Monday, December 15, 2008

Tech stuff


Since I'm the forum administrator for RV Travel and Free Campgrounds/Free Stays websites, and a member of the web committee for RVing Women, I've received several emails asking how I stay online as a full-time RVer and what equipment I use. The products I will be showing you are what I use successfully. They are not an endorsement for any of the manufacturers--I don't receive any royalties nor commissions for mentioning them (although I wouldn't turn down the money if offered).

First, I use an HP DV6000 Pavilion Entertainment laptop. It has a wide screen, built-in microphone, 802.11 b/g wi-fi, three USB ports, a PS 2 port, a printer port, two phone jacks (one DSL), a firewire port, an aircard port, a TV tuner port, a CD/DVD player/burner, Altec Lansing speakers, a mike port, stereo headset ports, and infrared. There is a 160 GB hard drive, 1.6 gigahertz Intel processor, a GB of RAM, and the loathsome, disgusting Vista operating system which I have learned to tolerate. I use a Logitech cordless laser mouse.

To protect the laptop itself, I use Registry Manager, PC Tools Spyware Doctor and Norton Antivirus. To protect my email, I use MailWasher Pro which filters the messages after they are sent from the various email addresses I have and after they have been filtered by their email server. Since I started working with computers in 1972 when they were mainframes to the present day, I have had one virus which was immediately identified and the link offered to remove the virus. Total possession time of virus infection to removal: less than two minutes. I also have LoJack to protect my laptop if it's stolen.

Other cool software I use: Microsoft Office 2003 and 2007 (some government agencies and others are still using the older version), MS Streets & Trips and Delorme Street Atlas.

After watching the hackers in "Live Free or Die Hard," I thought the flexible vinyl keyboard they used was pretty cool so I purchased one. Now I'm not limited to the laptop keyboard. This one is full-size and washable.


If I'm in a fringe area for wi-fi connectivity, I use a Linksys booster antenna. It plugs directly into a USB port or I can plug in the stand and move the antenna to a window for better reception.


For backing up the data on my computer, I use three Maxtor drives: two 100-gigabyte drives and a Maxtor III with 500 gigabytes. I have over 100 gigs of music and spoken word files alone. There is also a complete system backup including all documents. That means if anything happens to my laptop, I can take the data from the three drives and load it into the new/different computer. For me, it's much easier than carrying multiple backup CDs.


To create and imprint the CDs of my books, I use an HP LightScribe drive that not only copies the data, it will inscribe the title, pictures or whatever I choose on the disk itself.






Printing, scanning and copying are done on an all-in-one HP 1200 printer. It also prints pictures on photo paper for instant image capture.


For pictures or short videos to upload, I have a Nikon Coolpix digital camera. Mine, however, is silver.








All the above doesn't take as much room as you might think. The three Maxtor and one LightScribe drives fit in a small box. The printer is attached to the top of the CD/DVD storage drawers. The camera is usually in the top zippered compartment of my backback. Everything else fits in a laptop case.

So that's what I have. How about you?

27 comments:

  1. So back to the question, How do you stay on line on the road?? Do you have a phone connection, pick up free wifi?? or???

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  2. Thank you for this information! I'm planning on a cross-country trip next year and would like to stay connected. Presently have a 4 year old Toshiba Satellite with Wi-Fi (and Windows XP, thank goodness). It's been a great laptop, recently had a new 160gig hard drive installed and I use a 500-gig external hard drive. I primarily use storage for photos. When this laptop dies I'll be getting an Apple (undecided on which one). Am swearing off Microsoft after swearing at them for years. I have a 6'-wide teardrop trailer

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  3. I had to laugh at your comment 'disgusting Vista operating system'. I have Vista on my Fujitsu laptop at home and my PC at work. I actually prefer Vista to XP. What helped greatly when I bought my Vista machine at home was upgrade my peripheral devices with new Vista compliant equipment. With computer prices coming down all the time and processor speeds and features increasing, any computer or peripheral over 2 or 3 years old is..well....old!

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  4. Love the article and advise. Nice to see what someone in the KNOW uses!!

    I really love that keyboard who makes it?

