If you’re like me, having internet
access has gone from being a luxury to a necessity. It’s hard to
imagine life without it, now. And perhaps surprisingly, one of the
most useful places for it has turned out to be inside the workshop. A
couple of years ago, mechanical instructors at Brandon’s Assiniboine
Community College put me onto that little secret.
Turning to the net for advice when I’m
on track. Sites like Wikipedia and eHow.com are pretty
useful. And if I can’t find the answer to my question on those kinds
of sites, enthusiast chat rooms often have discussions posted on the
exact topic I’m interested in. Even some of the machinery
manufacturers have sites that provide technical help.
As an example,
I used Deere’s site last week to find the correct drive belt routing
for my lawn tractor after making a mower deck repair. I’ll remember
to make a quick routing diagram first, next time I pull the deck off.
The trouble I, like most rural
residents, have is good access to broadband service. Until about
three years ago I was still relying on a dial-up connection. That
meant I just couldn’t make use of all the features the net had to
as the kind of unrestricted service urban dwellers have.
A few weeks ago, I received a call from
Sasktel Mobility, reminding me my cellular service contract was due
to expire soon. In the sales pitch that followed, the woman on the
other end of the phone told me about the company’s new 4G cellular
service, which could put unlimited wireless internet access right in
my pocket. Needless to say, I was interested.
A couple of days later my new smart
phone arrived. Unfortunately, it seems technology providers today
expect a pretty high level of knowledge from consumers, so there was
no owner’s manual included. I had to hunt down a teenager to help me
figure out how it worked. But once that was accomplished, I found I
really did have the world—or at lest the net—following me
everywhere I went. And the download speed is impressive.
There’s only one problem. Once I cross
the border into Manitoba, my phone won’t work at all—something
about MTS and Sasktel not having compatible 4G services. During that
initial sales pitch, I was told about the problem and assured it
would be corrected in a few months. But I thought she meant only internet access was unavailable outside the province. As it turns
out, regular phone service is out, too. My old $25-a-month jobbie
could do what this phone can’t: make a phone call from exotic
locales, like Virden, MB.
If, however, I want to log onto
Grainews.ca from the tractor cab when I’m in the field, I can—at
least when I’m on a hilltop where I can get a wireless signal. Or as
I did the other day, I can sit under a tree in the yard and watch a
1975 TV episode of “Movin’ On” that I found on YouTube. Remember that show? Anybody who’s
into machinery and trucks and was around in the ’70s can probably
still remember Sonny Pruett’s W900 Kenworth.
All that ability on a pocket-sized
phone is really great. I just wish I could make a telephone call with