4 April 2007

The Expedition continued on their way across Great Bear Lake making it to Douglas Bay near the Scented Grass Hills. Camp 20 is on land, in a small stand of stunted trees where they can cut some wood for their wood stove. They will make a major ice crossing tomorrow into the Dease Arm. Looking Northeast from their hillside camp to tomorrows track it is Great Bear Lake ice as far as you can see. Matthew's dispatch tonight talks about the challenges they face sending these dispatches every night by email and satellite phone........Henry's Spanish Soundclip provides a good example of the communication problems they face--the first 5 seconds of the soundclip is missing.

Click Here for Weather Report in Espanol (first 5 sec. missing)

Posting the Nightly Dispatch

Dispatch, April 4, 2007:  Etacho Point,  Great Bear Lake, Northwest

Camp 20 Location: 66º 04'N,  121º 20'W

76 km covered today

Today's Weather: Sunny, -4ºF (-20ºC); overnight low -10ºF (-23ºF)

How do we post these dispatches?

Have you wondered how we have been posting these dispatches?  Some nights it
is a little tough and trying.  First we set up camp.  Then we start the wood
stove in the big tent.  We then bring in the computer and hang it on a
clothes line to warm.  Sometimes we remove the hard drive and warm it up
against our stomachs.  Once the computer is warm, we write the dispatch. We
chose the photos we want to use as illustrations.  These we download.  But
then we have to shrink them.  We can't send very large images.no more than
25 Kbytes per picture.  The camera typically produces JPEGS that are about
2 Mbytes, so that is a serious reduction. We also crop the pictures to make
them easier to handle.  Next we paste the dispatch into an Outlook message
and append the pictures as an attachment.

Now comes the hard part.  We now fire up the satellite phone and fiddle with
the antennae until we have a strong signal.  We then connect the phone to
the computer using a USB-to-serial adapter.  Using the computer, we dial up
a server, then we use a VPN program to log onto an email provider.  Now we
send the message.  If the signal wavers at all during the transmission, its
back to the start.  Sometimes it takes 3 or 4 tries to get it through.

Now picture this.  The computer is balanced on something, the phone is
precarious balanced and someone is holding the antennae Just So!.
Everything is ready, and its cold.  About 1 hour after we start the process,
we may have our dispatch to Dave.  But if the airwaves are unkind, perhaps
only the text, or only one of several pictures has gotten through.

So be charitable if the web post is missing or short.   We are trying.



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