RVers Computer Responsibility … my soapbox

Yoh!  Fellow RVers!  It’s your responsibility to know how to use your computer. 

I just cringe when I talk to a busy RV park manager who tells stories of spending hours with guests helping them get their computers to work with the WiFi system.  “They didn’t even know if their computer had WiFi capability or not”, says the park manager. 

It’s not the park’s job to show you how to use your computer. 

We know that this may be your very first computer.  Your grandkids gave it to you when you took off on the road so you could keep in touch via email.  PLEASE, get your grandkids to show you a little bit about how to use it before you take to the road.  Take it to a local WiFi hotspot like a cafe or a Starbucks and learn how to use it.  Most community centers and local adult education centers have very inexpensive classes.  Get to know an online source of information like Kim Comando or Internet Tourbus. The more you know, the more successful you’ll be.

There are a lot of knowledgeable and helpful folks out there in ‘Forums’.  Forums are where you get to ask questions and many people may give you answers.  The RV.net forums include one called ‘Technology Corner’ where there is a lot of discussion of WiFi.  And, there is a specific forum in Yahoo Groups called Internet by WiFi. 

I’m not saying don’t ask at all.  Some park personnel just love to help people with their computers, and sometimes there’s a person in the park who you can pay to help, or a computer shop nearby.  And, sometimes it is the park’s system that is down, or having troubles, and it’s important for you to find that out.  But, don’t be the ‘ugly RVer’ and demand that the park personnel make your computer work. 

We were staying at a park who offered Free WiFi.  They had a pretty good system – 3 antennas spread over 150 sites.  It worked fine for us and we were impressed.  The manager there told us a story.  She was in the office late at night, the only time she could actually get some work done … so she thought.  A guest with a laptop computer under his arm banged on the door and she let him in.  He set his computer on the counter and told her that *her* WiFi system wasn’t working.  She took a look at his computer and couldn’t get it to work either.  She told the guest that the Internet was working fine for her office computers and she knew of several guests who were using the WiFi at that time.  There was nothing more she could do, but he wouldn’t leave – remember I said this WiFi was *free*.  He told her that he had used his computer at other WiFi hotspots with no problem, it must be her system.  Over an hour later, she had to threaten to call the police before he would leave. 

This park is seriously considering taking out the WiFi because it is more trouble than it’s worth.  I don’t blame them.

We’ve seen hundreds of WiFi users and dozens of WiFi systems and, it just doesn’t work for everyone.  Period.  Sometimes you just have to accept that fact and resort to a secondary method of connecting. Or get a new computer – hopefully a Sony Vaio, and not an HP.

You *do* have a secondary method of connecting to the Internet don’t you?  Dial-up or cell phone, for example. This is another of my soapboxes … if you NEED the Internet, you need a backup method for connecting.  We have three.  WiFi is our preferred method – it’s the fastest and easiest.  If we’re not in a WiFi location, we have our satellite dish – we LOVE our satellite dish.  It’s our own personal Internet connection that goes with us wherever we go.  But sometimes even it doesn’t work, due to obstruction from trees, or some technical problem with the satellite.  If the satellite dish doesn’t work, our second backup method is our cell phone.  If the cell phone doesn’t work, we move!

If the RV Park knows that some people are working fine on the WiFi system in your vicinity, then I say that their responsibility is met.  I remember talking to another RV park manager about their cable TV system.  He said that guests often asked him to hook up their TV and make it work.  The guest had been unable to make it work.  The manager didn’t want to touch their TV and their coach, he didn’t feel it was his responsibility and he didn’t want to be blamed for any further issues.  So, what he did was to keep a little, portable TV handy.  He would take that to the guest’s location and hook it up to the cable.  If his TV got the cable signal fine, then he was satisfied.  Making the guest’s TV work, was the guest’s responsibility.

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