So far outside the box you can't even see the box from here.
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Friday, March 22, 2013
Phone it in
My lovely wife and I love to travel. Some years ago we started spending winters traveling the south, living out of a tent. It's amazing how things have changed. One example: pay phones. Working pay phones are rare as hen's teeth these days, but it used to be our main way of communicating. We kept a few pre-paid calling cards on us and ran our affairs over pay phones.
Back in those dark days having a cell phone didn't mean much in some of the remote campgrounds we loved to stay at. There were a lot fewer cell phone towers, and even fewer in the countryside. People who needed to make a phone call would use one of the handful of pay phones at the campground.
At the time, I was the main editor of an on-line magazine. Story submissions were e-mailed to the zine -hundreds of them every month. Most people, including me, were still using dial-up. A few campgrounds let you jack into their phone lines. Some had no allowances for e-mail at all. Sounds like the dark ages.
How would I get e-mail then? Late at night, when no one was likely to need a pay phone, I'd set my laptop on top of the pay phone and get to work. First I'd call an 800 number Internet service that I subscribed to. Once the machine noise started, I'd strap an acoustic coupler to the receiver of the pay phone. It looked like a phone receiver with big rubber cups. The coupler would change sound tones to electrical signals, and electrical signals to sound. They were incredibly slow. Often it would take a half hour or more to download my text only e-mails. The best thing that could be said about it was that while slow as death, it worked.
Later, I purchased a wifi card for my computer, even though I didn't have wifi at home. There were enough places on the road that started to provide it that it was worth the expense. Back then there was a pretty good chance that people's residential wifi was unprotected. A few times I must admit to borrowing an open signal to download mail.
The next time my lovely wife and I go on a long trip I suppose I'll have one of those smarter than me phones that can be used a wifi hotspot. Technology changes so fast that I'll probably wait until the last minute to get one. That way I'll only be a generation or two behind.
I live in an area of NH known as the Great North Woods. I'm in my dome-i-cile out in the county with my lovely wife and a varying number of family and friends
-part red neck, part hippie but all country. Experimenting and enjoying the adventure of life.