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Author Topic: What do use for your computer system while traveling?  (Read 2431 times)
ted01
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« on: December 20, 2011, 06:47:15 PM »

We are about to retire and head south. Not sure of the best way to go with having access to internet., to check e-mail, pay bills etc. Have been thinking about an, ipad, tablet or laptop, or just taking this computer along for the ride, don't understand much about cards, wifi and all that technology. Just some pointers and tips would be helpful, as we are pretty illiterate about the newest stuff.
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« Reply #1 on: December 20, 2011, 06:49:52 PM »

There will be a seminar at the Arcadia Rally on this very topic.

happy coaching!
buswarrior
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« Reply #2 on: December 20, 2011, 08:33:03 PM »

laptop and verizon Mi-fi   supports up to 5 computers.  we use two on it all time.   Bob
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« Reply #3 on: December 21, 2011, 03:46:23 AM »

I've used a laptop for so long I can't remember when it wasn't my primary computer.  I guess some people make it work but I wouldn't mess with a desktop on the road.  You've got lots of internet choices now - not so many when we started so we used Hughesnet as our primary provider.  Now we have tethering capability with our Blackberries and we carry a pay as you go Verizon hotstick for times when our phones will be too expensive.  It depends where you plan to travel now - most areas have cellular coverage, particularly if you have some kind of cellular booster.  We still spend some time where we don't have cellular coverage which makes the Hughesnet pretty nice but if we were starting out now I doubt we'd buy it again.

Think about how you are going to backup a mobile computer because you'll end up with a lot of your life on the computer and it will be subject to a travelling life which may be hazardous to its health.  I use a USB hard drive that we carry on the bus for periodic backups and I have mine set up to do a Mozy backup every time it sees a connection in the middle of the night.
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« Reply #4 on: December 21, 2011, 04:19:51 AM »

Now days the air card for a laptop is a waste of 600 bucks a year with so many wifi locations for free along across the country with cell phones that can be used for hot spots even WalMart is getting into the wifi deal.

We use the wifi systems and use the 600 dollars a year for other things like fuel or a Apple Computer just our way lol 

good luck
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« Reply #5 on: December 21, 2011, 04:33:43 AM »

So really all I need is the laptop? and just take my chances where I can find wifi? Or an Ipad?

Robert, how much is the verizon thing?

Is the Arcadia rally iin January?  Will still be working until Feb 1. Would love to be there though.
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« Reply #6 on: December 21, 2011, 04:38:57 AM »


Think about how you are going to backup a mobile computer because you'll end up with a lot of your life on the computer and it will be subject to a travelling life which may be hazardous to its health.  I use a USB hard drive that we carry on the bus for periodic backups and I have mine set up to do a Mozy backup every time it sees a connection in the middle of the night.
 
 
 
Bob, I have no idea what this is, can you tell me more?  What is mozy?
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« Reply #7 on: December 21, 2011, 04:46:47 AM »

Buy you a Apple Laptop it has a backup for free,the Apple will cost you more money up front but is worth every penny compared to a MS systems,this will get the MS guys going lol we have both, Apple is the way to go 

Some places in the Southwest air cards don't work anyway I don't care who the carrier is we have people visit us they give up on the air cards and use our Wifi

good luck
« Last Edit: December 21, 2011, 04:53:01 AM by luvrbus » Logged

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« Reply #8 on: December 21, 2011, 04:48:40 AM »

Exactly what Bob said. Fast, reliable.
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« Reply #9 on: December 21, 2011, 05:04:45 AM »

We use the same laptops as we use at home.  We travel more in Canada now, we have a 4G cellphone router from Bell Mobility that supports up to 4 computers.  Coverage where we travel is seamless, even if it's really 3G and not the 4G that they advertise.  HSPA+, $35 a month for 3.5 gig, it's now our home access as well.  Some equivalent might be available from Verizon et al.  We use the local Wifi when we travel in the US.

I had a netbook and found it limited.  Just a little too small, particularly the keyboard, which I never got used to, and I never liked the screen.  Kind of silly on my part, because the small size is kind of the point of a netbook.  When it had a software/malware episode that killed it, I got a mid-sized lap top for $450, an Acer. 

