Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Working remotely, working out the details.

As a follow-up to yesterday's posting, today I rode out with the early morning traffic over to Morrison, CO.  Took me about an hour to get to Evergreen via the Bear Creek Canyon road after slabbing it via the C-470 highway south of the Denver Metro Area.

As I neared Evergreen, my first realization that I'd forgotten stuff about what it takes to work outside.  Being in the mountains, Evergreen was about 12 degrees cooler than the balmy 53°F the Denver Metro Area had awoken to you see.  So it was a brisk 40 degrees as I arrived onto the main downtown area of Evergreen.  After a brief look, I decided to start the day inside a local cafe, the Muddy Buck.

Warmly ensconced inside, I drank coffee and had a breakfast burrito as I worked via their WiFi Internet access for about 2.5 hours or so.  A bit before an 11:00 AM call, it had soared into the low 60s outside so I geared up and moseyed down towards the lake area of Evergreen where Xfinity claimed there was a hot spot in a strip mall's parking lot.

Found a parking spot with no problem and yes, by joe, there was an xfinitywifi hot spot and I logged in successfully and continued to work and take the business call at the same time.  Here's where I realized something about my idea to work remotely; you have to stand by the rig as you work and the sun makes it really hard to see the screen unless you turn the brightness way up.  This of course eats up more of your battery life!

After the business call, it was time to do some riding for fun during the lunch hour.  I packed everything up and motored back into Evergreen and explored a couple of interesting streets that led upwards into the hills around Evergreen.

 The view from Independence Trail, a road leading to homes 
located on the hills outside of Evergreen.

 Some of the Fall color along Myers Gulch Road east of Evergreen
Most of the trees had already "peaked" so the pickings were slim.

Leaving the Evergreen area, I moved west with Scarlett along Bear Creek Canyon Road until I reached Idledale where I turned left onto Grapevine Road to see what we could see.  It's a narrow twisty road, again leading to hillside homes and small farms.  Not much to report otherwise for this road.  We rode till it summited and started going downhill and that's where we turned around to get back to Idledale.

Some nice color from the edge of Grapevine Road.
The road was narrow and no safe spot for Scarlett so she didn't get to 
be in the picture.

Then it was onwards to Morrison where Xfinity reported another WiFi Hot Spot at the Blue Cow Restaurant.  I pulled into the parking lot at about 1:15 PM and the lunch crowd was already thinning out.  This is something else to consider when doing this kind of tele-commuting, you tie up a parking spot and some businesses might look askance at that.

I logged onto the xfinitywifi hot spot, worked on stuff till about 2:30PM.  Got UDF'ed right there in the parking lot by this fellow who used to work on sidecars back in Missouri.  He talked knowledgeably of Urals/Dneprs and even Zundapps!  He was quite shocked that URALs now run for about $16K, he thought they were only $8K!

I left Morrison and arrived back home shortly after 3:00 PM, worked till 4:00 PM which is usually the time I stop for the day.  I found the power inverter and hooked it up to the marine battery to test whether it would power the laptop enough to recharge it, and it does.  Then, I hooked up the inverter to a small jump start battery unit and it too seemed to be able to recharge the laptop.

The marine battery is pretty heavy but packs 285 Amp Hours of juice, the jump starter unit only packs 7 Amp Hours of juice but is lighter and smaller.

My laptop's battery was able to last all day and still had about an hour of life left when I got home.  I think it could conceivably last a full work day, such as the one I had today, if I can limit the brightness of the screen.  So I fashioned a proof-of-concept cardboard "hood" to keep sunlight from washing out the screen:

Basically, it's a box that my laptop fits into....will see how it does tomorrow.

So, I think I got the power thing figured out, the screen visibility will be proven out tomorrow, and as to standing by the rig, now I'll sit in the sidecar and work!  All I need is a shady parking spot or perhaps pack an umbrella along with some water and snacks.

So why do all this you may ask, well, it positions me in a good spot to ride and take pictures during the lunch hour.  I can't get to the mountains/foothills without incurring an hour of riding time on highways and streets so the lunch hour is wasted doing that.  

21OCT14: Update:

1.  One must pick a shady spot to block the sun from washing out the laptop screen.  The box pictured above works OK but really, placing a small umbrella on the spare tire rack to block reflected light from behind the rig is best, that and wear a dark color shirt!

2.  I get about four hours of battery life, with the laptop brightness setting set on Maximum so I can see the screen.  You can bolster that time by using a DC Inverter unit hooked up to an inexpensive battery jumpstart unit with a cigarette outlet built-in.  I ran the laptop this morning for three hours, and it displayed 1 hour remaining.  Then I plugged in an inverter unit into my small jump start unit that I bought last winter, see below, and it powered me till TBD.


Richard M said...

Now you just need work to get you a weatherproof/waterproof laptop. I've used Getac, Panasonic and Dell ruggedized laptops and all are weather proof and with the advent of SSD you no longer need hard drives with heaters on the bearings. But then again, you may not want to be out working in the rain or snow. But it'll make a great photo...

Getac and Panasonic make vehicle mounts. Just saying..

SonjaM said...

I love your outdoor office, and I so want to do this, too.

Arizona Harley Dude said...

I have had thoughts of putting a marine deep cycle battery in the pigpen and a solar charger to keep it charged. I figured it would keep necessities charged and in event of need jump start Petunia. Shying away from the Hillbilly look is the reason I hesitate.

Your outdoor office is a brilliant idea!

Trobairitz said...

I think you will really enjoy the travel and work thing. And we get to see all the pretty pictures too. Win win.

And part of the fun is experimenting and finding what works.

Charlie6 said...

RichardM, working while it snows? Hmmmm

SonjaM, still working out the kinks...but for the occasional time when sitting inside is stifling.... am thinking perhaps an umbrella mount for shade....hmmmm