Saturday, October 23, 2004

Travelling off the Net

On the fifth of October, while travelling in Upper Penninsula Michigan, the windows box we use to steer the satellite dish and handle our internet access died. It died hard. And we dropped off the edge of the world.

Normally while travelling in our RV, we have two internet systems. One is the Motosat system. It's a steerable Direcway dish on the top of the RV. It's great and works everywhere except in the deep forest where we can't find a gap in the canopy to see the sattelite. Generally in that situation, we pull off the side of the road during the day and catch up our email downloads, web maintenance, etc. during lunch.

Our backup system is my Sprint Cell phone. I can connect a USB cable to it and Mary Ann and I share the connection.

But this time, we were in the UP. Now maybe there is a Sprint cell somewhere in the UP, but I wouldn't bet on it. Even the fallback, the dreaded Analog Roam, was barely usable. For two weeks we had to drive up and down the highways to find the strongest signal just to call family and friends to explain why we weren't answering our email.

When the Windows box failed, we were in Germfask. It's a lovely little place next to the Seney National Wildlife Refuge. Mary Ann was taking lots of great pictures. But I opened up the wooden box where the Windows machine and all its numerous fans were installed and drove the 90 miles to Escanaba in hopes of finding a repair place.

A week later, after the new motherboard had been shipped in and the system would actually run, we had moved to Ontonagon and made the day long trip to pick up the repaired machine.

The only problem was that the critical software to handle the software was on the hard disk, and would no longer boot into Windows due to the significant change in hardware.

So I was stuck again -- a Mac and Unix guy with a Windows box I had to bring back to life.

More later.

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