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Old 18-07-2013, 09:30   #1
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Remote Work Data Services

We're working on committing to a semi or circumnavigation. The house is on the market, wife left her job after a union battle (they offered severance and she took it, last time was 2x the amount, next time will probably be half). We're slowing getting rid of our possessions.

The point of contention appears to be me. I work in IT. I've chatted about taking a sabbatical but haven't made any inroads. And I can't blame them we're expanding east and west and manpower has been way lacking. So rather than walk into my bosses office for "the talk" I'd like to offer an alternative. One where I manage the servers remotely and bill them as a consultant.

Anyone have any experience doing remote work such as this? Which provider and data plans. I wouldn't even mind getting a satellite dome if the price is right.
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Old 18-07-2013, 09:34   #2
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Re: Remote Work Data Services

Vous etes en France? Where, in the world, would you want to be based at?

Mauritz
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Old 18-07-2013, 09:58   #3
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Re: Remote Work Data Services

If your salary is correct, I'd think a satellite dome would be the best solution. You could work from anywhere and not worry about individual cell plans, coverage areas or dodgy internet cafes.
who knows, if you play your cards right, your employer may even cover the costs of the dome and service.
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Old 18-07-2013, 10:41   #4
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Re: Remote Work Data Services

Satellite domes are pricey, but worth the expense if you are going to remotely work from a boat; $10K - $25K USD, plus monthly charges.

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Old 18-07-2013, 10:49   #5
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Re: Remote Work Data Services

Quote:
Originally Posted by Teknav View Post
Vous etes en France? Where, in the world, would you want to be based at?

Mauritz
Some place warmer. And the misses wants to try living in the US for a little while. We both agree that we want to be at sea. Away from mortgages, HOAs, noisy neighbors, nosey neighbors. We're both in our 30s so waiting until retirement to do a circumnavigation seems ridiculously far away.

I'm looking forward to teaching our son to be free of distractions and learn a bit of independence and be closer to the world. But IT skills are fleeting and when you're out of the game for too long (I travelled through various parts of Europe and SE Asia with my wife for a year) you lose a lot of ground. I'm still committed to the voyage but if it's possible to do business from the south pacific I'd like that as well.
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Old 18-07-2013, 10:56   #6
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Re: Remote Work Data Services

There's a CF member who does remote IT work from her boat, in Florida. She and her husband are on here very often. I can drop her a PM, if you would like to talk with her about her net setup; let me know. A bientot!

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Old 18-07-2013, 11:21   #7
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Re: Remote Work Data Services

I worked remotely from my boat as an application developer for about 8 years. Still doing it, but most companies are asking for on-site work only. If your boss is willing, then give it a go. I work from a dock using a cable modem, because the wife is still working too and we are trying to build a nice cruising kitty for a year at least in the Carib.

I don't have any experience with a sat dome, because they are out of my budget. I have heard of very large monthly bills for the data rates. Plus I'm not sure if they are reliable enough. If you customer has an issue and you can't connect due to weather or whatever, your remote career could be short lived.

I used a data card for cell for about 2 years while working from the boat in the keys. It was fine in most places although not the fastest thing, but it did let me live in the keys for about 2.5 years.
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Old 18-07-2013, 11:46   #8
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Re: Remote Work Data Services

Hi RM! Advanced Sat domes are very reliable as they focus their signal on a 2-3 states area, instead of an entire continent. The built in GPS fixed to the receiver's dish, inside the dome, has made them very popular, but still very pricey. Now, you can have net, TV, cell coverage anywhere in the world; for this convenience, monthly charges are sky high.

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Old 18-07-2013, 12:37   #9
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Re: Remote Work Data Services

I worked remote from the boat for a few years. I was not cruising, just living aboard. Not sure I would want to do it cruising unless it was very part time or I was marina hopping. I used a combination of coffee shops, cellular data, and wifi. Coffee Shops are everywhere and usually have excellent wifi and comfortable chairs.

Cellular data is mostly reliable these days and available most anywhere on the US coast that is urbanized. For sure you need a cellular booster to turn 1 bar into 5, but they are cheap. Data will cost you about $50 / month.

