What is the best way to label plants and trees?

Plants Map Interactive Plant and Tree Identification Signs

Plants Map Tags connect people to plants.
It’s really that simple.

When Tracy and I moved to New York in 2006 I brought along a potted Dawn Redwood seedling that she got for free because she was a member at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens in Alabama.

At the time I didn’t appreciate how magnificent these trees are but as the 12″ twig quickly outgrew the pot and within one season had grown to almost three feet tall. It grew and it grew vigorously! I was hooked.

Since either a camera or my iPhone was always in my pocket and the tree was planted just off the corner of our patio I would photograph it regularly. I would post the pictures randomly to either Flickr, Picasa, Twitter or Facebook. I’m guessing that in just those few years, this particular Dawn Redwood probably became the most photographed of its genus and species in the world.

Today, I don’t have any photos easily accessible so that I can include a picture of that Dawn Redwood in this blog post.

I could probably dig back through my old social media accounts to find a shot but it would be mixed in with literally thousands of posts across multiple social media platforms.

THAT IS THE PROBLEM! I had documented this tree with my camera for several years as it grew from a tiny seedling to a tree that was over 15 feet tall but now I can’t find the photos I shared!

I’ve since moved to Virginia. I’m a certified ‘cone head’ now and in my front yard I’ve planted roughly 150 different types of evergreens and conifers and other trees, plants and shrubs since 2012.

Since I’m regularly photographing these plants as they grow and enjoying the changes to their appearance throughout the year, I wanted to be able to keep my photos of these plants organized. The collection is growing too so I also want to be able to remember all of the names of the plants.

I needed a mobile-friendly database and a way to label my plants.

I searched the Internet for the best way to keep a mobile phone friendly plant journal or garden journal and just didn’t find any good solutions at all.

I also searched the web for the best way to make plant identification tags and labels. The resulting web pages showed one-off custom tags that were either way too expensive or the tags and labels just didn’t last very long.

In January 2014 I started to build Plants Map to solve my own problem.

The Solution

My plants are now all listed on PlantsMap.com.

I can keep photos of each plant with the individual plant listings. I can use my phone to record my notes about a plant directly on the page or that particular plant.

I didn’t have to download and app either because Plants Map works in my browser which means it works on my computer and tablet!

Every plant on Plants Map has a unique QR code assigned to it that can be printed on an inexpensive but durable identification tag or sign.

I simply use a free QR code reader on my mobile phone to scan a code on a tag and my phone’s browser opens to the detail page for that specific plant. There I can add my journal notes and photos directly to the listing.

I can then share those images and information on social media.

Nothing gets lost anymore! I can add a photo to a plant now in about 30 seconds!

Here is more information on Plants Map Tags.

Plants Map Is Free

Anyone can use PlantsMap.com for free to keep their list of plants and photos organized.

Plants Map identification tags and signs are optional and can be ordered using a button at the bottom of each plant page. The lines of text on the tags can be edited. The tags in my garden show the QR code, the botanical name of the plant, the common name and the name of my garden – Cloudy Way Garden.

Here is the page we built with more information and prices for the different kinds of tags and signs and stakes.

Both sizes can be attached to a stake and placed in the dirt near the plant. Both sizes also have a hole in the metal so that a wire or screw can be used to attach the identification plate to a branch or directly into larger mature trees.
Tell Your Plant’s Story

I can use the tags to keep my records and pictures organized and visitors to my garden can scan the QR codes to read the story about the plant and see the archive of pictures of that particular plant that I’ve added over time.

I could not be more thrilled with the progress we’ve made at Plants Map this year and the Plants Map Tags and Signs are awesome. The tags have exceeded my expectations for usability, quality, function, design and price. I hope that you will use them for your gardens and share the story of your plants and gardens on PlantsMap.com.

The Kore Stool

Many of you know that I race big sailboats. I also race small radio controlled sailboats called RC Lasers. On a regular basis, people who see the RC Laser comment on how well thought out the design of the boat is and how something seemingly complicated could be simplified enough and still be very competitive on the race course.

Well, Jon Elmaleh, the guy who build the RC Laser sailboat, started working on a stool design many years before he built the boat. The wooden versions of these stools were sold in the MoMa store for several years starting in 1999. (I want one!) I’ve searched high and low and can’t a wooden version for sale anywhere. The stool is now more industrial looking and made of mostly metal parts with a padded seat top.

