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    Re: A Philosophical Sidebar
    From: John Huth
    Date: 2011 Jun 25, 17:13 -0400
    Some folks may scold me (and have) for compromising my safety, but I don't use GPS devices at all.   When I go sea kayaking, it's all by compass, dead reckoning and natural signs.    I find it's a bit of a 'use it or lose it' psychology.   

    On Sat, Jun 25, 2011 at 5:07 PM, Robert Eno <enoid{at}northwestel.net> wrote:
    I just bought a new marine GPS. A Garmin 78. I had to. My old 72, which is still perfectly servicable, unfortunately cannot accept external power anymore -- because of some glitch in it's electronics -- which is a must for marine navigation. Save purchasing a bushel basket of batteries, I decided to bite the bullet and purchase a new GPS. $400 bucks later and one is on its way to me.

    Normally when I spend this kind of money, which rather hurts in the short term, I take solace in the notion that the money is well spent and that if I look after the item which I just purchased, I will be able to pass it on to my sons.

    Well this notion is simply wrong where electronics are concerned. Chances are, in 5 years' time, that GPS unit will be not only obsolete but not even supported by the Garmin company. It will probably fizzle out and die. Such is the nature of electronic gadgetry.

    Not so with sextants. I will be able to pass on my C.Plath to my sons and they to their sons. With a little basic care, this instrument will last for several lifetimes and still be useful for its intended purpose. About the only thing that might break on it will be the mirrors which will likely always be replaceable.

    I am not mentioning this in a valiant, though hopeless attempt to stem the tide of electronic navigation in favour of the sextant. The fact is, GPS is a very safe and reliable means for continuous, day to day navigation. It gives you real-time data in an instant, is convenient and as I said before, reliable. OK if it goes down, the prudent mariner will still have other means of navigation at his diposal but every man jack out there, regardless of his skill level, uses GPS.

    So what is the point of this little monologue?? I lament the loss of the days where when one spent good money on an instrument, be it a navigation instrument or some other contrivance, one could take comfort in the fact that said instrument would last several lifetimes and it was money well spent. In our disposable, cheap trinket, ever changing society, this is simply no longer true and especially so when so many of our contrivances are electronic.? A sign of the times and of the future.

    Robert


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