Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Technology thinking and recommendations....

I am focussing my thinking on how I might live on the boat without missing some of the comforts of home.

See this post if this does not make sense....Click me 

In this day and age the internet is a must, certainly if you are reading this you will also be part of this age. We have tried a few things, the MIFI with a three card in it was by far the best so far but unless you know better not cheap (target £15 or less) way of getting unlimited data. As I am a streamer (!) I get through a lot of data. At home our internet is unlimited and we found out that we can both eat a lot of data so we eventually opted for the one plan from 3. Only slight frustration is this is not available for a MiFi device only within a phone.

No problem as buying a cheap phone (from my good friend John) and then tethering it  - or rather making it a personal hotspot in effect makes it a wifi router. So a nice little wifi hotspot all for me all you can eat data for £15 a month. For someone who uses the internet a lot this is perfect for the boat and no worries on running out or running up a large bill. The other benefit is it is 4g so when that is available I just have to upgrade the phone and get a new sim FOC for even faster downloads.

What to use for browsing .....

Bruce recently posted about his newish Ipad - see here

No doubt a top piece of kit and I am lucky to have a good one. Book reader, mail client, blogger, facebook, games machine, much more - superb. If you are thinking of getting one do not hesitate, you will not regret it. Plus for us to keep connected Skype or Facetime will be used on the Ipad.

For more detailed and precise work.....a portable computer (Macbook is my choice again here) is great. The latest will run windows either from boot up (using bootcamp supplied FOC by Mac - just need a windows disc to install) or using VMware or Parallels it will run both Mac and Windows in the same desktop..... I prefer the Mac operating system as it is much quicker to load and generally cleaner and less risky.

Both of the above give another singular advantage, the battery times are between 5-10 hours, so if you 'Need' to charge them at work you get no demands on your precious battery bank in the evening. No so bad this time of year for those like us with a solar panel or two but in the depths of winter....

Perhaps the best development has been TV in the last year or so.... Ok those who do not like TV stop here, some of us do and the catch up services for all channels are getting better all the time. Now once again if your employer has a blisteringly fast internet the fact Iplayer now lets you download programs to your IPad for watching later is great. We will keep our Sky subscription as other will be using the house so they get the Sky product and myself and Rachel can stream and download with Sky go.... OK not such a need this time of year but in those dark winter evenings, I can and have streamed the football no problem. If you have a movie subscription then even better, you can download movies to watch later.

Of course you can get a internet only Sky subscription, no dish or decoder needed, just steaming and cheaper I understand.  Look here....

Not a Rupert convert.... then you should look to Netflix click here.... Maybe the best of value for lots of decent tv, only downside at the moment it is a streaming only service but it is optimised for mobile streaming and I have watched stuff on the boat no problem using my all you can eat data tethered phone.

The latest bit of tech I have acquired is a Chromecast dongle.

This allows you to cast Netflix or Iplayer from your tablet, Iphone or android phone to your TV. So you could download a BBC program onto your phone or tablet then watch it on your tv. You can stream from Netflix or Iplayerr and watch it on your TV. £30 you need a HDMI socket on your TV and if you have a USB socket on the TV you can power the little dongle that way so only one thing plugged in. Good if you have a bigger TV than laptop screen or you want to share the viewing?

There is of course Apple TV.... its a pay service and I have not tried it on the 3g service yet but that is another source, either streaming to your laptop/Ipad or if you have an Apple TV box £99 direct to your TV via HDMI. We have found it better to buy films this way than via SKY.

I am sure there will be limitations, and I hope to do more reading/fishing walking while aboard so less TV or internetting, but the fact I can is good.

So if you have got to here you are a techie like me. Well done and I hope you have found something useful?

Now my next challenge is to decide to spend £200 on a washing machine  for me on the boat.... Any thoughts or recommendations. I am rounding on this one.... Click me  

It is an Indesit-eco-iwsc61251 It is quite slim and has a range of settings the best being a 20 minute wash using 70% less power and water. It'll live in the forecabin plumbed in and run off the genny. We have never used a tumble dryer and as I have a nice warm engine room, that should sort out drying my smalls !!

So any recommendation....for tech that suits living on a boat?


Phil "Coops" Cooper said...

Nev, up the spin speed to 1600 rpm on the washer if you aren't using a tumble dryer. The extra water spun out will significantly reduce drying times.

Nev Wells said...

