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  • Latitude

Garmin GPS makes some “interesting” routing choices

Posted by Jeff on July 15, 2008

I’ve seen this too many times for it to be a fluke with one device or even model. The Garmin mobile gps devices make some insane decisions for routing from one place to another and I can’t decide whether it’s due to poor maps or a poor routing algorithm. Our family uses the StreetPilot c550 and HVA uses the nuvi series, and I’ve seen the same issue with both.

A good example is our most recent trip to Cleveland from Milan. A reasonable person (and Google) would take US23 south to either I80/90 or I475 to get to the turnpike. Our garmin directed us to get off US23 at Summerfield, take that to Sterns, to Lewis, to I-75, to I-280, and thence to the turnpike. For those not in the know, these are all two lane back roads and while possibly more direct, it would be MUCH slower than staying on the highway.
On our first trip to Cleveland, we had to pull into a residential street to get out the laptop and look up directions online, since our Garmin kept taking us around in circles AROUND our destination, without actually taking us TO our destination.

I’ve seen the same thing happen with the nuvi series, where crews have followed the gps onto rural, 2-lane roads that end up being more direct but much slower, or have gotten stuck in the loop-around route.

I’ve triple-checked the settings in several of the units and they are all clearly set to choose the fastest route with all obstacle avoidance turned off. The weird thing is that our StreetPilot has actually tried to route us a couple ways around Toledo on several different trips to Cleveland, with the same start and end points, and all settings the same.

I am curious if I would experience the same bugs with another manufacturer (TomTom, maybe), or if it is a deficiency in a shared routing algorithm.

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Posted in Computer stuff, Day-to-day | Tagged: , , | 4 Comments »

Earthquake!

Posted by Jeff on April 18, 2008

I was just barely conscious enough at around 0530 this morning to notice the bed shaking as if a large truck was driving by the house. After it kept going for a few second, stopped, and started again, I thought, “Maybe that’s what an earthquake feels like.” The next thing I remember was my own snoring waking me up about an hour later. When I got up at 0745, I turned on the news to hear that there was a 5.2-scale earthquake in West Salem, IL that could be felt throughout the midwest.

So, all those trips to the west coast and I never felt an earthquake. Apparently, I just had to stay home!

Info from the USGS is here.

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Ambient Quadraphonic to 5.1 AC3 Recording

Posted by Jeff on March 27, 2008

Here’s my new workflow:
1) Import both stereo tracks into Audacity
2) Create two new tracks (Center and LFE)
3) Raise and lower the tracks to the proper top-to-bottom order for AC3 (at least, the AC3 that is output by BeSweet and ac3enc) – FL, Center, FR, RL, RR, LFE
4) Go to Preferences -> Audio Files -> check “Use Custom Mix”
5) Export to wav file, use the default mapping
6) Open the wav in AC3Machine (part of BeSweet); disable all of the range, compression, and balancing controls; export to AC3.
(Note that AC3Machine is downloaded separately from BeSweet, but requires the command-line version of BS. Also, ac3enc is a “plugin” download for BS.)

One note in particular to the Zoom H2… the left/right assignment seems to be reversed in both the front and rear files.

Next, I’ll try to figure out the Dolby Digital CD thing, as well as making a simple dvd using the AC3 track.

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Ambient surround recording

Posted by Jeff on March 26, 2008

I’ve been playing with quad-track recordings of ambient sounds (provided by mstock, using the Zoom H2), trying to convert them from a pair of stereo recordings (2 files with 2 tracks in each) to Dolby Digital/AC3 5.1 surround. Instructions were found here and here. I first used Wavewizard to combine the two wav files into one 4-track WaveFormatEX file. Then I used Wavosaur to add two more channels (the center and sub). Wavosaur is also a VST host, which allows me to use the H2-Zoo plugin to visually remix and balance the channels. Finally, I used BeSweet (and AC3Machine) to transcode the resulting .wav file to a .ac3 one (which can then be added as the audio track for a dvd.) But after playing both the wav file and ac3 file through my receiver (via XBMC), I realized that the tracks were not corresponding to the correct speakers.

Then I switched to the most recent beta version of Audacity, which can actually be used for all of the above steps except for the transcode to AC3. I’ve figured out that the multitrack wav uses the following track order:
RF, LF, RR, LR, Center, LFE
This is *not*, however, the order that AC3 uses. So if I want the surround audio for the dvd to play correctly, I’ve got to figure out that track order… later.

Posted in Computer stuff | 1 Comment »

Lunar Eclipse Photo

Posted by Jeff on February 20, 2008

Managed to get a quick couple shots of the lunar eclipse this evening. I am still amazed that we had an interesting astronomical event AND a clear sky in southeastern Michigan!
Lunar Eclipse 02_2008

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

Borders new store not a revolution

Posted by Jeff on February 15, 2008

Borders opened their new Ann Arbor store to the public yesterday, and I dropped by for a peek at the place. For all the hype about it being a new generation of book store, not much has really changed from their other strip-mall stores that I’ve seen. Sure, they’ve added cool new digital kiosks and spiffy mobile-like hanging picutres of superheroes over their ginourmous comic and graphic novel section. But the layout and decor of the store is much less warm and comfortable than their standalone stores, like the ones in downtown Ann Arbor and Chicago.
So if *I* were designing a hip, trend-setting bookstore, I’d make it feel like the customer’s own personal library… plush and plentiful seating, chandelier and sconce lighting, wood trim, etc. And instead of having people stand at kiosks to buy and download music and books-on-mp3, sell them from interfaces at coffee tables, workstation desks, and reading chairs.

And book signings by teleconference? Lame.

Posted in General | 3 Comments »