Posts Tagged ‘GPS’
Drawing on their ingenuity, love of new technology & desire to learn new things, a small team of Geek Squad Agents took a chapter out of Red Bull’s Stratos “book” and gave stratosphere flight a try. The payload? A Geek Squad Agent’s badge. The capsule, christened Icarus I, also contained two GoPro HD video cameras to capture the flight in all its glory.
The Geek Squad code of conduct calls for Agents carry their badges at all times. On those rare occasions when badges are misplaced, they tend to go on “walkabout” – traveling to undisclosed locations in ways that demonstrate Geek Squad’s tech know-how and culture. Eventually these badges are returned to their owners, who are inducted into “The Geek Squad Brotherhood of the Traveling Badge.”
This latest traveling badge, owned by Agent Shedrick Williams (#13337), flew to a height of 90,000+ feet and covered a distance of more than 165 miles before landing several hours after lift-off.
So why call it out today? Because today (January 31) marks the 55th anniversary of Explorer 1, the first satellite launched atop the Juno booster from LC-26 at Florida’s Cape Canaveral Missile Annex. It was a first for NASA and we wanted to honor their accomplishments by announcing our first ever flight on this date.
For more information on “Icarus 1″ (including onboard video footage, schematics, and more details), check out our web page at www.geeksquad.com/icarus.
Agent Ron G. has been battling the forces of unruly technology run amok since 2001, prior to Geek Squad’s acquisition of Best Buy. When not busy creating video & technical training content for Geek Squad Agents in the field, Agent Ron enjoys home brewing, international travel, and learning how to cook new cuisines (besides sending badges to near space).
When I think back on the holiday family road trips of my youth, I mostly remember the fear of being lost after missing an exit on an unknown stretch of highway or the frustration of trying to find a gas station in a strange town. Technology – in the form of Global Positioning System (GPS) devices – have rendered those fears and frustrations things of the past.
If you’re looking for GPS for your big trip this holiday season, you will first need to decide on whether you want a standalone device or you want to use a smartphone app.
Getting a GPS app for your smartphone is a great way to easily add a way-finding tool to your life. The apps are often cheap or free, and can be updated with the latest information using the smartphone’s broadband connection. On the downside, you need to remember to keep your phone charged before setting out on a trip. (The last thing you want when you are travelling is to be stuck on the side of the road with a phone that has a drained battery.)
There are plenty of reasons you may want to get a standalone GPS unit. An advantage of the standalone unit is that it carries its maps in memory built into the device. Onboard maps are handy if your holiday trip includes long stretches along country highways where the cell phone signals can be weak or non-existent.
Some smartphone apps will allow you to pre-download maps in case you lose your mobile signal during your trip. So if you go with a GPS app, it would be a good idea to download the all the maps you made need before you hit the road. Maybe you could do it at the same time you charge up the device.
When deciding on a standalone GPS unit, you will want to make sure the device comes with “lifetime” maps and traffic. Lifetime maps means the GPS manufacturer will make periodic updates of the maps on the device available for download. The “lifetime” part means you will be able to download updates for the life of the unit. That’s great for making sure you don’t get stuck when that bridge you always use to get to Aunt Petunia’s house is suddenly closed for construction.
“Lifetime” traffic means that your GPS unit has a receiver built-in to receive traffic and construction alerts and will warn you of temporary delays. Most units with this feature can be configured to automatically route you around severe delays, saving you time and gas.
No matter which GPS device you choose, you want to make sure it is running the latest firmware for that unit. (Check out this video from Geek Squad for more background what firmware is.) Updates are usually available at the manufacturer’s website. Instructions on connecting your device to a computer should be in the owner’s manual.
If you decide to go with a smartphone app, make sure to check your smartphone’s online app for any software updates available for your app.
For more on updating firmware, take a look at this ‘Two Minute Miracle” video on our YouTube channel:
Agent Derek has been removing techno-stress from the lives of his Geek Squad clients since 2005. When not providing remote help as an Online Support Agent, he likes to take to the road on a vintage motorcycle for adventures through Ohio country highways.
Summer time is nearly upon us, the hot sun & blue skies bringing thoughts of road adventures. When such urges beckoned in the past, our forefathers would hitch a team of oxen to their covered Conestoga wagon, make sure they had plenty of spare axles, and hit the trail. Of course, such journeys took months, with the only excitement being river crossings, dealing with bandits or other attacks, and occasional bison stampedes.
These days we’re a little better prepared to deal with long hours in a moving vehicle. Hazards on the modern highway are easily dealt with, it is difficult to get lost, food is delivered to us in disposable cardboard boxes, and the long miles of our journey can be eased with a variety of modern entertainments.
Even with the entire country mapped out for us, it can be easy to get lost. Fortunately, technology can help get us back on track. Many of today’s smartphones have GPS functionality, alerting one to such important destinations as gas stations, rest stops, and dining areas. Even if one doesn’t have a smartphone, a car can easily be fitted in-dash with any of a number of GPS devices by our expert Autotech Agents!