Phil, Rachel does not like the fast spin speeds as she recons they knacker your clothes..... Not something I subscribe to, dryer the better IMHO

Mandy Wright said...

Wow Nev, that is some news about your plans. How brave are both of you!? I investigated a murder once in Portsmouth but that won't help you house search! Ref the tech, I have a tablet and it has access to 4G inside the boat. Really interested in the chrome thingimmy.

Nev Wells said...

Brave if it works, less so if it all goes wrong.... But nothing ventured as they say. Happy to let you have a play with the Chromecast you just need a TV with a HDMI socket. I am hoping to call over Friday pm to mow the grass again, unless cart have done it ? Re the murder, let's hope it was only one of a few, we are looking at the South Downs as a possible location to rent in the first instance so hope the murder rate to be a bit lower !!

Les Bishop said...

Interesting blog Nev...... I'm not up to speed on the latest tech solutions so can't offer any help there..... as to the washing and drying, if the engine/genny space has enough room for a hanging rail then you should be fine, just get the stuff out as soon possible after the wash and spin is finished.... unless the machine does an anti crease reverse every so many seconds..... as to living down south, been there, done that, have lived in three locations down south, Gosport, Hastings and Helston, the last is no help at all.... as to the others, there are nice areas but I guess these days most of the south is stupidly expensive..... but you will get something I'm sure!

Nev Wells said...

Thanks Les, we should have a good chat when we meet in Minhead. I guess you are going in one trip.... But if you need a stop over and complete the trip with Steve and me let me know.

Nb Yarwood said...

Hi Nev
Lots of boaters cope perfectly well without a tumble dryer I understand but Plenty have retrofitted dryers after living aboard without one. Drying 'smalls' in the engine room after a cruise when the room has heated up is just fine but if you live aboard full time you will need to wash your towels and bedding regularly and getting sheets, duvet covers and towels dried in the confines of an engine room is problematic! Launderettes are few and far between on the cut and expensive to use.
I have never wanted to live with damp washing draped about the boat (or home for that matter) so a tumble dryer was fitted to Caxton and to Yarwood.
Your boat, your choice but considering it carefully before moving aboard, as you are doing, is very worthwhile.

Nev Wells said...


Thank you for your helpful comments. I also do not fancy lots of damp washing, boats collect condensation well enough without this extra source. I guess my concern is what power demands it would need to run a tumble dryer. I will certainly review the options, even for the odd occasion. For the early stages I guess I can still call on my old Ma to help out or even have the bigger stuff laundered. once again good advice and added something to consider,

Take care


Mandy Wright said...

Your grass isn't too bad at all as cart has been once. See you neighbour.

Andrew Tidy said...

Nev - have you run a washing machine off a genny before? Its the way we will go but I dont know what sort to get,

Nev Wells said...


Simple answer is no. I am making an assumption that our 2kv suitcase genny will do the job. But you raise enough doubt in my mind to make me think it might be a good idea to bring the genny home and see if it'll do a wash on our machine at home...? If not it will be one of those little twin tubs..... but that would be going backwards to over 30 years ago when we had our first house !! I'll report back in a week or so.

Andrew Tidy said...

There are 2 aspects which I havnt got clear :
1. The max load on starting and whilst heating. I suspect a suitcase will be inadequate
2. I have heard it said that the digital nature of some machines dont like the modified siene wave output of some gennies. I am thinking that I will probably ask the manufacturers. Maybe a good reason to visit Crick!

The Jam Butty is being dropped into the canal today!!!!!!!!!

Nev Wells said...


We would use the same trick others do and pre fill with warm/hot water via the detergent tray, reducing the heating demand, but the startup draw on a spin for example may be an issue ....

As to the issue of the electronics the older machines may well perform better but not offer the clever water and power saving options.

Looking forward to the pics of the butty.... Where are you getting it painted or is it now done ?

John White said...

I think you might need 3KW to run that. I've heard of gennys which don't give a smooth output killing central heating controllers though suitcase gennys usually have that feature. Maybe a few tests with something like this:

Would be useful?

Nev Wells said...

Hi John, thanks for the comment. I think I am sufficiently doubtful to now try ours at home before I buy, or I might just buy a cheapo second hand washer ad see if that works. The suitcase genny does I think supply a cleaner output but I am a newbie to the electricity dark arts !! Might end up in smelly clothes on a smelly boat !!