Here’s a picture of Ralph and I they day before the big trip. Just a system test!


Okay, so normally I’d just delete this test post, but I’m leaving this up to talk about our blogging just in case anyone’s interested.  Paul (who’s an MS student here at Case, doing an amazing geospatial analysis of finds from the Miller Range and the Walcott Névé icefields) was kind enough to come in to Case today (Wednesday) to pick up the blogging hardware.  For reasons not worth explaining here,  we hadn’t successfully tested the system and I didn’t even have it physically in hand until this past weekend ;  I started testing it on Monday and that night it took me 8 tries to send a simple three word message to myself (“test test test”,  if you must know).  It was outside during a blinding snowstorm here in Cleveland,  but still, not very promising….    So I asked Paul if he would come in and we could run another test to make sure it all worked.  And it did; you’re looking at it. Paul absorbed what he could and will be carrying the hardware down to McMurdo.

For those interested, the hardware consists of  an Iridium Go! device,  basically an Iridium satellite modem that generates its own local wireless signal.  Costs about $1.50 a minute prepaid.  Blogs are prepared on an Apple iPod Touch with bluetooth keyboard,  and we have a small portable camera that can wirelessly share photos when the iPod isn’t being used for that (we’ve seen very mixed results on the use of iPhones and iPods as cameras at -25 C).  We use a phot app to shrink pictures and then Iridium’s Mail & Web app to get it all uploaded.   It’s tediously slow (the pic above, a whopping 13 kb,  took 5 tries and then finally about 5 minutes to upload).  But to those of us who remember having only shortwave to communicate with the outside world (and that only intermittently) it seems like a miracle.  The blogs go (as emails) through Iridium’s various downlinks and crosslinks and such into the internet and ultimately are delivered to a unique email address. That’s checked hourly by a WordPress app on a  server at Case that adds them as posts to our blog;  and I do the editing as needed.

So thanks,  Paul!  I’m not sure your wife appreciates me pulling you onto campus the day before you leave for Antarctica,  but I do, and I think our audience does too.


-posted by Ralph from snowy Novelty, OH