold exclusively by Powerwerx in the US. I purchased this radio as both an Amateur HT and for business use.

Overall: At first glance, this handheld looks like any other dual-bander amateur HT. It has a two-line display for showing frequencies in the A and B banks. It has backlit keys, and a red “MENU” button in contrast to the black keypad. The top has two knobs, one as a rotary encoder dial for selection and one for volume/power. Pretty standard when compared to my Yaesu FT-60R.

Audio: Initial reports have been of good audio quality. The speaker is exceptionally loud. Not a bad thing for a handheld. I can have the volume near halfway and that is plenty loud for indoor use. I will be testing it with a clip mic and be using it in a loud environment later on.

Battery Life: Not sure yet. It is powered by a 1700 mAh Li-Ion battery. I don’t know if this is a good thing or not. I’m used to the NiMH and NiCd batteries found on my FT-60R and business-class Kenwood. The initial charge on the battery allowed for a cumulative 45 seconds on high power, which was nice. The rapid charger apparently filled the battery intelligently, as after 10 minutes in the charger it reports full. We’ll see how full “full” really is.

Programming: Just get the programming cable! The software is free from Wouxun/Powerwerx site. I tried doing some minor changes on the menu system, and it clearly was overly complicated. Everything I’ve read online said to just bite the bullet and get the cable and software. I’m glad I did! I was able to get the radio out, plug the cable in, and after some “unlocking” (which I’ll talk about below) it took the programming just fine. The software is a bit clunky, but it does work.

Band Coverage: This guy is best for transmitting, not necessarily for scanning. The scanner is slow, and the band coverage is really just VHF/UHF. There’s no 800 MHz listening, or in-between bands like with the FT-60R. As far as TX, you can obtain software to legally open this guy up to other bands, obviously if you are licensed to transmit in those bands/frequencies. I am covered under a license for a business band UHF frequency, and unlocked my radio to transmit on this frequency. So far it has had good signal and audio reports.

Now, the cons:

  • 128 Channels – kind of small compared to other HTs with 500 or 1000
  • Programming software, as I said, is clunky. Very clunky.
  • Don’t yet know how smart the charger is. Seems to check the battery level before charging.
  • No external DC jack – charger only

I will be adding on to this review as I own the radio. This is just a nice starting point.

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Picasa Playground

I’m attempting to find the best way to bring some of the pictures from Picasa into WordPress. So far, I have only been able to do one gallery and a page. We’ll see how this goes…

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Arizona, Part 1

2010-12-25 13.35.54.jpgIf you didn’t already know, I’m in Arizona for a week or so. While I’m here, I’ve been trying to take as many pictures as possible with both my Android phone and my digital camera. I’ve been uploading them in the mornings to a Picasa gallery. The gallery is located here.

From somewhere in the air

Google offered free wireless Internet on all Delta flights for the holiday season. When I heard about this, I figured with the mass number of people traveling that the service would be near unusable. Apparently I was wrong. Here I am, quite a few feet in the air, blogging away on my iPod.

As I walked back to use the lavatory, I noticed that a good portion of the passengers were using their laptops online. People were checking email, playing on Facebook, and even getting some work done. I was able to check my flight information to know the updated arrival time as well as the current location we are flying over. Very useful information.

Another really nice thing I’ve been enjoying on this trip is having an Android smartphone. It has made me feel far more connected than I usually am when I travel. On there I could get email while filling up on some so-so breakfast. I think it will be very cool to have it out in the canyon we’re going to, bringing up maps and instantly sending pictures to Picasa or Facebook.

I am having an OK Christmas so far. I’ll be glad when the first part of travel is over. I’ve never been the biggest fan of air travel, and I’ll be darn happy when we finally land.

Well this has killed some time. About 50 minutes to go before we are at the gate. Back to Skee-Ball and music.

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPod Touch

Christmas time

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Its that time of year again. Presents, decorated trees, and the like. This year, I’ll be going down to Arizona for the holidays. I’ve loaded up my phone with a couple of good travel apps. I hope to take plenty of pictures and send them back via Picasa and Facebook.

Hopefully travelling on Christmas day won’t be as terrible as I fear. It should be light,  with people already being at their destination.

Android goodness

I finally made the investment and got an Android-powered smartphone.  It is the Samsung Intercept on Virgin Mobile. It works alright, though not flawlessly. I do think the price is right though.

I purchased a case and screen protector for it as well.  I plan to switch to this phone fully in December when my Alltel contract can be broken.

Best Buy/Virgin Mobile problems

Today I was scorned by bad customer service from both Virgin Mobile and Best Buy. I’m not sure who to blame, or what I really should do in this situation.

After a ton of research, and many years of having a feature phone, I decided to go out and purchase the Samsung Intercept, which has recently been adopted by Virgin Mobile. This is their first Android-powered phone and was just recently released. I went out to my local Target store, as they were supposed to have them before other retail outlets. Both of the Targets in my metro area were sold out, and had no ETA. Annoyed, I visited the nearby Radio Shack thinking that they would have it in stock. Alas, they didn’t even seem to carry it. Finally, as a last-ditch effort, I visited Best Buy. They had a whole shelf of them (well, more like a peg, but you get the picture). I checked them over, and asked a sales associate to pull one off the padlocked peg and ring it up. I was in a bit of a hurry, so I didn’t actually witness the sales associate scan the barcode for the activation. After rushing out to the car, I opened the package, pulled out the phone, powered it up, and attempted to activate. I already had a Virgin Mobile account, figuring it would be a trivial process to switch to this new phone.

The activation failed, stating that I needed to call customer service. Disappointed, I drove back home and tried again. No luck. I had a meeting to run to, so I decided to put off the CS call until later. When I got home, I called customer service, after trying to activate online and receiving the same message, and spoke with “Alex,” my virtual advisor. Alex was no help. “He” basically kept me from a Live Advisor, which the error messages kept pointing me to. After four calls with no luck, I finally looked up the shortcut to a human, which worked. Once I got to a human, I read back the numbers again, and he also received an error message, though this one more specific. He told me that my phone showed that it hadn’t been activated at Best Buy. Angry now, I called Best Buy where I purchased the phone and asked for the mobile department. I explained the situation, was put on hold, and then was told, “Those phones may not be able to activate until October 24th.” To which I replied, “What???”

I ventured back to Best Buy, brought in all the parts of the deadly plastic packaging, the charger/cable and phone, walked up to the mobile counter and explained the situation again. I was told by a nice manager that there was basically nothing I could do other than return the phone (which seemed futile since I’d be back after the 24th to get a new one) or just wait until the 24th when “maybe” it will activate. So far, keeping it is my plan unless someone tells me otherwise. I have decided on the phone, and don’t want to go through the chargeback process if I can avoid it. I also made sure that I can return the phone within thirty days, so if I can’t ever get this thing activated, I can just return it or exchange it.

FloodCheck update

FloodCheck screenshotGreetings, all! I’ve decided to post my “FloodCheck” application up on Google Code. It provides a nice source repository for version control, as well as a wiki and other features for project development. My goal is to bring more features to the application for a new release before springtime flooding. I haven’t heard if we are going to have epic flooding in the F-M area again this year, but you never know.

Anyways, stay tuned to the Google Code page for more information!