C40's Journal

Where are you and where are you going?
halfmoon
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Re: C40's Journal

Post by halfmoon » Sat Jan 14, 2017 8:22 pm

C40,

Off the RTR subject, I very much like your B&W photo of Joshua Tree. It reminds me of Ansel Adams' work. Your photos have always been great, but lately they're outstanding. Is it the new camera?

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C40
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Re: C40's Journal

Post by C40 » Sat Jan 14, 2017 8:51 pm

thrifty++ wrote:Bryan - thanks for the clarification. I now have visions of Into The Wild flashing in my mind.

C40 - have you thought about taking a stop in Slab City? I watched it in Into the Wild and watched a documentary by Vice on it. Been fascinated by it ever since. However it looks trashy as all get out.
I've thought about it some. I may go some time but I'm not all that excited about it. From what I've seen in videos, the people there don't have much appeal for me. Seems like a lot of loonies, fuckups, etc. I'm sure there are some gems (interesting people) there but it seems like there's a lot of crap to sort through to find them.

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C40
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Re: C40's Journal

Post by C40 » Sat Jan 14, 2017 8:53 pm

halfmoon wrote:C40,

Off the RTR subject, I very much like your B&W photo of Joshua Tree. It reminds me of Ansel Adams' work. Your photos have always been great, but lately they're outstanding. Is it the new camera?
Thank you :-D

I started trying a lot harder just before getting the new camera. And the new camera is quite a lot better than my old one. So it's some of each.

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Re: C40's Journal

Post by RealPerson » Sun Jan 15, 2017 12:28 am

C40 wrote: Here's some things off the top of my head, with all three guys mixed together. (Average age of them is probably 65 or 70):
- Retired at age 30... 40 years ago
- Unashamedly self-centered, with a contagious positivity that makes people want to be around him.
- Has a knack for 'getting the gold out of people'. Gave me good advice on getting people to open up / share their stories / get past small talk
- Drummer for many different bands. Jazz groups that toured Europe (and when 'they' ran out of money, they started paying him in cocaine), and for some punk band, and for The Cockettes (as I understand, an all male and all gay (except for him) group that did something like male burlesque shows in the 70s in San Francisco) and more...
- 75 years old and in wonderful health. Surfs a lot and also treads water to photography surfers. Nearly got into a fight recently while surfing, with a 19 year old who kept cutting him off. The 3rd time the 19 year old cut him off, he forearmed the guy and knocked him off his surfboard... Then he says to him "Ok, since i started it, we can go back to the beach and you can choose: fists or knives"
- Has a ton of old travel adventure stories, many of them starting with some interesting details such as: "I was parked out next to the military base in my 1958 Porsche.. You could sleep in one of those if you recline the seat and put your feet into the trunk. And I had a girl with me. A tiny one, that way she could sleep with me in the same seat..."
- "Well my drug of choice is LSD...."
- Got hired and flow all over the world by Sports Illustrated to photograph Formula 1 races
- Was a professional boxer
- Said he was a Gigolo for a while
- All three were in the military, though they didn't talk about it other than brief mentions (and I didn't ask, as their own personal stories were more interesting)
- Lives in Mexico, right near some big surfing beach that gets huge waves. Has this really cool Toyota pickup with a camper on the bed and travels up and down the western coast fairly regularly, surfing and photographing surfers along the way (they buy the pictures, and pay him to make paintings of the pictures they really like). They know/like his work enough to email/call him and ask when he's coming to their area again.
You are right. Fascinating and thrilling. Thanks for sharing.

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C40
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Re: C40's Journal

Post by C40 » Thu Feb 02, 2017 7:15 pm


--------------------------
January 2017
--------------------------


SPENDING: $630
  • * $382 - Food
    * $62 - Gas
    * $65 – New cell phone**
    * $60 - Dating
    * $81 – Everything else
**(If anyone needs a new smartphone, this BLU R1 HD is freakin awesome. The version with ads is $60 when you log in using an Amazon Prime account. Someone in your family/friends has Prime and will share their password. The ads haven’t bothered me at all so far and if I decide to, I could get rid of them)


Image

Image



IN JANUARY, I:
  • * Met and made friends with a personal hero
    * Met two other fascinating guys at the Rubber Tramp Rendezvous
    * Drove the Apache Trail, one of the places I’ve spent a couple years dreaming of making it back to with my van.
    * Saw some family in Phoenix

RESULTS SO FAR VS. 2017 GOALS

I’m off to a good start.

