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Old 07-20-2011, 11:22 AM   #21
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Devices we have been using...

On our road trip from LA-Portland-Seattle-Missoula-Joseph, OR-Baker City, Or-Ft. Collins, CO-Dodge City, KS-Oklahoma City- and now 30 miles east of Kasas City, we have had various connectivity.......

We have the following devices and plans:
I Phone with AT&T
Droid X with Verizon (Easytether app) unlimited data plan
Verizon Broadband 4 g (they wanted us to upgrade from our 3 g)
Verizon Galaxy Tab 3 g
And we have tried to connect to various WIFI in campgrounds (unsecured)

Let me say, that each location has provided challenges and we have resorted to going to the local library to get internet (Joseph, OR and Lewiston, ID comes to mind). Sometimes we could get on the campground WIFI but sometimes not.....so we have considered a booster antenna.....sometimes we were in places like Lake Wallowa (beautiful place) that had no cell service or internet.

Right now, we are 30 miles east of Kansas City near I-70 and the Verizon Broadband 4 g is not working.but the Galaxy Tab is.....and also my Easytether ($9) app on my Droid is working.......go figure.....we are really not that far off the grid.....

I think we would have been better off keeping our Verizon Mifi (3g) except that they reduced the monthly plan by $10 a month to go with the 4 g...(we left it at home or I would try it)...we even had trouble with their 4g in downtown Chicago....so it is a mystery to me where they have 4g.....maybe LA and NY? Certainly not in the places we have been traveling...

Next on our list of places to go are Cleveland, Detroit, Chicago, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, and Omaha......will let you know if we have better connectivity in those places...paula
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Old 07-20-2011, 11:56 AM   #22
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I think we would have been better off keeping our Verizon Mifi (3g) except that they reduced the monthly plan by $10 a month to go with the 4 g...(we left it at home or I would try it)...we even had trouble with their 4g in downtown Chicago....so it is a mystery to me where they have 4g.....maybe LA and NY? Certainly not in the places we have been traveling...
Same thing here. While on a cross country trip we a problem with our 3g USB modem and the nearest Verizon dealership claimed they couldn't replace it, so we went with the 4g and essentially lost most connectivity, no matter where we were. Even in the cities where there was supposed to be 4g, when it wouldn't connect, the modem wouldn't even kick back to 3g like it was supposed to. We found a Verizon affiliate in Texas that had the same 3g model as our broken one. Problem solved. The 4g (at least the one Verizon sold us) just wasn't ready. I guess I'll stick with 3g until 4g coverage is more widespread and stable.
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Old 07-21-2011, 12:14 AM   #23
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We have recently switched from an old Alltel USB air card to the new Samsung Verizon 3G/4G MiFi hotspot device because we now have 2 laptops and we can surf at the same time. We haven't had the opportunity to really test it extensively, but so far, even with only 3G it's been working fine... I find it as good if not better than the old Alltel air card (which worked very well for us), despite the fact that I have yet to get a 4G signal because of where we go. I do think we are going to invest in a booster device for those times when I know I could get a signal if I had more oomph. I was worried that I might not be able to connect when the device is in side the Airstream, but that has not been a real problem so far...if I am outside and it's inside or vice versa, it's worked pretty well. I've also used it at home when the cable connection has been down for one reason or another...nice backup.
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Old 07-22-2011, 09:12 AM   #24
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Gringo,

I have seen several "lapdesk" type products at the home and office stores here in the States. It consists of a "bean-bag" type bottom with a curved wook or laminate surface mounted on top of the bag. It would work great for what you are describing.

Here is a link to what I am trying to describe: Euro Lap Desk - Bamboo | Lap Desks | Office
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Old 07-29-2011, 12:15 PM   #25
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WIFI InMotion

We've now had the Wifi InMotion (WIFM) system for 2 years. It was installed by George Sutton, Bend.

When traveling we depend on a good strong Internet connection. Most parks systems are not acceptable including higher-end new parks such as Crown Villa in Bend (really bad WIFI).

Long story short, I've tested our 3G and now 4G cards direct in our computers and then plugged in to our MBR1000 router with external antenna and booster amp. Night and day. No drop outs and faster speeds with WIFM versus constant table pounding using the card direct to computer.

Bottom line, after two years of 3G and now 4G use I would not travel in an RV without the WIFM router, external antenna and booster amp!

