Saturday, April 30, 2011

Best Sailing Music "Jimmy Buffett"

A little sidebar from the normal app posting.

Boat Drinks, Son of a Sailor, Margaritaville, Jolly Mon Sing, Last Mango in Paris, One Particular Harbour, Pirate Looks at Forty, Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes, Fins and the ever popular Cheeseburger in a Paradise. If you don't recognize any of these song titles you must have been living under a rock the past 30 years.  These are of course some famous hits by the entertainer, nautical and flying enthusiast Jimmy Buffett. You can find all of his music and parrottphanailia at his Margaritaville website.

I have been listening to Jimmy since I was a teenager back in the 1970's.  Yah, you guessed it I am a bit over 50 years old now.  Jimmy's music has been on board all my boats since then.  There is nothing better to set the mood and get the crew fired up about a day or weekend on the water.  I never leave the dock without my Buffett music collection. Back then the music was on vinyl albums, then came cassette tape, CDs and now digital downloads. I am not sure how many copies I have of each album but it doesn't matter.  This music is timeless if you are a sailor and a fan you know what I mean.


Jimmy Buffett has become the minstrel for the boating community over the years.  He is not that great of a singer, kind of a short and chubby guy but somehow he turned a couple of hits into a mega million dollar empire. He is actually a marketing genius.  His website, restaurants, stores, merchandise, Landshark beer and concerts have created a legion of followers that are know as Parrotheads.  I confess that I am a die hard Parrothead myself.  I already have my tickets for an August concert in Chicago.  We have made the annual pilgrimage to see him time and time again.  Last years we even took our teenage kids along. They grew up listening to the music so they were game to go and had a great time.

The tailgating and concerts are legendary in the industry. No one has better fans than Jimmy Buffett. His concerts are an escape for people to spend a few hours lost in Margaritaville away from their daily stresses of work and life.

Parrothead Phan Clubs have sprung up all around the country. These are die hards that love the music, tailgating and concerts. We continue to meet new people each years while tailgating at the concerts. Yes, that is me wearing the shark hat and hula skirt looking very professional. If you can't let loose and have a little fun life would be pretty boring.

So add a little Jimmy to your cruising music collection and sail off into the sunset looking for your own special Margaritaville.

Friday, April 22, 2011


Application: iPhone 3GS, iPhone4, iPad , iPod Touch 3&4 Gen
Function: Weather
Cost: $5.99
Rating: ****

Weather4D is definitely an app for the weather enthusiast.  Having this app is like having your very own weatherman on your iPhone.  There are numerous weather apps out there but this one stands apart from the others in that it provides a unique way of looking at weather around the world.  Most apps just show you static displays of temperatures, wind, precipitation and cloud cover.  Weather 4D is weather on steroids!  It displays weather model data in time lapse movies for up to 8 days. 

The author of the app is Olivier Bouyssou. He is the mastermind behind the development of Weather4D. His website has a great Users Guide to help you get started with the app.

  • Access to world weather data displayed by zone
  • Zones include, North America, Europe, Atlantic, Mediterranean, Australia and Africa
  • Customizable zones
  • Time laps movies of weather data
  • Weather data included, cloud cover, precipitation, wind and temperature
  • Data model from NOAA models
  • Forecast selectable for up to 8 days
  • Data viewing periods of 3, 12 and 24 hours
  • Adjustable resolution
  • Portrait or landscape viewing
  • Data updates every six hours
  • Unique global view of weather patterns
To use the app you must first select or create the zone for where you want to view weather.   There are six zones already defined. You can select one of these or create your own zone by supplying coordinates in the app or by using the graphical interface to expand or reduce the size of the zone. Weather zone options include being able to set duration of weather forecast from 1 to 8 days. Forecast steps of 3, 6, 12 and 24 hours.  Resolution can be set in 5 degree increments.

The next process in setup is to download the weather model data. This can be done from the zones display. Simply tapping the icon on the left of the zone will start the download process.  Weather model data is updated four times a day.

Once data is downloaded you can select the zone to visualize.  Weather data can be displayed using the Time Mode or Orbiting Mode.   These modes allow the user to interact with the weather icons to display the desired weather features and to control the time lapse display of the data.

Weather4D is a new and unique way to look at weather data for your specific town or region or the whole world if desired.  The time lapse forecasts give the user a new way of looking at developing weather rather than looking a static grib files.  This app would be very usable in planning a passage anywhere in the world.  Being able to visualize wind and weather fronts during a passage can help you navigate around the bad weather.

On the downside it does take a bit of setup but once that is done the user will enjoy the new experience of viewing weather.  The app can be found in the iTunes App store for $5.99.  The price seems a little high for a weather app. There are many free weather apps out there but none will give you the weather viewing experience that you will get with Weather4D.

Video of Weather4D in action.

Atlantic, 8-day weather forecast from Weather4D on Vimeo.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

BoatUS App

Application: iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch
Function:  Boating safety, towing
Cost: Free

BoatUS has come up with a great app to coordinate with their already popular marine services. This app is available for both the Android and iPhone devices. We all know BoatUS as the towboat guys who offer services in 290 ports spread throughout Canada, United States and Mexico.  They have a fleet of over 600 vessels that can provide towing, ungrounding, jump starts and fuel delivery.

If you are a member you have 24 hour access to over 25 services from BoatUS. This new app just makes the whole process easier.  The BoatUS app on your iPhone will provide the BoatUS folks your contact and member information and allow them to get your latitude and longitude when you request their services. 