I have a Kore Stool with the faux leather covered seat. Seat covers come in black fabric or vinyl. The stool comes in one small box and packed as three pieces. No tools are needed to put it together. Basically, you just sit the bottom on the floor, insert the adjustable seat post and place the seat on top. When you sit on it, they lock together and you are ready to work. The seat post adjusts the top of the seat between 18″ and 25″.

So, bottom line is that the Kore Stool is a simple, comfortable seat, well built and worth the price. Go check out korestool.com and read all about the benefits to your back and neck if you sit a lot during the day. The site has the full specs, photos and a video. You can find the Kore Stool in many places online with free shipping for $99.

A List of My Most Interesting iPhone Applications

  • WeatherBug – The best weather app I’ve found with good radar however WeatherUnderground has the best “mobile” web page for weather at the moment (ie: no need to download an app).
  • FourSquare – Where are you? Where are your friends?
  • RadarScope – Collection of weather radar views from the NWS
  • Google – Pretty good voice search so you can do that while you are driving and still keep your eyes on the road.
  • Words With Friends (Free) – A Scrabble game you can play with your friends who also have the app. (Not sure why Scrabble hasn’t sued them but anyway, it is good.
  • Twitter – Twitter client.
  • Bump – Transfer files between mobile devices via bluetooth after you bump the two devices together (and they have a cool domain name: http://bu.mp)
  • Shazam – Hear a song on the radio, hold up the app and it will tell you the name of the song, artist and links to iTunes, etc. to buy it.
  • SlingPlayer – Watch your TV at your house via a SlingBox connected to your home TV.
  • FlightTrack Pro – Connects to TripIt and alerts you when flights are delayed
  • SkyGrid – Top trending stories of the moment with multiple links to go read the details on the web
  • DoodleJump – Odd little game where you jump a bug up the rungs of a ladder except there is no ladder and it really isn’t a bug and you can shoot things and … etc.
  • Loopt (don’t really use this anymore but it is kind of like FourSquare but I keep it on my phone because my sister still uses it and she won’t switch to FourSquare)
  • CardStar – Transfer all of those little key fob membership cards from all of your favorite stores to an app and you can just show your phone instead of the card. It hasn’t worked for me yet anywhere I’ve tried it but one day it might. I don’t carry the cards with me anyway so maybe if it works…
  • Groupon – Deal of the Day
  • ColorSplash – Turn color photos into B&W photos, then color parts of them. Pretty cool.
  • Police Radio – Listen to the police scanner for most places around the country when the person who streams the channel has their site online. Monroe County, NY is offline more than it is online.
  • 1Password – I have no use for this app but I LOVE the browser / computer application and the app syncs so I just mainly use it as a backup for my passwords on my computer if that ever fails.
  • Shooger – Coupons
  • 2D Sense – Scan the QR and QC codes
  • Angry Birds – Game where you slingshot little angry birds at green turtles or some other little green animal.
  • Facebook – Social networking site that garners 15 minutes per day (or about 7 hrs per month) of the average user’s time. Not me.
  • MotionX GPS – A really nice GPS that I don’t use because I really only need a GPS on a boat and this just isn’t accurate enough yet so that I wouldn’t run into a dock or the shore.
  • HomeWeather – Links to my home weather station, CWOP DW3513 in Fairport, NY
  • iPatch – Mainly just to put a patch over Jonathan Biddle’s eye whenever I see a photo of him.
  • iHandy Level – I use this to tell when to stop cranking the lift on the front of my power boat so the water drains out the back when I put it away.
  • Kindle – Used to read books from Amazon.com
  • Buzz – Google’s version of Twitter
  • Navionics Lakes East – One day I’ll have a use for this detailed GPS mapping program
  • LinkedIn – One day I may need to get in touch with a contact from the past
  • LiveCams – A huge collection of video camera from all around the world.
  • NightCamera – I used to use this when I wanted to take a photo at night and they kept turning out blurry, this program would wait to snap the picture until when my hands stopped shaking.
  • Photogene – Sort of like Photoshop for a mobile phone.
  • PS Express – Photoshop for a mobile phone. Sort of like Photogene
  • QuakeWatch – Feel an earthquake? Use this app to see where it was and how strong it was.
  • RedLaser – Scan UPC codes and price compare and link to sites where you can get more product information
  • MouthOff – Characters say what you say with a funny mouth
  • Weber On the Grill – Grilling cheat sheet
  • Pandora – Streaming Internet Radio
  • Paper Toss – You have to be very bored to get into this game but basically it is throwing paper in a can with varying amounts of wind blowing across the room making accuracy random and difficult
  • RC Heli Gold – fly a remote control helicopter on your iPhone screen
  • Rowmote – Control your computer mouse from your iPhone and launch applications. I use this as a clicker when I’m presenting using Keynote or Powerpoint
  • Tipulator – Helps you calculate tips and splitting up bills when you are sharing the cost with a lot of other people
  • TripIt Pro – My travel agent when I’m on the road after I’ve planned everything out with my real travel agent
  • UpCode – Another 2D bar code and QR code reader
  • SpeedTest – How fast is your Internet connection?
  • StickWars LE – You have to play this game once. Let me know if you play it twice.
  • Trapster – Driving down the road, you can report police activity and view reports from others on the same.
  • Trulia – Get information on houses for sale via an interactive map or what is around you that is on the market
  • Urbanspoon – Restaurant search with a randomizer!
  • WindForecast – What is the wind going to be in a certain spot at some point in the future? Use this app.
  • WunderRadio – Streaming radio stations
  • EyeTV – Control your EyeTV if you have one and still use it.
  • Zillow.com – Really nice real estate information site.
  • Waze – Eat cupcakes while you are driving and score points. Help Waze map the United States in the process.
  • Whoppa – Keep track of the big fish you caught and see where others are catching them and what they are using for bait.