These days you can back up into the "cloud", we use Norton.  Cloud computing is the way of the future, it would seem.  Back up into some huge amorphous network of servers somewhere, access your data from anywhere.

http://xkcd.com/908/

Brian  (tech geeks, hit random on the comic footer)
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« Reply #10 on: December 21, 2011, 05:12:00 AM »

We use Virgin Mobile MI-FI. $149.00 for the hotspot and $50.00 per month UNLIMITED. We first used it at the wife's new place until we go cable then we use it in the bus when traveling. Has worked everywhere we have turned it on Smiley.
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« Reply #11 on: December 21, 2011, 05:14:05 AM »

Need to come visit us Mike it won't work here lol hit and miss here with air cards they work anywhere you have cell service  (sometimes ) lol Anne spent 2 days trying to update their blog finally used our wifi their card was running so slow with 3 bars

good luck
« Last Edit: December 21, 2011, 05:23:36 AM by luvrbus » Logged

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« Reply #12 on: December 21, 2011, 05:37:33 AM »

We use laptops, one for me & one for the wife. Whether you like Apple or MS, get a machine that has a large screen. Squinting at a 14" screen gets tiresome very quickly.

For internet access, I use Autonet (disclaimer: I sell these) or Hughesnet for places like Clifton's.  I do like the Autonet because it runs on 12 volt, I can attach an external antenna to it to capture the faintest cell signal, it works on ANY cell network, and I can turn the WiFi off & plug directly into the router it I want to be more secure (see below)

I don't use open WiFI networks because of security risks. If you were to use my WiFi, I can capture everything you do & eventually break whatever kind of encryption you use unless you are using IronKey. That means I can get to any financial information, email, and, if you stay around long enough, I might be able to get into your computer. I'll bet Chris & Cherie, and some others here could do the same or better.

But, by far the most egregious security risk is I COULD GET YOUR USERNAME & PASSWORD TO THE BUS CONVERSIONS BOARD & POST CRAZY MESSAGES IN YOUR NAME!!!!!!!   Grin Grin Grin Grin  In my case, no one would notice the difference but it could be bad for some of you guys!!   Grin Grin

I don't want to start a food fight here, just giving you my opinion.

I already know I am a conspiracy nut. My daughter gave me a tinfoil hat for my birthday lots of years ago & I wear it most of the time...   Grin Grin

TOM
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« Reply #13 on: December 21, 2011, 05:38:24 AM »

Ted; About $60 a month or less from verizon.   We tried at@t  waste of time.  not good coverage.  I don't trust all these available free wifi.  Just me  and I'm probably wrong.  Never thought there was a free ride.  with the mi-fi  it is a private telephone line like a cell phone dedicated to you.  We have a booster that works on it.  Not necessary 95% of the time (or more)   Just my opinion.  Bob
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« Reply #14 on: December 21, 2011, 05:45:03 AM »

If it goes by air it's open to all you just have to be smart enough to do it and there are some that are lol like our government and others

 I have a grandson that works for the center in Phoenix secure no way you believe that I will sell you some ocean front property in AZ

 He sent us a Christmas Card to our wireless printer and the thing printed it out that is how safe we are lol he did that from his laptop at home you have a Email address you are open game same with the cordless phones so many of us have somebody is watching like it or not

You gave up all your rights to privacy when Bush signed the Homeland Security Act into law it keeps us semi safe at a price    

good luck  
« Last Edit: December 21, 2011, 07:14:32 AM by luvrbus » Logged

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« Reply #15 on: December 21, 2011, 07:17:02 AM »

  So really all I need is the laptop? and just take my chances where I can find wifi?  (snip)

       Every McDonalds that I've driven past in the last 2 years has free Wi-Fi (it's probably as safe as leaving a stack of $$$$ next to your bus door when you walk into duh Waw*Mott, but it works).  Also, many coffee shops, libraries, etc.  (yeah, no safer but ...).
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« Reply #16 on: December 21, 2011, 08:15:42 AM »

as far as a laptop.... while the screen size that is large is nice... its the Keyboard size... idiots like me can't type very easily on one that is 8 inches wide... so i use the regular computer and the next laptop we get is going to be the biggest keyboard size one, as this 15 inch thing has almost been tossed out the window 154 times... Smiley
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« Reply #17 on: December 21, 2011, 08:16:38 AM »

We travel full time in our bus, and work online as we roam.  So keeping connected is essential to us.  We did a blog post a while back that describes all of the options we've tried for keeping connected, which will be the foundation for our talk at the Arcadia Rally next week.

