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  1. We have been on the road for over a month now accessing the Internet with the Verizon MiFi boosted by a Wilson Sleek and an antenna on our RV's roof. In campgrounds near Lone Pine, CA, Truckee, CA, and Bend, OR we experienced great connections to the Internet with the available 4G or 3G service with no dropped connections. This was to be expected. The real test came when we moved to a campground on the shore of Paulina Lake in the Newberry National Volcanic Monument near La Pine, OR. There was no useable cellphone service because we were below the caldera rim in every direction with no line of sight to any cell tower. We could get an inbound call ring on our iPhones, but could not talk when we answered, and we could not do any outbound calling. The good news is that with the MiFi using the Sleek we could get 3G access to the Internet and send and receive email, download news services, access Google apps, and use online database query apps. Yes, it was slow and from time to time the connection had to be reset. But that was our experience last year in many places without the Sleek. In addition, we were able to make calls with our iPhones using the Sleek. This is in contrast to a ranger I met in the park, who had to drive five miles over the caldera rim and back every day to complete his daily MiFi access to the Internet as part of his research project. All around the Wilson Sleek is doing what we wanted.
  2. I'm looking forward to how your floor upgrade works out. Having said that I am interested in how the planks actually work. Do you place them on the rig floor before bringing the slide in with the length of the planks aligned to the direction the slide is moving? Also, are you planning on one large sheet of vinyl for the entire rig floor? How are you planning to treat the area by the steps and on the sides of the step well?
  3. The smithfamily solution looks great for networking between devices in and around the rig... I'm not sure how the wireless router, Ethernet adapter, and MiFi communicate to each other? Does this solution improve MiFi connectivity to the cellular network?
  4. What we are planning this year, 2013, is a MiFi performance booster is a Wilson Sleek 4G-V with an RV/Trucker antenna mounted on the RV roof just over the driver's seat. I selected this antenna mounting location as the most unlikely to be impacted by tree branches, etc. that we may drive by, plus it is convenient to run the antenna's coax through the roof, into the storage cabinet, and over to where the Sleek mounting kit is attached to the outside of the cabinet frame. The way this works is that the Sleek will hold either a MiFi or a cell phone. Our main use is for the MiFi. However, it is simple to slide out the MiFi from the Sleek and insert our iPhone when needed. The MiFi communicates wirelessly to our laptops. The model we have supports five devices. There is a new model that supports ten. A nice feature of the Sleek is that it has a DC power adapter, so it runs off of our house power. And the Sleek also provides power to the MiFi or iPhone. The prior two years we had to run the MiFi using AC power. Prior to the start of our summer trip, we have been using the Sleek with a window mounted antenna to boost our MiFi service at home. Since we are at the edge of the 4G service area, this has not significantly boosted performance. However, it has dramatically reduced the times that we drop service to hardly ever, and it runs at 4G. Previously we dropped Internet service when the MiFi tried to get a better connection with a different cell tower almost every other hour or so. This alone has been worth the investment. We are looking forward to see how the Sleek works on our trip this summer. I'll be posting what we experience. I considered using a signal booster that broadcast inside the Rig rather than requiring the devices to be mounted in the Sleek. This setup uses an inside antenna to communicate to laptops and cell phones. The advantage is that cell phones and laptops can be used at the same time. However, there is a need to have appropriate spacing between the outside antenna and the inside antenna to avoid feedback interference between them, which would shut down the signal booster. The length of our RV made this an iffy proposition, so I opted to go the way of the Sleek to not hassle with the correct antenna placements, plus the Sleek approach is less expensive and fits our main need, i.e. multiple laptop networking.