First RC Laser Regatta was Learning Experience for Three CYC Members

Below is an article that is being sent to the Canandaigua Yacht Club’s newsletter for consideration for use in the Aug. 1 edition.

A group of members have now purchased three RC (remote control) One Design Laser sailboats and there are two more to be ordered (this week, hopefully) and a couple of other people considering the purchase. Shortly, we’ll be joining the North American RC Laser Class Association and forming an official fleet on Canandaigua Lake and racing at CYC. The current leading name is the Canandaigua Yacht Club Remote Control Sailing Fleet (if the club will have us).

On Sunday, July 18, three sailors from Canandaigua Yacht Club competed in a “first of its kind” (for CYC) Remote Control Regatta.

Remote Control Laser Sailing

Sailing RC Lasers at Canandaigua Yacht Club

Skippers Jack Bennett (#05), Bill Blevins (#254) and Nelson Habecker (#54) competed using remote control one design Laser sailboats in a series of round-the-buoy races.

Frank Sacco served as the PRO and his boat, Dr. Heeks also hosted spectators, Larry & Nella Neeck. The boat was also the mobile racing platform for the three skippers. The course was set just South of the mooring field and marks were attended by a spectator boat.

Three races were run, although the final race was shortened due to the number of large spectator boats crowding the course which unfortunately blocked the wind for the small competitor boats.

Bennett’s racer seemed to develop a mind of its own, and on multiple occasions did penalty circles for no apparent reason. Mark-set-and-spectator-boat driver Gary Schmidt was sent to rescue the wayward craft a few times throughout the afternoon.

Habecker’s craft was on course for the gun and a bullet in the first race, but at the last minute, the skipper decided to ride a wind shift directly into the beam of the Race Committee boat which left Blevins clear to overtake from behind and cross the finish line first.

Two other races were completed but the results are still under review for various reasons, and thus are still deemed unofficial.

Informal races are planned for Sunday afternoons at the South end of the CYC waterfront, sometime around 4 p.m., or whenever the crews and boats arrive and feel like sailing. Additional regattas will be announced in the future. For more information on joining in on the fun around this exciting sailing opportunity, contact club members Bill Blevins or Nelson Habecker.

If you are interested in obtaining a RC Laser Sailboat, visit http://www.sailrclaser.com. The boats are available as a ready-to-sail kit that includes the boat, 3 sails, transmitter and travel bag. All that is needed to sail are double A batteries. Setup time is about 5 minutes from the bag to the water!

Everyone is welcomed to participate (with a RC Laser or any other RC sailboat) or just come out as a spectator.

We’ll bet you haven’t seen racing like this before!

TV Transplant Surgery Successful


I fixed the blue line problem on my LG Plasma HGTV today after replacing a circuit board, but now Dale Earnhardt Jr’s car is orange!

After removing all of the screws holding on the back cover of the set, It took a while to figure out the easiest way to get the to board I needed to replace and remove the fewest wires and other components as possible. I ended up removing all of the wires on the rear-most panel except for the power connector lines that were located on the bottom right.

The board swung freely so that I could get my tools and hands behind the left side.

