Getting a laptop "chase ready"

Jason Boggs

Ok, as most of you know, I got a new laptop about a week ago. I have started setting it up for chasing and here is a list of the items that I have done to get it chase ready:

downloaded Netstumbler
installed Grlevel3 radar software
created a WEATHER DATA folder of all the weather sites that I use
created a list in notepad of all the free WIFI spots in the southern plains
I will be purchasing Delorme 2006 to use for GPS
I will be purchasing a converter to use in the vehicle
I WILL NOT be purchasing threatnet this year

Are there any items that I am missing that is a "must have" for a chasing laptop? Any recommendations are much appreciated!
 
You may also try using BUFKIT which you can get from http://www.wdtb.noaa.gov/tools/BUFKIT/index.html After you install it, the best source for data (at least that I have found) is from Penn State at http://www.meteo.psu.edu/bufkit/. GFS/RUC/ETA profiles for nearly any observation site in the country makes it rather easy to pin down a target the day or night before a chase. It comes with a little utility (BufGet) that lets you save up to 10 lists of sites you want to download, so you could have one for all of OK, one for all of KS, etc.
 
A hardware issue you may not have thought of; get a trackball mouse for your lappy. You'll find while on the road, that the touch pad (or any other laptop-direct cursor) will be difficult to use.

tracer-in07.jpg


The picture above shows the old setup I had; notice in the center console behind the gear shift (in front looking at this picture), I have my trackball mouse. Having one of these makes handling your laptop much easier and probably safer (since you can move the mouse to better areas as opposed to constantly reaching for your laptop).

My good friend Verne Carlson uses a similar device which is handheld; like a mini joystick you control with your thumb. Either way, an external cursor controller with a trackball is your best bet.
 
Originally posted by Tony Laubach

My good friend Verne Carlson uses a similar device which is handheld; like a mini joystick you control with your thumb. Either way, an external cursor controller with a trackball is your best bet.

I have something similar to this. It's small and fits in your hand with a mini-trackball on top you manipulate with your thumb, and the clicking is done with your index finger like a trigger. I love it, I only wish it was wireless.
 
I've found with any new consumer laptops, the first thing I do is uninstall all of the cr*p that is pre-installed on it. All of those 'features' really slow down your computer and slow down boot-up time.

If you're looking to buy a laptop, ask your IT department if you can purchase through an employee plan. Sometimes there are good deals to be had due to the volume they buy computers at. Also, computers targetted at commercial channels tend not to have all the extra 'stuff' installed on them. Sometimes you can even pay for it with pre-tax money from your paycheck, which is nice.

-John
 
I've found with any new consumer laptops, the first thing I do is uninstall all of the cr*p that is pre-installed on it. All of those 'features' really slow down your computer and slow down boot-up time.

If you're looking to buy a laptop, ask your IT department if you can purchase through an employee plan. Sometimes there are good deals to be had due to the volume they buy computers at. Also, computers targetted at commercial channels tend not to have all the extra 'stuff' installed on them. Sometimes you can even pay for it with pre-tax money from your paycheck, which is nice.

-John

Man no doubt! First thing we did on both of our new laptops was wipe the hard drive and install XP Pro Corp version on it. Nothing like a fresh OS to start things out right.
 
yea, I have already wiped my hard drive out and reinstalled a clean version of XP Pro. It sure did have a lot of crap on it that I didn't need.
 
Aside from all the other tips, I would just add....Test everything out early! Get the GPS/software cell phone, converter etc....everything your going to be using, and hook it all up and make sure everything you will be using together, works right together, before the big event happens. Nothing like fiddeling with PC issues when you should be headed out to target area.

Congrats on the new toy....its nice being techie on the chase, just don't forget to enjoy whats happening in the sky too....lol
 
... and along Tim's line... Once you have everything installed and working the way you want it, do a full recoverable image backup (Acronis or the like), preferably on a removeable USB HDD that you keep apart from the computer along with a bootable recovery disk. If you have a disk corruption or catch a destructive virus you can restore and be going again with relatively little pain.
 
... and along Tim's line... Once you have everything installed and working the way you want it, do a full recoverable image backup (Acronis or the like), preferably on a removeable USB HDD that you keep apart from the computer along with a bootable recovery disk. If you have a disk corruption or catch a destructive virus you can restore and be going again with relatively little pain.

That's not a bad idea at all. A restore disk like the factory ones, but with the way you have it set up. What would be best to use for this?
 
Very good tips and recommendations! I very much appreciate all the great feedback!
 
That's not a bad idea at all. A restore disk like the factory ones, but with the way you have it set up. What would be best to use for this?

Norton Ghost used to be very good for this, although newer versions have become very bloated with extra features you won't likely use.
 
Jason,

Another tip I would strongly recommend is creating or using an "offline" web page that has all the links you need for your weather data. I wish I could give credit to the author of a very popular one that was circulating around here a while ago, but alas I forget his name.

These are simply web pages that you keep locally on your hard drive..very similar to the "data directory" here on ST. You simply "click" the hyperlink you want and it goes and gets the web page for you.

I found this to be a bit more efficient than normal bookmarks, and with regular use I customized it to only include the links I truly needed all the time.
 
Yea, I already have a "WEATHER DATA" folder on my desktop that has all the links that I need to get to. Inside the folder I have other folders named Radar and satellite, numerical models, surface data, SPC and NWS products, etc...


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Jason,
Just by looking at your screen shot you just gave me an idea when I get my laptop for chasing. Vehicle Maintenance. I never made a connection of vehicle maintenance on the same chasing laptop. I guess it shows how car illerate I am. hehe. Very cool idea. :)
 
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