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Old 03-28-2008, 10:16 AM   #21
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Originally Posted by Duane2312 View Post
Very informative! I do like the disposable laptop idea.

Yep, its not as if you need warp speed to run electronic charts and sailmail.

The Mac is great, comes with wifi so when in town I just take it up the road to a cafe to get on line.

Free wifi seems to be the norm down here in Patagonia in cafes and hotels.

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Old 03-29-2008, 12:47 AM   #22
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To add to the environmental nature of cruising and the need to back up data.

A free programme that does this very easily :-


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Old 03-29-2008, 07:11 AM   #23
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Again I want to thank everyone for their replies. It is nice to know this information is here for the asking.
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Old 03-31-2008, 08:09 PM   #24
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I am no expert on the workings of computers, but have lived and worked onboard for 12 years, first starting with a small tower. It was inconvenient. It was also old, so it did not take a lot of thought before I talked myself into my first Dell. I do a lot of work that has me checking client’s links from my machine. I therefore have no firewall set up and find that the Microsoft based machines get murdered with all the bad thing on the internet. I was very frustrated after about a 2 year loosing war and was talked into trying a Mac. I am on my second one and it is about 4 years old. The problems I was having do not effect the Mac. That makes me very happy.

The lap top is very convenient for carrying around in port to find places to use the internet. This has been important in finding weather windows as well as allowing me to continue work and my sailing lifestyle. Non of my screens work well in strong sun light, therefore, I rarely take it from the saloon. It runs about 12 hours a day.

The computer sits on the cart table which is across from the galley and is exposed to cooking pollution. I keep the screen and keyboard clean with a static brush. I did catch my wife once using a lightly damp cloth she had just used to dust the TV on the computer. I was afraid of moisture from that process and forbid that form of dusting. I do drink my coffee near the machine and have been lucky enough to have not spilled any since back in the days I occupied an office.

I do put the computer and the rest of my portable electronics in the Force 10 oven during lightning storms. This has caused my biggest fear of my wife warming up the oven for something not knowing I had stashed the electronic in there. That would truly fry the equipment.

I would think that if your run a laptop for an hour or so a day, the heat of the machine would keep the moisture or any mildew out of the system.

My lengthy two cents. Maybe I have just been lucky.
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Old 03-31-2008, 08:45 PM   #25
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Originally Posted by Nightwatch View Post
I would think that if your run a laptop for an hour or so a day, the heat of the machine would keep the moisture or any mildew out of the system.
Many years ago, as a mere cadet, a radio oficer of much experience recommended me never to turn off electrcal gear on an un-airconditioned ship (and ours was not). He maintained that the equipment was then less prone to failure as:

1. It was kept more or less at a constant temperature which was good for the electrickery stuff

2. The heat produced kept the moisture at bay.

Now that was a large cargo - passenger liner with any amount of electical power but the principal is the same in a yacht. Just that the power might not be available but if it is then it is worth thinking about, although I have also heard that a hard disk, when runing, is more likely to receive damage due to the vesesl's motion than if the computer is turned off. Anyone know about that?

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Old 03-31-2008, 09:29 PM   #26
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I have almost never put my computer away during an electrical storm, though I will usually turn it off and unplug it. No problems, ever, with the computer. We were hit by lightning, a direct hit to the top of our mast, vaporizing the VHF antenna there, and frying the wind speed indicator and our depth sounder. Fried something in the SSB radio, the VHF radio was no longer working.

Neither GPS was damaged in any way - neither the hand-held nor the Magellan plugged into the 12V house system, and neither was the computer or its hard drive compromised.

I think that in some ways the rigging of your boat is a Faraday cage, and your worry is from stray current running to your electronics through your ground. So those devices that are plugged in are vulnerable, those that aren't connected to the boat power are not. The depthsounder transducer was probably damaged by the huge current in the water.

Since lightning goes to ground, and when you're floating ground is the water, there must be huge current potential there.

Lightning, though, is so frightening.
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Old 04-02-2008, 05:04 PM   #27
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Lightening is not good. We could do a whole other thread on the subject. I wonder about prices. Shop hard and you can find good prices on a Mac. Usually there latest and greatest is expensive, but look at what you really need. Might not find one for $600, but you can get closer then the new super thin Mac that is out.

I believe JeanneP is right about keeping all your electronics running. I have 800+ amp hours of power. I have enough problem keeping above the 50% and refrigeration let alone keep the circuit on to the flat screen TV (Now there is an energy hog), the home theater system, VCR and the computer peripheries. Usually all those systems get turned on at least once a day. All produce enough heat to keep them dry. I have been living on board for 12 years and have not had any moisture problems to date. Electrical Management, another thread for another time.
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Old 04-04-2008, 06:31 AM   #28
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A small form factor computer is more flexible because you can add regular sized components yourself. We have a Shuttle SFF that will be the heart of our cruising boat navigation and any other systems. We also have a little tiny Sony Vaio notebook computer (505 series) that I got on Ebay a number of years ago and it keeps on going and going. I use it in the car, take it ot the dusty boatyard, take it out sailing on the other boat (where it runs a little mouse sized GPS) really totally abuse it and it keeps on working. The SFF is dual boot Linux and Windows, as is the notebook. You can now pretty much run all the windows software under Linux (we have Debian Linux) using something called WINE or using VMWare.

