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  1. #1
    Teri Joyce Guest

    Default Traveling Typist

    I am a medical transcriptionist who has just purchased a small RV. I download my work through the Internet, and I would like to know the basic components I would need to be able to do my work from on the road. I have a Pentium III class home computer, but no laptop right now. I have a Sprint PCS dual-band wireless with fax and web browser capabilities. I'm not sure where to start to figure out how I need to be set up. Any hints?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,060

    Default Dashboarder-in-Training

    Road Greetings Teri and welcome to the RW Forum!

    >I am a medical transcriptionist who has just purchased a small RV. I download my work through the Internet,

    Sounds like a working Dashboarder to us,

    >I have a Pentium III class home computer, but no laptop right now. I have a Sprint PCS dual-band wireless with fax and web browser capabilities.

    Are you planning to rack the PC or how will it be mounted in your RV? One hint for sure: Do not mount the PC on springs, tests from heavy usage in Army trucks indicated that most PC's can withstand sustained shocks but not the wiggly motion associated with dampened spring systems.

    >I'm not sure where to start to figure out how I need to be
    set up. Any hints?

    OK. What handset are you using? What does your documentation say about the "web browser" capability? The reason I ask, is that there is a wide gap between web access using a wired telephone and wireless gear, and we can speed up the process once the components are known.

    A couple more questions, what data speed do you need to download your work files? What are the size of the files? Do you have the required cables or "black boxes" to enable the downloads, (refer to your phone's documentation).

    Sounds like a perfect "Dashboarding" application. Let's find a way to make it happen!

    RW

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,060

    Default PCS has limitations

    The Sprint PCS system has some serious limitations in coverage and the wireless web browsing capability only works where the user can access the PCS network. There are other data networks that can be utilized to work in the non-Sprint areas.

    RW

  4. #4
    Teri Joyce Guest

    Default Traveling Typist

    Thanks for the input. I guess you might have already figured out that I'm not extremely computer literate! I've got the basics down, but I'm still in the beginner's box, I'm afraid. Sounds like I can assume that I'll need a different phone setup. Any suggestions? As for racking the computer, I'm not really sure. I was just going to sort of stow it when not in use and then set it up on the dinette table when I need to (This is a 1978 Dodge Xplorer, 20 feet - pretty high tech, huh?). I'm new to the RV world, but I am a voracious road tripper. I'm also not sure of the specs for downloading, file size, etc. Truth is, the system isn't exactly in use yet; I was getting a little ahead of myself by speaking in the present tense. We should be up and running in a couple weeks, though, and I wanted to plan ahead. If it helps, it's the PC-Dart PlayALL XTRA transcription software, plus Citrix or something like that on the other end. I can get more info later. I'm really just starting at square one here. Thanks for any info you can pass along.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,060

    Default We are all beginners

    Teri,
    It is possible that you will be able to use the Sprint dual-mode handset -- It would help if I knew which handset manufacturer supplied your unit. The bigger problem will still be the network you are using to deliver the data. With limited exceptions, the fastest speed you can rely on is 14.4Kbps in a wireless environment. (Sprint's system is slower than that). However there are some 2-way satellite options that would allow 156K downloads. When you get the information about the probable sizes of the files you will need, how often, where, etc. Let us know and we will get you some answers.

    RW

  6. #6
    Melissa Alexander Guest

    Default another traveling professional, I hope

    Hi Mark & Teri! I'm an independent writer and editor who next week goes under contract to provide daily editorial services for a web site launching in the next few months. My husband and I bought a Road Trek van last fall and can't wait for spring to resume traveling. Obviously, I want to take my work on the road, but I too am at a loss as to how to do this affordably. We plan a number of trips to remote sites, where phone hook-ups won't be available.