Wifi is far better that cellular where available. Again you need a booster. I use the Bullet2 and love it.

If you can afford satellite, that would be the holy grail of course, but it is still crazy expensive.
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Old 18-07-2013, 12:58   #10
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Re: Remote Work Data Services

I've worked remote for the last year now, in Mexico. There are solutions for here and there but one thing I'd offer up is that it will really alter your trip.

There are a lot of places here in the Sea of Cortez which simply don't have telephone service and even regular electricity is either recent or coming soon. When you start looking at locales outside of the first world the challenges can be pretty extreme.

Even satellites are hardly panacea. There is a lot of delay in the connections and they cut in and out. No big deal for some guy checking his email but if you expect to maintain a VPN connection or remotely access a computer it's simply not of sufficient quality. The voice connections can also be really bad. So bad in fact that touch-tone dialing won't work, as is required to join almost any conference call.

My own thoughts on why it's working for me are:

- I fly back to the US every 2-3 months for a week or two. It helps me catch up with my team and some things are just better done in person.
- I, and my boss, look at it basically as working remotely albeit with some weirder issues from time to time. I'm on the hook for getting things done and provided there are no problems, there are no problems.
- I've invested a lot in being remote. Spare batteries, local cell phones and cellular data cards for wherever I am, satellite voice and data, an AT&T global quad band phone (with coverage), multiple noise cancelling headsets, local country numbers for our conference bridge provider, spare phones, spare laptop, spare power adapters. It took me a while to build all that up and there's even more that's just knowledge.
- I communicate like a crazy person, but only the people who know about my situation know the details. To everyone else I just work remotely. I keep my Outlook/Exchange calendar up to date.
- I look at cellular coverage areas and try to plan accordingly on where we'll anchor or take a slip.
- I use PTO time for passages, time short passages for the weekends, and through all of that am available via the sat phone.
- I took a paycut of roughly 25%. That being said, with a ~$1500/month phone bill and my travel expenses back to the states I probably cost more than I did back then.

Beyond all that I try to focus on being valuable. There are some really important projects to our finance business and I make sure to work hard on those and make a lot of progress.
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Old 18-07-2013, 13:28   #11
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Re: Remote Work Data Services

I have also been working remotely, full-time, from a mooring field in south Florida. There is excellent cell coverage in this area and working on AT&T LTE network is as good as wifi. I work on a remote computer using RDP and the data requirements are remarkably low (in my opinion) and run about 500mb/day. I also have access to wifi at the sail club that we belong to and use a wifi antenna to boost the signal so I can work from the boat. I work on this wifi in most cases but I find the reliability to be less than LTE if we are moving a lot and then use LTE as my backup when it is insufficient. I could also go into the club to work but would rather stay on my home Did a little work while cruising the coast fairly easily and will try it in the Keys in a couple of weeks.

Off-shore or in another country is a different animal as Rebel Heart describes. Satellite data upload/download looks incredibly expensive even if I could afford the equipment.
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Old 19-07-2013, 02:26   #12
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Re: Remote Work Data Services

Hmm, none of this sounds very encouraging to a circumnavigator. 15k for a satellite dome is out of the question. So it might just be easier to make a clean break, let the chips fall, and re-enter the job market after a few years. For the moment it looks like we'll be purchasing a boat in BVI or french caraibes, sailing it up to Ft. Lauderdale to equip, preparations and repairs then down through the caribbean to start our tour.

Working from a mooring isn't going to work because we're not cruisers in the traditional sense; just a family looking for adventure. But unlike a month long Everest excursion this is actually a fairly big commitment.

I've recently discovered my wife is a compulsive shopper so hopefully the loss of internet will keep her off of Amazon and ebay :-)
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Old 19-07-2013, 06:33   #13
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We installed an Iridium Extreme this summer.

Connection is good but slow. Ignoring the cost of data. I would say it is great for downloading weather data, email, blog postings. I could not imagine any type of interactive web or Remote Desktop experience for any extended period of time.
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