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M. Lawrence (Oxford, UK)

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Garmin NuLink! 1695 5" Sat Nav with UK and Full Europe Maps, Live Services and Traffic, and Bluetooth (discontinued by manufacturer)
Garmin NuLink! 1695 5" Sat Nav with UK and Full Europe Maps, Live Services and Traffic, and Bluetooth (discontinued by manufacturer)

15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good GPS let down by software update procedure, 14 Aug 2011
I have had several days of software problems with this GPS. They are now resolved, but it was a pain. I'll give you the whole background then the details.

I bought the nulink 1695 to replace a nuvi 1490 which was stolen from my unlocked car. The 1490 was excellent, totally reliable, and I note that it has a very high customer satisfaction rating in Amazon customer reviews. As well as this, I own a Garmin 705 recreational GPS for cycling. What I particular like about the Garmin car products is the screen display. I find it very clear and I believe it is because of the colours they use. I have typical male colour blindness, and I find the Garmin colour palette easy on the eye, and this equals clear readability. Given Garmin's military and aeronautics background, I imagine that they have carried out some good research and user testing in this area. I cannot rate the clarity of the display highly enough.

As I needed to replace the 1490 I first looked at using my mobile phone with a satnav app. I have a Samsung Galaxy 2 which has a 4.3" screen and a fairly good GPS reciever, so I tried this out using both google navigation and co-pilot, but found neither particularly impressive. The thing I missed the most using my phone as a GPS was the clarity of the display that I experienced on my Garmin. I felt that the Garmin's 5" screen was exponentially better than even a slightly smaller size. I would hypothesise that this is because of scale. Moving your focus from the cars and roads outside your car window to a map on a tiny screen is a bigger stretch than moving your focus from the outside to a larger screen. It depends on your habits, but I like to look at my GPS a lot when I'm driving. For example, I prefer to use the GPS speedometer to the analogue one in my car.

I realised that I wanted another dedicated GPS, and for a while I was tempted by the PC Pro review I read of the TomTom Golive 825, which like the Nulink 1695 is a 'connected' GPS. It's a no-brainer nowadays, connected GPSs are the future, as these can send and recieve information by the internet and can achieve a level of accuracy in their traffic reports that the older style of GPSs, that rely on a one-way broadcast of fairly general traffic data via FM radio, simply cannot. Having decided that I wanted a connected GPS, I chose the 1695 because I preferred Garmin's display over TomToms (better the devil you know I suppose) and the 1695 was the only connected GPS with a 5" screen within Garmin's lineup.

I read the mixed reviews here and they did make me hesitate, but then Amazon dropped the price of the 1695 so I took a punt. When I recieved the 1695 I was glad that I had, because like the 1490 it was well made and it was easy to hook up to the MyGarmin website to install updates. After my experiments with using my mobile phone as a satnav, it felt good to be back to the Garmin display. Having updated the software and maps, I popped it into my car for it's inaugural trip, from my home to Stansted Aiport, which is about 100 miles. This is when I was first aware of problems. The 1695 kept rebooting!

The problem was that it appeared to be rebooting everytime I reached an important turn. And as I'm not particularly familiar with the roads on the way to the airport, I basically kept missing junctions. At the end of the day, I missed my flight. This was a real downer! The cost of rebooking my flight and purchasing a hotel room to make catching the next early morning flight possibler amounted to £200, or £30 more than I had paid on Amazon for the nulink 1695, which at this point was not looking like such a bargain.

A few days later, having returned from my trip, I tried it again and experienced the same problems. It kept rebooting. By now I realised the problem; it was rebooting only when it was required to display the 'Junction view'. This is a pretty devastating bug, and a potentially dangerous one, albeit one that Garmin, like any GPS maufacturer, have contracted no liability for in their SLA.

I rang Garmin customer service for the first time, and was kept waiting and listening to music for 20 minutes - fortunately I have a speaker phone at work so I switched it on and got on with work. Finally someone answered and told me that I needed to do full system reset, and they would send me the instructions by email. I was/am really careful to spell out and repeat my email address, so I was quite bothered by the fact that the email didn't turn up. I tried re-installing the software using the Garmin Webupdater program and this went okay, it didn't fix the bug though as I found out the following day. I realised looking at the software update version notes that version 2.8 had 'fixed a bug' which prevented the junction view being loaded in map updates. I concluded that this was exactly the bug that was causing the Nulink 1695 to crash everytime I came to a major junction.