    At this point, I have neither a wireless phone nor a laptop, and I'm researching what, if anything, is available that will fit my needs. I'll need the ability to access and download from the Internet, from a Lexis-Nexis database, from my client's LAN and to send daily e-mail news summaries to subscribers. I'll be working about 2 hours a day every morning and like Teri had planned to just stow my laptop when not in use.
    I don't live in the AT&T service area, so I know I can't sign up for their "free calling" program. Mark, you mentioned a 2-way satellite system ... I thought the only thing available now was DirecPC, which as I understand it, is a one-way, receive-only system.

    At any rate, all advice/suggestions are very much appreciated.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,060

    Default Congratulations on the new contract!

    Greetings Melissa,

    You wrote:
    > ...at a loss as to how to do this affordably.

    The sky is literally the limit on the range of prices you can expect to pay to meet your objectives. What is your budget?

    >We plan a number of trips to
    remote sites, where phone hook-ups won't be available.

    Will you be needing to accomplish the morning hook-up every day while you are in these remote locations?

    >I'll
    need the ability to access and download from the Internet,

    Am I correct in assuming that all of these files are text-only and relatively small? (eg: no window-based graphic files)?

    >from a
    Lexis-Nexis database, from my client's LAN and to send daily e-mail news
    summaries to subscribers. I'll be working about 2 hours a day every
    morning

    There are a variety of platforms (eg: types of wireless equipment) that can meet some of your objectives. In areas where there are digital data networks operating, you can purchase devices that have a through-put of 14.4Kbps (see for example the www.sierrawireless.com devices). In analog settings, we have had good success with the Motorola S1936D, (a "black box" interface between the analog cell phone and a PC) which can deliver about 9.6Kbps. In the fringe areas, satellite phones can be used, but top speed on most of these systems is only 2.4Kbps currently.

    > and like Teri had planned to just stow my laptop when not in use.

    Actually Teri was planning to use a desktop PC. A challenge to stow safely. We use laptops ourselves.

    >I don't live in the AT&T service area, so I know I can't sign up for their "free calling" program.

    What major city are you near? You may have digital service nearby thru another carrier.

    > Mark, you mentioned a 2-way satellite
    system ... I thought the only thing available now was DirecPC, which as
    I understand it, is a one-way, receive-only system.

    Actually DirecPC is a two-way system, but it requires a wired phone line for the up-leg. Boeing has just purchased Hughes Network Systems, (HNS) (see the threads below) and the near-time status of the SpaceWay and 400K satellite systems is unknown. I am researching this currently.

    No easy answers yet, but please provide me with the range of sizes of the files you will be using and from where you are planning to need to connect and I will make some recommendations.

    RW

  8. #8
    Melissa Alexander Guest

    Default still figuring things out

    Hello ! I'm not sure of the answers to all your questions because I'm not set up yet on my home pc with all the software and data connections I'll be using. This will be arranged in the next few weeks. Nonetheless, here's some more info.

    Re: my budget, well, I've read horror stories about dashboarders paying thousands of $$ a month to be connected, and I freely admit that's a lot more than I can afford. I was thinking along the lines of $100-$200 a month for connection services, which is why the AT&T one rate is so appealing.

    Re: Hook-ups, I need to have access every Mon-Fri morning, some of the work must be completed by 8 a.m. central time. A few days a month (schedule varies), I'll need to update the site's info and data periodically through the day. Not sure yet exactly how much time must actually be on line.

    Re: text vs graphic. We're not talking video or photo files, but some of the pages I'll need to access, including the web site itself, include graphics. Formats I need to access on line (and either print or save) are PDF, Excel-Lotus and text. Most of the source info I'll be working with will be fewer than 100 KB, but some will be as much as 300-400 kb. I'll also be working with a custom database designed for my client. I get the software this week, and I don't know yet how much, if any, of the database work can be done offline.

    Re: where I live & mobile services, I'm in the Kansas City metro area (Kansas side). My husband has the Sprint digital PCS service, and from the traveling we've done across the country, we're very aware of its geographical limitations and the high costs when outside the Sprint network. Friends have dual band Sprint, which they've told us is also very expensive when using analog. Sprint dominates in this region and other services available here appear to be comparable in cost.

