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Turbo Pascal navigational aids that saved my life in 1991 (github.com)
93 points by pmarin 10 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 21 comments

I find it amazing he was recording video of his trip from 1991, the camera must have been huge!

Huge compared to a modern camera, but probably not vhs or betamax size gargantuan. Hi8 or vhs-c format cameras existed in 1991.

I did camcording in 1991. Camera the size of a lunchbox. Lunch with a decent appetite, but still.

They were't crazy big in 1991. I mean, maybe his was, but the Camcorders back then were available in Video8 format.


VHS-C was also available, but it didn't have the same runtime IIRC

This is some code that I could just enjoy reading for probably hours.

more submissions like this please!

"The devilish tide current appeared to be totally random and followed none of the god-given rules and laws."

Bill O'Reilly: I'll tell you why it's not a scam. In my opinion, all right? Tide goes in, tide goes out. Never a miscommunication. You can't explain that. You can explain why the tide goes in…

David Silverman: Tide goes in, tide goes out…?

O'Reilly: Yeah, see, the water — the tide comes in and it goes out, Mr. Silverman. It always comes in…

Silverman: Maybe it's Thor up on Mount Olympus who's making the tides go in and out…

O’Reilly: No no, but you can’t explain that… you can’t explain it…


Am I the only one who, upon reading the title, thought it was about menu shortcuts? (It's not). Talk about feeling silly...

Some lisp files there too. Interesting.

Most likely targeting his own Lisp implementation: https://github.com/timonoko/nokolisp

Look, I'm sure this is cool and all, but British Columbia is a LOT of wilderness. You can get lost in the back country pretty easily if you don't know what you're doing, and you can also lose your life ocean kayaking without proper local knowledge. Every year there's a ton of news about clueless tourists who either vanish or have to be rescued by SAR.

"Then I started paddling from Vancouver city to the west in 1991. I did not understand them tides. I did not know you can get pretabulated tables. I was paddling against tides most of the time. Somewhere between Kelsey Bay and Telegraph Cove there was 2 weeks period of fog and rain. I totally lost it. I was running out of food."

How on Earth do you think to go on a multi week ocean kayaking trip and not take tide tables.

>How on Earth do you think to go on a multi week ocean kayaking trip and not take tide tables.

It's the unknown unknown.

He had an expert knowledge of sea kayaking and survival skills in the wilderness and he was not exactly clueless. But because he was from Finland, he missed one critical piece of practical knowledge he didn't know to seek for. We don't have any noticeable tides in our small seas. So even if he knew what the tides are and how big effect they can make, he didn't think he was missing something that is common knowledge and helps with the tides.

ps. Timo Noko is a character. He is ex-Nokia engineer who turned into professional hobo and has kayaked around Alaska and is accustomed to wilderness and survival.



EDIT: I think the only way to discover these unknown unknowns is to explain your plan and show everything you carry to some experienced local and ask "What I am missing". Usually it's some trivial thing that helps a lot.

There's a line of thought that highly original thinkers can be so biased toward "I can figure it out myself"--that is, they get so many happy brain chemicals from the activity, or whatever--that referential thinking becomes their critical blind spot. Referential thinking involves consulting others' measurements and advice; tide tables fall into that category.

Once you build your own navigational mental model and realize you know how to navigate from first principles, as he did, I'm sure it becomes almost intoxicatingly tempting to get out into open water.

The author has many other similar trip reports on his home page at https://timonoko.github.io/. In the 1992 report (in Finnish) he already says that the tide chart and vhf radio are must haves. At least he wasn't too stubborn.

One of the definitions of maturity is knowing when you're in over your head and to consult third party experts. Being intelligent in an abstract sense doesn't magically impart knowledge/training/skills in a field that a person has no direct experience in.

For example I have no clue how to sail a sailboat, so if somebody gave me a 30' Catalina tomorrow I would go out and get training on how to sail before trying to discover the techniques from first principles.

Watching the British Columbian news for the past 25 years - I could find probably at least twenty instances where random tourists go off into the back country and are never seen again, or are found deceased in a ravine years later by random hikers. You can die in the North Shore mountains within 10 km of North Vancouver pretty easily. Search and rescue missions are a fairly common thing in tourist season. Thankfully boating and kayaking has a bit more equipment/preparation barrier (compared to just heading off into the woods with no map, no GPS, a few Clif bars, wearing sandals, a tiny water bottle and no jacket) so maritime search and rescue is not as common.

> How on Earth do you think to go on a multi week ocean kayaking trip and not take tide tables.

>> I did not know you can get pretabulated tables.

You literally removed the part of the quote that answers that.

That is not an excuse, it's like trying to go on a multi week hike through the back country and not knowing of the existence of topographical/trail maps. Or buying a yacht and not having a set of charts, then holing your hull on a reef and going "oops!"

In 2018 ocean kayaking can be dangerous, even with modern aids like gps, satellite phones, satellite based weather, etc. In 1991 you certainly don't just take a fully loaded kayak to kitsilano beach in Vancouver and set off westbound into the straight of Georgia without tide tables and local knowledge unless you are a complete buffoon.

People do these things sometimes. “Into the Wild” is really a film about a complete buffoon who dies because he doesn’t take a topographical map.

yes, essentially. I have no idea why people idolize McCandless. The wilderness is unforgiving and doesn't give a fuck about you...

They focus entirely on the tantalising idea of letting go of everything. Being free, following the open road, unfettered by the obligations of modern society.

They conveniently gloss over the fact that modern society is also the thing that's keeping them, you know, alive.

McCandless would undoubtedly have survived if he'd spent even half a day making realistic preparations. Something as simple as just bringing a map.

Are there people who idolize McCandless? The journalism I've encountered of him doesn't lend itself to that.

I know people people who respect him -- his enthusiasm and commitment and open spirit among other things. That's different. Most of those people are also capable of criticizing him, and in general, recognizing that one can direct criticism and respect at the same target.

As well as recognizing that far more experienced, knowledgeably, and conscientious folks than him have made mistakes in the wilderness and paid similarly.

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