Sunday, August 17, 2014

Summer 2014 - Working under hard conditions...

This year I got two weeks of summer vacations starting early August and I planned to be totally disconnected from the internet, having 100% family vacations - this is why I did not opt to get any data plan for the specific period. However, something unexpected came up and I had to do some work during these days, so I had to slightly revise my plans. Since we had already booked ferry tickets and made arrangements, the only thing that I could do was to slightly revise my plans, including my packing plan - only to realize that I would need to get an additional backpack with me. After checking out the options I had and making a draft plan of the work I had to do, I decided to take the following stuff with me in my retired but still functional Trust 600B-15 Urban Notebook backpack, on top of the stuff that I would normally take with me during my vacations (ok, I would take some of them with me anyway!):
  • Acer Aspire One 751h netbook: My old and slow netbook, currently powered by Peppermint OS 5 Linux, served two main purposes; I used that for connecting to the internet, downloading emails and doing some work (as planned) while the kids could also watch some cartoons saved before the trip in the external hard disk. Its battery still holds more than a couple of hours, making it usable for trips. Carrying around my 17-inch laptop that I use at the office was not an option, due to its size, weight and limited battery capacity.
  • Nokia Lumia 720: It was totally exploited during the trip; not only it served as my mean of communication with the rest of the world through voice calls, but it was also my internet hub, sharing a 3G internet connection with the netbook (there was no wifi available at all times but unfortunately there was no mobile network as well!). It also served as a digital camera supporting my Olympus E-PM1 & used for taking videos (when my Olympus was not handy) and also for alternative internet usage such as emails, web browsing, social media (Twitter, Instagram, Facebook), checking out places worth visiting (sights, restaurants etc.) mainly through TripAdvisor and even creating lists and taking notes with Evernote. It was frequently charged with its own micro-USB charger.
  • Olympus E-PM1: My small mirrorless digital camera, mostly used with the Panasonic Lumix 14mm/F2.5 pancake lens. Wide enough to capture everything and lighter/more compact/brighter than the kit 14-42mm/F3.5-5.6 which I also carried with me. The camera was backed up by a 2nd battery and a charger as well as a 8GB microSD card with SD adapter.
  • Paper documents, related to the work that I had to do during my holidays and a paper notebook for keeping notes on the road/when away form the netbook/mobile;
  • Wallet with cash and debit cards; the latter are not always accepted in Greek islands (e.g. cafes, some restaurants, bakeries etc.);
  • Philips Sound Dot MP3 player: Was mostly used mostly at the beach and while the rest of the family was asleep. My oldest son also proved to be a fan of the playlist that I had made, so he used the MP3 player for some time, keeping him busy.
  • Credit Card Survival Tool; proved to be really useful for opening beer bottles and other stuff;
  • Klean Kanteen 20oz (592ml) Insulated Water Bottle: I cannot imagine going to summer vacations (and not only) without this stainless steel water bottle; it might be a little heavier than an aluminum one, but it has vacuum double walls for insulation, it does not have internal linings from dangerous substances, it is durable and wide mouth=easily washable and easy to fill with ice! It can be used as a drinking cup as well, in cases where no glasses are available (e.g. in rooms to let) or when you don't want to constantly open the fridge for getting cold water.
My digital camera and water bottle

What did I expect to find at my destination? Best case scenario included an unlocked WiFi network (which was rather impossible, due to the remote location of the village) with basic connection speed or at least a good mobile network signal (e.g. 3G).

What did I actually find? Indeed an unlocked WiFi network but with about 50% signal strength and slow speeds as well as a really bad mobile network signal - 3G was out of question! What I did most of the times was try to find locations were the signal for both networks was better, so  that I could send/receive emails and open some web pages I needed. Alternatively, I tried to work to the WiFi network early in the morning or late in the night, when the network was less used. In any case, I tried to do most of the work offline, while it was not possible for all tasks assigned...

All in all, I managed to performed at least the basic tasks within the deadline, while the ones requiring an active internet connection were planned for the next week, when I will be back in the office. It was a hard two-weeks period, but I think I managed to keep everything under control. :-)