Image

Image
If it’s hard to interpret, the columns to the right (J, F, M) are months. Green=good. Red=bad. The rows that are grey are targets. The actuals are green, red, or have a diagonal line if it’s something I didn’t do this month but that’s ok)

I hate how these screen captures from Excel get blurry. I may experiment to look for a way to get them cleaner.

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Re: C40's Journal

Post by Scott 2 » Thu Feb 02, 2017 10:43 pm

What if you save as a PNG instead of a JPG? You'd need to start with a fresh screen shot, since JPG uses lossy compression.

Also, resizing can blur. Cropping only should fix any remaining artifacts.

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bryan
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Re: C40's Journal

Post by bryan » Thu Feb 02, 2017 11:50 pm

Well I'm not sure why a simple screenshot would be blurry.. it's supposed to be a perfect bitmap -> PNG, no? Maybe a new screenshot app..

Yeah if you do any export/conversion/resize you would have to look into what is actually happening. For instance common practice for GIMP is importing vector formats to higher PPI and then when you save/export to set the final resolution.

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cmonkey
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Re: C40's Journal

Post by cmonkey » Fri Feb 03, 2017 8:15 am

I just use the Snip app in Windows. It seems to work well. If you are re-sizing anything to get it under 800px wide, it will look blurry no matter what.

Nice low spending!

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Re: C40's Journal

Post by jennypenny » Fri Feb 03, 2017 7:07 pm

C40 wrote:* Met and made friends with a personal hero
What is Randy Vining like? Is Without Bound an accurate depiction of that community's lifestyle?

Nice pic. :)

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C40
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Re: C40's Journal

Post by C40 » Tue Feb 07, 2017 11:50 am

jennypenny wrote:
C40 wrote:* Met and made friends with a personal hero
What is Randy Vining like? Is Without Bound an accurate depiction of that community's lifestyle?
In person, Randy is just like he seems in Without Bound. Positive and generally optimistic, fun to talk with.


Yeah, I'd say the movie is an accurate depiction. I think there are some cases where the movie makes it look a bit,... I don't know, ~worse than reality, those being:
- The music used in the documentary, which sounds like music you'd use for a documentary about how an apocalypse happened.
- That huge fat guy. He's still alive! He was at the RTR this year
- That one guy that seemed super paranoid about "them", conspiracies, the shit hitting the fan, etc.

I'd say the people at the RTR were more normal than the two guys noted above.

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C40
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Re: C40's Journal

Post by C40 » Tue Feb 28, 2017 2:32 pm

Two new posts to share. A normal financial journal post will come within a day or two.. just waiting on a couple dividends to come in..

Image
Before Vandwelling: Test Trips

This is some background info on the test trips I took, back before I build my own van, to see if I thought I should do so. One trip was in California (Sequoia) and the others were in central Arizona.




Image
Exploring Arizona 1 - Apache Trail and Roosevelt Lake

A trip out of Phoenix - along the wonderful Apache Trail, and camping with wonderful views of Lake Roosevelt

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vexed87
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Re: C40's Journal

Post by vexed87 » Wed Mar 01, 2017 9:27 am

WRT to the bike ride in your blog post, damn I'm so jealous! How often are you getting out on your bike? Those views are to die for, I bet riding out there is far more enjoyable than the city riding most of us do day in and day out. I want to see more bike videos, have you thought about spicing them up with different angles? :)

I toyed with the idea of getting a GoPro, especially after my dear father bought me an ALDI knock-off that didn't work and had to be returned, but then I realised I don't vary my routes enough to bother, it would be pretty dull watching my own urban commute back and forth. I have promised myself when spring rolls around, I'm joining a local cycling club, maybe then I'll spring for one on ebay.

