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Retirement Tips and RV Stuff Newsletter
Issue 2007.07         Jul 2007
Publisher, Bob Hoffman -
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PRIVACY STATEMENT: This newsletter's email addresses are never sold or otherwise made public.
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Do you keep a diary? I don't. Never have. ... Or have I?

I just redesigned my Newsletter page(s) and produced a table of contents that includes all 48 (now 49) of the newsletters that I've written since I started in January 2003. Seeing all of them "summarized" together, it occurred to me that here was a fairly detailed record of what I've been doing, thinking about, whining about, and/or excited about since January 2003. Together with My Travel Log, started in August 1999, I've pretty much been keeping a "diary" ever since I retired. I think mostly I write these to give myself someplace to go back and reminisce about past good times (and sometimes not so good), which I do every now and then, but every once in a while, I get a positive comment about my ramblings and it encourages me to continue. I got a comment like that yesterday. A friend of Joyce's mentioned that she enjoyed reading my monthly newsletters. She said my writing style sort of reminded her of Tom Bodett of Motel 6 fame and his "we'll leave the light on for you." I guess in the midst of my chatter, I'm kind of "leaving the light on for you", in case you want to read about what an old, retired guy is up to and maybe even get some view of what's in store for you after you retire (assuming you ain't already). I'm hoping that you get some enjoyment, maybe learn something, and maybe even occasionally get inspired to try something similar to what I'm doing. If not, well .... I really enjoy going back and re-reading my stuff now and then, so at least it's not entirely wasted time.

Recall last newsletter when I mentioned 1-800-GOOG-411 for information on general topics like "campgrounds"? Well, we were fishing at Jupiter a couple of weeks ago and had a day of no edible fish, so decided to get a pizza. We stopped by a pizza place to get a menu and their phone number, but they didn't open until 5. Just out of curiousity, I called GOOG-411 and asked for "Tequesta, Florida" and "pizza". I immediately got a list of the top 8 pizza places in Tequesta, and number 3 was the one we wanted. I pressed 3 on my phone and ZAPPO!! - I was connected with the pizza place. Them Google folks just think of everything.

After I returned home, I needed a phone number and, since I refuse to pay for information, I tried the 1-800-FREE411 number. After listening to some advertisement for about a half minute, I decided to try GOOG411 instead. Lo and behold! You can actually say a specific resident or business name, in addition to that general category thing, and there's no long ad to sit through. The only weak spot right now seems to be their speech-recognition software, as you sometimes have to say what you want a few times before they get it right. That could be a problem with my low, monotone voice, I don't know. That software continues to improve, however, so that problem will probably fade soon enough. I recall back in the 1970s, when I was working with speech recognition systems for NASA and you were actually required to record a bunch of words, so the system could "learn your voice." It could only recognize words spoken by people who had first done the voice sample thing. They've really advanced a lot since then.

Now, a couple of RV topics. I read a neat tip recently, if you're bothered with ants in your RV. Just sprinkle a cleanser with bleach (like Comet) around the RV and supposedly that keeps them away. I haven't tried it yet, but plan to. Seems like those little tiny ants (our exterminator said they were called crazy ants; I also heard they were invading from South America) are everywhere these days. If I try it, I'll report back here ... also am wondering if that would keep out other insects .. seems like it should.

Recall my mention of RV Ports in past newsletters? -- those mini-houses that people are building, with the intent of parking their RV next to them and using the combination as temporary living quarters? In some cases, people are living in their combination RV & RV-Port for extended periods, not just temporary. Well, a friend in Huntsville recently sent me an article from their newspaper talking about how Radar O'Reilly (Gary Burkhoff) is an RVer and is promoting a fairly new RV Port park in Guntersville, Alabama. You can read about it in my Travel Log Chapter 68, which I just updated to add this new information. Notice in that chapter that most of the RV Port locations I mention are in Florida. If you know of any others that aren't listed there, send them to me and I'll add them to the list. I think this concept is really spreading across the country now, so there are probably many I haven't heard of. I'd be especially interested to hear of any in the Ozarks, one of several locations that we're considering as a place to look for a spot where we can set up summer-time living quarters. Hey! Did you know that Radar is 67 now? And, based on that newspaper photo I include in my travel log, he hasn't changed much since Mash. Amazing! Maybe I'll get a chance to check that out in person on our next visit to Guntersville.

June Travel: Just one more fishing trip..

July Travel: None planned yet.  Still trying to plan our summer RV trip ... now tentatively scheduled for August.

Read on for notes on my latest site updates, some words about how I'd make some money if you guys would buy something off the website, IOTR News, Art News, and wrapping up with my Ramblings on whatever occurs to me between now and then.

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- As mentioned above, I completely redesigned the Newsletters page. If you're reading this in email, click to go check it out.
- Also as mentioned above, I just updated my Travel Log Chapter 68. "Barnages, RV Ports, RV Lots, RV Villas, ..." : Great RV retirement homes, vacation homes, or everyday homes.
- Just completed Travel Log Chapter 80. "The Big One That Didn't Get Away" : A very large fish, birds, dogs, and a rocket - That's June!
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- Courtesy of Chuck Woodbury's newsletter, a neat website showing a bunch of 5th wheels, include one 50’ long (#34-35).

