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Bell ExpressVU Signal No Longer Available in Most of US

It’s bad news for Canadian RVers travelling south of the border. Late last year, Bell ExpressVu changed satellites and the new satellite footprint only covers a small band of the northern US, not at all the area most snowbirds travel to. Rumor has it that part of the reason for this change of satellites was a condition of the contract renewal for Bell to rebroadcast Dish Network’s programming. Evidently the Americans are not impressed when you lobby aggressively to keep them from doing business in your country. Have a look at Bell new footprint at the Telesat dot com website. Since my wife and I do most of our motorhome travel to the US, I’m very disappointed that my Bell receiver is now pretty much a boat anchor.

Since the second receiver charge from Bell is only a few dollars a month, this was the most cost effective way for Canadian RVers to have satellite TV in their rigs. However, these RVers have always been hassled by Bell if there is any kind of a whiff that you’re receiving signals in the US, actually cutting off your service if you called in on a US number, connected the receiver to a US phone line, or even inquired about using your receiver south of the border. Star Choice (now Shaw) has been more reasonable, but their programming and interface left something to be desired when I looked at their offering a few years ago. Which makes Shaw a good option, right? Well, maybe not so much. Shaw’s satellites require a larger elliptical dish to receive the signal, especially farther south in the US. If in-motion viewing is important to motorhomers, you’re out of luck because there are no in-motion domes that will work with Shaw.

This leaves you with a couple of options. You can completely replace an existing in-motion dome with an automatic or manual motorized larger dish. The downside here, aside from the loss of in-motion signal, is that your dish’s mechanical parts will be exposed to the elements. The other alternative is to buy another dish mounted on a tripod that you will need to set up at every stop. Obviously a hassle to do, plus the larger dish will eat up valuable storage space that is always at a premium.

Shaw might be a temporary fix anyway, because they’re planning a satellite change in the next year or two which may involve a Canada-only footprint.

Thankfully, the entrepreneurial Americans are ready to take your money. Check out the traveller’s subscriptions available from Dish Network or DirecTV. You can go month to month and they’re happy to take your Canadian credit card and address. The nice thing about this option is your existing automatic in-motion dish will probably be set up to allow you to easily switch to a US provider. My suggestion is to cancel your Canadian home satellite provider for the months you’re travelling in the US, and use a US carrier. Just remember that you may have to give 30 days’ notice to suspend, so plan early.

But what about the Canadian news? Well, technology now provides you with multiple ways to get that news through other devices such as smartphones or tablets. You can even now get a smart TV that connects to the internet wirelessly, so the largest screen can switch between broadcast signals and internet streaming video without you having to leave the couch. Pass the snacks, dear.

Richard Gastmeier

Hughes RV

www.hughesrv.com

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Why Your Next Car Will Be Cleverer Than You

Science fiction films will have us believe that the future holds self-driving cars that can fly through the air while we sleep, text or watch television. However, the reality is much more prosaic than this. The future of motoring is less likely to be about flying cars and much more about automated systems to deal with the boring parts of driving.

We look at the forthcoming developments in car technology and why your next car could be smarter than you.

Advanced driver assistance systems set to take over the boring parts of driving

The recent GPU Technology Conference in San Jose, California highlighted many of the new technologies that you can expect to see in cars in the next few years. One of the most important is ‘advanced driver assistance systems’ (ADAS) which are designed to automate the mundane parts of driving such as driving in traffic or parking.

One such system under investigation is the European Commission’s “Safe Road Trains for the Environment” (SARTRE) project. Here, cars would platoon behind a professional driver piloting an 18-wheeler, for example and their cars would semi-autonomously bunch up behind the truck in a tight convoy. This allows the drivers of the cars to engage in otherwise illegal activities such as testing or talking on their mobile phones.

However, before cars even become partly self-driving, ADAS-enabled vehicles are set to provide you with road and traffic information, help you park, assist in changing lanes, and help you refocus on the road should your attention wander from the task at hand.

“We spend a lot of time thinking about how we can improve safety and how can we avoid accidents in urban areas,” said Mario Tippelhofer of his team at the Volkswagen Group of America Electronics Research Laboratory in Belmont, California.

“Our approach was to help the driver to be less stressed, more focused, going into those urban areas in a more relaxed manner,” he said. “We’re trying to paint a vision of what urban mobility can look like for our Audi customers in the near future.”

Cars that are personalized to you

Mr Tipperary also believes that ADAS systems should be personalized for each individual driver. “Right now,” he said, “your car is mostly generic, for a generic driver. But if this car would be really tailored to your needs, it would know about your needs, it could assist you in a much better way.”

The Register reports that ‘this personalization includes not only what the driver is doing and focused on in real time, but also what his driving patterns and history are.’

Cars will also be able to use predictive modelling to learn your normal route to a frequent destination, predict traffic congestion on that route at a specific time and without you having to use your navigation system reroute you when the congestion is bad enough that avoiding it would be more efficient than driving through it.

In addition, cars in the future are likely to feature multiple in-car cameras. These will keep an eye on you and make sure that you are focused on the road. They will also direct your attention back to the road when necessary.

“This needs to be done in a positive human-machine interface,” Tippelhofer said, “because we don’t want to distract the driver even more if we detect that he’s not paying attention.”

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Funding the Lifestyle

Making money to support living on the road can be done in any of several different ways.  One potential method is to live off your investment profile.  I am personally a big fan of dividend investing for a growing income over time, and maintain a blog on my efforts and thoughts in that arena.  Feel free to click here to learn more!