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Old 24-04-2013, 05:13   #1
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Liveaboard Software Developer

Hello,

As I am a software developer, my dream is to buy myself a boat and travel around the world while telecommuting with my clients via internet. I would be very grateful for information on what are the biggest challenges when living on a boat and working at the same time.

I imagine that maintaining stable power supply would be one of the biggest challenges. I normally work with one PC with two monitors (150-200W altogether). I am willing to give that away, but rather not if there are alternatives. What kind of power generators (wind and solar), would I need in order to charge my batteries enough to be able to work for 8 hour a day?

I know there are dedicated monitors and PC units dedicated to preserve energy, that also work on DC-power. Do You have anything to recommend?

Also what kind of batteries would be essential in order to fulfill my needs in times when horting energy is impossible? How big of a reserve should I have at all times?

I would also like to ask You of all the things that one does not consider before faces it on the boat. What was Your biggest computer-associated challenge. I would be very grateful for all Your feedback. Thank You in advance.
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Old 24-04-2013, 05:48   #2
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Re: Liveaboard Software Developer

Power is not necessarily your problem, as you can size your battery bank accordingly and use wind, solar and generator for power. There are many choices out there.

While many anchorage offer WiFi (I was in Dominica yesterday using WiFi, now I'm in Deshaies, Guadeloupe and connected), doing development work will require a reliable connection to the internet. There are several satellite-based services out there, the one that I feel offers the best price for higher data volumes is KVH. The antenna and 2 modems (19-inch rack mounted, AC power required) runs at about $15K and data runs at about $1 per Mb; you would need to factor that into your computations. The system also offers VOIP so you wouldn't need a separate phone system.
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Old 24-04-2013, 06:03   #3
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I am a sailor and a software developer. While its certainly doable , onboard power isn't your issue , after all you could just use a generator.

The main issue is reliable high speed Internet. Getting over 1mb/s is difficult and at sea almost impossible outside of mega money

Dave
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Old 24-04-2013, 06:28   #4
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Re: Liveaboard Software Developer

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(...) The main issue is reliable high speed Internet. Getting over 1mb/s is difficult and at sea almost impossible outside of mega money
Dave
1 mb/s will do good even for youtube...

May I ask how You go about Your work? Do you code exclusively in a marina, or you have wifi booster? is 4G even an option? Do You communicate with Your clients via skype or email or maybe redmine?

Is it painful to find good wifi spots when travelling and don't wand to go to marina every day? is it laggy after some distance from source of signal?

Does Your hardware ever get wet and need to be replaced?

From what i see Satelite is just out of reach financially, so this is I guess out of the picture...
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Old 24-04-2013, 06:36   #5
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Originally Posted by RafalManka_PL View Post

1 mb/s will do good even for youtube...

May I ask how You go about Your work? Do you code exclusively in a marina, or you have wifi booster? is 4G even an option? Do You communicate with Your clients via skype or email or maybe redmine?

Is it painful to find good wifi spots when travelling and don't wand to go to marina every day? is it laggy after some distance from source of signal?

Does Your hardware ever get wet and need to be replaced?
I did some work initially onboard., but now I reverted to land based serviced office. I just found the space and setup on board wasnt conducive. But this was a few years ago now, before most current comms had matured.

I used Skype. And relied on wifi and Internet cafes. My experience in recent years ( predominantly on the east side of the pond) is that marina wifi is poor. Too many users for the bandwidth. Ok for email , but not modern web browsing. ( I use GitHub for code storage).

In my view good 3G/4G is likely to be better , often way better.

I'm now involved in some hardware design again, so that rules out onboard anyway


Its doable , especially if you are used to working on your own

Best of luck

Dave
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Old 24-04-2013, 06:40   #6
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As a fellow liveaboard and a full time telecommuting software developer, I know from experience that power is not the issue. Internet access is. I'm still in the States and use a 3g data card attached to a Linux laptop running a dhcp server, IP forwarding, and an adhoc wireless network. I also have a cell booster installed which extends my range for both data and cell connections. Once connected, all my other systems can connect to the internet through the adhoc wireless network.

I have two laptops, two 22" LCD monitors, and a fileserver. When everything is humming, it draws up to 550W, but the average draw is around 250W. Pick yourself up a KillaWatt. I used mine to size my solar array and inverter for the 'office' equipment.

While you can run the generator to work, doing that everyday for 10 hrs or more puts a lot of hours on your machinery in short order.

Later,
NJ
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Old 24-04-2013, 06:47   #7
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Re: Liveaboard Software Developer

Thank You guys, You help me a lot!

I understand that in US You also pay for 3G per 1MB. with all that pushing and pulling and youtubing (which would be impossible i guess) how much GB You consume monthly? What is the cost of that?

How about 4g with some kind of a booster?
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Old 24-04-2013, 07:30   #8
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Thank You guys, You help me a lot!

I understand that in US You also pay for 3G per 1MB. with all that pushing and pulling and youtubing (which would be impossible i guess) how much GB You consume monthly? What is the cost of that?