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  5. Comment about Vista. We are not experts. We only speak from our personal experience. We wanted a new computer. We heard about the problems with Vista but also that many new programs would be created for Vista that would not work on other systems. We did research. What we heard is that Vista uses a ton of RAM. Vista will not run properly with less than 2 gigs RAM. We bought a new Dell with 4 gigs of RAM for this reason. At first we had some problems we thought might be Vista but it turned out to be a defective hard drive. We replaced the hard drive and have never had any problem with this computer since then. We think Vista is great and has many useful features. But it will not work well on old computers or computers with less than at least 2 gigs RAM. We read somewhere that with Vista you can increase RAM by using flash/thumb drives in USB ports but we do not know if this is true. Try increasing your RAM and you might just like Vista.

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  6. I stay online several ways: I use wi-fi when I can get good signal strength and have free access at any McDonalds or Starbucks, among other places. When I don't have a good wi-fi signal, I use the aircard to connect and I haven't been any place where I couldn't connect with either.

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  7. I'm waiting for Windows 7. My tech friends tell me after playing with the beta version that it's "Vista done right."

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  8. I too ask, what do you use for your internet connection? I continue to be amazed at the numbers of folks who have not chosen to get on the "cell technology" bandwagon. We use a Sprint air card and we have connectivity anywhere we are within range of a cell tower. This is independent of our cell phones, and we pay a monthly service fee. The upside to that is that we are not at the mercy of less-than-reliably wi-fi services at RV parks, either for the service or the cost.

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  9. And I ask: How do you access the internet? I am amazed at the numbers of RVers who still rely on the Wi-Fi technology with its questionable reliablity, availablity and cost. We use a Sprint air card and we have connectivity as long as we are within cell tower range. I am online the entire time we are underway!! We grew weary of the iffy WiFi services and charges offered by RV parks, so we are completely independent and have service all the time. Yes, we pay about $50/month, but that is service 24/7 365 days a year from any location.

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  10. There is another way that many people don't think about - it is called tethering. Many of the new cell phones are capable of acting as an "air card". When my air card died, I went to T-Mobile to get a new one - it was quite expensive ($160), but the salesperson recommended I get a phone instead. Seemed weird to me, but the phone was free, they just transferred my data plan ($29.99) to the new phone and away I went. I had to download some software to the laptop, but it works great and much faster than my old air card. I have a cable that goes from the phone to a USB port. The phone is a Nokia and most providers have data plans that you can add to your existing voice services. I use this phone only for data - I don't have a voice plan at all on that service. I have my i-Phone for that! Which I know some of you will ask, why not use the i-Phone with your laptop? I do use it for all communications when I'm only traveling for 4-5 days - I can do email, web browse, map routing, and much more -- but you can't compose documents and typing, while easier than many phones, is still, well, a phone. So, on longer trips I still take my laptop. AT&T, while they have a reasonable data plan for the i-Phone ($20), doesn't have connectivity to tether it - I suppose that will be coming, then I can get rid of the T-Mobile service all together. Hope this gives another idea to some.

    Carol White
    www.roadtripdream.com

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  11. It takes 1 GB of RAM for Vista to wake up in the morning. Double your RAM and you will like Vista much better.

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  12. My setup is a little different. I'm on all the time as well. I use a MacbookPro (actually two of them). To get online we have an aircard plugged into a Cradlepoint wireless access point, which we can both log into. We don't have any of the anti-virus stuff, since Macs are pretty safe from the malware. We feed our email through GMail, which has the best spam filters I've seen anywhere (and it's free).

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  13. Adrienne, Could you post the info for your Linksys Antenna Booster. I would like to purchase one for my ASUS laptop with 802.11bgn internal wireless. In campgrounds your Linksys may be the answer. I need the model # and specifics and where you find it. Futureshop and Best Buy don't know what these are in Canada

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  14. To purchase the Linksys wi-fi booster, just go to http://www.linksys.com. I purchased mine at Radio Shack but you can buy one at this site.

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  15. 99% of the time, I use the ATT aircard to access the internet. If I'm in a wi-fi enhanced area, I will use that. It depends on signal strength. Here at the CA state park where I work, I'm at least 100 yards from the wi-fi tower and receive 4 to 5 bars on the aircard. Naturally, I use the aircard to connect.

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  16. I use a program called Startup Delayer so Vista can use the resources it needs to boot. Startup Delayer allows me to decide which programs need to open right away (communication manager, Mailwasher Pro, etc.), and which can be delayed for minutes to hours. That way, everything on my system is not fighting for the processor.