Let’s face it – the worst road trip we’ve ever had probably didn’t involve dysentery. (And if it did, we’re guessing you have bigger problems on your hands.) But hours spent suffering in a stuffy vehicle with screaming children and bored adults can be its own special form of hardship. Ease your burdens by making your vehicle into a modern home away from home – with all the comforts of a fast and reliable internet connection. Mobile hotspots let you carry the internet with you (no cords, no problem). Your passengers will be able to play online games, watch YouTube videos, check their email and stay up-to-date with their Facebook friends with minimal interruptions.
In the past, all we had were pencils and paints to capture the kitchy-ness of a roadside attraction, or the majesty of an untamed vista. Today, the sky is the limit. Let your passengers direct the story of your journey by equipping them with an arsenal of digital media equipment. A “shoot and share” camcorder like the Kodak Playsport ZX5 is a durable movie-making companion, while allowing you to download (and edit) the videos on any laptop, and the Samsung WB150 Smart Camera with built in Wifi (or even any digital camera with an Eye-Fi card loaded) lets you upload pictures of your journey to the web as fast as you can take them.
Last on this list, but first in our hearts — please remember that safety is paramount when embarking upon your epic journey. Stop frequently, hydrate, and always let your copilot take responsibility for cell phones, logistics, navigation, and other two-handed activities. Eyes on the road, traveler, and bring a driving buddy if you want a turn playing Oregon Trail on your smartphone.
Safety is also important for your technology! Dust, heat, exposure, and accidents can all contribute to a broken device, a ruined day, and (potentially) a ruined vacation. Don’t get lost, mad, or upset. Geek Squad Black Tie Protection on newly purchased technology can help ensure broken or damaged tech can get back up and running again.
May your journeys this summer (short or long!) have all the comforts of modern technology, and none of the headaches. And as always, Geek Squad Agents are just around the corner at your local Best Buy to offer additional advice, or help bring your American Road Trip experience out of the covered wagon and into the modern age. Buckle up!
Summer is fast approaching! Families are piling in the car and setting out on the Nation’s highways and skyways in search of an inexpensive and stress-free vacation. Here at the Geek Squad, we want to make sure you know about a few technologies available that will help ensure your vacation is safe, efficient and a little less stressful.
Perhaps one of the most obvious tech gadgets in use today when on vacation is the GPS unit. This relatively simple-to-use device allows you to not only get easily from point A to point B, but also allows you to find new places of interest once you get to your vacation destination. What you may not know is that some newer GPS units also allow you to navigate a route using less fuel, monitor your fuel consumption and avoid traffic. Savings in the wallet and savings in time! Check out a GPS that offers live traffic reports such as a Garmin or TomTom. To get even fancier, Garmin has an accessory (ecoRouteHD) that ties your Garmin ecoRouteHD compatible GPS into your vehicle’s computer-control system to provide you with live engine data, including miles-per-gallon and engine trouble codes, right on your Garmin GPSs screen!
The smartphone is another tech tool that can help you save some cash. For example, a slew of applications are available on the market that allow you to see average area gas prices. Some applications, including GasBuddy (iPhone/Android), AccuFuel (iPhone/iPad) and GasBook (iPhone), even help you calculate whether or not it is wise to drive out of your route to save a few cents at a cheaper station. Smartphones and tablet devices can also help keep those back-seat drivers occupied by providing endless choices of entertainment. I’m sure I don’t have to tell you “are we there yet?” gets very old very quickly.
Technology can also help keep you safer when you are away. Digital cameras can be used to take a backup picture of vital documents such as passports or the condition of your rental car. GPS routing can be utilized at home before you leave, so you can let loved ones know your expected travel and arrival times. Smartphone and tablet applications that share your live location can also be shared with loved ones for a little extra peace of mind on those long-haul trips. Some people even leave their webcam-equipped computers on at home so they can log in via an internet connection and view get a live view of what is going on in the house.
Below is a short checklist you may find useful in planning and executing your vacation travel. Enjoy your adventure and keep it safe:
• Plan route in the GPS, write down times/dates and share with loved ones via email or written letter
• Take pictures/make photocopies of important documents as backups in case you lose the originals.
• On the day of departure have a list ready of all accessories: Do you have power cords, charters, batteries, and mounts for all your gadgets? Would an all-in-one power supply or charger help cut down wires?
• During your trip use your phone, portable DVD or tablet as a source of entertainment.
• Check in with your loved ones periodically by phone or email, especially if you have to deviate from your planned route.
• Always remember to have a map as a backup. GPS units are not infallible and should not be your only source of navigation whether you are in the car or on the trail. Please, use your head, it is the best safety device you will ever have!
Another thing to keep in mind when setting up your GPS is to make sure it has a direct signal to a satellite. We recommend setting it up while you’re outside, not while you’re inside (e.g. in your garage).
You are on the road. In a strange city. Heading to an appointment. At a location you’ve never been to before. In heavy traffic. (And heavy rain). And you are running a little late.
To add insult to injury, add in a paper printout map – you not only have misery refined, you have a very good possibility of ending up in a ditch. (Or somewhere worse).
It’s vacation time! When I was deciding how to spend it, I knew there were two things I needed to think about in my hotel selection:
• Location – a hotel close to the attractions I wanted to visit
• Features – WiFi for the laptop. After all, even vacationing geeks like to have Internet access at the end of a long day touristing.
Here are a few things that may help simplify your travel this summer:
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