Monday, July 10, 2017


Late this spring, a few friends and I did a ski traverse and ski mountaineering trip on the Monarch Icefield, in western British Colombia. This was a somewhat new type of trip for me; rather than a stationary aircraft assisted camp, we were fully self-sufficient for 15 days of rough travel through glaciers, thick forests, and high peaks.

Although such an adventure is an escape from civilization, we couldn’t leave all our modern devices behind. We brought along a number of battery operated tools to make the trip smoother, and to add a bit of comfort. A lightweight solar charging setup was needed to keep everything running.

Here’s a list of the electronics we brought and their power source:
2 iPhones, internal battery
Satellite phone, internal battery
GPS unit, 2 AA batteries
Headlamps, internal battery, AAA batteries
SPOT messenger, 3 AAA batteries
3 2-way radios, internal batteries and AA batteries
3 avalanche beacons, AAA batteries
Sony A7 camera, internal replaceable batteries
Small portable speaker, internal battery

Whew, lots of stuff!

The sat phone is a no-brainer. We used it for weather updates, as well as having it for emergencies. The SPOT messenger was a backup for the satphone, as well as a fun way to let folks know what we were up to.

The iPhones might seem excessive, but they were our main GPS navigation devices. I’ve found a good GPS app to be much better than a stand-alone GPS. We stored beta and guidebook photos on our phones. Although less essential, they provided music and entertainment. I used mine for journaling and note-taking.

Just in case, we took a small Garmin GPS as a backup device.

I’ve found 2-way radios to be invaluable on trips like this, adding safety and flexibility. The other items are self-explanatory.

Most items either had the ability to be charged directly via USB, or used rechargeable AA or AAA batteries. A few, namely the beacons and SPOT Messenger, aren’t supposed to be used with rechargeable batteries. I tested both before the trip, and they did work with rechargeable batteries, good to know for emergency battery replacement — but we operated those devices using their recommended battery type.

For our solar panel, we used the Goal Zero Nomad 7. This is the second smallest panel that Goal Zero makes, and the smallest that can charge a majority of devices. It measures 9×17 inches, and folds in half for storage. It has three outputs: a female USB cord, and two proprietary goal-zero cables. Weight: 16 oz.

We also brought a GOAL ZERO VENTURE 30 SOLAR KIT and a Guide 10 recharger. The Venture is simply a 29WH lithium battery with 2 USB ports and a built-in flashlight. It’s about 4x3x1 inches, and weighs 9 oz. The Guide 10 can charge AA and AAA batteries, and also acts as an external charger, via a USB port. A selection of AA and AAA rechargeable batteries, and all the required cables to charge our various devices completed our kit.

The Venture 30 is a fairly large battery pack, and Goal Zero recommends a larger solar panel to charge it in a reasonable amount of time. Instead, I figured that with the ultra-bright “sun bowl” environment of an icefield, coupled with long days and having the panel strapped to my sled while traveling, we would get efficient and perhaps even enhanced power coming out of the panel. This turned out to be the case and we had plenty of reserve power.

The setup weighed a fair bit when all together. However, it gave us major peace of mind, and was certainly lighter than only carrying a bunch of batteries. I was excited to see how it would actually work.

With the conditions we had, the Nomad 7 solar panel could charge the Venture 30 and the Guide 10 at the same time when we left them hooked up in camp, and we were able to use both to recharge our stuff when we returned in the evening.

Everything held up well throughout the trip. The solar panel is rugged and water resistant. However, since we were relying on it with no backup, I kept it inside the tent during storms. Even inside our tent it managed to charge, albeit only a trickle. It did get snow and water on it a few times and was fine.

Bear in mind that a solar panel only works well if it’s constantly facing the sun, or somewhat facing the sun but harvesting photos from reflected light. Thus, the idea of having a panel on your pack or sled has limited utility. Doing so is still worth trying — it was for us — but keep in mind that our system was designed for stationary use in camp.

In summary, this setup was an excellent choice for our Monarch ski traverse. It proved to be fully capable of keeping all our stuff charged, and kept the weight down to a reasonable level. Without it, we would have had to carry significant weight in batteries, and I probably wouldn’t have been able to bring my nice big camera (and get sweet pics).

Anyone else have experience using light solar systems for longer trips? I’d love to hear your thoughts about other configurations.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

One of the rarest watches in the world may become the most expensive Rolex ever sold

Rolex collectors, start counting out your pennies. An exceptionally rare and unique vintage Rolex watches will go up for auction with Phillips in May.

Known as the "Bao Dai" watch, this piece was sold to the last emperor of the Nguyen dynasty in Vietnam in 1954.

It's a Rolex reference 6062, and was both the most expensive and rarest watch the brand sold at the time. The gold case and black dial were the rarest combination of the 6062 model.

Only three models to this specification are known to have existed, according to Hodinkee. This particular model is the only one to have had diamond markers on the even hours, making it completely unique.

It was sold by the Nguyen family for $235,000 in 2002, meaning that the watch has only changed hands once. Though that price may seem low compared to today's standards, it was the most expensive Rolex ever sold at the time. Experts think it may claim that title again.