Hope this helps.
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Old 07-29-2011, 12:18 PM   #26
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Gringo,

I have seen several "lapdesk" type products at the home and office stores here in the States. It consists of a "bean-bag" type bottom with a curved wook or laminate surface mounted on top of the bag. It would work great for what you are describing.

Here is a link to what I am trying to describe: Euro Lap Desk - Bamboo | Lap Desks | Office

that looks perfect for what we want, thank you very much. Showed that to La Gringa Suprema and she said 'I want one'.

Shinyroad, I am not sure it's important which router, there's no amplifier gain in that, but what amp and external antenna are you finding is working so well for you?
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Old 07-29-2011, 01:39 PM   #27
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that looks perfect for what we want, thank you very much. Showed that to La Gringa Suprema and she said 'I want one'.
...
I use one of those in the "Mahogany" finish. The finishes are all just finish over more plain wood, anyway. I found mine at the Staples here in Little Rock. They seem to be much more reasonably prices at Staples, see: Contour Lap Desk, Mahogany | Staples. There's probably a Staples near you too. (On edit, I keep forgetting you're out in the islands. Maybe I'm just jealous. )

I've been using mine for over four years now. The "Mahogany" finish is getting thin where I use the mouse, but the lap desk still functions just fine. I guess the "Bamboo" would not show wear as much since the underlying wood is light and close to bamboo in color.
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Old 07-29-2011, 01:50 PM   #28
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My understanding is that the prepaid Verizon aircard does not give as good coverage as the aircard you pay for all year. They want you to pay more, but because others have prepaid cards, they have to, sort of, compete. I don't know whether this is true of mifi, but it it good to check.

I've thought of an exterior antenna, but haven't bothered. The way to go would be to strap one to the TV antenna (insulate from it), run a wire down the fridge vent and then find a way to get it to a computer or other device. I believe there are exterior antennas with a transmitter that will relay a wifi signal to your computer; you use it when you are camping.

All of this is more than I want to deal with until it gets simpler. I bought a high gain antenna last year and it didn't do much at all with my old Powerbook and I haven't tried it with my new MacBook. We get by and I curse campground wifi frequently, but most of the time it's adequate, barely. I keep hoping this will be simple, but it never seems to be. One thing I have learned is not to ever believe anything anyone tells me about this at Best Buy.

Thanks for the tips about Verizon 4G. Verizon has long had the best coverage, but maybe that's over. We have used a Verizon dumb phone for years because we travel a lot and it works for what we need. It works badly at home, but we don't use it here.