    Unfortunately from a connectivity standpoint, we love to retreat to remote areas, like rural Kansas and the National Forests in Colorado. We also travel to the Middle Atlantic, Southeast and Arizona to see family. We like to avoid cities and take "blue highways" whenever possible. At this point, we don't travel for months or weeks at a time (husband has a full-time job with lots of vacation hours), more like 7-10 days per trip and long weekends.

    Is there hope for this would-be dashboarder?

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    10,060

    Default Hope for would-be Dashboarder?

    Road Greetings Melissa,

    M: Re: my budget, well, I've read horror stories about dashboarders paying
    thousands of $$ a month to be connected, and I freely admit that's a lot
    more than I can afford. I was thinking along the lines of $100-$200 a month for connection services, which is why the AT&T one rate is so appealing.

    RW: The AT&T "One Rate" plan is a digital format and subject to the same kinds of problems you have experienced with the Sprint PCS network. However, AT&T is basically a re-seller of service and so it reach is probably better than the PCS-Sprint program. (For a postive report from a working dashboarder -- check out Craig's posting on the "No Roaming Charges" thread under Advertising -- his message's subject heading is "Desolation and Keeps on Ringing"). Also look at Chris' information about the performance of his Nokia 6120 under the "How to connect" section -- his subject was "Nokia 6120".

    RW: Given your requirements, I found it doubtful that you will be able to meet them in wireless environment for less than $2,000 per month.

    RW: One "wired" solution would be to stay at RV campgrounds, that have telephone access, (in one-two week periods), at which you establish residential services. A couple of years ago, we were maintaining residential telephone service in five key locations around the country.
    RW: Depending on the set-up it is not necessary to pay space rent at the RV park for the period, just the minimum telephone fees.

    RW: I know this is not the wireless option you hoped for.

    RW: Alternatively, you could use a Motorola S1936D "black box" which creates a dial tone and enhances an interface between an analog cellular phone and your PC. However top "real-two-way" speed is about 9.6Kbps. Adequate for e-mail, but real slow for web pages. (We have posted material to our website by FTP at these speeds -- but the costs can easily reach $3.50 per minute in roaming status.)

    RW: The use of the devices employing digital overlay systems, (CDMA, CDPD, GSM, etc) are also going to exceed your budget and are subject to blank zones. It is possible that the use of Bell South's Mobitex data network, might provide some if not all of your data in a pager-like format, but I would need some more information about your applications.

    M: Re: text vs graphic. We're not talking video or photo files, but some of
    the pages I'll need to access, including the web site itself, include
    graphics. Formats I need to access on line (and either print or save)
    are PDF, Excel-Lotus and text. Most of the source info I'll be working
    with will be fewer than 100 KB, but some will be as much as 300-400 kb.
    I'll also be working with a custom database designed for my client. I
    get the software this week, and I don't know yet how much, if any, of
    the database work can be done offline.

    RW: Satellite-based data systems also seem to be contraindicated based on your budget.

    M: Re: where I live & mobile services, I'm in the Kansas City metro area
    (Kansas side). My husband has the Sprint digital PCS service, and from
    the traveling we've done across the country, we're very aware of its
    geographical limitations and the high costs when outside the Sprint
    network. Friends have dual band Sprint, which they've told us is also
    very expensive when using analog. Sprint dominates in this region and
    other services available here appear to be comparable in cost.

    RW: What you are looking for is very nearly a definition of the wireless grail we have been searching for too. Once your software is installed, please run some tests on the size of the files and the likely duration of on-line working periods and I will ponder some more possibilities for you.

    RW

  10. #10
    Melissa Alexander Guest

    Default if they can put a man on the moon ...

    Mark, many thanks for the info, even tho' it was, as I feared, more than a little disheartening. As you noted, I'll have a much better handle on my wireless requirements after I get everything set up and running, so we'll see what can be done then. Thanks again, and I'll be back later!

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