Its auction estimate is $1.5 million, though many collectors think that the watch will actually go for much more than that when the hammer falls, according to Hodinkee. The current record holder is the Rolex split-seconds chronograph reference 4113, which sold for $2.5 million last.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Rolex Sea-Dweller Resurfaces with Larger Case and New Movement

It’s another big year of anniversaries in the luxury watch world. While Omega marks 60 years of the Speedmaster and Patek Philippe, 40 years of the Aquanaut, Rolex celebrates the half-century mark for its extreme divers’ watch, the Oyster Perpetual Sea-Dweller, by launching an all-new model, with a larger case and modern caliber, at Baselworld 2017.

The original Rolex Sea-Dweller, created in 1967, was designed as a resilient and useful tool for professional deep-sea divers of that era. Among its many notable features was a helium escape valve, patented by Rolex that same year, which preserved the watch’s water-resistance while regulating the air pressure accumulated inside its case during the decompression phases of deep-water saturation dives.

The case of the new Sea-Dweller is 43 mm in diameter — 3 mm larger than its 40-mm predecessor. The scratch-resistant sapphire crystal over the deep black dial is equipped, for the first time on this model, with a Cyclops lens over the date window at 3 o’clock, enhancing its legibility. The text “Sea-Dweller” appears on the dial in red, echoing the look of the original 1967 model. Finally, the watch is equipped with the used Rolex Caliber 3235, a self-winding movement boasting a number of innovative technical details, some of them patented. This represents the first time Rolex has employed this recently introduced, technically superior movement in one of its “Professional gradetimepiece. Like all used Rolex watches for sale, this Sea-Dweller carries the Superlative Chronometer certification, instituted by Rolex in 2015, which ensures a high level of precision and timekeeping performance (-2/+2 seconds per day).

Like its most recent predecessors, the new Sea-Dweller is water-resistant to a depth of 1,220 meters (4,000 feet). Its 60-minute graduated, unidirectional, rotating divers’ bezel is fitted with a patented black Cerachrom bezel insert manufactured by Rolex in a virtually scratchproof ceramic whose color is unaffected by ultraviolet rays. The bezel’s graduations are PVD-coated with a thin layer of platinum. The dial’s large hour markers are filled with Chromalight, a Rolex-developed luminescent material that emits a long-lasting blue glow in low-light conditions.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

5 Business Insurance Myths, Busted

If you want to own and run a business, at some point, you’ll have to take out business insurance. Not only is it a necessity from a financial perspective, more often than not it’s the law. The problem is that the insurance market can be rather difficult to navigate, especially if being a CEO is new to you.

This complexity has meant that a lot of myths have crept into the business insurance market. Today, we’re going to bust some of those myths so that you can get the insurance you need.

Myth #1: You Don’t Need Business Insurance Because You Work From Home

Many people starting up a business believe that just because they work from home, their business is covered by their home insurance. They have this quaint idea that business cover is just cover for business content and nothing else.

Of course, business insurance isn’t just about insuring your business laptop, just in case it gets damaged or stolen. It’s also about protecting you from other threats you face when you start your own company. One of the risks you face is being sued by your clients for selling them a faulty product or giving them bad advice. Sometimes, lawsuits of this variety can wind up with you paying damages amounting to thousands of pounds. Obviously, you don’t want to have to pay that out of pocket so practically every business these days buys public liability insurance to protect it from such claims.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Give Your Business the Competitive Edge It Needs with These Tips

In a sense, business is all about competition. Even if you don’t feel very much like you need to focus on your competition, the truth is that you are competing with others at all times, and it is in your interest to try and ensure that you end up on top. Giving your business the competitive edge is something that you will need to learn to do well if you want to succeed in the long run, so it is well worth taking a look at the following points. Here, we are going to look at some of the major things that can help in giving your business the edge in its practices. Follow these guidelines, and you really can’t go far wrong.

Mastermind Group

This is a relatively new practice which has been gaining a lot of coverage in the world of business in the past few years, and for the very good reason that it is a highly effective way to beat the competition in a short space of time. What’s more, it is something which gives you an ongoing support system, and that is always going to be useful in any kind of business environment. What is it? A mastermind group is a group of people – your best people – who get together on a regular basis to brainstorm all the possible ways that you might be able to improve your business. You can approach this in a number of ways. If you like, you can have a focus for each session, or probably more effectively you can let it be a free-for-all each time. Getting your best brains together in this way is always going to prove effective, so make sure you set up your own mastermind group today..

Monday, February 27, 2017

8 Common Accounting Mistakes Most Small Business Owners Commit

There is nothing better than building a successful business. The kind that enables any entrepreneur to deliver superior services than all of his competitors. While passion may energize you, there is another side of the business that can equally drain you… accounting! There is hardly any business owner that wakes in the morning, excited by the idea of balancing transactions. Needless to say, accounting is key to business success. Every business owner should monitor their accounting closely in order to avoid making these common mistakes:

1. Hiring the Wrong People

Many small business owners often hire the wrong people for the job. Even though hiring a highly experienced accountant may not be affordable for new business owners, it is still important to hire an accountant who can competently handle the job. While cheaper hires may be tempting, always remember that garbage in, garbage out. Do not make this common mistake and put your business credit at risk.