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 […] Read more »

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. […] Read more »

RV Roadtrip Back Pain

Packing up for another extended roadtrip in your RV, you can’t wait to drive 20 hours across the country to explore a new part of America! There’s only one downside Sitting for hours upon hours. You know how bad it is for your posture and your back, and you can feel the strain it causes after a long drive cross-country. But up until this point, you’ve just accepted a sore back as a fact of RV living. Not anymore! It’s mission-critical to enjoy every moment on the road. You don’t want to be held back by a completely preventable physical condition! So if getting rid of back pain is important to you, take these 7 steps before, during, and after driving, and your sore back will be a figment of the past! 1. Practice Perfect Posture – Having good posture is one of the best ways to avoid sore backs while on the road. What’s perfect posture look like? Make sure to sit up with your back straight and your shoulders back. Your butt should touch the back of your chair. In order to achieve this position, follow these steps: sit at the end of your chair and slouch; draw yourself up and curve your back as much as possible – hold for ten seconds; slightly release the position. Practice this for a week before your next RV trip to ensure perfect posture next time you’re on the road. 2. Tennis Ball Anyone? – Using tennis balls to help release tension is a common method used by sport trainers and physical therapists. You’ll need two tennis balls in two different socks for this exercise. The intent here is to stretch out the erectors, the long muscles that extend from your lower back up to your neck on both sides of the spine. Place the two tennis balls in socks behind you, and lay down slowly. extending over the two balls. Start in the low to mid back region, and use your legs to slowly roll your back over the tennis balls. Do this up and down your entire back. 3. Breaks Are Good For The Body – If possible, get up and move around every few hours, no matter where you are. If you’re at work, stand up and stretch. If you’re retired and lounging near the RV, take a walk every couple hours. If you’re on the road driving, be sure to pull off every now and then to move around. Sitting down for extended periods of time is harmful for the back. Release some of this stress by moving every few hours. 4. Streeeetch It Out – If you have chronic pain, make sure to correct your posture first. Once you’ve mastered posture, learning how to stretch will do wonders in helping to address back pain. Some common stretches to include in your routine are the back flexion exercise and the knee to chest stretch. For the back flexion exercise, do the following: While lying on your back, […] Read more »

Buying RVs on Craigslist

If you’re anything like me you dream of the day when you can wave goodbye to the world and spend your days relaxing on the road with your RV. While all of us have different ideas of the type of RV we want to relax in we can all find common ground in that we want the best deal we can get for our RV of choice. One place to look for that great deal is Craigslist. And while Craigslist has developed a shady name over the years you can’t deny that there are plenty of options there. But should you spend time digging through the sludge? Is Craigslist for You? Many folks simply don’t want to deal with Craigslist sellers. That’s fine, there are plenty of dealers out there that are ready to sell you the RV of your dreams at retail or slightly above retail. For those that are willing to dig through Craigslist listing (and potentially find a great deal) for their RV, it’s very important to be thorough. There are many kind, up-front, ethical people out there that are trying to offload their gently used RV at a reasonable price. But there are also many folks out there that would as soon offload your wallet and sell you a water-damaged disaster at an outrageous price. While there are certainly risks to buying your RV through Craigslist you can educate yourself by digging through those listings and learning how to find a great RV at a great price. So, before going there ask yourself, can you wait 6 months for the right RV at the right price, or do you want / need your new RV now? If the answer is that you need it now then don’t wait, head over to your local dealer and start haggling. If your aren’t in a hurry then read on! Tips for Searching for an RV on Craigslist If the answer is that you are ready to wait then Craigslist might be the place for you. There are so many Craigslist ads for RV’s that it’s almost guaranteed you will find the one you want at the price you want if you are willing to wait. If you want to go that route then it’s time to start digging. For those unfamiliar with Craigslist, you have the option of searching by city. If you are willing to travel to find that great RV than your options open up drastically. For others, you have to set your city of preference and stick to that. Then you have to know your price range. Mostly know the most you are willing to spend so that you don’t close yourself off to the right RV at a lower price than you anticipated. So, pick your high price. Craigslist has a few filters built in so that you can really dial in to what you are looking for and not have to deal with a bunch of noise. Use those filters by plugging in your […] Read more »