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Internet on a Roll

by Mark Sedenquist

Some folks make a long list of New Year's resolutions, with little real intention to make any of them come true. I only have one. And it can be described in exactly the same terms as we posed in 1994 when Megan, Marvin and I hit the road in the Phoenix One. We want to be able to connect to the Internet at reasonable speeds and at a reasonable cost anywhere in North America.

From recent e-mail, I know that a lot of folks have a similar interest and so this column is dedicated to my fellow adventurers who, like us, intend to find something that really works.

It seems like it ought to be simple and easy. Nearly every time I look at the web or pick up a new computer magazine I read about the ease of using wireless communication devices to log-on to the Internet from remote locations. But the sad fact is that in nearly five years of living and working on the road, the gap, between what actually works and can be counted upon and what "amazing do-dad is on the way" has grown wider.

The "Dashboarding Buck," (DB) stops here. As the RoadWirerâ„¢ I plan to present ideas and suggestions for meeting your wireless communication challenges. I will provide both a resource of equipment ideas and a forum for fellow road adventurers who intend to actually use these devices today and in the future. To be able to live and work on the road all at the same grand moment is one of the foundations of the Dashboarding lifestyle that I will be documenting in the countdown to the next millenium.

The field of wireless communication technologies is chock full of baffling jargon. How many times do you find yourself dropping any of the following into polite conversation: LEO, MEO, Type I & II PCMCIA, CDPD, CSCD, AMPS, NEI, NAM, EID, ESN, PTC, POS, WANS, LANS, HSD, LES? Hopefully, I will be able to supply some common sense explanations about these concepts and also review some of the transmission options including satellite and a variety of radio-telephony systems as we search for the specific options that will work in the real world that YOU live in!

So, you plan to hit the road today and you want to retrieve your e-mail at your destination? Perhaps your best solution is to avoid the techno-pitfalls and use one of the low-tech options that we have used from time to time. Public libraries maintain free Web browsers, Cyber-cafes offer convenient work stations to download files from the Internet while sipping a cup of java, and local businesses like Kinko's provide Internet access for a nominal fee.

Next week I will share some of the techniques that we have used to facilitate the use of cellular and traditional land telephones in our daily quest to be on the road and on-line. If you have questions on topics relating to mobile communication, or better yet, a solution you've discovered and would like to share, please send me an e-mail.

Mark Sedenquist
Pasadena, California
January 24, 1999

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