Browsing "Communications & Electronics"
May 14, 2013 -

Technological Improvements

Sitting here in the middle of my field (sorry, that one never gets old), I am enjoying a fast internet connection with sufficient bandwidth that I can watch the new Audi commercial starring dueling Spocks without worrying about overages (Goooooo Bilbooooo!). I can’t help but marvel about how quickly things have changed.

It was about this time five years ago that I really began to research in earnest how I was going to live on the road, and one of the biggest components was getting online. I was chagrined to finally admit defeat. The only way I could get coverage just about anywhere was with a satellite dish, and that was several thousands of dollars to invest just getting set up, never mind the billing costs.

But within only about a year and a half, Bell and Telus joined to update cellular service across Canada. Suddenly, there was service just about everywhere. Mobile bandwidth devices were pricey and the plans outrageously high, but the investment was now only a few hundred dollars. Less than two years after conceding that I would never under the existing circumstances have a mobile internet connection, I got a free mobile internet modem in exchange for taking over a contract. It is not hyperbole to say that this changed my life. Suddenly, I could work freely from the road.

Something similar happened almost exactly two years later, friends gave me an internet modem for use in the U.S., which cost a pretty penny to set up but offered more bandwidth, and suddenly I had internet coverage in almost all of Canada and the U.S.

And just a year after that, I’m sitting in the middle of a field in rural Saskatchewan, a field that just a few months ago didn’t even have cell coverage, with a new Canadian mobile bandwidth device, which only cost me $50 (plus $180 for a booster, still cheap compared to a few years ago) and I am experiencing not only the fastest internet speeds of my life, but also the biggest and most affordable bandwidth allowance I’ve yet seen.

I really think that cellular connectivity is the future of the internet and I am excited to see how the technology will continue to evolve in the coming years. It is likely to get even faster and cheaper.

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Communications & Electronics, Internet, Technical    4 Comments
May 13, 2013 -

A Fruitful Experiment

This afternoon, I need a quick clarification on a job I’m doing. I knew that if I headed out to the field where I get reception, I’d get sidetracked. I decided to see if I could get a signal with my Mifi up in the air.

I actually got it to lock onto the network a couple of times at ground level, but not long enough to do anything productive. I used packing tape to attach my awning pole to my broom, then put the Mifi into a baggie and taped that to the awning pole. Finally, I climbed up the ladder and one-handedly taped the broom to the ladder (quite a feat I tell you).


It actually worked! I got one bar (I can check the connection through my computer) just long enough to get the answer I needed and send a couple of emails! I brought the Mifi down and it was very hot, so even if I had had a decent connection, this was NOT a good temporary solution until I get the booster.

But what this tells me is that the booster is going to work for me and that I didn’t just throw money out the door.

Now, here’s hoping that the 10 to 25 day shipping estimate is overly conservative… It really hit me today that getting online a couple of hours a day really does make me more productive, but also impedes that productivity.

The best solution for me is the one I’m going to get, internet at home, but with limited bandwidth. That said, I can do a hell of a lot more for 15GB than I could with 5GB! I have no idea how I managed that long with so little connectivity, although after years of relying on public wifi, that much better than nothing. 12GB this winter was really good, but not always quite enough. 15GB should serve me well, and at just $10 for each additional GB, I’ll have some breathing room.

In other news, I think we skipped spring and went straight to summer. My first night here, I FROZE. I had lots of blankets on the bed, but didn’t left the furnace on too low and didn’t wear warm enough jammies. My second night, I was comfortable, but the rig was icy in the morning. My third night (last night) I finally had the smarts to put on the flannel jammies again… and was way too hot. I woke up covered in just a sheet and the furnace hadn’t even cycled on all night.

The days here have all been HOT, at least 20C by noontime. It’s only going to get worse. I may find myself dreaming of AC at some point. But the wind definitely helps, and is not too violent down in the valley.

Finally, I forgot to mention something in my last post. Avocados here are 99 cents, almost double what I paid in Texas. If they are as tasty, that will be a bargain.

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Communications & Electronics, Internet, Technical    9 Comments
May 8, 2013 -

Not In the Mood to Drive

I just renewed for a third night here at Dakota Magic. If I really just wasn’t in the mood to drive, I would have gone anyway because I know that that’s just an excuse for not wanting to face the border crossing.

But I’m being really productive and making good use of my FHU, so I can justify another night. This morning, I defrosted the freezer and washed it and the fridge, then made an inventory of the food on board. I found bacon! It will be demolished shortly when I go make lunch. 🙂

It looks like it might rain, but if it doesn’t, the next project is the cab.

Besides that, I need to put away yesterday’s laundry (almost dry, YAY), wash out Neelix’s litter box, and then I’ll be good to go. There’s really nothing to do now to prepare for the border besides making sure I don’t have any illegal food on board, have a full alcohol inventory (one Texas beer that I am saving for the first crazy hot summer day), and that I know how much I need to declare.

I hope internet in Saskatchewan will be decent (although I will settle for existent). I get a very low signal in North Dakota, so I keep getting disconnected. I might not have found the connection in San Antonio to be so bad had I remembered my online experience in North Dakota last spring.

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Appliances, Campgrounds, Communications & Electronics, Fridge, Internet, North Dakota, Personal, Preparations for Departure, Technical, Travel, USA, Weather    No Comments