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C40
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Re: C40's Journal

Post by C40 » Wed Mar 01, 2017 3:13 pm

@Vexed:

I ride on average about twice per week. When I'm out camping, I generally alternate days between riding and hiking, with a strength training day at least once a week. Yeah, riding out in places like this is wonderful. Some parts of it prevent me from enjoying it as much as you might imaging: that it's bumpy where I ride so I'm paying a lot of attention to the road, and that if it's an unfamiliar area, I'm deciding where to go and sort of committing the area to memory. But yeah it's still all kinds of fun.

I've been super lazy with my Go-Pro recording. I just put it in the mount on my handlebars and push the button when there's a good view. Usually I forget to take the gopro, or I forget to charge it or take the videos off the card and only think about it when I'm getting ready to ride. I don't have that much interest in making videos, so I put little effort into recording. I have a lot of footage that I haven't done anything with, mostly dash cam footage while driving (which is a much better way to see the road/area than on the bike because it's smoother). Some time I'll probably go through that and make some driving and biking videos. And some day I'll play around with different mounting points and angles on the bike and van. Now that I've abandoned any thoughts of making really nice videos, I might actually start doing more easy videos like the one in this recent post where I can record with little effort, process them really quickly, and just delete the original files without worrying that I'd want them for something later.

On getting a GoPro, take a look at the other various action cameras. There are cheaper options that I think are just as good or nearly as good. And there are some really cheap knock-offs that I guess are quite good too. I know there are a tons of people with GoPros who never use them, but when I looked on Craigslist, the prices were high.

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Re: C40's Journal

Post by C40 » Wed Mar 01, 2017 3:26 pm


-------------------------------------------
February 2017
-------------------------------------------

TOTAL SPENDING: $335
  • * Food: $187
    * Gas: $124
    * Dating: $44
    * Booze: $37
    * Clothes: $26
    * Misc. Entertainment: $17
    * Sold old camera body: (-$100)
That was my lowest month of spending in many years. Next month may be a bit higher from buying some tea and bike parts.

Things are going well. I’ve been hanging out in Phoenix a lot, and have went on three trips out north of the city so far. I’ve been trying to find places to camp near the city and that are still at low altitude, (<3,000 feet, where there are still cacti and not a bunch of thickets like there are in some places around 3,500-5,500 feet). I haven’t had much success because the low altitude areas, which are close to the city, have a bunch of OHV areas (Loud ATVs, lots of people) and shooting areas (tons of shooting, and their trash all over most potential campsites). I’ve found some so-so areas but nothing great so far. After another month, it will probably be warm enough to just stay at the higher altitudes.


Image

Image

In another month or two I will have broken even from the big camera purchase last year.




Brother’s Semi-ERE

My brother is taking a semi-ere! He and his girlfriend both quit their jobs. He sold his house last year and now she’s selling hers. Together, they have about as much money as I do. They got nearly half of it from the profit of selling their houses. They have a camper trailer that they will live in for a while. They plan to travel around the country a while and then buy some land for a sort of homestead. He said at the rate they expect to spend, they could not work for 4 years and also buy property. So they expect to start working again within 4 or so years.

He was working for company the last 5 or so years. He’s good at what he does and he was soon promoted to manager. He cares a lot about his work and his employer, and he gets way too stressed out about work. He’s been wanting to transition away from management and back to the technical role. A huge benefit of him quitting is that he will probably switch back to work again, and that he could do it remotely. When he quit, he got a handful of job offers from other companies (and I expect his own old company may also let him do technical work remotely). I think he said he’s going to not work at all for a while to decompress. His type of work is not one where his skills will become outdated in 5 or 10 years.

The really cool part about all this is that we’re planning to meet up and camp/travel together for a while this year. That will probably happen in late spring or in the summer. I’m not sure how long we’ll be together. He has some rigid timeline events and he may want to drive around the country a lot faster than I do.



Other Family Updates

Another cool thing is that my step dad is expecting to get laid off in late spring, and while that in itself is not so cool, when it happens, my mom and him will hit the road in their RV, and would come meet up with my brother and I.

