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March 14, 2004

Vacation Technology Plan and VAN (Vacation Area Network)

Five years ago, after three years of combined family vacations, Pete and I decided it was important to have a technology plan for family vacations. At the time there was talk of doing nightly photo uploads and playing with streaming video or a webcam. The plan died the same week it was conceptualized, but one thing has remained constant . . . the establishment of a VAN (Vacation Area Network).

As vacation plans come together Pete and I keep our eye on connectivity options, trying to vote for destinations and housing that might accomodate our technology needs. Sometimes it looks pretty bleak, but something usually presents itself.

Once we're on location, and had a chance to do some vacationing we turn to the options for establishing the VAN. Last year it was dialup via a PowerBook which used the 802.11g to share the connection. This year there's no phone line in the vacation house so it's Verizon 1XRTT CDMA broadband on Pete's Sony VIO and a crossover cable to the PowerBook.

The worse conditions I can remember is a trip to Winnipeg, Canada where we stayed in cabins on a remote lake and the only connectivity was from a phone booth at the Winnipeg airport (it took some hunting to find one with a working data jack). Still have a mental image of Pete sitting on a chair in front of the phone booth and having to take turns in the booth. Very little time spent online that trip.

There is debate amongst the family members about the importance of having the VAN, or even laptops, on vacation. The most valid I have now is to get photos from the camera. It's also handy to have a DVD player on flights to keep kids calm. No matter how much bad-mouthing it gets, invariably everyone benefits from finding directions, getting weather updates, looking up additional information about attractions and answering vacation-related questions (today's two were "Does a palm tree shed it's bark naturally or is it pruned?" and "What makes the ocean salty?").

Posted by mike at March 14, 2004 9:13 PM