Replacing the board wasn’t a big deal except for the little swing connectors on the two wire harnesses at the bottom. After I figured out how they worked, it was easy, but I did break both of the ones on the old board trying to figure out how to get the wires out. Basically, it the locks are on a hinge and swing up and down. When down, they pinch the wires in the correct place.

I put the whole thing together and the sound was great, but no picture. After sitting there a while thinking about all of the wires I unhooked, I remembered one that I forgot to put back in place. After removing the back of the TV again and connecting the wire, everything worked great.

NOTE: Dale Earnhardt Jr. is driving an orange car this weekend.

Blue line on 42″ LG plasma HGTV

The mostly persistent thin blue line on my 5-yr-old LG plasma TV.

Well, I’m going to try and repair my LG Plasma HGTV. The model number of my LG Plasma is DU-42PX12X.

Here’s the story…

A few weeks ago, my 42″ LG Plasma HGTV began to occasionally display a thin blue line on the right side of the screen. It would appear for a while, then disappear for a while. We are now going on about 5 weeks and it is always on the screen now. It is about 1 inch wide and is about 6 inches from the right side of the screen.

Of course, the first thing one does these days when something like this happens is to hit Google.

Apparently, after reading only a few blogs, I have been lucky. Many LG TV’s purchased in 2004-2005 had this problem after only a couple of years and most of the blog posts are from a couple of years ago.

I got away without the problem for 5 years.

After checking out only a few Google results, I landed on a blog post that had very detailed instructions on how to fix the problem. The comments on the post were lengthy and most people who followed the instructions sucessfully fixed their TVs.

So, this morning, I ordered a LG Electronics / Zenith “Hand Insert PCB Assembly” – part number 6871QCH038C from partstore.com. The part should be here by next weekend.

I’ll update this post when it arrives and let everyone know the outcome.

UPDATE: Transplant surgery on the 42″ LG Plasma HGTV was a success, fixing the 1″ blue line running down the right side of the screen.

Weather in Fairport, NY

DW3513 Southern Hills, Fairport, NY

This morning, I finished the installation of a wireless personal weather station at my house.

I ordered the Davis Instruments Vantage Pro2 Plus Wireless station from Ambient Weather.

The package that I chose included a WIFI router from Hautespot Networks and it connects wirelessly to my home network and sends data from the weather console in the house to the Web without the need to connect to a computer. Since I use Apple MacBooks (ie: laptops), I didn’t want to run a PC to constantly act as a server and send data to the Internet.

In order to separate the wind unit and the main weather station, I added an extra wireless transmitter to the package so that I could separate the two and locate both of them in different places. I also added a heater unit so that the rain collection unit won’t freeze in the winter time.

The anemometer is on a mouting pole on the apex of the roof and captures wind speed and direction. The wind data is send via a solar powered unit that sends a 2.4GHz wireless signal to a console in the house every second.

The main collection unit, the main part of the weather station, is mounted on a fence post in my back yard . It collects information on humidity, temperature, rainfall, rainfall rate, UV, Solar radiation and barometric pressure. These data points are sent from another solar powered 2.4GHz transmitter every second to the house where it then meets up with the anemometer data in the display console for display in the den.

The display console hooks to the wireless router and that sends information through my broadband connection to the Web.

The sites receiving and displaying the data are WeatherUnderground, WeatherBug, HamWeather and the CWOP network.

CWOP stands for Citizen Weather Observer Program and certain weather stations can feed that network data to be used to help with weather research by private, public and government institutions. I was assigned a station ID of DW3513.

Data sent to the CWOP program is analyzed and compared with nearby stations and the expected predictions for the area where a PWS is stores. Here is the page that shows the results of station DW3515.

Finally, there is a cool map called the WunderMap and also a full-screen real-time page from WeatherUnderground that is pretty cool too.

Flickr photos of the mounting locations and devices are posted as well.

RadarScope was worth the price

RadarScope from Base Velocity

RadarScope from Base Velocity

I paid $10 for RadarScope from Base Velocity for my iPhone via the Apple Store.

It is a very cool application, though I don’t understand all of the radars it accesses, but the basic radars are very useful. It has multiple detailed radar choices and the information is nearly real-time as far as I can tell when using it sailing and we see serious storm clouds brewing!

I’d say, “Yes”, RadarScope was worth the price and worthy of the “most expensive app I own” award.

What is the most expensive smartphone application you’ve purchased? What does it do? Do you think it was worth the price you paid?