Utilizing technology on the go

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By Carol Colborn Technology is the sum total of state-of-the-art means (specific methods, materials, and devices) used to solve today?s practical problems. Today?s means include hardware, software, etc.

The practical problems of cruising in an RV (recreation vehicle) are: 1. Staying in contact with distant family and friends, 2. Reducing load on the RV to minimize fuel expense, 3. Getting around new destinations through unfamiliar roads, 4. Documenting the enjoyment of new places, activities, and friends, and 5. Deing prepared for all kinds of conditions (no power, getting stranded, etc.).

For you, we scan below the general purpose gadgets and the special RV technologies we are using on the go. [caption id="attachment_7284" align="aligncenter" width="320" caption="The roof contains the dome for the dish satellite as well as for vents, heat strip, and A/C units plus antenna"][/caption] Black Fridays (which is always near my birthday) have always been opportunities to upgrade our gadgets. In 2010, Bill (my husband) gave me with a high power, lightweight (3 lbs) 13-inch Toshiba Prot?g? laptop. In 2011, I gave him a 5-inch and lifetime map update Garmin GPS. He gave me a new combination microwave/oven/crisper and a Samsung Galaxy Nexus, a smartphone with mobile hotspot. And we gave ourselves the connection for our DirectTV satellite In-Motion dish. This year Bill got me a Samsung Galaxy Note 2 which is a 5.5 inch smartphone (and he gets the Nexus) and Trish, my eldest daughter and her husband Deejay got me a Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 for my birthday/Christmas gifts (Bill gets the Prot?g? then!). [caption id="attachment_7283" align="aligncenter" width="420" caption="The author showing off her Samsung Galaxy Note II (from husband) Bill and Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 (from daughter Trish and son-in-law Deejay"][/caption] So with all this processing power in our RV, we can do anything we want anywhere! We use the laptop and tablet for keeping and updating many digital files, banking and paying bills, writing posts and processing other stuff, emailing and video-chatting with family (April in the UK and Claudine and family in Calgary and all the kids and grandkids all over the USA). [caption id="attachment_7285" align="aligncenter" width="256" caption="The Kindle"][/caption] The Kindle now holds about 50 odd books and mags for Bill and me. And our smartphones, besides being our phones, now have mobile hotspots, replacing the MIFI (Verizon broadband), become our PDAs (personal digital assistant), and serve as back-up cameras when we forget to bring the bulky Nikkon DSLR! [caption id="attachment_7286" align="aligncenter" width="320" caption="Wide-screen Garmin GPS"][/caption] The GPS has the widest screen available (although there is a wider screen, special RV GPS model which we thought was too spendy) in the market and now includes real time traffic information. Together with the smartphones, we always have a guide to the next campground, the next tourist spot, the nearest Costco, the nearest Redbox, the type of food we crave for the moment, the local attraction we do not want to miss, the nearest gas station, the closest dump station, and other necessities of being so new in and around places all the time! [caption id="attachment_7287" align="aligncenter" width="320" caption="Nikon DSLR D5000"][/caption] The DSLR camera has been great for taking superb shots of outstanding scenery. We have two lenses to take care of most distances (like capturing a bear in action from a safe distance), action shots (like me singing in a karaoke session), and other changing requirements. The DSLR gives us greater control and better pictures than a point-and-click camera. It allows for higher resolutions for higher quality pictures. Editing the photos for posting to this blog is an enjoyable and hugely rewarding task especially after you see the results. We now have about 30,000 photos in all our external drives combined, exceeding a terrabyte in capacity. And I haven?t even talked about our thousands of songs on our 2 iPods and our Asian karaoke system (gifts to each other from early times)! [caption id="attachment_7289" align="aligncenter" width="320" caption="Bill's dashboard"][/caption] Our home on wheels also requires lots of special technology! We utilize systems that are mostly satellite-based so that things can still be operable wherever we may end up. There are also usually different kinds of systems available for different kinds of situations. And the devices are usually more compact than those we use in regular homes. [caption id="attachment_7290" align="aligncenter" width="320" caption="Bill's main control system or tanks, batteries, propane, water"][/caption] Let us take power for instance. On the road or while dry camping (camping without hook-ups or in the boondocks), the refrigerator runs on LPG. Parked at a full-hookup campground, it draws power, like all other appliances and lights, from a 30 or 50 amp circuit (we prefer 50 because we have included everything a home needs including a washer/dryer). [caption id="attachment_7291" align="aligncenter" width="320" caption="Refrigerator controls that now shows electric power use"][/caption] While dry camping, lights are run by house batteries while the generator runs all others heavy drawers such as the furnace, air-conditioning, microwave/oven, washer/dryer, etc., including my hair dryer! [caption id="attachment_7292" align="aligncenter" width="256" caption="Combo washer/dryer"][/caption] Plumbing is also different in an RV. We have three different tank systems. We can hook up to city water or store it in a fresh water tank underneath the RV. The ?grey water? tank holds the water from the sinks, shower, and washing machine/dryer combo. The ?black water? tank holds – you guessed it- the water from the toilet. We have to make sure they are all drained and flushed regularly. Most campgrounds have hookups to take care of this but when they don?t or when we just use a parking lot, like at a Walmart for a night or just camp by the side of a river as we did on the road to the Arctic Circle, we have to look for public or for-pay dump stations or (heaven forbid!) resort to blue boys (you don?t want me to tell you about those!). This is only our second RV (first was Star and now it?s M?A). We have yet to install solar panels, and activate the in-motion TV so I can watch even while Bill is driving (whenever I need to watch Nadal live!). And driving a 37-foot Class A towing a compact car behind it means a total of about 52-53 feet! [caption id="attachment_7295" align="aligncenter" width="256" caption="Monitor for inside and outside temperature and humidity and the white unit above right for automatic control of fans and vents"][/caption] Backing up can be quite tricky. So there is a TV monitor that helps Bill. And the towing system (Blue Ox is the brand we use) is readily set up in a Saturn (too bad they are out of production). We have not had an opportunity to use the short-wave radio though. There is really no end to the technology we can benefit from. [caption id="attachment_7296" align="aligncenter" width="256" caption="Protector for gas leak from anywhere"][/caption] [caption id="attachment_7297" align="aligncenter" width="256" caption="Microwave/browner/oven/combi cooking"][/caption] [caption id="attachment_7298" align="aligncenter" width="320" caption="Entertainment deck"][/caption] After almost four years on the road, we have many devices we no longer can do without. We are not really early adopters but we certainly utilize technology as much as possible. In this lifestyle, technology has become our slave! So has Bill become mine because I do not know how to operate many of these gizmos! The author, who is now carving a simpler life in America by cruising in an RV (recreation vehicle) with her husband Bill Colborn, is a former top IT and business executive in the Philippines. This post originally appeared in her blog at http://rvcruisinglifestyle.blogspot.com]]>

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