Have You Ever Wondered?
Commentaries providing background info for
RVers looking for free software, connecting
to the Internet and warranty periods.
Why Pay for Computer Software? - Many RVers are buying inexpensive laptop computers
to take on the road that are now available in the $400-$600 range. They come with lots of disk space
and Internet access, but new purchasers can be surprised when they realize the cost of the computer
software they need to use the computer and protect their information and privacy.   

Free Anti-Virus Software - RVers and anyone else using computers and are tired of paying up to $60
a year for anti-virus protection should check out options for free anti-virus and spyware protection. First
check with your Internet Service Provider (ISP) many including Comcast, Verizon, and AOL, may provide
free anti-virus, spyware, and firewall protection at no charge.

Use of computer protection from your ISP frees you from having to annually purchase software every
year and it is available for all the computers you use to access the Internet. If you can’t get free anti-
virus protection from your ISP you may want to check out free anti-virus and spyware software available
with the Google Pack available on the Internet that includes Norton Security Scan and Spyware Doctor.

One of the popular free anti-virus programs is the
AVG Free software available on the Internet at no
cost via a free download for non-commercial use on one computer. You can find AVG Free and other
additional free anti-virus software programs at the
Free Anti-Virus website.

We recommend you also look at the popular and free
Spybot Search and Destroy program available at
www.spybot.com. The Spybot program notifies you whenever any Internet activity is updating your
Windows Registry information giving you the option to accept or reject the change and removes spyware
from your computer.

Free Computer Applications - In addition to protecting your computer and information, you also have
other powerful software programs available to keep in touch and handle personal affairs.

Google Pack also offers other highly useful programs, including Google Earth, StarOffice (similar
to Microsoft Office that may cost several hundred dollars), and the
Firefox Internet browser (a popular
alternate browser to Internet Explorer).

You can also find a powerful array of graphics and document management software applications at the
Software995 website offering a set of applications for combining multiple file types, working with PDF file
formats, high-end graphics, and miscellaneous utilities.

Software995 website also provides free downloads of the OpenOffice995  Business Applications
Suite (another name for StarOffice) that incudes professional quality applications for creating, viewing
and editing Microsoft Word documents (.doc), Powerpoint presentations (.ppt), FrontPage webpages
(.html) and Excel spreadsheets (.xls).

Free/Cheap Phone Calls - Check out the free Skype software available from the Skype website and
also in the
Google Pack. Skype requires a webcam to transmit and receive live video and is easy to
download and install.  

Skype provides free VOIP (voice over the Internet protocol) video (web cam) and voice  communications
when both computers are powered up and linked using the Skype software and webcams. This is known
as the “Skype-to-Skype” mode

You have a choice of a pay-as-you-play where you prepurchase usage minutes using
Skype Credit or
one of the
unlimited monthly call plan subscriptions. Unlimited Skype call plans provide additional
discounts and features and are available for domestic calls in the U.S. and Canada, in Mexico, and in 34
other countries around the world.

Wondered about Reaching the Internet? - It is important to understand the different
choices for high-speed Internet access from your cable company, such as Comcast, or land line
telephone company, such as Verizon, and your wireless mobile service provider, such as Sprint/Nextel,  
AT&T/Cingular, or Verizon?

Cable or DSL/FIOS - Your cable company or (land line) telephone company Internet Service Provider
(ISP) will most likely offer two types of high-speed broadband Internet access:

Month-to-month access that you can cancel at any time where you pay a monthly service charge
and purchase a  modem/router, or
Minimum contract period (usually 12-months) where the Internet Service Provider provides the
modem/router at no cost along with a slightly lower monthly service charge.

The programs offer multiple data transfer rates, depending on your monthly rate, that range from 750K
to 5.0 for telephone company DSL or FIOS service, or 3.0 – 10.0 Meg for cable company Internet
access. If the telephone or cable company ISP cannot provide adequate service for your rate structure,
they will generally agree to resolve the problem or cancel the service at no penalty to you.  

Wireless Mobile Access - In contrast, the wireless mobile service providers require a minimum time
period (12 months or 24 months), depending on the particular plan with data transfer rates that may
vary from 250K to 1.4 Meg. The data transfer rate depends on the wireless ISP, amount of Internet
traffic and the geographic locale.

The wireless mobile ISP will provide require the purchase of an appropriate broadband access device
for your computer (with a substantial rebate), but does not guarantee service levels (data transfer rates)
or actual connectivity to the Internet.

It’s important to ask the mobile carrier you select for Internet access about data transfer rates, actual
coverage areas, and applicable activation fee. Sprint/Nextel offers data rates of 600k to 1.4 Meg. Other
carriers may have different data transfer rates.

Other Considerations - The need for wireless mobile broadband data access is affected by how often
you will be using the service. Fulltimers find it very helpful because they are on the road most of the time
and can use it for 12 out of 12 months. They also like the ability to not have to rely on a land line or WiFi
hotspot to connect to the Internet.

Other factors to consider for wireless broadband data Internet access are the use a data plan with other
devices, such as a smart phone, PDA, or BlackBerry device. You should also ask about any limitations
or restrictions regarding accessing, uploading, downloading data associated with your data plan, along
with any cancellation fees if you cancel before the contract expiration.  

If you are not a fulltimer and use cable or DSL/FIOS service at home, you may find it easier (and
cheaper) to limit your Internet access to using WiFi at your RV resort/campground layovers and hot
spots on RV trips. This eliminates paying for wireless mobile broadband data access you may not use
when you are home.

Everyone connecting to the Internet should be using effective anti-virus, ad blocker, and Internet
security software. This is especially important if you are using a wireless Internet connection. For more
information about computer security software, see the
Why Pay for Computer Software article above.  

WiMAX is Coming! We remind our readers that a new Internet access protocol call WiMAX is providing
new alternatives for both home and mobile Internet access communications that provide an alternative
to cable, DSL, and wireless mobile data service.

What About Warranty Periods? - Americans love personal electronics and electrical
products. Computer costing as little as $400, computer peripheral devices costing as little as $50, and a
toaster costing $20 generally come with a one-year warranty for repair or replacement.

Why do mobile wireless phones or broadband data devices with the logo of your mobile wireless carrier
frequently have  list prices of several hundred dollars only have a 14-day or 30-day period for return,
repair, or replacement at no cost while you may be obligated to pay for mobile wireless network service
for up to two years? If you want more convenient coverage you have to pay a monthly fee.

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All original content Copyright © 2009 by Alan and Barbara Lidstone. All Rights Reserved.
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