Life lessons from boat racing – if it is broke fix it

Lets say I am good at putting things off, especially if it means getting all hot and sweaty. That means that things on the boat, especially in the height of summer will get put off until the weather cools. I repeat, I am not good in the heat, and tools and other articles do tend to get airborne after a few expletives when I miss something due to sweat in my eyes. I’m also old enough that I forget where I put tools down and spend a fair amount of time getting pissed off that I can’t find bits.

That being said, there is a point that you need to do things as the level of irritation with a problem become annoying or something is just plain broke. It is the first of these that I want to talk about today, the second is pretty self evident  just go ahead and fix it. The second is a little more pernicious, both in life and on the water.

For most of this season I have not been particularly happy with the boat handing. We just have a bit too much weather helm when the wind pipes up, It isn’t that anything is broken, it just isn’t working as well as it should. When we head off up wind, the rudder is too far off the center line and we have more drag than we should. The fix is to change the balance of the boat and move the center of effort of the sail plan forward. This shouldn’t be a  difficult job, but it is the first time that I have done this on this boat, so there is always a risk of things going awry. The other factor is that the furling on this boat isn’t a current model so getting replacement parts could be a little difficult if things go bubbles.

So, guess what, I’ve been putting it off and living with a sub-par situation. That is called procrastination, and it isn’t a good thing. It can happen for a lot of reasons – for me it is when I’m uncertain of obtaining the outcome I want.

So the trick is to figure out what needs to be done by whatever means necessary and attempt to disaster proof your plan before you start. In this case I found a really useful youtube video that walked me through the process. I had read the manual as well and with both of these I felt that it wasn’t beyond my capabilities. If it is beyond your capabilities, then at this point stop, do not pass go and get the right help, as failure will reinforce your procrastination in the future.

Next is to make a detailed plan of what you need to do the job and the steps involved, and a place to store your tools when you are working. Go through from beginning to the end, and  then you won’t find yourself in the situation where everything is apart all over the dock and you are running around looking for the tool you forgot to bring or have temporarily misplaced. I had both a mental and physical check list before I left to start work.

Now work your plan. Don’t skip steps and if things are struggling, then step back and regroup. I had to do this a couple of times when I ran into issues but in the end I had disaster proofed my plan well enough that nothing went sideways and now I’m on to the last step which is test and test again to ensure I have achieved my objective.

By the way, even with all of the planning I did forget one tool and had to improvise. It was something that I didn’t even think of during the planning process so it was a case of not knowing what I didn’t know. Next time I do this adjustment, I won’t have this surprise, but all in all I’m happy with how things went.

Spam

When I was growing up, spam was a rather nasty meat like product that came out of a can. You could batter and deep fry it, which unlike the original product came close in my eyes to a food of the gods. The original – well nuff said, it was what you eat when you ran out of cat food.

Now spam means something completely different, and it is the poisonous problem that most of us that operate blogs or have an email account suffer from, where some basement dwelling troll or worse, some Nigerian con artist is sending us messages about their dearly beloved auntie who wants to send us 10 million dollars, or in the case of blogs, some fake post in the hope that we will put the comment up and link back to a site selling fake Louis Vuitton sunglasses.

Are you friggin stupid, or do you think that I am? There is no way in gods green earth that I am going to fall for either of these rather stupid little schemes and if you believe that I will, then you have the IQ of a carrot, so please stop sending this crap. I still have a few mental faculties working, so just trying and trying again will not work. Now having said that – maybe you should just keep going for another 10 or 20 years, and by that time, my brain may have rotted enough for me to go…..hmmmm good idea. Nah – let me repeat – IT ISN’T GOING TO HAPPEN…. so please stop

I get so tired of clearing out my spam folder every morning, so if you are going to persist with this, at least be creative about it, and give me a good laugh.

For me spam is just a total annoyance, but I am so glad my parents are not on the net. They, unlike me are trusting souls and would fall for the little girl trapped in a foreign country scam and that is the real tragedy of all of this, that the people that are least able to defend themselves are likely the victims, so lets get out the pitchforks and deal with this problem.

Electronic Pervasion

Most people these days have an electronic profile. Be it twitter, Facebook, Blog or LinkedIn, it is getting very difficult to live your life without one.

Furthermore, most people are showing classic signs of addiction when their electronic devices are taken away from them. If you want to see what I mean, take the cell phone away from a twenty-something or a teen and watch the fingers start to twitch and the furtive look in their eyes. I haven’t seen one break out into a cold sweat yet, but I would imagine it happens.

Back a few years ago, the ubiquitous Blackberry that every corporate type carried was nicknamed the Crackberry and for a very good reason. It was difficult to get peoples attention in any sort of gathering, as they were all continually looking down at their devices and even though most had it set to silent, there was always one whose phone went off and then they just HAD to answer it. Now, corporations are having to face pressure to allow people to use their own devices on corporate networks, with the headaches that brings.

Where I am going with this is that these electronics have intertwined themselves into our lives over the last ten years or so to the point that most would be lost without them. Even for me, when posed a problem, my first resort is a Google search, and I can’t tell you the last time I used a dictionary that wasn’t on-line.

This has huge downsides as well as convenience. You are exposing yourself in an unprecedented way to the rest of the world, and there are a lot of not-nice people out there. I’m not just talking the out and out crooks, I am also talking about intrusive governments (both foreign and domestic), intrusive corporations and many basement dwelling trolls who only have an on-line life and spend most of it on the edge of the dark net and hacking sites. In the good old days all you had to do to protect your identity was to keep the checkbook under lock and key and shred any bill that had personal information on it before you put it into the trash.

Now you have to be something close to a network administrator to control everything and quite frankly, even those of us with the skills to do it aren’t disciplined enough to really close all of the holes. We leave electronic trails everywhere and for those unscrupulous enough to use them, we are making ourselves incredibly vulnerable.

The genie is out of the bottle, but it really does make sense to at least try to shove the cork part of the way back in.

Tablets and a cautionary tale

I have a number of tablets and in general have been very pleased. They are thin, lightweight and serve to keep me connected when I can’t be bothered to drag a laptop and its associated paraphernalia around.

That being said, I have some cautionary advice for prospective purchasers.

Do not – I repeat, do not trust on-line reviews. I don’t know who writes this stuff, but in most cases it seems to be written within 45 seconds of someone getting the product. They turn it on and providing the new toy boots/starts up/doesn’t explode they immediately head to Facebook or Twitter or one of the other bits of social software that allow you to show far too much of yourself, and gush about their new acquisition.

There should be a time check on reviewers – you need to have had the thing for a month at least before you are allowed to review it.

I purchased a Le Pan TC970 at the start of the tablet revolution. I couldn’t afford an Ipad, and went looking for alternatives. I ran across the Le Pan on Amazon and based upon some research and their reviews I bought one. So far so good, and to be honest, the device has worked pretty well within its constraints. I have a few issues with it – it occasionally seizes up – but those of us used to Windows aren’t bothered by that. The manufacturer lied about the software upgrade path – it was originally promised and then vanished like smoke in the wind, and support – well they have a contact form on their web site, but it seems to siphon emails into a black hole. They don’t adhere to the Terms of Service for use of the Android operating system, or at least I don’t think so as they won’t talk to me.

Am I a little po’d at this – well duh – yes. Software for tablets is freely available based upon observing a few rules. The various Android operating systems are released to everyone with very few strings and observing the agreement isn’t exactly hard.

What should you do – wait a couple of months, go onto the development forums for the device and actually read what real users say.

I’ve learnt my lesson, and if you read this stuff – Le Pan, please learn one too. There is an old saying:

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice shame on me.