Friday, March 5, 2010

Do Forums work? and Helicopters flying in the Fens!

When I have computery type problems - programs don't work of gadget fail to gadge my first response is to do a Google search for any relevant information. If you are lucky this can throw up some interesting snippets of information - the first being whether others have the same problem. The challenge lies in being able to frame the Google Search in order to cut down the number of hits to those with some real information. There are ways of cutting down the information for instance when I was recently having problems with my Garmin Edge 605 GPS unit reporting low battery levels (despite still continuing to operate as if the battery was ok) I did a search for "edge 605 battery charge warnings -manual". The reason for the "-manual" is that it omitted any search with the term "manual" as there were quite a few websites offering the Garmin 605 for sale that happened to have the search sequence as they are all fairly common terms - but the websites would also mention the device coming with a manual. Despite refining my search a few times I only saw reference to similar problems in earlier products from Garmin. I did find some useful sites, with pictures, showing how to take the unit apart, (I was considering replacing the battery - one possible reason for the problems).

The same approach with a Windows/Application interaction can throw loads of questions about the fault and I have noticed loads of spurious answers from well-meaning people but also somewhat clueless people offering suggestions. What I really want is to find out whether a problem exists for other users and then from someone who has solved the problem. One of the common places to find such information is on specific Forums. Some are better than others are encouraging relevant answers. I am sorry to say that I have also seen answers from the people I suppose to be support staff within the Companies involved in a particular product whose suggestions seem almost as generic as the well meaning clueless people.

The next step is to send an email to the specific Support organisation as I did with Garmin. I got a prompt response, but along the lines of make sure all of the software is up to date - despite the fact I had indicated that in my email. The next email was more helpful in that it then told me how I could return the unit for repair/replacement and what to do next. So full marks for responsiveness - somewhat less for appearing to understand the nature of the problem. In the case of my Garmin I posted onto a Garmin Forum to see if there might be others with the same problem. It was interesting - the nuisance is that this generally requires registration - not a big problem except it is yet another user-name/password for me to forget (I now have loads). Then you get to see how many people read the Post and also if there are any replies. In the case of the Battery levels problem 26 people have read the post to date, since the 20th of February. There is one reply - mine indicating that as of the 1st of March the unit seemed to be working again. Having gone through the hassle of registering I also posted questions on two other problems I have been having.

I have also posted a question to the Zoundry Raven Support Forum - that has only had two readers and no answers - mind you Zoundry Raven is no longer being worked on - there seems to have been some effort to make it a collaborative development - unfortunately this does not seem to have gone anywhere.

I forgot to mention that yesterday as I was out on my bike I heard a helicopter travelling at a low altitude - it turned out to be an Apache Attack Helicopter with missile side-pods (I think). As I am not that much of a plane geek I did not even attempt to take a picture of it - but actually would have liked to. So today whenever I heard the noise of a helicopter I made sure I had my camera at the ready. We live around 30miles/50Km from a couple of US Airbases so there can be some interesting places - honest.

I have not seen the Apache again, but did see this Chinook flying quite high in the sky.


I also saw this - which looked to be in a military colour.


Despite the overnight frosts (actually for the same reason) the days have been sunny and very pleasant - almost warm even. This picture taken today of Headlake Drove gives a good sense of how bright the day was and of the blue skies.


The other thing is that now it is drier the muddy roads are quickly drying out - the track - Split Drove was covered in black slippery, peat mud last week - today it was easy to cycle along as the mud had dried and been blown off.


I went to check up on the Burnt-out Car - yes it really had gone (see the post from yesterday and the day before for details). Time for a closeup of one of the gates across Commissioners' Drain.


This long shot of the drain gives a better sense of the blue skies.


The fine weather had also brought out the farmers - I saw quite a few fields being worked on - some ploughing and tilling and some spraying.

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