My mom and her husband have wanted to quit their stressful jobs for years now. I think they’ve been saving up over the last 5+ years. They’ve bought some rental properties and I think they make decent money from them. They’re on the spendthrift side, but they have high incomes. I don’t really know what their timelines look like, but they definitely want to retire soon and are making efforts to.

My sister and her husband seem to be getting closer to buying some land out in the PNW to make a homestead/compound/earthy-nature-hippy type place. They sold their house that they fixed up, and made some decent profit. I don’t know much about their plans because she’s always so busy between work and her kids that we don’t talk much, and her and her husband aren’t big planners.

My dad is looking at options to retire earlier. A few years ago he basically said he might have to work for the rest of his life. Now he’s looking at ways to retire at a normal age. He could make a nice profit from selling his house, and buy a house somewhere less expensive with just the profit. He’s looking at different areas to move, and it sounds like if he does that, he’d only have to work maybe 3-5 years more. He said he’ll get $1,500-$2,000 per month in Social Security, depending on when he starts it. I think he could start it at $1,500 within a year or two. Maybe by then he’ll decide he could just move to the cheaper house and retire immediately.

Camping with my brother and dad last summer:
Image


So, all my immediate family want to or are trying to ~ERE or just retire soon. They all knew my plans for ERE starting at least 4 years ago. When I bought and started converting my van, that seemed to be the point they started thinking/planning/trying themselves, and now they’re taking a lot of action. I don’t know to what extent, but for sure some of the reason for this is seeing me retire. They all have told me that they have admiration/jealousy/etc. for me. It’s wonderful that they all seem to be channeling that into action and not resentment.

Maybe they all would’ve been doing these things anyways. I’m sure they’re happening sooner after seeing me lead by example, both from the timing, and from some of them specifically telling me so.

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Re: C40's Journal

Post by halfmoon » Wed Mar 01, 2017 8:23 pm

@C40, another great photo! I love how your father and brother seem focused on the fire in defiance of the stunning sunset. :D

It's very cool that your family is inching down the path you've inspired.

We used to get antsy in the icy mountains this time of year and start planning trips. Finding a place with solitude, lack of trash and noise, yet still free of snow? Almost impossible. :roll: I remember one trip we took through Idaho in the first two weeks of April: it rained, snowed, sleeted and hailed. Even worse, cloud cover obscured all of the spectacular mountain views we knew were RIGHT THERE behind the mist. It was frustrating.

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Re: C40's Journal

Post by Ego » Thu Mar 02, 2017 9:28 pm

This is such a great post. Not only did you do it yourself, you were able to encourage your family to follow. Kudos!

There has been talk of extending the Wheaton levels of ERE. Encouraging others has got to be one of the characteristics of master. Encouraging a sibling and PARENTS!!!..... that's Mr. Myiagi level. Congratulations. :D

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Re: C40's Journal

Post by Tyler9000 » Thu Mar 02, 2017 9:50 pm

Great job, C40. I feel like I'm starting to make progress on one brother. I can only hope I'll have a similar story to share in a few years.

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giskard
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Re: C40's Journal

Post by giskard » Fri Mar 03, 2017 11:20 pm

@C40

I have been following you on Instagram lately, man you are shooting some great photos. Really super inspiring stuff! Superbly motivating too! Please keep that stuff coming!

So I have some questions for you about van dwelling life. I'm like 2 or 3 years away from where you are financially, but I could do it a bit sooner if I could freelance some on the road. And by freelance I mean I will need my computer and desk and good internet connection with quiet to concentrate. I have some steady clients and I can charge a good rate, but I'm just worried about working out of a van on the road if I really need to get some work done. Also, sometimes I need to quickly remote into a server and reboot or it something at literally any time of the day (and I need a good connection to do this).

What do you think are the challenges around trying to do this? Do you think it is feasible in a van / RV setting? Just want to hear your thoughts about trying to do internet heavy work on the road.