  • Text or Email your boat’s location to friends and other boaters
  • Share your raft up anchorage or favorite fishing hole
  • Show your boat’s near shore location on Google Maps
  • Displays your Latitude & Longitude (even out of cell range)
  • Call for a tow and BoatUS will know your location
  • Access 25 BoatUS Services for your boat’s tool bag
  • Get the hottest boating news from BoatUS Press Room
  • Share breathtaking cruising destinations
  • Keep a log of where they’ve been on the water
  • Warn others of where to avoid ‘Uh Oh’ grounding spots
  • Have the comfort knowing they can call 24/7 for a tow

Now this is an app every boater should have.  When you first open the app it will ask you for your BoatUS member number, phone number, name, email, emergency contacts and boat information.  This data then goes into the BoatUS database.  When you hit the "Call for a tow" button in the app, BoatUS already has all the information they need to come and help. 

The app also allows you to easily share your location with friends and family complete with Google map link and GPS coordinates. A list of BoatUS services is also available. BoatUS plans to add additional features and functionality to the app in future releases.

If you are a BoatUS member this app is a no brainer. Download it now and be ready for those unexpected emergencies.  Now help is easier than ever to call with the new BoatUS app. If your not a member chances are you will need their services at some point in the future. Sign up today!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Midwest Flooding

I will not have a post this week due to Midwest flooding.  Our 80+ inches of snow has melted and the river, streams and lake are all flooding.  Our lake is 45 inches over full. While not a record, it is still very high.  The lake level has crested and is starting to go down. See the pictures below. I will be back next week with more Geeky Apps. Does anyone have an app to evaporate all this water?

 This is the lake I live on, ice still covers the lake
 Park underwater
 Homes surrounded by water
 More home underwater
 Roads are still open
This is a shot off my deck this morning.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Remoter VNC

Application: iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch
Function: Remote Access to Desktop or Laptop
Cost: $.99
Rating: ****

VNC or Virtual Network Computing is basically a way to connect your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch to another device over a wireless network.  The neat thing about VNC is that you can have complete control of that device remotely. It is like putting your computer on remote control.

You may ask how can I use this?  Well imagine your navigation computer below decks. You can access any program or application on that computer. Type in Word processing, use it as a remote for media center, view your navigation programs, monitor your NMEA data and many more.

There are several VNC apps in the AppStore.  Mocha VNC is free but the one I like the most is Remoter. It was only $.99 and had some additional features.

The Remoter App allows you to connect your iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch directly to your computer.  It supports the standard VNC protocol.  This let you connect to your computer no matter what operating system it is running. Remoter version 2.0 has optional in-app purchase support for SSH and Telnet and other features.

Remoter is very easy to use and setup. It comes with an in-app Manual with instructions on how to use and set-up Remoter. Forums are available at if you need additional help.

Setup it fairly easy. First download the app. You will also need a VNC server on the computer that you want to control.  You can Google VNC server and several will show up.  Tight VNC is the one I use, again because it is free. You may see a pattern here. I like free stuff!

Download Tight VNC. This is the software that allows your iPhone or iPad to connect to your you desktop or laptop. You will need to set up the man server port, access configuration and set a password for access it desired.

Next go to your iPhone or iPad and open the app. On the top of the screen select NEW+ to create a new session. You can set it up manually by selecting "Tap Here for Manual Setup". Select VNC and hit "Select Connection Type". Name your connection, this can be anything. VNC hostname will be the IP address of your desktop or laptop running TightVNC.  VNC port should be 5900. VNC password will be the password you set up in TightVNC.

If TightVNC is already running on the remote computer it should show up on the Pick Your Computer screen after you select NEW+. The Re-Scan button on the bottom right corner can be hit to rescan for remote computers.


  • Fast VNC protocol 3.8 supported
  • Support for SSH and Telnet, VNC over SSH, and arbitrary SSH port tunnels via In-App purchases
  • Support for iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch
  • Support for latest 4.X firmware
  • Beautiful Session Selection interface
  • International keyboard support for servers that don't support direct input mode: German, Russian, French and Spanish Keyboard mappings.
  • Virtual TrackPad allows for precise and intuitive control! right-click supported, scrolling by two-finger swiping or by the side-scroller bar! dragging by double tap-and-hold like on your laptop! Three trackpad modes, including WholeScreen Trackpad also supports edge-scrolling
  • Most OSs running a VNC server are supported: Windows, Linux and Mac OS X
  • UltraVNC MS Login Authentication Support, Server-Side Scaling and Multiple Monitor support
  • Wake-on-Lan Support
  • Bonjour and NetBIOS computer discovery
  • Supports BOTH Landscape and Portrait orientations
  • Pinch to zoom in and out; or press the "Zoom" button to go from "Fit Height", "Fit Width" and "1:1"
  • Special Keys: Including: Esc, Tab, Alt, Up, Down, Right, Left, PageUp, PageDown, F1..F12, Control-Alt-Delete, etc
  • Quality control configurable per session
  • Support for 8bpp, 16bpp and 32bpp color depths
There are many ways to use the app.  Here are few screen shots of some applications running over Remoter VNC displayed on my iPod Touch.

Use your iPad as a remote screen for your main nav computer

Use you iPad as a remote to control Widows media play

Update your log on your nav computer using Word documents

Monitor Polar Navy NMEA data from you nav computer

This app is so cool I am sure you can think of even more uses. Buy it for a buck and have fun!