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Old 07-29-2011, 02:28 PM   #29
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Quote:
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My understanding is that the prepaid Verizon aircard does not give as good coverage as the aircard you pay for all year. They want you to pay more, but because others have prepaid cards, they have to, sort of, compete. I don't know whether this is true of mifi, but it it good to check.

~~~
The reason prepaid cards don't have as much coverage as postpaid, contract cards is that prepaid devices typically do not roam. A VZW prepaid device will only work with VZW signal, but a contract device will roam on a Sprint tower if VZW signal isn't available. This usually applies to voice devices as well.
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Old 11-04-2011, 08:53 PM   #30
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You might look at the WiFiRanger Pro, and WFRBoost. They use your 3G MiFi if no other WiFi is available, but most of the time can connect to even the ugliest campground WiFi no problem. www.wifiranger.com

I've had mine for about a 6 months, and am amazed at the distance it can pull in free wifi.
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Old 12-18-2011, 12:35 PM   #31
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Just curious -- should one be concerned about security when using campground wifi? Do you use free wifi for paying bills, buying things online, etc?

It would seem that using your own cellular modem or cell phone tether would be more secure.

Opinions?
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Old 12-18-2011, 12:40 PM   #32
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We have the Verizon mi-fi thingy, love it and only rarely use campground wifi.

I would never check the bank account or handle any financial transaction on public internet.


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Old 12-18-2011, 12:47 PM   #33
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I absolutely do not use public wi-fi for anything secure. Use your air card. It's a private connecton that others nearby can't hack into unless you connect it to a router. If you do that make it secure by password protection.
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Old 12-18-2011, 02:07 PM   #34
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You should be using ssl connections with banks, etc. Those should be secure even on unencrypted wifi.
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Old 12-19-2011, 12:55 PM   #35
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You should be using ssl connections with banks, etc. Those should be secure even on unencrypted wifi.
Let me clarify that - as long as you are sure you're connecting to the proper website, and not some spoofed one (known as a "man in the middle attack"), it should be fine. If you get a warning that the certificate doesn't match, or something like that, then you should wait. SSL security, as designed, is fairly good.
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Old 12-21-2011, 04:51 PM   #36
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Wifi security starts with you. Make sure your computer has the firewall enabled. Don't answer e-mails that purport to come from banks, the IRS and others—they are almost always attempts to get your personal information. I would think a campground with a password is better than one without. I suppose some hackers like to stay in campgrounds and their RV's are loaded with electronic gear, but it appears unlikely. Make sure websites of banks, brokerages, etc., have the symbol for a secure server (a locked padlock) on them—I have never seen one that didn't.

You can't defend yourself from a company that has insufficient security for your information or an employee who losses the company laptop or phone with that information on it. You may not know that has happened. And when you have to give your social security number at some business (doctor's office seem to like this) or your Medicare card (it has your social security number printed on it), you are exposed to an unscrupulous employee. If you leave your credit card with a gas station employee while you pump gas, that is asking for trouble. Credit card receipts that print out your credit card number are another problem at the gas pump—don't leave that receipt in the machine either. Or if you use a computer at a library or a hotel, previous web pages that you have used for financial transactions are easy to access unless you go back and delete them all. That's just a few of the things to watch for.

But, Skater is right—most of the time you are ok.

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Old 12-21-2011, 06:13 PM   #37
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Adding to what Gene wrote, if you get a printed credit card receipt that has your whole credit card number on it anywhere in the US, call your credit card issuer and complain. The merchant is out of compliance with their merchant agreement. They should only print the last 4 or so digits of the card number on any receipt for you or on any form that the merchant retains, along with a transaction number.

(Note that I'm not talking about an old-fashioned card imprint machine that makes a physical rubbing of your card number. There are places that still have these for "emergency" situations where their card reader doesn't work.)
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Old 12-21-2011, 07:25 PM   #38
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You should be using ssl connections with banks, etc. Those should be secure even on unencrypted wifi.
You know, even though this is "technically" correct, I work full time on the road, and my company's internal PCI requirements say that I cannot use any public wifi period, regardless of security. I travel with 3 mifis (att, sprint and verizon) and a RSA security dongle and use them exclusively. We don't even check gmail on a public wifi....but we've also found that if we're paying for internet anyway (which we do) then we're just going to use what we pay for, as we've found 99% of the campgrounds that we stay at have horribly slow internet anyway.

This is how my computer, with access to lots of sensitive data, does not fall into the wrong hands
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Old 12-21-2011, 09:20 PM   #39
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Safe to perform transactions over the web, even via public WiFi - just ensure you have your SSL certificate on the web site "Https"...
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Old 12-23-2011, 09:33 AM   #40
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You know, even though this is "technically" correct, I work full time on the road, and my company's internal PCI requirements say that I cannot use any public wifi period, regardless of security. I travel with 3 mifis (att, sprint and verizon) and a RSA security dongle and use them exclusively. We don't even check gmail on a public wifi....but we've also found that if we're paying for internet anyway (which we do) then we're just going to use what we pay for, as we've found 99% of the campgrounds that we stay at have horribly slow internet anyway.

This is how my computer, with access to lots of sensitive data, does not fall into the wrong hands
It's funny - my employer sent a message with advice of using cell phone provider connections instead of public Wifi since I posted the above. I had to laugh.

I too work for a company with some incredible security requirements, so I totally hear what you're saying. Sounds like yours is even more strict. Still, thinking AT&T, Verizon, or any other provider is necessarily safer is dangerous - the data could be intercepted at any point on the internet between your laptop and the server you want. There are always risks.

I agree with you about the campground Wifi; they sometimes (not always) are pretty bad. We happened to be camping the weekend of Michael Jackson's death...and a friend of ours was having a baby. It was pretty frustrating to get the news about the baby. We now have iPhones and can surf that way, which is generally slower than Wifi, but at least it's usable. I have the tethering plan for my phone, so we can hook up a laptop, and when we replace the phones, we'll be able to set up a Wifi hotspot with my phone.

We don't work out of our camper, so our requirements are a lot looser. Our employer still requires us to go into the office at least most of the week, and we can't telework for certain things (namely working on private data). Aside from employer security restrictions, as long as I'm certain I'm talking to the correct website, and it's SSL, I don't worry about it.
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