Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Future Shock

Boot Key Harbor, Marathon, Florida

When we started cruising in 2005, we had a cell phone and a laptop. To post a blog, I had to find a library or some other place with Internet access. We had no wifi.

Before the year ended, we made a big investment ($1500) in a pactor modem that connected the laptop to the SSB radio. That allowed us to do email and blogging on board the boat, even while at sea.

At some point, we got a new laptop with wifi. That was a major improvement. Then we could stop the boat outside someone's home and use their wifi. In those days fewer homeowners knew how to put a password on their wifi. I invented a word "snagging" to describe finding someone's unprotected wifi to use.

Soon after we had a wifi booster antenna, then another, then another, then another. None lasted very long, and none delivered more than small improvements.

Anyhow, I became adept at finding and using wifi in strange spots. More than once you could find me in some public place with a blanked over my head trying to use the computer with someone's wifi out in the bright sun.

At some point, I guess 2007, we bought a Sirius Sattelite Radio. It became our major source of news and entertainment on board the boat. The quality of the signal was perfect, no matter what our location. It worked in the USA and in The Bahamas. We could even listen to one program while recording another. But eventually, Sirius dropped one favorite info channel after another until we got dropped the service (you see we almost never listened to the Sirius music or entertainment channels).

But then we got our first smart phone. It was great. We could do email and read news without the computer.

In 2009 we bought a portable inch DVD player. It plays for 6 hours on a single charge which is great. We use it to view DVDs borrowed from the library or from our small onboard DVD collection. Whe watching something, we quickly forget how small the screen is. That doesn't matter very much.

But then the smart phones became very much better. We found that we could use the phone as a modem with a USB connection to the laptop and watch entertainment from Hulu.com. But after some time, Hulu blocked most of the free content.

Now, we still use the DVD player, but our staple is the combination of smart phone - wifi hotspot app - unlimited data plan from Verizon - iPad and Netflix. With that, we are able to dish up high quality entertainment whenever we want. In fact, I seldom have need to use anyone else's wifi hot spot any more. I also use the laptop PC less often, perhaps once per week.

FM radio remains a steady source. We like to listen to Morning Edition and All Things Considered on NPR. But whe we travel, the FM signal gets weak and scratchy. No problem, I just use my phone to listen to live radio.

I'm sure whatever we use today won't last forever. We use up to 21 GB of data per month. Eventually, Verizon will find a way to terminate my unlimited data plan. Then we will just have to find something else to use until that too becomes obsolete.

The really amazing part is that new technologies are born, thrive, die and are nearly forgotten in just a few years. The term "Future Shock" applies.


1 comment:

  1. A website that you can watch movies old and new and TV shows over the net.



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