Browsing "Cell Phone"
Feb 27, 2013 -

Thinking About Saskatchewan

It’s hard to believe that I will be back in Canada in about 10 weeks. I don’t really want to think about that, but the fact is that I’m heading for rural territory with no idea of what services, if any, will be available to me. As things stand, I have no internet options whatsoever besides public wifi for Canada since I broke my ties with Telus. I’ve conceded that the only decent Canada-wide plan that would work for me is that offered by Bell with its Turbo Hub, so that’s what I’m looking at getting. I did email SaskTel to see what my hard wired options are and got a stock reply that had nothing to do with my question, as expected. I’d rather stick with a nationwide provider and mobile internet anyway.

When I bought my property, there was zero cell service in the village and for miles around. Now, I’m seeing coverage up to the limits of the community. This gives me hope that a booster would work. I contacted a company that puts together booster systems for folks in rural municipalities to see what they have to offer for my situation and at what cost. At this point, I’m looking at $300 for the Turbo Hub, plus about $70 a month for 10GB (remember I got FIVE GB for that price from Telus), so even if I end up forking out an extra $500 for a booster, I’m still well ahead of what it would cost to get a hard wired connection, if one is even possible.

I want to avoid landing without having a solid plan for getting online even if it takes a week or two to execute that plan. The loose ideaat this point is to get to my property and take a few days to meet the neighbours and establish a good enough relationship to determine if a summer there will be feasible. Who knows, the neighbours could end up being great and offer to sell me power, hard wired internet, water, and access to a toilet for dumping with a macerator, or they could all be horrible people who decide to run me out of town. I just won’t know till I get there.

It is encouraging to see that cell phone coverage map expand exponentially. I’m still seeing a big dead spot around my old homestead in the Gatineau Hills, but that’s no surprise. Saskatchewan is the second to last frontier in Canada (much more so than even Yukon, the NWT, or Nunavut, and just ahead of Quebec outside of the Montreal-QC City corridor)), so I’m gratified to see them moving ahead quickly, with their coverage map jumping in leaps and bounds.

I’m not looking forward to going back to Canada, but I’m slowly taking my head out of the sand about the notion of it. 🙂

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Canada, Cell Phone, Communications & Electronics, Countries, Internet, Saskatchewan, Technical, Travel    3 Comments
Nov 15, 2012 -

Uneventful Drive Down I-87 To Saratoga Springs

It was a perfect day for a drive, clear with few cars on the road. Except when she was stuck behind some impossibly slow rigs or was climbing a grade, Miranda effortlessly matched the speed limit. I could only feel the truck behind me when I slowed down or was climbing a hill. I need to measure my new rig, but, truly, it doesn’t feel any longer or more unwieldy than my old one! My gas consumpition was normal for a day going up and down grades!

Just ahead of the last area before Saratoga Springs, a long column of white cars appeared in my view screen. They roared past me and I saw that they were US Border Patrol vehicles. They merged in between myself and another rig plated in Quebec that was closely followed another Quebec-plated rig. The two Quebec vehicles pulled into the rest area and the border patrol vehicles followed suit. There were no lights or anything, but it was the darnedest thing to see as they appeared to be on a mission.

One exit before the raceway, I was running on a quarter tank of fuel when I noticed a sign saying ‘truck stop.’ I figured that I’d be able to find a gas station where I could get in easily with my toad, and I did.

At the raceway, I tucked myself into the far end of the parking lot, much like I did last time. There are a lot more cars here this time, however.

I called Verizon to reactivate my phone to get internet and then realised that I’d need wifi to get online, like I did in the spring. My GPS told me where was a McDonald’s fairly close by, but was useless at providing a neighbourhood map that would set me off in the right direction on foot. I set off in a couple of directions, easily covering the distance to the restaurant, and each time my GPS told me I was going the wrong way.

Even though I’d truly had enough toad excitement for one day, I unhooked the truck and drove around a bit until I found the McDonald’s, which was ludicrously close by. It almost wasn’t worth it to have unhooked except that I would have come home in the dark.

