Sunday, July 6, 2014

21st century life

We live in a world totally different from the one previous generations knew.

We have information that previous generations never had, likely never imagined having.  We know with insane precision where we are, where we are going, how fast we are going, and when we will arrive.

We can record with the same exacting precision where we have been, with images, sound, and motion. 

We are able instantly to know more about our surroundings, the people we meet, the weather we have, the weather to come, events that are shaping our lives and communities, where our loved ones are, and even the state of the homes we left behind, than any of the countless humans who came before.

If we choose, we can share that information about us in what we have come to call 'real time'.  We are able to call anyone, anywhere, speak to them, leave messages for them, and in turn be reached by anyone, anywhere. Our friends and family can see where we are to within a few feet and a handful of minutes, no matter where we are on the planet, even how fast we are moving.

If we stay in one place for more than a few minutes, there is virtually no limit to the information at our disposal.  When did Vivaldi write the Four Seasons?  How far is the moon? What portion of the universe is above us at this moment?  How many movies did Humphrey Bogart appear in?  How many elements are in the periodic table now?  How many were there when we were in high school?

Almost nothing is unknowable about our known universe, in this very moment. 

It blows my mind. 

I can have virtually all of that at my beck and call on my Vespa if I choose.


Yes, yes, yes, I know. Why?

Why would you want all that clutter when you're riding?

Well, mostly I don't.  But...

The thing is, that there are times when it's really, really useful. 

I spend a lot of time in the saddle.  There are many speed traps on my route. My speedometer is inaccurate and I want to go through them as fast as possible without triggering the camera, or giving the officer a reason to pull me over. Sometimes it's nice to be reachable and be able to be able to reach others.   Sometimes I need help getting where I want to go. 

And then, for me, personally, geekily, it's just friggin cool that I can, if I want to. 

And I can, and I do, because the world has RAM mounts. 

Any gadget you can own, can be mounted on any bike, in precisely the perfect spot, with a RAM mount.  That goes for global positioning satellite receivers (it's much more fun to say that than 'GPS unit'.  Satellites, a constellation of them, inform, guide me, and even speak to me. Wow!), so-called smart phones like my iPhone, point-of-view cameras like my GoPro, and satellite transponder position beacons, like SPOT Messengers.

RAM mounts are precision, no-nonsense, military-grade instruments.  But they aren't perfect. 

I found that out last weekend when the retaining clip on my iPhone mount snapped. Fortunately the phone was plugged into the charging cable and it landed in my lap when it sprang free. 

I had noticed that it had become easier to snap the phone in and that was good. In fact, it was a harbinger of imminent failure.  There was no way of knowing. 
The place for RAM mounts in Canada is Calgary. But not just anywhere in Calgary. In a little store in a strip mall in the suburbs. I used my Garmin GPS unit to get me there. 

Luckily for Canadians, a trip to the store in Calgary is a fun thing to do, if you happen to be in Calgary, but it's completely unnecessary. That's because they have a kick-ass website at where you can get anything RAM makes, and they ship instantly. 

It didn't take long to go there to replace the $8 iPhone mount. 

But wait, GPS City folks are as honest as good'ole cowpokes on the prairie.  They post product reviews for all products, including ones that prove to have defects. Like the mount for the iPhone series 5, for instance. Be warned those of you who have this mount. It will break and set your $800 iPhone free.  Those of you who have the RAM mount for the series 4 iPhones needn't worry, those are fine. 

Oh! Did I mention that RAM mounts have lifetime warranties?  

GPS City also have real-time chat on their website. In no time at all I had received expert advice and I had a universal smartphone 'X' mount (and a GoPro 1" RAM ball for good measure) winging their way to me.  As soon as they come in I'll post pics here. 

As for my broken mount, GPS City honors the RAM warranty with a picture of the broken mount and the original order number. In this case they gave a discount off the new purchase on the spot. How cool is that?

And that's life in the 21st century.  No floating cars yet, but still tons of cool stuff that this 1962 ten year-old never even dreamed would be possible.

I'm back.

Well that didn't take long, I'm back and the iPhone is back on its perch, in a brand new universal mount.  It's been ride-tested and it's fine.
The instructions, in keeping with K2's comment below, suggest tethering the phone.  I'm not sure how that is going to happen.

The only thing that comes to mind is a GoPro tether.  I don't know if that will work.  What will work is this product, a little pricy though.  I think I can come up with something sufficiently secure by exploiting the two connectors on the phone.  I already have an idea, but it's going to involve some shopping and hopefully a tiny amount of money.  Stay tuned.


K2 said...

Be careful with the x-grip mount too. I lost my phone on the freeway a little over a month ago from my x-grip mount. Make sure you tether your phone no matter which mount you are using. On my x-grip, one of the rubber ends vibrated free and allowed the phone to follow it.

David Masse said...

Thanks for the heads' up on the RAM X-mount, K2. I'll figure out a way to tether it.

Canajun said...

Big fan of RAM mounts and GPS City. Any dealings with them have been great.

Unknown said...


I like In fact I have to order something right now from them, and one of them is the iPhone 4 mount. I was going to buy a new Garmin but decided from everything I read to go for an iPhone app instead where maps are "on the phone" and no data is required.

I'm still trying to subtract 10 from '62

Riding the Wet Coast

David Masse said...

Bob, the iPhone 4 mount I had served me well and if you look at the reviews, you'll see that that one is fine.

The issue with the iPhone 5 mount is that the phone is quite a bit longer and the 'neck' of the mount is like a giraffe it's so long. The mount is also a very tight fit, too tight I think, and that is what leads to the failure.

Oh, and let me give you a hand, it's 52, that's 1952, which makes me 62, but the 62 I was referring was of course 1962 when I was 10. Hope that helps.

David Masse said...

Dave, visiting the store in Calgary was a treat. I was like a kid in a candy shop.

What was funny is that I was expecting a kind of massive Future Shop or Best Buy based on the comprehensive and excellent web site.

But it's a tiny store with a counter and a single helpful person tending to walk-in customers.

SonjaM said...

David, having all these information a click or question away is amazing and scary at the same time, and (at least for me) it can get addictive. Hence I sometimes chose to go off the grid - at least on vacation. Well, on some days, or at least a few hours.

David Masse said...

Sonja, I share your concern about information addiction. I am an addict and could stand to go into rehab. Six months with no iPad, iPhone, iPad, iMac and I suspect iWouldBeMoreBalanced and pay more attention to the things that really matter.

But then again, the Tuscan Loop would have been much more difficult to arrange without blogs and e-mail.

So it's a mixed blessing or curse, depending on your point of view.

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