How about 4g with some kind of a booster?
I'd have to say that in my experience with modern gsm based comms, that boosters are unnecessary and in fact in gsm can be counter productive. Gsm towers control phone power, since the " loop gain" is the important factor , TX power doesn't add to the party.

A good 3G/4G router with an antenna about 2metres off the deck is all you need.

Where do you intend to liveaboard and/or cruise , that has a big impact.

Dave
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Old 24-04-2013, 07:43   #9
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Re: Liveaboard Software Developer

I want to start off by buying a boat in Florida, so i have to move somewhere and find a boat that i fall in love with.

Then i want to cruise around Florida for some time, then Carribean, after that Hawaii, Australia...

I think i can live on speed that 3G is providing without much of a problem. 4G would be so much better though.

is there a difference in 3G speed from country to country? perhaps in US 3G is somewhat faster... I understand that because of the distances there would be lots of lost packeges on my connection, can one browse through websites while being on an anchor or is that sometimes problematic?
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Old 24-04-2013, 08:21   #10
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Re: Liveaboard Software Developer

You can find unlimited data plans if you shop around. I'm lucky enough to still have a old AT&T unlimited plan for $60 a month. I can eat up Gigs of data a week, especially since some of our software generates 1gb+ size images that need to be transferred around.

I've found my cell booster will double my throughput and provide good call quality in areas that I have weak signal without the booster. However, in areas with strong signal, it can actually slow things down. I have mine wired to a switch to make it easy to turn off and on.

As for 3G/4G data speeds in FL (where I am located), the throughput depends on the area. Pensacola has 3MB/s, outlying areas have 1MB/s, and south Florida screams comparatively. There are a lot of areas of the Panhandle coast that are covered by the carrier's implementation of 2G. For At&T, that is the EDGE network.

Later,
NJ
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Old 24-04-2013, 08:22   #11
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Re: Liveaboard Software Developer

I use a Bullet hi-power system from Ubiquiti networks. I often pick up a signal at a mile or more away (I'm currently 1.2 KM from the antenna and am anchored very far out with lots of boats between myself and the hotspot but can still pick up a good signal). I should have added that I, too, am a liveaboard and do try to work remotely when possible.
Here in the Caribbean in anchorages with some restaurants/bars/facilities ashore you can usually find a pay-per-time WiFi signal and very often can find open WiFi hotspots as well. The further south you go, the further between WiFi broadcasters you go and the really nice and secluded anchorages usually have no shore-based connectivity and often even no cell phone coverage. I would love to stay on the hook in a secluded place like that and enjoy living aboard while still earning some income using connectivity. My Iridium phone gets about 4800 Baud effective throughput and costs about $1/minute. The KVH V3 Broadband is about $15K up-front then at most $1 per Mb at speeds up to 2Mbps. The other satellite option is Inmarsat Fleet Broadband, where the hardware and up-front costs are significantly less, but costs about $250 per month for 10Mb then $17 per Mb thereafter.

While prices are going down, using satellite internet will remain an expensive proposition.

Click on the thumbnail to see a screenshot from my Ubiquiti status screen for my current connection in Deshaies, Guadeloupe, FWI.

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Old 24-04-2013, 08:37   #12
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Re: Liveaboard Software Developer

Awesome! in that case internet is NOT an issue.
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Old 26-04-2013, 13:22   #13
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Re: Liveaboard Software Developer

Quote:
Originally Posted by RafalManka_PL View Post
Hello,

As I am a software developer, my dream is to buy myself a boat and travel around the world while telecommuting with my clients via internet. I would be very grateful for information on what are the biggest challenges when living on a boat and working at the same time.

I would also like to ask You of all the things that one does not consider before faces it on the boat. What was Your biggest computer-associated challenge. I would be very grateful for all Your feedback. Thank You in advance.
With today's solar and wind options and lower current draws for computers, power wont be a problem.

I wrote software while floating in St Thomas harbor and then tied to the dock in Puerto Rico. It was the best job, and best paying, that I've ever had.

My problem was getting more work, once that project was done.

If you solve that and are willing to share let me know as I am now ashore writing software in central Texas.
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Old 27-04-2013, 08:23   #14
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Re: Liveaboard Software Developer

I was researching on that a little, and from what I yet know, there should be no problem in getting projects to in the technology i I work in.

I write code in PHP using Zend Framework. I chose it because it is easy to learn, often projects are small and delivered by small team of people if not by one person alone. I understand that if you write in something like cobol it might not be the case:-)

So from what I know what I should do is to say hello to some interactive agencies and I should be offered plenty of work.

I used to work with a guy that was doing lots of side projects to different companies in different countries and he said that he is making almost his second salary with half of the time spent on a job... that's tempting...

what do You guys write in?
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Old 29-04-2013, 10:01   #15
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Re: Liveaboard Software Developer

Good, you might plan on using vmware or something similar so your server and client systems can run on the same hardware, for development. That way you'll not need a fulltime network connection, but only require one to upload the finished product. This would cut costs and reduce current draw.

My projects afloat were in Unix/C/Xwindows then in Microsoft .Net and MSSQL.
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