Mr. Spotty

It so happens that members of my family are worried to various degrees about my going on this trip. The various degrees culminate with my mom, who is understandably the most worried. One could say she is extremely worried. She tried really hard to convince me not to go, and then to convince others to convince me not to go. Failing this, her next best option will be to call me every few hours for the duration of the trip, to make sure that I am still OK. I looked into automating this process, and it turns out that one can get overpriced satellite communication devices of various kinds to stay in touch to variing degrees, even from areas where there is no cell phone reception. I decided to get a SPOT Satellite Messenger. This is a third generation technology which can send a few rudimentary pre-programmed messages to the interwebs along with my GPS coordinates every time a button is pushed. It is supposedly not super reliable, which is why it is not recommended to be used for emergencies. But it will be a great way to let my mom know that I am still alive, while not necessarily having to talk to her on the phone several times a day. Note that I wouldn’t like that. 🙂

I dubbed my device Mr. Spotty and tested it back home by walking on a playground while my son Marci was playing in the sandbox. I had it send a message from two points about 5 meters apart. Here is a map with the results.

You will be able to track my actual progress by clicking the map link above. I use the Spotwalla service to render the GPS coordinates to google maps, which seems to be a bit nicer than than the service that comes with the SPOT.

We will see how reliably the device performs at the end of the world. One thing that is already a bit bothersome about the little thing is that one needs to pay for an annual subscription fee in addition to the price of the handset, and SPOT reserves the right to automatically extend the subscription every year, just like a magazine subscription. The precise prices seem to vary according to territory, but you can get an idea from the article I linked above.

One thought on “Mr. Spotty

  1. Awesome! Great one-stop-shop for us to make sure you aren’t *lost* in Mongolia, just moving through it… If you have time, you could also post a map of your envisaged route, so we know (roughly) what your plans are !

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