• Mid-Winter Greetings from Nappanee…

    Hello again from the frozen, then thawed, then flooded, then dry, and now snowy little hamlet of Nappanee.  I'm not too sure what the deal is with the weather this year with all its volatility, but I can say for sure that camping season cannot come too soon for me!

    As sure as the weather will change every 15 minutes here in Indiana, so too it seems that technology will change almost as often.  It never ceases to amaze me just how far we have come in the last 20 years, and how fast we are advancing.  Perhaps the greatest strides made in technology over the years have been in the field of communication.  Remember the good old days when you had to stop at something called a "payphone", and scrounge for loose change in your pocket to make a phone call?  Remember when we had to go to a mailbox, or a post office to send and receive mail?  
    Well, perhaps we are living in the good NEW days…

    No longer do we have to be confined to a land based location to get our mail, or to call our friends and family.  The technological miracle that is the internet has brought all of that and more to our finger tips… and we don't have to plug in anymore to access it.  The real beauty of it all is that we really don't have to rocket scientists to take advantage of it.  It's becoming a part of our daily lives.

    If you are already tech-savvy and are out there living on the airwaves, I apologize because some of this month's article may be review, but for the rest of us still linked to the world by wire, well, here are some alternatives.  

    Despite its pitfalls and vastness, the internet is just too good a resource not to utilize in today's RV lifestyle.  You can get a new crock pot recipe, share pictures with friends, plot a winding course to your next destination, buy and sell stocks, download music and movies… the possibilities the internet puts at your fingertips is almost infinite.  Now technology has provided the ability to affordably "cut the cord" that connects us to that information with the use of WiFi, wireless routers, and modem cards.

    If you have a fairly current laptop, chances are you already have the equipment built in to "live wireless", accessing local WiFi "Hot Spots" in campgrounds, coffee houses, restaurants, and so on. If you don't have wireless capability, you can get connected by buying a wireless card for your computer (available at Walmart, Best Buy, and virtually every store out there that sells computers and their accessories).  

    As you step into this wireless world, one decision you need to make early on is who is going to be your ISP, or Internet Service Provider. There are a lot of them out there to chose from, but keep in mind, if you are going to be traveling a lot it's probably best to go with a provider that offers national service, like EarthNet, or Net Zero, or others that have an established nationwide network.  

    It's also important to think about what you need the internet for; are you just going to check your mail once every day or two?  Are you going to be trading stocks daily on line?  How you use it will greatly determine what equipment you need.
    WiFi "Hot Spots" at campgrounds and other stationary locations provide you that wireless access to the internet you want without the hassle of plugging into a phone line.  Let's say, though, that you want to access your e-mail or check your eBay auction item while you are in transit.  No problem; a cell modem card (or "Air Card") will allow you to access the internet through the cell phone network.  There are also systems that allow you to use a regular WiFi card to broadcast to a Wireless Cellular Internet system located in your unit, which transmits out on the cell network (we offer this as an option now in Mountain Aire, Essex, King Aire, and London Aire motorhomes).  This "Internet In Motion" package allows you access to the internet anywhere there is cell signal.

    There's a lot of really great information out there on the internet on this stuff.  Go to Google sometime and type in "Internet on the Road"… you will be amazed at just how much information is out there.  Of course, I also fall back on "HowStuffWorks.com" a lot to help clarify things I do not understand.  

    Thanks for tuning in again this month.  Whether you are reading this on line or in a magazine, we appreciate your patronage, and hope you find the information helpful. Enjoy the rest of your winter, and remember, spring is just around the corner.