Monday, March 13, 2017

Getting The Most Out of Your GPS Receiver – Consider Geotagging


We are fortunate to have tools such as the Global Positioning System (GPS) to help us navigate anywhere in the world. Initially for military use, and then expanded to commercial shipping, the technology has evolved to the point where every person on the planet either owns a GPS “device” or is directly affected by one. A feature on today’s cameras and smart phones often overlooked and underappreciated, is attaching GPS location data to ordinary images which is called geotagging.

At the bottom of this story is a challenge with a prize.  I encourage you to read on and go for it!

The ubiquitous influence of this technology can be seen in a car, on the news and even in social media. Who could have ever realized that the Russian flight of Sputnik, the first man-made satellite launched in 1957, could lead to a geotagged selfie of a person on Facebook®? Consider what technologies are utilized in this example. Being used to send this image is a marvel of hardware and software including a mobile telephone, a GPS receiver, the internet and complex programming for the sender and the receiver of this information. But besides entertainment, are there other ways we can use these tools for self and public benefit, and how did GPS get to be so accurate? Of course!

Timeline of GPS Accuracy

Between 1978 and 1985, ten NavStar satellites were launched as the first GPS system for military use. In the 1990s the first consumer GPS units became available and were accurate to about 100 yards. The inaccuracy was due to Selective Availability (SA) which is programming of the GPS signal to make them less accurate for nonmilitary use. During the 1990–91 Gulf War, the shortage of military GPS units caused many troops and their families to buy readily available civilian units. Selective Availability significantly impeded the U.S. military's own battlefield use of these GPS, so the military made the decision to turn it off for the duration of the war. On May 1, 2000 President Clinton turned off SA completely. Since that time, because of more sophisticated satellites, systems such as the Wide Area Augmentation System (WAAS) to augment GPS, and land based beacons accuracy has increased to less than 1 inch!

Geotagging

The word Geotag is derived from geo, referring to earth and tag which means to mark. Closely related to geotag is the term waypoint. Waypoints are sets of coordinates (north or south and east or west) that identify a point in physical space referred to as longitude and latitude. If a person leaves the Earth they could also measure altitude. A geotag is that waypoint that has been attached to that application, photo or message. Depending on the technology and software, the geotag information may be more or less accurate. Accuracy however is relative to the needs of the user, in that a person looking for a restaurant, or car in a parking lot needs less accuracy than someone searching for something very small such as a property line or utility cover under snow. These two examples although practical, do not enrich our lives per se, so why should we know more?

It is helpful to know and to refer back to where location information was collected years later, and we can if we attach compass coordinates to our data (text, image, video). Examples include coordinated attached to:
  • A beautiful plant or historical marker you want to show to someone else.
  • A grave stone or historical landmark for genealogical purposes.
  • A pothole in the road to notify public road or utility companies.
  • The perfect fishing spot you found on your last outing.
  • A quick reference to your location in an emergency situation.
To enable Geotagging on your electronic device go to the Setup menu and look for an option to adjust your location parameters to enable or disable it. Once it is enabled, proceed to take a picture and then review the picture in your image gallery. In the image gallery open the picture and look for the option to show picture details. You should see a screen similar to the one left. Notice in the picture details is the filename, date, time, etc., but most importantly, the information we need in under location where it shows exactly where the picture was taken. This number can then be recorded and then back referenced in Google Earth or other mapping software to find its exact location. Easy! Right? It does take some practice, but the information you can get from this simple feature may be very useful in the future.

Tip! To enable "geotag" on your phone camera, open up your camera app and check the Settings there if it is not in your general Settings.

Here is a challenge with a prize!  In the photo left are the coordinates North 28.359655°, West -80.780788.  The first person who emails me with the nearest city and cross streets to this location I will personally send a prize and highlight them (if they wish) on all my social media streams. My email address is guskoerner@gmail.com. (I know I'm a nerd.)

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Lay Servant Training - Let the Whole Church Say Amen!

In our Lay Servant class this past weekend we studied the book

Let the Whole Church Say Amen!: A Guide for Those Who Pray in Public,
by Laurence Hull Stookey, Published by Abingdon Press, ISBN-10: 0687090776, 2001.

March 17, 2017 Follow-up, this Tweet Wonderful story! Thanks @rachelnpr 'Out Of Wonder' Aims To Inspire A New Generation Of Poets  #IWantThisBook

Follows are some of the prayers I wrote from assignments. It was a very meaningful and (enjoyably) academic class. - spiritual, yet with meat and potatoes.

Adoration prayer
Oh gracious Father,
Whose love and grace is abounding,
Hear the prayers of hearts resounding.
To seek you purposely,
And serve each other selflessly.
In Christ's name, our Blessed Savior.
Amen

Collect Prayer
Oh Gracious God and knower of our hearts,
Who’s provided for us in time of need.
Bless us with purity of service,
When to others impart.
In Christ Jesus holy name.
Amen

Communal Prayer
Almighty God,
Who calls us to serve and blesses us with His presence,
In this small group in the world.
Thank you for your guidance, and
Thank you for confidence building to pray publicly,
As Jesus taught us to pray saying…
(The Lord’s Prayer)
Amen

Praise Prayer
Praise to you O Father above,
Who looks upon us with boundless love.
From the heavens to the Earth, on the land and across the sea,
We sing you praises ever to Thee.
In Christ’s holy name.
Amen

Benediction (group written)
Almighty God who lives and reigns forever.
Guide us as we depart.
Keep us safe so that we can perform your will
In the lives of others.
In the name of Jesus Christ our Lord.
Amen

Monday, February 27, 2017

Today I Failed As A Minister

Today I feel like I failed as a minister of the Lord. I had the opportunity to share my testimony and strength to a person in need but instead I got pulled down into their sorrow. I related my own story of grief to them, in all my humanness, but feel I failed the offer them strength and hope in their moment of need. Where do I go from here?

