Mar 242009

Judging by the number of responses I got to yesterday’s blog, both in comments left and e-mails, apparently Sunday the entire internet was suffering from a massive slowdown.

I heard from people from Florida to Texas and California, and north to Maine, and they all reported problems accessing the internet for several hours Sunday. These were not all Verizon air card users either. It seems like folks who use AT&T and Sprint air cards were having the same problems.

But I have to remember that technology has come light years in a pretty short period of time, and we’ve got it really good today. When Terry and I started fulltiming ten years ago, we had to lug our laptop computer up to the campground office, often pay a buck or two, and then we could plug into a telephone line and download our e-mail. We’d sign off, read it offline, write our replies, and then sign back on to send them.

Then they came up with a card that linked a cell phone to the computer, and if you held your head at just the right angle, didn’t sneeze, and the gods were in a good mood, you could get online at speeds that were just a little slower than driving across the country and delivering the message in person.

Mobile rooftop mounted internet dishes, as well as their tripod mounted counterparts, were a huge advancement in connectivity on the road, and for us, they revolutionized the way we did business. I would have never considered starting a website or selling our books, CDs, and subscriptions online before that. But being able to get online just about anywhere we could get a clear line of sight to the sky, and at reasonably high speeds, was the ultimate in luxury for us.

Back in the early days of the dish systems, there was a real battle between the people who advocated the automatic rooftop systems and those of us who had tripod models. There were rumors and wild tales about FCC and FBI agents driving through RV parks and rallies looking for the supposedly “illegal” tripod systems, and if you had one you could have your RV confiscated.

We also heard dire warnings about how dangerous an improperly aligned dish could be. At one Escapees rally, a vendor selling the automatic systems told a story about someone who walked in front of a tripod dish just when the owner transmitted an e-mail, and the “rays” drove an ink pen in the poor pedestrian’s shirt pocket through his heart.

Another dealer claimed that if I pointed my dish the wrong way, I would jam an airliner’s navigation system and blow it out of the sky. I responded in the Gypsy Journal that if that were true, every maladjusted high school geek and homegrown terrorist would be out in their back yards shooting down airplanes. Ahh, those were the good old days!

So overall, I guess we can’t complain if the internet has an occasional brain fart and slows down on us once in a while. We’ve still come a long way, baby!

Thought For The Day – Society often forgives the criminal; it never forgives the dreamer.

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Nick Russell

World-Famous, New York Times Best Selling Author, and All-Around Nice Guy!

  3 Responses to “We've Come A Long Way, Baby!”

  1. How RIGHT you are!!!! A long way! remember the waiting lines at the pay phones in all the RV parks? You were only allowed to talk on it for 10 minutes,,,,,,,,and someone was usually behing you with a stop watch timing you……
    We didn’t even have Wireless TIRE PRESSURE MONITORS!! We had to get on our hands and knees and check our tire air pressure,,,,,,,,,or wait until tomorrow to do it….;-)

    Oh how right you are, we have came a LONG way!!!


  2. We are using the Motosat automatic dish system. It did not slow down on Sunday. We really like the fact that it is automatic. We just park where we can see the southern sky and push a button. In a few minutes we have a broadband Internet connection. We were in a beautiful campground in Oregon for a week two years. We loved the area but there was absolutely no cell phone service at all, no pay phones, no TV and the campground office was mostly closed all of the time. The owners came by each evening and collected the money. Anyway, we were glad we had our Motosat satellite dish with the attached bird on a wire Direct TV. We could watch TV, check e-mail,surf the web and communicate with our children via Yahoo Messenger which allows voice and video calls over the Internet.

  3. Hey Nick, there are times I would like to get rid of my HughesNet dish with bird on wire for DTV. Sometimes I can set it up in 5 minutes, other times it takes hours. One time I could not get the internet to work so just setup the DirecTV to relax awhile before trying again. After about an hour I looked over at my HughesNet modem and all the lights were on. Pulled up the signal meter and was the best I had seen in years. No system is perfect. But I am still waiting for it. John

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