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    Dash-mounted monitor for navigation
    From: Peter Fogg
    Date: 2007 Feb 25, 06:34 +1100
    Modern-day intrepid explorers of the Australian outback, ranging far and wide while comfortably ensconced within their large and well-equipped all-terrain vehicles, no longer need to rely on those quaint relics of the past: folding maps printed on paper, a compass - and usually not much else, way back then, in the way of navigational supplies (apart, hopefully, from a modicum of common sense, always helpful).

    There are now competing companies offering continent-wide digital mapping coverage linked to GPS (similar systems have been available for a while for marine use). It has become relatively common for people to take a laptop with them on their forays; for navigational purposes ... and for firing off emails complete with photos and/or videos from picturesque locations using their sat-phone (yes, I do know that this is a slow and expensive way of transmitting data).

    A laptop is the least of it; I never cease to be amazed at the huge amount of junk that many people, typically touring retirees (the so-called grey nomads) drag about with them. A fairly standard rig is a large 4WD (known in the USA as a SUV) towing a trailer/caravan with an aluminium boat (known locally as a tinnie) loaded upside-down on the roof. Packed within the rig are portable fridge, table and chairs, shower, toilet, bicycles ... the list could go on and on. Those carrying bicycles have relatively athletic ambitions; I've seen trucks fitted out as accommodation (home-made Winnebargos) towing a smaller 4WD on a trailer, presumably for gadding about in while the truck is installed at some convenient location.

    The irony is that their now mythological forebears whose footsteps they are following were the swaggies, basically homeless and jobless men who would tramp about the countryside seeking temporary work and food, from the nineteenth century through to and including the depression years of the 1930s. Ironic because the swaggies typically possessed no more than their bedroll and its contents, rolled into a swag with a length of cord and slung over one shoulder, and a billy (tin can with handle) attached to the outside for the boiling of water for tea. Plus perhaps a dog at their heels.

    All this to introduce the attached photo, of a dash-mounted LCD screen fitted by some enterprising wanderer to his vehicle (I can also see a two-way radio and a telephone). For those who may be interested in such mobile mapping systems here are two local websites:
    http://www.mrmarine.com.au/
    http://www.esis.com.au/

    The first proposes "marine navigation and entertainment" electronic systems. The second seems to supply components for people to build their own systems.

    The photo came from
    http://www.westprint.com.au
    who retail Australian maps and books online from a fairly remote location (Nhill in Victoria) or to be more precise, it came from their weekly newsletter which is full of information about latter-day Australian outback exploration and mores. If you would like a taste of that you can subscribe for free at
    http://www.westprint.com.au/forward.htm

    Warning: their jokes are awfully corny. I love 'em.

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