April 07, 2006

My Mobile Office
Working on the internet is a 24/7/365 enterprise. Since there are many critical business applications that I am responsible for, I find it difficult to get away from work and have some quality time off. In order to leave my home for any period of time, I must have an internet connection available. On nearly a daily basis, I get a request for an upgrade, a report of a bug, or just general questions from clients or potential clients.
My solution was to create my Mobile Office
My mobile office is merely a conversion van equipped with a 750-watt DC to AC power inverter. At a minimum, this allows me to keep my laptop and cell phone fully charged. For connecting to the internet, I have the Wireless Broadband service from Verizon ($60/month). However, the Broadband speed is only available near certain larger cities.
AC power was my main concern. I'm not the handyman type, so I was forced to pay someone to run a 10-ft cable from the battery through the firewall to the power inverter, which is installed behind the driver's seat. Here I just plug things in as I would at home, including the charging unit for one of those jump starters that you can find anywhere. Not only does the jump starter bail me out of a dead battery jam, but you can get one with cigarette lighter style sockets, for plugging in small DC appliances, such as a little refrigerator or a coffee pot. The van's main battery runs the power inverter, which in turn keeps the jump starter at full power. AC and DC power sources renewing each other ;-))
When travelling, the mobile office can also be a mobile home of sorts. To avoid hotel bills, I usually park overnight in truck stops along the interstate highways. My favorite location is the Pilot truck stop in Lodi, OH...there I can get the high speed from the Cleveland network. I've also been known to camp in the rear of a WalMart parking lot if that is all that can be found at the time.
Drawbacks to working on the road are numerous. Taking a shower for instance...either I've gotta get a room, or use a public shower at a truck stop. Without a full-featured kitchen, my diet suffers as I can and will succumb to the dollar menu at McDonalds. Going for long walks with my dog are a daily routine for me, and finding the open spaces where I can take the dog off the leash are few and far between. The living space becomes a little claustrobic at times, so warm locations are very important...I'm not gonna take a tour of North Dakota in January for obvious reasons.
Mobile internet by satelitte is available, but it's a little too pricey at this time. If I do some day get this service, I'd be able to work from any location, including remote locations off the beaten path of the highways. (And as long as I had a clear view into the southern sky.)
Upgrading to some kind of RV is in the works. A 25 to 30 ft. trailer would be best, since that would enable me to disconnect the tow vehicle when parked in a campground. In the future, I can see myself semi-retired, in a spacious RV on a permanent working vacation.
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