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  17. There is no manufacturer name on the keyboard. I purchased mine from a local guy on eBay. Just Google "flexible keyboard" and be sure it's compatible with your operating system. There is a really cool one with a blue lighted background but it's not compatible with Vista and it's in Hong Kong. I try to buy local and U.S. when I can.

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  18. Adrienne, I have been searching for that antenna booster for the last 8 hours. I contacted Linksys live support and the guy could not locate the product for me. The closest I got was the "WUSB600N". The support person says that it only works with "N" routers. (I don't believe him because the description lead me to believe that it will work with any router but may worker 'better' with another linksys router.) I have a techno-geek son and will pass on this info to him.

    I actually use the AT&T connect card for one laptop but the older one uses wifi only and that one my husband uses just to read, send email, and play spider solitare;-)

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  19. Here is the Linksys on today's Craigslist:

    http://sfbay.craigslist.org/eby/sys/964945969.html

    The price is right!

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  20. Just curious about your comment that you have free internet access at Starbucks. Is this after you pay for the subscription service? I've not seen free access there for some time. Have they changed their policies?
    Thanks,
    Keith

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  21. I have an ATT program with a $19.99 monthly fee that allows me to use wi-fi free at McDonalds, Starbucks, some campgrounds and RV parks with Tengo recognition, airports, hotels, etc.--basically any site ATT has established like the CA State Parks.

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  22. I would like to know how you got your job!!! I so want to be a full time rver, but would have to make a living somehow! I do subscribe to all the full time rver enewsletters that are out there, but always interested in hearing how people make their living, especially single women, which is what I am!

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  23. Back in the stone ages (2003), I started full-time RVing again, this time as a solo. I read all the RV books I could find and one of them, RV Traveling Tales by Jaimie Hall-Bruzenak and Alice Zyetz, contained stories from 52 women RVers. I've been an editor for more years than I care to remember and sent Jaimie an email about a typo I found. She thanked me and asked if I would edit and contribute to another book they were working on: The Woman's Guide to Solo RVing. I did and it's a terrific CD if I say so myself. Meanwhile, Chuck Woodbury of RV Bookstore and RV Travel, was looking for writers and an editor for the newsletter. One thing led to another and I became the forum administrator for RV Travel and Free Campgrounds websites along with writing the Women RVers blog. I also wrote one book, co-authored another, and have edited other books for Jaimie, Alice, and some members of the RV Authors Co-op. I really enjoy my work (even handling the daily potential spammers). Every post in the forums has been touched by me and the members have taught me so much. I'm very grateful to have work that is portable and can be done anywhere I have a connection to the 'net.

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  24. I happen to like Vista. I also was concerned because of all the bad press but it's been working wonderfully for us. We have a new Toshiba Satellite with 4G of ram and a 320GB hard drive with all the bells & whistles. We also use a Sprint USB CDMA Broadband card with a 5 Gig monthly allowance for $59.99 a month. Works great!! I don't worry about security like I would using WiFi. We also use a Logitech wireless mouse and HP 1200xi all-in-one printer.
    Use to use a compaq equpped with a Sprint PC card. That also worked well for us. I don't mind the monthly fee for the great headache free service that we get. Has worked well all over the country.

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  25. Windows 7 (formerly known as Blackcomb and Vienna) is the working name for the next major version of Microsoft Windows as the successor to Windows Vista. Microsoft has announced that it is "scoping Windows 7 development to a three-year timeframe", and that "the specific release date will ultimately be determined by meeting the quality bar." Windows 7 is expected to be released by 2009 or near January 2010. The client versions of Windows 7 will ship in both 32-bit and 64-bit versions. A server variant, codenamed Windows Server 7, ...
    pretty sure it's out already in beta mode, do a search for it if you want to try it before they finish..........

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  26. I love all of your thoughts on tech stuff. I am an online junkie and photographer as I travel. I have a new fun hobby! The all-in-one has added a new dimension to my Airstream. I now print and hang photos in seconds. I found this frontloading picture frame that velcros to my wall. it is sturdy and I can store and change to new pics all day long! Check it out: brilliantframe.com

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  27. I love all of your thoughts on tech stuff. I am an online junkie and photographer as I travel. I have a new fun hobby! The all-in-one has added a new dimension to my Airstream. I now print and hang photos in seconds. I found this frontloading picture frame that velcros to my wall. it is sturdy and I can store and change to new pics all day long! Check it out: brilliantframe.com

    ReplyDelete