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Seeking cellular provider

Dear FMCA Computer Geeks:


Verizon no longer allows use of their cell network, via a smartphone, for free. Our usage would be minimal and not warrant a subscription on their terms. I am looking for a way to use a mobile hotspot, and the best method for us would be to subscribe for a month, unlimited usage, and then "cancel" until we would need it again, which may be several months down the road. Then do the same on an as-needed basis. Virgin Mobile offers that plan with their mobile hotspot device, but their coverage is not very good. Do you have any other suggestions for obtaining the service with good coverage and on a reasonable cost basis?

Ron  M.


It is true that Verizon no longer offers the Broadband Connect plans for smartphones. Coverage is an issue with all the cellular providers, with Verizon still having the best overall nationwide coverage. Depending on where you live and travel, another provider may work for you.

We often use our Droids tethered to our computers using PDANet for Internet connectivity. We already pay $30 for unlimited data. PDANet is not supported by Verizon. Their tethering s an extra charge and limited data. If you are in the market for a new phone, I recommend  a 4G device.

— Jim


Loading Microsoft Streets & Trips

Dear FMCA Computer Geeks:

I have been using Microsoft Streets & Trips 2008.

About a month ago it refused to load. I got an hourglass for a few seconds and then nothing. I reinstalled over the top of the original. I uninstalled, cleaned the registry and reinstalled ... still nothing.Help! Ideas?

Bob Wexler


My recommendation is to upgrade to the latest version of Streets & Trips. You will have much better maps and Points of Interests and you can use the POI Megafile.

You can download a free trial version of S&T at the Microsoft Web site. It works for 60 ays, then you need to buy it for only $39, or less if you find it on sale elsewhere.

Visit our Web site ,, to learn what is new and how to take advantage of all the features.

— Jim


Sharing a Wi-Fi signal

Dear FMCA Computer Geeks:

On one of the recent blogs on, I noticed that you were talking about different (so-called) Wi-Fi boosters and that your personal favorite was the ENGENIUS ENG-EUB-362EXT. Well, thanks but is there one that both my wife and I can use at the same time? We area also full-timer RVers and, of course, we both have a laptop and are on both at the same time a lot!. Please help and advise.

Truman Dobbins


WiFi is a 2-way radio technology. A better radio and antenna will give you a better signal and connectivity over greater range. The Wi-Fi built in to laptop computers may not be strong enough. Orientation of your antenna to the access point is important for a good signal.

There are many external Wi-Fi adapters. USB adapters are best. The two main advantages are more power and flexibility to position them for best orientation to the access point. They only work with one computer at a time. The Engenius is a high power adapter that can use an external high gain antenna.

To share a Wi-Fi signal with more than one computer, you need a Wi-Fi bridge. The WiFi Ranger is a good solution. It can use a WiFi signal or a cellular data card or a wired Internet connection like DSL or cable modem. The Ranger can also use an external booster antenna for greater WiFi range.  Check it out and tell them the Geeks sent you.

— Jim


Best wireless for MacBook

Dear FMCA Computer Geeks:

We have MacBook with wireless capability. What is best way to have wireless when in RV?

Thank you.


The "best" way to have wireless in your RV depends on how much you "need" the Internet. A casual user can get by with public Wi-Fi in RV parks and other hotspots freely available as you travel. An external Wi-Fi adapter can be helpful to extend your range.
A user with more Internet requirements will need cellular connectivity. A cellular mobile hotspot will work most places. This is probably best for most folks. Many newer phones have hotspot capability, too. Verizon has the best overall nationwide coverage.
If you plan on boondocking off the beaten path, you will need satellite Internet like from MotoSat. Pretty expensive.
We have many articles about this on our Web sites: We have been full-time RVers for eight years and have used all the above solutions. 

— Jim



Request for computer security seminar

Dear FMCA Computer Geeks:

I would like a FMCA seminar on computer security. What do you do if your are hacked? And what do you do if you get an e-mail from one of your friends that has been hacked? How do you protect your computer and your personal information? One of my friends thought that an Apple computer couldn't be hacked, so he didn't bother with virus protections, etc. Another friend thought it was funny and no big deal. After all, "everyone gets hacked."

Thanks. Your seminars are fantastic!

Rosalie Sullivan

Thank you for your comments and interest. Computer security is an important topic. We do have a seminar called "Safe Computing" that we have presented at several rallies, including FMCA conventions. Phil May of TechnoRV also presents a Computer Security seminar.  These seminars, while very pertinent, are not exactly very popular and tend to attract smaller audiences.

We have a Safe Computing Series in our Learning Library at

— Jim


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