Here's the link:
http://www.technomadia.com/2011/09/10-tips-to-keep-connected-us-mobile-internet-options/


As far what type of computing device to get.  Really depends on what your needs are.  Do you just want e-mail, routing/maps, basic web browsing, reading books, playing games, watching movies?  Then an iPad is an awesome device.  We use them regularly in our travels, and feel for many folks - they really can be used for all your computing needs.

But there is something nice about a laptop too.  A bit larger screen, full keyboard (although, you can get keyboards for the iPad) and full featured software.  If you're needing to do things like accounting, programming, video editing, graphics editing, full featured gaming - then a laptop is probably more your speed.


 - Cherie
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« Reply #18 on: December 21, 2011, 09:06:34 AM »

We have been full timing for almost three years and have tried/used just about everything. Phone tethering, Verizon air card, PC, laptops and most recently our Android X to use the Hotspot. The Hotspot worked pretty good most of the time. Just a little slower than we normally have found using an RV Parks WiFi. Verizon is the best for coverage but costly if you go over the limit. If you don't stream video's it will be just fine.

The laptop is the way to go. If you are unable to get WiFi, use a smart phone's hotspot. You can have it turned on then off. It will cost you a monthly fee, so best to use it only in an emergency or while parked in a non WiFi area.

As with any system, be careful in having a secure connection.

Go to the rally and visit Technomadia's discussion, as they are very well versed in the answers you are looking for.
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« Reply #19 on: December 21, 2011, 09:29:55 AM »


Bob, I have no idea what this is, can you tell me more?  What is mozy?

Mozy is an online backup service.  They're not the only option out there - they just happen to be what I use.  Others have mentioned some other options.  I pay an annual service fee and for that I have access to their servers "somewhere".  Their applet lives on my computer and watches for a chance to connect to their servers in the middle of the night.  When it gets connected it updates my backups without me having to be involved in any way.  I like that because I am not as disciplined with regard to backups as I am sure all the rest of you are.  I know it works because periodically I do something stupid and think "gee I wish I hadn't changed that file without saving it first"  With a good backup I can (usually) reset the clock to before my latest stupid move.

I think someone asked about the cost of my Verizon dongle.  I can't remember exactly what it cost initially but it was in the neighbourhood of $100.  I buy cards for it at Walmart - they cost about $70 for 5 gigs/1 month, less if I buy less bandwidth but not a whole bunch less - maybe $50 for 1 gig/1 month.  I haven't bought a card for a long time because generally we can mix and match our Blackberry tethering with our Hughesnet plan and we don't need the Verizon thing but occasionally I use it if a client computer doesn't have good access.
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R.J.(Bob) Evans
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« Reply #20 on: December 21, 2011, 10:56:40 AM »

Thanks all. Ted can build a bus, but we haven't a clue about this stuff, I have a headache from reading all this, Maybe once it digests......................
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« Reply #21 on: December 21, 2011, 03:05:29 PM »

You might ask yourself just how often you actually get on line. Most McDonalds, many truckstops, RV parks and many other restaurants have free wifi.

For simplicity, my dear wife is a little technophobic. She LOVES her Ipad II on the road!