Note on power useage--the SFF uses quite a bit of power, as much or more than a regular tower case computer we have.

Note on LCD screens, Samsung makes some great fold up ones and Shuttle has a very portable one, too.

Esoteric note on IMB keyboards of many years ago...In response to previous post by J...IBM in the late 1980's developed a really strange system employing robotics to manufacture their keyboards for ALL IBM computers. The system made it such that no IBM key could be reattached to the keyboard if it fell off. Really stupid thing. I'm sure they changed it at some time to be more like other keyboards that were repairable, but I knew about this IBM thing because I was getting my engineering degree in the late 1980's and took a robotics class from a fellow on loan from IBM to the school and he told us how "not" to design things for robotics without thinking about the people who would have to do the repairs.
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Old 04-15-2008, 03:53 AM   #29
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I am very new in this forums so please indulge me. While perusing I stumbled on this topic and I could not resist adding my few pennies worth, especially since I noticed that so few of you seem to use Apples.

I have been working professionally with computers for over 30 years. Most of my programming experience in the last 20 year is with the Unix operating system. But since the first Apple Macintosh was released back in 1984 I was completely taken by its elegant design. Since then, I have owned several different models. Now we have 4 Macs in our house.

It was natural for me to use my Mac laptop in my boat. As far as the hardware goes I never had a problem. I keep the computer on the boat for 6-7 m/year and it has always worked flawlessly. But, as several of you have pointed out navigation and cruising commercial software is predominantly made for the Windows systems. This was so frustrating to me that I almost, I say almost, bought a PC for the boat. I did not. This was back in the middle ages of the late 90s.

Since then several things have changed. First Apple switched operating system. Their new system OS X, is Unix based. This means that I can program the beast with ease. But more important I can use or port a vast number of public domain free software developed for Unix. They do include mapping and and navigation mostly used by scientists. The second development was 2 years ago. Apple changed processor from Power PC to Intel. This translates into the capability of a Mac to operate with both the Mac OS AND Windows.

So here is how I use it. I mostly run the Mac OS with its easy of use, lack of malware, stability etc. If I need a program which is not available for the Mac I look into the Unix pool. But if there is a good program available only for Windows then I can use it too.

Many times in anchorages when people hear that I know something about computers they often accost me with various problems. Most of them seem to stem from the fact that these are people who know very little about computers, and who are not inclined to duel deeply into them, yet they have chosen one of the hardest to learn operating system and struggle with it.

Ultimately there "right" computer is the one that gets your job done with the least amount of fuss. If you are familiar with a PC then that is right for you. If you are familiar with a Mac then that is for you. BUT if you are not familiar with either then do yourself a favor and do not get a PC.

Sorry for the long lecture.

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Old 04-15-2008, 08:31 AM   #30
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Thank you for that very informative insight!

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Old 04-17-2008, 12:28 AM   #31
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One thing I'm seeing more and more of from cruisers out there is high quality media in the form of DVDs, video, and electronic photo albums.

The Mac has a well-deserved reputation as a superior tool for capturing, editing, and outputting different types of media. So if you are looking for a computer that can run Windows-- and all the Windows-based cruising software-- AND want to be creative with all the media assets you gather along your route, the Mac is the way to go. Because of the effort Apple and it's software developers have put into developing the interface and workflows, you're much more likely to find yourself enjoying the experience of working with your media. On top of that, you can rest assured the operating system is not going to let you down, or rile you up. I've been on a Mac since 1984 creating media, and more recently on OSX creating educational multimedia and in all my thousands of hours at the keyboard, I have not had to dicker with the OS in any way. If it freezes, something that happens very very rarely ( a handful of times in ten or so years), I simply reboot and all is well.

The dream set-up (cost is an issue for new- used can be much cheaper) for me and my boat is the MacBook Pro 17" with a large external drive, an external keyboard, the Boot Camp program to run Windows XP, Apple's Final Cut Express or Pro for video and Aperture for photo editing, and serial adapter to accept serial connections from nav-related hardware aboard.

One final note: The quote below is from the Apple site. It mentions two attributes of the laptops important to the cruiser.

"Every PowerBook also includes Apple's patent-pending Sudden Motion Sensor technology which integrates a tri-axis accelerometer to help protect a spinning hard drive if the notebook is accidentally dropped. Apple's revolutionary backlit keyboard with ambient light sensors for working in low-light conditions is now built in to all 15- and 17-inch PowerBooks and is up to 10 times brighter than before.

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