What I couldn't understand is why this bug wasn't fixed when I updated the software on the first day that I recieved the device? I followed the instructions, first update software, then update the map. This should have let the junction views load. However, it didn't. The webupdater didn't seem to be doing much, so I rang customer service again. This time I got through in about 15 minutes, and made sure that I got the instructions for a full system reset. I followed these, ran webupdater, did an entire map re-install, and hey presto, I've now got a working GPS.

It's good to have the Garmin display again, and to know that it won't reboot at every junction. The speaker on this one is as good as the nuvi 1490, loud and resonant, and easily heard over Lou Reed's New York album at full tilt. Some people sound a bit precious about the progammed voice enunciation of English street names, but living in a fairly touristy town, I'm used to people not speaking like the locals and it doesn't bother me. The Garmin onscreen interface is really easy to use, and the google search is a great feature - it saves me writing postcodes down on bits of paper to take to the car, or looking them up on my smart phone. Furthermore, the traffic status feature is a lot busier than on the FM based 1490 and it has diverted me from holdups that I've later heard reported on the radio. People say the TomTom is more accurate, but I don't think that's to do with the system itself. The TomTom golive service has been live for about a year, and so has gathered more data about traffic behaviour, and there are more units being driven out there than the Nulink models. But I imagine that what amounts to probably a tiny lead will only be held onto by TomTom for a few months, because Garmin are driving sales and their data service will improve with more customers, since the units send data about jams and journey times upstream and this is broadcast to other users.

What's important about buying a GPS is to shop around and find one that suits you, because it's going to be your driving companion - you need to feel comfortable with it. I do a lot of IT related work, so the teething problems I've experienced won't put me off this model. I hope this review doesn't feel too technical to readers. I'm afraid that the nature of the problems I was experiencing where pretty technical, and if you find them difficult to swallow then this product probably isn't for you - buy the 1490 instead.

In short I'd recommend Garmin to any driver. What makes me hesitate to recommend this model though are the problems that I encountered with the software. It's almost like the 1695 shipped with Beta software because Garmin wanted to compete with TomTom but weren't ready to do so. Once you update this, then it's a fine product, I would give it full stars. But updating it is not easy - you need to find out how to do a full system reset, I didn't find this in any manuals, only by calling customer service, and that in itself was a test of patience. If you don't mind doing this then follow my lead - you'll get a bargain.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 2, 2012 11:19 AM GMT

A Practical Guide to Quality Management in Clinical Trial Research
A Practical Guide to Quality Management in Clinical Trial Research
by Graham D. Ogg
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £82.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A human voice in a sometimes dry profession, 24 May 2011
I come from a regulatory affairs and ISO 9001 and ISO 27001 background, and often these subjects are perceived to be dry-as-bone. Actually I believe they are really rewarding, especially if your Keirseyan Temperament veers towards the 'Field Marshall' end of the personality spectrum, as mine does! Nonetheless, the act of communicating enthusiasm for certain careers can be inadvertently comical. Take the Monty Python essay "Why Accountancy is not Boring". Mr A Putty (it's fictional author) submits 18 pages of non-events such as 'there may be a new superanuation scheme to mull over', finally reflecting that when he is tucked up in bed 'I am left to think about how extremely un-boring my day has been'. Meanwhile the reader can only dwell on its bathos, if indeed, they have read all the way to the end of the piece.

Fortunately, Graham Ogg avoids this outcome. He humanises the profession by being open about the rewards and the shortcomings of the role. In the early stages of their job, he writes, quality managers are seen as 'policeman or ferrets, always trying to find mistakes'. Take practical steps (he lists them) to avoid this perception, otherwise 'comments may well be guarded and not so forthright, and therefore, the QA may not be given a complete answer or, even worse, items may be hidden'.