Think about how you are going to backup a mobile computer because you'll end up with a lot of your life on the computer and it will be subject to a traveling life which may be hazardous to its health.  I use a USB hard drive that we carry on the bus for periodic backups and I have mine set up to do a Mozy backup every time it sees a connection in the middle of the night.
In case anybody is interested, today I picked up a one Terabyte (1,000 Gigabytes!) pocket-sized external USB hard drive at a Dallas-Fort Worth are CompUSA/Tiger Direct store for just $99 plus tax. Seems like a very good price to me! Limit one per customer.
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« Reply #22 on: December 22, 2011, 04:25:31 AM »

laptop and verizon Mi-fi   supports up to 5 computers.  we use two on it all time.   Bob

Same here, except occasionally 3 computers at once (when our son is with us).  Jack
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« Reply #23 on: December 22, 2011, 04:38:17 AM »

I would make a desktop my last choice. They take up much more space, cannot be carried into a McDonald's/etc, and the hard drives were not designed to be spinning will bouncing down a rough road. The other options all work and depend on your needs.  My wife and I use laptops. Hers is a 14" dell and mine is a 15" Toshiba. She uses hers mostly for email, web surfing, and installed games. I us mine for email, web surfing, GPS, and photo/video editing. We connect via WiFi when it is available and use our Verizon MiFi when WiFi is not available. YMMV  Jack
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« Reply #24 on: December 22, 2011, 05:48:28 AM »

I'm on the wagon with Verizon's mifi and just updated to 4g. The results are that I haven't had it long enough to compare it to anything but it works similar to the mifi 3G. Time will tell!
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« Reply #25 on: December 22, 2011, 05:55:14 AM »

Verizon is the best for coverage but costly if you go over the limit.


The secret work-around for this is to buy your Verizon coverage through Millenicom (http://www.millenicom.com), instead of directly with Verizon.  They bulk buy coverage from Verizon & Sprint.

Their Advanced Plan for $59.99/mo (no additional taxes or fees) gives you 20GB of Verizon service per month. And there are no contracts, so you can cancel/suspend at anytime.  And no overage charges if you go above 20GB.. they just reserve the right to throttle your speed for the rest of the month if you exceed the limit. 

If you have a phone capable of tethering, and it's only an occasional need - that's a great option.

We do both.. we have the Millenicom Plan through Verizon for our primary connection, and have an AT&T iPhone with a tethering plan as our back-up.  Despite how good Verizon's coverage is, there have been plenty of times where our AT&T pipeline was needed.

And if both fail us..  and no wifi is to be found (we've not found most park wifi to be sufficient enough for our needs, as we do more than just e-mail/web surfing) - we have a satellite tripod we can deploy.

 - Cherie
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« Reply #26 on: December 22, 2011, 06:03:08 AM »

I think you are right about the Verizon coverage most of the people that rant and rage about Verizon live east Sonja's I phone with AT&T had a lot better coverage in the west than my Verizon that Paul told me would be so good LOL cost me 175 bucks to rid myself of it

good luck
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« Reply #27 on: December 22, 2011, 06:20:26 AM »

I think you are right about the Verizon coverage most of the people that rant and rage about Verizon live east Sonja's I phone with AT&T had a lot better coverage in the west than my Verizon that Paul told me would be so good LOL cost me 175 bucks to rid myself of it

good luck

Clifford, There is not much help in your area, sorry! Roll Eyes
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« Reply #28 on: December 22, 2011, 06:25:00 AM »

AT&T works lol Van's new phones on Sprint wouldn't work here either he wanted to show me all the features and bless his heart the thing didn't work.
Paul I had problems with Verizon in Idaho,Oregon and even some parts of Scottsdale and CaveCreek it would not work her's worked every time

good luck
« Last Edit: December 22, 2011, 06:30:08 AM by luvrbus » Logged

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« Reply #29 on: December 22, 2011, 07:39:00 AM »

I have had hughesnet for years, but am considering putting it on vacation hold and trying out millenicom for a while. Hughesnet is convenient in that as long as you have a shot of the southern sky, you got internet. (most of the time, as long as hughesnet isn't having problems). Hughesnet is always a crap shoot as far as speeds. I am not as dependant on internet access for income as I was when we first hit the road. My online business has folded up, so I can go a few days without access.