  5. Oh, I forgot to include our outbound e-mail SPAM problem. In both 2011 abd 2012 while on the road, we found that our e-mail sends were sometimes being marked as SPAM. This occured even when we sent an e-mail to ourselves. After many discussions with Verizon as well as Godaddy Technical Support operations, we had no solution after two years. The cause was that some Verizon servers that the e-mails were originated from were listed in several of the Spam detection databases. So when our outbound e-mails arrived at our outbound e-mail server at Godaddy, they were already being identified as SPAM before they were actually forwarded to their destination. Verizon was unable to resolve the problem with the SPAM detection database operators. Spamassassin is the main Spam detection software used. Typically, an e-mail is considered SPAM if the Spam Status Score is above 5. Each Spam detection rule contributes to the score as the incoming e-mail is analyzed by each rule. So what to do? In October of 2012, I referred the issue to my technical associate in my business. He came up with an ingenious solution. He implemented a routine on my Godaddy server that set the Spam Status Score for our outgoing e-mails to a minus number such that no matter how many points were added to the Spam Status Score by Spam software down the line, our sent e-mails would never reach the Spam Status Score of 5. Problem solved for us, but I'm not sure how others without a dedicated server can fix this problem if and when they have it. A thank you call out to Walter!
  6. My wife and I are about to embark on our third summer on the road visiting mainly U.S. and state campgrounds. We have been using the Verizon MiFi for two years both on the road and at home. Our travels take us to Utah, Wyoming, Montana, Washington, Oregon and Northern California. We selected the MiFi because the Verizon network coverage map at the time was the best for the areas we were visiting. We both travel with laptops and use them everyday to e-mail, run my business, blog, and surf the net. Generally, we do not use Wi-Fi. But if we did, we would access it directly from our laptop's wireless port. The first year, 2011, we were very pleased with our ability to get online and do our thing. Our expectations were not very high, because we were going to remote areas with many mountains and canyons, both not good for cell service. However, we were surprised to find that the MiFi's 3G performance was actually OK and in some cases better than the cell phone service in the same location. For sure there were many areas with no service at all. So far so good! The summer of 2012 was different. Our expectations were higher, while the service in several places we returned to was not as good. For example, in one of the campgrounds in Grand Teton National Park in the exact same site, we had virtually no Internet access even though we had acceptable 3G access the prior year. It appears that with increased Internet usage and the network build out not keeping up, we were left to going into town every other day to do our networking. After these poor experiences, we needed to do something to enhance our MiFi's performance and to hopefully get 4G from time to time. So we went in search of a solution. Note by the way, our home is on the edge of the 4G coverage area. During these two years our MiFi's performance at home was also not up to our expectation. While the service was good when it worked, it fell out of service every hour or so. Yes, we use the net throughout the day and evening. After many sessions with Technical Support, they finally said to set the MiFi to 3G only. This helped but did not really solve the problem. Our solution had to also address the home usage problem.
  7. I have been looking into replacing the carpeting in our 2001 Minnie Winnie with a high quality sheet vinyl. It appears that Winnebago has two kinds of slide out shoes - one for carpeting and one for hard surface floors - designed for the original flooring offered in the respective models. Winnebago technical support has assured me that many have done the conversion and that they recommend replacing the current carpet shoes with the shoes designed for hard surface flooring. In my conversations with them, they indicated that there was not a scratching problem, but over time one will see an indentation on the vinyl where the shoes rest on the floor when the slides are in. I suggest that you call Winnebago technical support at (800) 537-1885. If you supply them with your rig's serial number and model number they can share with you all that might be involved with your specific rig from their experience. When we do this perhaps next year, we are likely to get the slide shoes from Winnebago. I'm not sure of the cost, but the cost is minimal relative to the total cost of doing the job, i.e. big time labor costs. One of the cost items is the cost of actually removing the slide out to properly install the floor under the slide out. I look forward to hearing about what you decide and your experience as the job proceeds.
  8. Our goal is to upgrade the toilet in our 2001 Winnebago Minnie Winnie Model 427P, so that the toilet does a significantly better job of cleaning the bowl when flushing. The toilet is the original THETFORD Aqua-Magic IV. We are looking for recommendations with these kinds of upgrades with real-life experiences of significant flushing improvement. We would hate to spend a few hundred dollars to upgrade to a new toilet to only find that the new toilet doesn't do a better job of flushing and cleaning the bowl. Your thoughts?
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