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BRUTE
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Re: C40's Journal

Post by BRUTE » Sat Mar 04, 2017 9:41 am

+1 giskard questions

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C40
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Re: C40's Journal

Post by C40 » Sat Mar 04, 2017 1:40 pm

giskard wrote:@C40

I have been following you on Instagram lately, man you are shooting some great photos. Really super inspiring stuff! Superbly motivating too! Please keep that stuff coming!

So I have some questions for you about van dwelling life. I'm like 2 or 3 years away from where you are financially, but I could do it a bit sooner if I could freelance some on the road. And by freelance I mean I will need my computer and desk and good internet connection with quiet to concentrate. I have some steady clients and I can charge a good rate, but I'm just worried about working out of a van on the road if I really need to get some work done. Also, sometimes I need to quickly remote into a server and reboot or it something at literally any time of the day (and I need a good connection to do this).

What do you think are the challenges around trying to do this? Do you think it is feasible in a van / RV setting? Just want to hear your thoughts about trying to do internet heavy work on the road.
Thank you :-D. I promise I will.


About Data Plans:
By "good", I'm going to assume you mean fast, by which you mean 4G. If you only need 3G, like me, you can probably find a device to buy that has a $5/month grandfathered unlimited data account. That's what I did, and if you're interested, there's a really long thread about it on the CheapRVLiving forum.

Ok, first, if you're going to travel outside of cities in the western U.S., get coverage on Verizon's network. They have the best coverage out there by far. In cities, others would work just as well.

With 4G, the problem is that:
- The data is metered a lot. If you have an "unlimited" plan (which may not even be possible to get right now with Verizon, I'm not sure), your data will get metered down to 3G or maybe even 2G after you use a fairly small amount (Like 10 or 20 gigs... I don't know for sure). If you need a lot of fast data, you're fucked there.
- The data is expensive. Really stupidly expensive.

So, if you need a fast data, but use little total data, a current 4G plan would work ok. (and an old $5/mo 3G plan would probably work just as well).

If you need fast data and will use a lot of it, check and see if there are true unlimited 4G grandfathered data plans. You may be able to buy a flashed device (or pay someone to have them flash the plan to your device, or maybe do it yourself (I don't know how it works)) with a true unlimited 4G data plan. It might even be fairly inexpensive. I see threads over at the CheapRVLiving forum for cheap 4G data plans, I believe through Sprint.

There are many people who travel in vehicles with Youtube channels. They're uploading 20+ minute videos. I'm pretty sure most of them do this uploading at Libraries or Coffee shops while they are in cities. If your work is such that you need an ongoing connection for low bandwidth stuff, but occasionally need to send a huge file, you could do like these Youtubers do and be in a city when you need to send a large file.



About having a signal while camping:

If you need data while camping, it will limit where you can camp. In the western US, taking 100% of the land into account, you can probably only get a data signal on like 10% of it (this is a very wild guess). That's the bad part. The good part is that there are still many thousands of wonderful places you can camp with a great 4G signal. Also, unless you really really like to go way out into the middle of nowhere by yourself, it's likely that many of the places you would camp if you didn't even care about service will actually have a signal. This is because there are towers along highways. Most of the gravel and dirt roads going off into National Forests are near highways.

Lately, more than half of the places I've camped had service. Often the speed is even faster than in cities.

For some examples of places you can camp that all have 4G data, take a look at Bob Well's blog. I believe he will only camp where he has a good 4G signal. So all of the posts showing a place where he camped are examples of nice campsites with 4G data.






and....
Image
Exploring Arizona 2 -- Rained out near the Beeline

I tried to find a nice place near Phoenix to camp, in the desert at low elevation. I ended up camping at high elevation and got stuck in the rain two days

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C40
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Re: C40's Journal

Post by C40 » Sat Mar 04, 2017 1:47 pm

also.... my post was about data plans and coverage because that's probably the harder challenge. The other side is powering your computer. Assuming you'll use a laptop that doesn't draw a lot of power, it's very doable. With my 400 watts of solar panels, I could use my computer for 8+ hours per day on all but the cloudiest of days. To optimize battery charging cycles, I wait to plug in my computer charger until the sun is proving enough energy for the charger plus however much the battery can take. Most days that happens a few hours after the sun rises. Then at about an hour or less before sunrise I stop using the charger and can still use the computer for however long it's own battery lasts.