I suppose that is why God meant for us to have enduring, long lasting relationships with our neighbors so that we can perhaps make a difference over time.

We all at some point go through periods of grief, anger and frustration but it is how we respond to those feelings after we realize our humanness and once again seek a more divine path. May we all be blessed on that journey.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Considering Contemplation

A while ago i discovered that I am contemplative (verb), and even perhaps a Contemplative (noun). I know this only because of my likeness to those who call themselves that. In reality I don't truly even know what it means to be one. Follows is a textbook definition of the word and a series of quotes to describe the process. At first I thought one had to be lonely to contemplate, but for me that is not necessarily true.

Merriam Webster definition of contemplation: 1. concentration on spiritual things as a form of private devotion, 2. an act of considering with attention, 3. the act of regarding steadily

What Contemplation is not. It is not a relaxation exercise. Whilst it may contribute to one becoming relaxed, this is simply a side effect. Contemplation is therefore not a technique but instead, prayer. Contemplative prayer is not a charismatic gift. Contemplative prayer is not a Para psychological phenomenon such as precognition, out of body experiences, levitation or other extraordinary sensory or psychic phenomena. (Contemplation involves centering prayer) Centering prayer is a method of moving this developing relationship with God beyond words, beyond thoughts to the level of pure faith. - Thomas Keating Source

Below are a series of quotes that evolve from being straightforward to heady and lofty. I get lost somewhere in the middle.

Simple Thoughts on Contemplation...

“Muddy water, let stand, becomes clear.” - Lao Tzu

“A man must find time for himself. Time is what we spend our lives with. If we are not careful we find others spending it for us. . . . It is necessary now and then for a man to go away by himself and experience loneliness; to sit on a rock in the forest and to ask of himself, 'Who am I, and where have I been, and where am I going?' . . . If one is not careful, one allows diversions to take up one's time—the stuff of life.” ― Carl Sandburg

“A garden to walk in and immensity to dream in--what more could he ask? A few flowers at his feet and above him the stars.” - Victor Hugo, Les Misérables

Complex Thoughts on Contemplation...

“Seeking the face of God in everything, everyone, all the time, and his hand in every happening; This is what it means to be contemplative in the heart of the world. Seeing and adoring the presence of Jesus, especially in the lowly appearance of bread, and in the distressing disguise of the poor.” ― Mother Teresa, In the Heart of the World: Thoughts, Stories and Prayers

“To broaden one's prospective is to push back the swirling winds of ignorance.” ― Joel T. McGrath

As we come to grips with eternity, our mortality and our relationship to God and others it causes some of us to stop and think and to consider restructuring our lives to be centered on what is most important. For me what is most important is my relationship to God and others. This is where I am and some of you may be too. God bless you in your journey. - gus

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

A Favorite Book For Any Outdoorsman, The Witchery of Archery

The Witchery of Archery, by Maurice Thompson, was originally published in 1878 and is considered America's classic treatise on the subject of archery. It can be compared to Izaak Walton's legendary fishing treatise, The Compleat Angler. (Amazon). This book would have appeal to the more ecologically minded "pre-hunter" stage of outdoorsman and traditional archer.

ISBN-13: 978-0996799119

Reviews: "The entire book is charming, and we cordially recommend it to readers generally, whether they are interested in archery or not, certain that they will find an enjoyable freshness about it that would have been a severe loss to have missed." - Peoria Call

"Mr. Thompson is an enthusiast in his pastime, but he is not less a lover of nature and an accurate observer in natural history, especially of birds; and the reader will be delighted with his experiences as a hunter and a roamer of the woods. The book is full of the flavor of nature, like those of Thoreau and John Burroughs." - Hartford Courant

This book, although fascinating from an archery standpoint my primary love is Thompson's vivid description of traveling through old Florida and his exploration adventures. - Gus Koerner

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Where have I been? Water for everyone.

Last night I headed to the store to pick up family groceries to carry me and my wife over for a few days. Drinking water was not on my grocery list. As I drove down the road about 9 PM, my default radio station was on NPR and I listened to BBC Radio, World Hacks, The Sun Water Solution and I asked myself, Where have I been?  Why didn't I know this?  What can I do so share this information to the masses?  Perhaps this is a start.  Please listen to the story or check my sources.

This is a story about how the most amazing ideas do not always work how you would like in practise. In theory it is so simple. You put disease-ridden water into a two litre plastic bottle, screw on the lid and leave it in the sun. After six hours on a cloudless day, almost all the bacteria and bugs that cause diseases like cholera and diarrhoea are killed or inactivated by the UV light and gentle warming. Professor Kevin McGuigan has proven this in the lab, but for the last 20 years he has been trying to get it working in rural African communities. It has not been anywhere near as easy as you might think.

Sources: 
  • About the author of this article Dr. Kevin McGuigan, director of the RCSI Solar Disinfection Research Group, Ireland,  Link
  • Wikipedia, Solar Water Disinfection, Link
  • SODIS (Solar Water Disinfection) started as an initiative of Eawag, the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Sciences and Technology. Link
  • SODIS from the CDC (U.S, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), Link