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Here's a list of some interesting products, some of which will make me a few bucks if you need them and buy them here:

- Camp at Half of What Everyone Else is Paying!  No home park, no monthly maintenance fees, no long-term obligation, just pay the small annual fee and camp for half-price. Check it out here.

- 50+ ways to get to the internet when you're on the road! Read'm at Internet On The Road.

- Amazon Books : Buy from Amazon through this link and I get a couple of bucks  -- Click here to check them out.

- Earn Money While You Camp! Join WiFiRV as an affiliate, either a lead generator (tell us about campgrounds that need WiFi) or a sales representative (assist in the selling of WiFi systems). Go to my Internet On The Road (IOTR) / WiFiRV page to learn how you can earn up to $500 for a few hours work.

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Big news! Joyce was just elected second Vice-President of the Central Brevard Art Association. She's also in charge of their Heritage Isle show coming up in November (yeah, these guys really plan ahead), so you'll be hearing more on that in upcoming newsletters.

You can still view (and/or purchase) Joyce's paintings at Sunshine Art and Frame, corner of Viera Boulevard and Murrell Road in Viera, Wuestoff Medical Center on Merritt Island's Courtenay Boulevard, and soon at the Driver's License office, also on Courtenay.

We try to update whenever we can (although I've been very negligent in that regard lately). If you see anything on the site that you'd be interested in buying, email Joyce for info on size, price, etc. Some have that info included and some don't. Also, if you have a topic, pet, or whatever that you'd like an original painting of, just let her know.

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Venting time! It really amazes me when I meet people who have no training, background, or experience in my field (in this case, wireless internet - WiFi), but can tell me all about how it should work and where it's headed in the future. I had a long conversation with a campground owner recently, who informed me that all WiFi would be free within 10 years. I've heard this from other "experts" and don't usually argue with them or try to enlighten them. It's sort of like trying to convince a Democrat to support Bush or a Republican not to. HOWEVER, that doesn't stop me from expounding my somewhat informed opinion to you readers - where you have the option to skip to the next section if you so desire.

I've been hearing more and more about cities, counties, and even states, going into the WiFi business and planning to offer it free. I've seen WiFi companies that offer it free to campgrounds and I've seen campgrounds that offer it free to campers. I've even heard of some companies that offer to install it free, then not charge the users! I've also been hearing about several large WiFi companies that are no longer going to be in business in the very near future. What these companies, campgrounds, and users don't seem to understand is WIFI AIN'T FREE! Somebody has to pay for the high-speed data. Somebody has to provide user support. Somebody has to purchase and install the equipment, then maintain the system after it's installed. All of this costs time and/or money, and someone sooner or later is going to pay for it. If a campground owner does all the user support and maintenance themselves, they're paying for it with their time and possibly having to pay others to do other jobs that they could be doing instead. If you pull into a campground offering free WiFi, you can bet you're paying a little something in your camping fee, whether you use the WiFi or not.

Back in Newsletter #18 (June 2004), I announced that all Texas rest areas were getting WiFi, most likely free to users. How exciting! Now, I hear that the company that did those areas is selling out ... usually a prelude to going out of business. I wonder how long those systems will continue to operate on their own. I also wonder what some other company with a more reasonable business model is going to charge Texas to get them operating again.

I hear about companies that expect to recover their costs through online advertising. haha ... How recently have you clicked on or even noticed those many banner ads that appear on some websites? Most of us ignore them with a passion, knowing that a click will take you off into never-never land, usually unable to get back to where you started, plus they ask you for enough information that they can increase your spam input significantly.

I've also bumped into campgrounds where the WiFi people have installed their system free, some even paying for the incoming high-speed data line. They plan to get their investment back from the user fees. From my experience, I would guess that won't happen, unless they charge a lot more than WiFiRV does and, doing that, will lose whatever customers they might have to alternate sources, like cellphone wireless cards. The WiFiRV business model charges a small monthly fee to the campground, plus has proven methods for ensuring that the service is promoted to guests and that use of the system is thereby maximized. Without these factors, our company would be among those operating unprofitable WiFi systems. My prediction on these "free WiFi" companies is that eventually they'll either start charging the campgrounds, be unable to afford to keep the equipment in satisfactory operating condition, increase user charges to an unreasonable amount, or go out of business. In some cases, these companies have a profitable business to support their unprofitable WiFi business, but how long will this continue until they decide to quit the WiFi?

The same guy that predicted free WiFi in 10 years also told me that they have free high-speed data coming through their powerlines in California! I'm holding my breath, waiting for the announcement to come from Florida Power & Light, telling me that I'll no longer have to pay for my DSL because they're going to give it to me free through their powerlines. Right ... :)

Enough venting ... I promise to be more positive next month!

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Well, I really got to rambling in that IOTR NEWS section, eh? Sorry about that. Since I did that, however, I think I'll not ramble more here. I hope you find my new format more useful and take the time to go back and peruse some of the old newsletters ... I have :)

And ... surprise! I got through my July newsletter without venting about fireworks! How about that? Hope you had a safe and enjoyable Independence Day (and didn't bother your neighbors with the sounds of your "enjoyment") ... see, I couldn't resist. Now it's a true July newsletter.

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Email to sign up for the next newsletter, coming whenever I'm in the mood again.
Permanent Mailing Address: R. Hoffman, 1033 Jacaranda Circle, Rockledge, Florida 32955.

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