Clifford, I have sprint and as you know I had to stand in a certain spot in your driveway in order to make a phone call. Unless I put it in force roam, then it would work fine anywhere, but I don't like doing that unless there is no alternative.
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« Reply #30 on: December 22, 2011, 07:43:45 AM »

Bottom line is if you travel enough you will find dead spots, no matter who your carrier is.  I've had Verizon coverage in southern Saskatchewan.  I was close to the border but definitely in Saskatchewan and nothing out the windows but hills and cows in every direction.  And I can find you lots of places in North America where nothing works, not just in Clifford's yard.  Hughes is getting better - I think they are losing customers and their transponder (over)loading is going down.  Our speeds have been 1.5 to 2x what they were a year or 18 months ago and they have upped our FAP limit with rumours that it will go up further in the near future.  If you absolutely have to have internet all the time, anywhere, then I still think Hughes is the only option. 
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« Reply #31 on: December 22, 2011, 08:07:59 AM »

(snip)   If you absolutely have to have internet all the time, anywhere, then I still think Hughes is the only option. 

     Thanks, Bob.  Do you know what "startup" costs are for Hughes, and what's monthly fee cost?   Are there any other costs besides this?   (It would be nice to have a single solution - I read of people who have "wifi for some places, and satellite for other places, and SuperPhone for backup" and my mind reels with pictures of money flying out the window.)
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« Reply #32 on: December 22, 2011, 08:42:50 AM »

We have a tripod system and those are available used for well under $500 if you are patient.  What you need to watch out for though is that you need a HN series modem.  Some of the older modems, while they may still be in service, cannot be reactivated on a new account.  I'm not sure if anyone is still selling new tripod systems, likely they are and they will be in the neighbourhood of $2000.  Rooftop systems are $5k to $7k new and they too are available used, often under $2500.  Same restriction applies to the modem for either system (its the same modem).

Personally I wouldn't want a rooftop system.  There's times it would be really nice - you pull into a Wallymart lot for lunch, clear view of the sky, push the button and go online while you eat lunch.  But .......... pull into a well treed campground and good luck finding exactly the right site with that perfect hole in the foliage to let you shoot out to the south.  Not so much a problem where we are now (southern Texas) with the satellite shooting up at 50 degrees but try it in the PNW or western Canada when you are down to 30 degrees or lower.  In those situations I can wander around my site with my aiming tool looking for a little hole in the trees.  Then I can set my tripod exactly in the right spot to shoot out through that hole.  I'm actually going to try using my tripod system on the boat when we get back out there in a couple of weeks - got me 300 feet of siamese coax in the bay right now just waiting to go to work.

Don Bradner runs this web forum and its the bible for all things Hughesnet related.  If you go ahead with a Hughes tripod don't hesitate to contact me - not that I know all that much but I've used it for over 4 years now so I've pretty well done everything wrong that its possible to do.  All you need to do is do what I didn't do and you'll be good to go.
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« Reply #33 on: December 22, 2011, 08:44:52 AM »

Fulltiming for 8 years now, used a laptop that just died this summer. For 4-5 years we went thru our cell phone with verizon, then the phone died, so we got a verizon aircard. Got a Mac  desktop and had to get a new aircard for it, verizon again. Don't/won't do wifi.  We are in the western US of A. and get a signal most of the time where ever we are at. Been one or two times where we went a few days with no signal.  Old aircard was $60 a month, new 4G aircard is $50.  Grin   Haven't been in a 4G area yet but still pleased with the speed of the Mac and the aircard so far.
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1968 MCI 5A with 8V71 and Allison MT644 transmission.  Western USA
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Tom & Phyllis
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'82 Bluebird Wanderlodge PT40




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« Reply #34 on: December 22, 2011, 08:53:50 AM »

FYI, there is an alternative to Hughesnet that is faster. You can also do VOIP & VPNs, no FAP & it will work on the old Datastorm F-3 dishes.

Mobil Satellite Technologies in Va. sells them & Hughesnet. I get my Hughesnet service from them & Sean used to also. Their website:

http://www.mobilsat.com/

I have no interest in them other than a satisfied customer.

TOM
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'82 BlueBird WanderLodge PT40 being rebuilt
Delaware

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