06 Jun 2009

Working from home means you can work from everywhere, right? (not always)

Calpe beach near Benissa

Due different reasons, my wife’s holidays this year are going to be split in different weeks. Last week was one of them. We rent a great villa in Benissa. We did it using the web Homelidays.com which, by the way, I strongly recommend.

I packed all I need to move my office, which basically means my laptop and my mobile phone. As soon as we got there, I connected my laptop and tried to find a unsecured WI-FI spot.

No luck! All our neighbors had properly set up networks (but I wanted to be sure ;). Then I tried my phone. It connected without problems and I was able to read my email at a reasonable speed. Then I relaxed!

That very same day, at night, I tried to check my email accounts again. I powered up my DELL M65 notebook and the screen didn’t lit up. This has happened to me several times using this laptop and usually it’s been fixed by powering down the laptop and turning it on again… but not this time!

Luckily, my wife brought her laptop too. I connected the mobile phone and… no drivers! Paradoxically Windows needed to connect to Internet to download the drivers to be able to connect to Internet. Oh, boy!

Next day I drove to Benissa and connected to Internet, using my wife’s laptop, while enjoining a great breakfast. I installed the drivers so I could connect to Internet using my phone again.

Later that day I check my email using my wife’s laptop and my phone. Everything was fine except that after a while the connection speed plummeted down dramatically. A client sent my a small PDF, only 500 Kb, and I was unable to download it. It seems that my phone company gives me some 3G juice but only for a fixed amount of data, then it falls back to GSM. Ok, I’m on holidays. Sure my client can wait until tomorrow. Next day I was able to download the PDF and answer his question, but then I received a phone call. One of my apps was not doing the automatic invoicing due an error. I knew exactly what the problem was, but without my source code and without a decent Internet connection I was screwed. I had no other choice but to drive back to my office (120 Km).

At least I was able to fix the problem with my laptop’s monitor. Dell support was excellent. It turned out that the VGA connector was not properly connected. Note to self: Broadband Internet is a must when on vacation.