I could just run it hard and use the charger whenever I want, but it will reduce battery life. Even with pretty hard use, as long as you don't use them like an idiot, they'll still last a year. And they aren't all that expensive to replace (like $100-$600 depending on type and size)

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Re: C40's Journal

Post by George the original one » Sat Mar 04, 2017 3:28 pm

C40 wrote: Ok, first, if you're going to travel outside of cities in the western U.S., get coverage on Verizon's network. They have the best coverage out there by far. In cities, others would work just as well.

With 4G, the problem is that:
- The data is metered a lot. If you have an "unlimited" plan (which may not even be possible to get right now with Verizon, I'm not sure), your data will get metered down to 3G or maybe even 2G after you use a fairly small amount (Like 10 or 20 gigs... I don't know for sure). If you need a lot of fast data, you're fucked there.
+1 on Verizon for western USA coverage. There is no substitute outside the cities.

Verizon launched an "unlimited" data plan this past month. $80/mo data plan, 20GB at full speed and then throttled. There are some notes about how you can share only 10GB of data via WiFi, the throttling is not strict (that is they may or may not throttle depending on the local traffic load) and its not clear what the speeds are throttled to. They also mention how they don't count streaming data against your total, but it's unclear to me whether it has to be an affiliate of Verizon or if its any streaming source. I have not made the switch yet from my 6 GB data plan which is $60, so it looks like I need to get on the ball regardless of any limitations.

My house has both a 4G cellular connection and a satellite connection. My 4G connection is from a tower 4-5 miles away with a ridge in-between that puts us in a fringe area. Signal strength is 2 bars of 5 on the modem... download speed is acceptable, presumably due to transmitter strength, but upload speed is never better than 2 Mb/sec due to the ridge disrupting the signal. Using an external antenna for the modem, the signal strength goes to 3 bars and upload speed doubles. The satellite has better throughput than 4G, but you can't use VPN, there's an 800+ millisecond ping, and the signal is blocked by heavy rain & snow. Other satellite problems are they drift off the antenna alignment and can be oversubscribed, particularly in the evening hours and on weekends.

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Re: C40's Journal

Post by giskard » Sat Mar 04, 2017 3:30 pm

@C40 thanks for the quick and detailed reply. Really good to hear that there is pretty decent 4G on at least Verizon's network out west. It seems like data will only get cheaper in the next few years so maybe it is good that I am still a few years away from being ready. I bookmarked Bob Well's blog for later.

I didn't even think about power but I suppose that is an issue. I read somewhere that most 15 inch laptops draw around 50 watts on average. I also read that Macbook Airs will draw 5 watts idle and 20-30 watts under load so maybe it would be good go with a very low power consumption device to stretch out the battery life some more. Plus you can always get more solar panels right? Or do you think 400 watts of panels are about the most you can put on a van?

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giskard
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Re: C40's Journal

Post by giskard » Sat Mar 04, 2017 3:34 pm

George the original one wrote:
C40 wrote: The satellite has better throughput than 4G, but you can't use VPN, there's an 800+ millisecond ping, and the signal is blocked by heavy rain & snow. Other satellite problems are they drift off the antenna alignment and can be oversubscribed, particularly in the evening hours and on weekends.
Holy crap 800 ms ping? That would tremendously noticeable and annoying if you are shelled into a remote server.

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Re: C40's Journal

Post by George the original one » Sat Mar 04, 2017 3:45 pm

giskard wrote:
George the original one wrote: The satellite has better throughput than 4G, but you can't use VPN, there's an 800+ millisecond ping, and the signal is blocked by heavy rain & snow. Other satellite problems are they drift off the antenna alignment and can be oversubscribed, particularly in the evening hours and on weekends.
Holy crap 800 ms ping? That would tremendously noticeable and annoying if you are shelled into a remote server.
48000 mile roundtrip via satellite.

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