There, I downloaded the Lion version of the VZAccess Manager and then tried to connect. No dice. I called Verizon back and when I finally got to a live person, he informed me that the first guy I spoke to forgot to authorize use of my cell phone as a modem. I hung up with him, restarted my phone, and tried the internet again. It worked!

I drove home in the growing darkness and then spent a very frustrating 15 minutes or so trying to hook my truck up. It’ll go much more smoothly as I gain experience with the tow bar… and hook up while not completely exhausted.

The disappointing news of the day is that my battery bank is not working properly. I haven’t even tried my new inverter setup yet because my batteries are so low.

I unhooked from shore power on Monday and had a full charge on Tuesday morning, but haven’t had one since then. I really should have plugged back in. What happened is that I thought the propane was on, but it wasn’t, and the furnace kicked on for hours, completely draining the battery before I caught the mistake. It’s been pretty overcast since, I spent all of yesterday in a garage, and I didn’t drive enough today to get a full charge. At this point, I can’t tell if my problem is just that I need a charge or if I screwed up somewhere in my wiring and actually have a problem.

My battery monitor says that I’m at about 80% charge with a voltage in the high elevens, (which goes to show that voltage tells you nothing about the state of your batteries), and that I could run at my current amp draw for about 24 hours. Unfortunately, my current amp draw is just the fridge. As soon as I turn on the furnace, my fridge goes haywire. Forget running the water pump or even an LED light. It’s getting chilly, so I predict I’ll be going to bed early with the electric blanket. I’m not even going to bother to have my batteries load tested. As soon as I can get a deal on a good pair of Trojans with more amp hours, I’ll be switching. I should not be shivering my first night back on the road.

Tomorrow will be the hardest day of the drive south as I’ll be heading onto the New York Thruway. After that, it should be fairly smooth sailing. I do need to find a place to overnight between St Clair PA and Hampton Roads as I want to arrive at my destination in daylight. ETA at this point is Sunday afternoon.

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Batteries, Boondocking/Dry camping, Cell Phone, Communications & Electronics, Driving, Electricity, Fridge, Furnace, Internet, New York, Solar Panels, Technical, Travel, USA, Weather    No Comments
Nov 10, 2012 -

Using My Verizon Cell Phone With a US Number in Canada

I remember when Donna told me she was using a US number in Canada. It sounded very complicated and messy. Well, I’ve been using my beloved little pink phone with its North Dakota number all summer in Canada with it’s been a non-issue.

Coverage has never been a problem, not in Quebec, not in Alberta when I was buying my truck, and not in Ontario. Most folks who call me from a landline have a long distance plan that includes the US. A few people got into the habit of calling me, hanging up after one ring, and having me call them back to avoid incurring international long distance charges. A few folks have cell phones that get the huge fees for international calls even if I call them, so I agree to text but let them know I pay 15 cents per message, so I don’t get blasted (I’m not convinced yet that I need the $10 text add on to my plan as I’ve never had more than $5 in text surcharges).

It took a little while, but my mother finally believed that this number is going to stick and that I am regularly using a phone now (a first in 14 years) and has actually programmed the number into her phone. She calls me from the house instead of walking out to the rig now. In fact, she just called me from the hardware store to get a measurement, confident that I’d have the phone open. It took me a minute to find it in my gigantic purse (note to self: sew a phone pocket into the lining of the purse), so I missed the call, but I was able to call her right back; no biggie.

When I get to Saratoga on Wednesday evening, I’ll call Verizon to reactivate the data plan that will let me tether my computer to the phone to get online. I’m also not going to let them tempt me with their really sweet deal on an iPhone. I really want one to replace my outdated iPod Touch, but I’d have to get an unlocked version so that I can switch out SIM cards depending on the country I’m in. That would mean having two phone numbers and too much confusion for folks who are just getting used to being able to reach me. So I will probably hold out as long as my LG is working well and compatible with my OS.

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Cell Phone, Communications & Electronics, Technical    8 Comments