It is this mixture of honesty, psychology and strategy that makes Ogg's writing so compelling. I suspect that people want to become QA managers in the same way that some want to become football referees. It's the ability to be close to the action, yet simultaneously to be above it. It's the man in the middle syndrome, an entity who weighs the consequences of every intervention, who is omnipresent, yet remains detached. It is precisely because the stakes are so high, both in terms of individual reputation and money, that professional detachment is an absolute requisite.

Yet if the author was as detached as the job sometimes demands, this book would have been ruined. It is easy to find lists of guidance on clinical trials quality; entire inter-governmental bodies are in place to produce those written-by-a-committee utterances. Ogg conscientiously and often enthusiastically outlines the official guidance, yet this book is valuable because he provides real-world, concrete examples of implementations, and does it with humanity. I found the data-handling sections (my specialism) to be prescient still (in 2011). He recommends that QA learn how to use pivot tables and shows how he uses these in a QA context. Also there is plenty of material such as checklists, diagrams and forms that can be readily adapted to other locations. He tells you what irritates him; bad grammar 'if a client gets a report from us that is peppered with typographical errors, it does not inspire confidence in the science and conclusions that they are paying for', and another bugbear is Bureaucracy for bureaucracy's sake.

In a couple of days I'm having a job interview for a GCP QA manager. I'm writing this review now as I don't want my enthusiasm for this book to be coloured if I don't get the job. This is a kind of mentoring by book that I can see as being useful for anyone working in the profession or near to it. The list price will be off-putting to anyone making a personal purchase as I did. But for the cost you are getting Ogg's many years of experience, which is communicated very well. It is a book that, if followed and read carefully, will I suspect, save the money and reputations of both individuals and departments

Mastering System Center Data Protection Manager 2007
Mastering System Center Data Protection Manager 2007
by Devin L. Ganger
Edition: Paperback
Price: £34.93

5.0 out of 5 stars Actually, an indepth and thoughtful guide, 26 Nov 2009
I'm confused by the other review here, was it for the same book? I've bought several guides from various publishers dealing with Microsoft Technologies, and I've foun the 'mastering' series to be better than most. In the 'mastering' series, the subject tends to be explored in more depth than other guides (they certainly have more pages than most) and the writing tends to be discursive. Hence, in this DPM book I found a lot of information on tape v disk backup methods, backup methods in general, how VSS works, different types of snapshots, and whole chapters on securing sharepoint and sql. Oh yes, and a few pages showing wizards, but not many. I don't normally write reviews, but I feel moved to write one in defence of this book. There's a lot of care gone into it. It's got a lot of interesting background information. It deals with the product from a fairly neutral point of view.

Recapturing The Banjo
Recapturing The Banjo
Price: £8.99

14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Catch this little darling, 24 April 2008
This review is from: Recapturing The Banjo (Audio CD)
My girlfriend bought this for me, knowing that I like blues. And that's essentially what this is, a blues album. Tracks such as 'Prophet's mission' have the syncopated rolling beats of trace blues that are the north missisipi roots of becomes R&B in the modern puff daddy etc sense.

Suprises such as 'Bow Legged Charlie' reminds me of Ray Charles in his western mode - indeed, the same Ray Charles of the piano blues and blues brothers released several country and western albums in the 70s and some tracks here are similar in flavour, a funkified country music that reclaims the influence that black musicians had on the earliest white country folk.

Indeed, 'recapturing the banjo' is all about that - the sleeve notes describe how the Banjo originated as an African instrument and was appropriated by white players. Ths will come a suprise to those (myself included) who assumed that the banjo was the either the preserve of pink faced yodelling cowboys or hairy appalachian rednecks.

This is an album demonstrating that the banjo is indeed as funky as a purple telecaster - or a depression era Gibson 6 string. Anyone not convinced by this hypothesis should listen to tracks such as 'five hundred roses' and bear in mind the similarity to Tinariwen (the North African supergroup with fans like Robert Plant and Carlos Santana). Both employ the banjo or banjo like instruments as a counterpoint to the dry soil thrubbing of a trance blues rhythm section. Yet Unlike Tinariwen, Otis delivers lyrics in English, which add to the hypnotic effect, the repetition and affirmation that gives blues much of it's power.

Honestly, buy it - pour yourself a coffee and kick back, and grab the blues, OOOwwwyes.

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