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Friday, November 30, 2012

Wet, Wild, Windy Washington

It has been pretty stormy all day today.  In fact ever since late yesterday it has been very windy and wet.  We did have a 2+ hour break in the weather yesterday which allowed us to get in a good long walk.  If we did that today though, I think it would be a swim instead!

The weather has been so heavy of late, that the cell signal we use to access the internet is degraded.  We have been able to get 2-3 bars of 3g signal, but not today.  We are lucky to get 3 bars of 1x and that is very slow.  So no pictures today either!

The park is starting to fill in for the weekend.  There is a large group of friends who scheduled a get together in our loop and they are supposed to take most if not all of the remaining sites.  With this weather though, it will be interesting to see who all shows. I know I sure would not want to be outside doing hookups in this downpour.

This morning we drove into Long Beach for a few errands.  We were also able to use the Wi-Fi at the library which was great.  We are planning on going out to dinner tonight, weather permitting.

Not much else to say since there isn’t much going on here.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Nook to Android, Come in Please

Today has been cold with a stiff breeze and some rain showers.  The wind is forecast to gust to 50 though it has not been that strong yet. 

We did drive over to Costco in Astoria today to do a bit of shopping.  The key item we bought was a scale for the RV.  We are both in the process of losing some extra pounds but on our RV trips, we have no feedback on how we are doing.  And with a 3+ month RV trip coming up, that just won’t do.  So we got a scale at Costco that is a real futuristic model that looks like it might have come from Star Trek.  The part where you stand is all glass!

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I’m not going to brag for Carol, but she has been doing really well on her “Calorie Budget” and I will let her give any details on her blog.

We are back in the RV now and watching the showers pass through.

Our cell booster is working great.  It turns no signal into 2-3 bars of 3g which is great.  One interesting thing to note though is that after dark the signal degrades to 1-3 bars of 1x.  I suspect this is because the cell providers turn down their signal at sunset.  I recall that many radio stations have been required to do this for years.  The clear channel stations (identified by a 3 character call sign – KFI, KGO, WHO, etc.) are not required to degrade their signal at sunset but all other are.  I bet the cell radio towers have to do the same thing.

According to my cell provider app on my phone, we are getting the cell signal from Seaside, which is some 26 miles away as the crow flies, so that is a pretty good distance.  Unfortunately, there is a hill blocking us from a direct shot at Astoria which is much closer.

On another technical note, about a year ago, I purchased a Nook tablet.  I’ve been pretty pleased with it except for one thing.  You have to get apps for it only from Barnes & Noble.  Unfortunately, they have only about 5% of the apps that are available for the Android OS and they charge for a good many of them while they are free from Google Play Store.

That has been a real frustration because we use a system called HUDL for watching and exchanging football game videos for our officials.  It allows us to comment directly on the video screen and telestrate it just like on TV.  We can use a regular computer through their web site to do this or use the free HUDL app for IPad and Android.  But, of course, this is not one of the apps that Barnes & Noble offers so I am out of luck.

Fortunately, I let Carol in on my frustration and a few days later, she remarked that she saw on one of the blogs she reads about some guy who had converted his Nook to an Android device.  This sounded too good to be true.

So I checked it out.  The outfit is called N2A  (Nook to Android, get it?) and they offer the ability to convert your Nook to an Android device without affecting the warranty! The way they do this is quite ingenious.

The Nook has a slot for a micro-sd card.  You can load their $19.99 android image onto this card and insert it into the Nook.  Then when you power on the Nook, it becomes a true Android device.  You can then execute an app to go back to normal Nook mode or you can remove the micro sd card and boot as a normal Nook.  Pretty cool!  And it works great!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Back at the Beach

Before we make our annual winter migration to the warmer climates of California, we decided to take a eight day trip to our favorite beach – Cape Disappointment.

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Above is a picture of our campsite.  As you can see, the sun is out.  It was out yesterday too when we arrived and we had an almost full moon last night.  Tomorrow though, rain is forecast.

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The park is almost empty!  For the 60 full hookup sites, we walked around and counted only 6 of us plus the camp host shown above.  Everything is dry for now so that makes it a nice walk.

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I walked down towards the beach and took some pictures.

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The beach is covered with driftwood and some really large pieces of it.  I think much of it drifts down the Columbia River and once past the jetties, it gets washed up here by the current.

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A great picture of North Head Lighthouse standing guard on the entrance to the Columbia River.

When we arrived yesterday, I connected my cell booster and only got a marginal signal.  I had the antenna mounted on the back of the RV.  This makes it real easy to setup but I can’t have the  booster on full or it gets feedback from its own signal as it is amplified.  As a result, we didn’t have much signal to work with.

Today, I moved the antenna further away and raised it up from about 12 feet to about 17 feet high.

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I put the antenna pole in a tripod that I carry along just for situations like this.  Getting it higher and about 20 feet further away allows me to turn the gain up full and that has resulted in a 2 bar signal of 3G all afternoon. 

I’m using that signal to send this blog post.

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Our campsite is nice and clean, but the campfire ring will go unused by us this trip.  It is just too cold!