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Wireless Networking Hardware

Computing Al Fresco? 67

ear1grey writes "With summer fast approaching in the northern hemisphere, do any readers have experience of taking their 'working from home' one stage further and 'working from the garden'? Any tips for making the screen more visible in the bright sunshine? Any problems with direct sunlight and overheating components? Are there other issues that we should be aware of before we venture, blinking, into the great outdoors?"
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Computing Al Fresco?

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  • Tables + Parasols (Score:5, Insightful)

    by JeffHunt ( 129508 ) on Sunday May 23, 2004 @07:40PM (#9233515) Homepage
    Get yourself one of those fancy deck tables with the umbrella that comes out of the middle. Voila - sunlight problem solved.
    • Some of us like being exposed...

      to the sun.
      • Sure, but it makes reading your laptop's LCD difficult. Being in the sun is nice, but if one's objective is to get work done, then I think being outside period is good enough.
    • What kind of freak goes out when the sun is shining? Jeez, next someone on Slashdot is going to admit to eating garlic or having a mirror in the house.

      I have long struggled with the issue of hacking on my laptop in the daylight. Funny thing, the old LCD screens that everybody hated on the early laptops worked GREAT out in direct sunlight. I would love to get my hands on one of those with a decent resolution - even though it would not be color it would be slick for use outside.

      Many times I have tried to
  • Best practices: (Score:5, Informative)

    by geohump ( 782273 ) <<moc.liamg> <ta> <pmuhoeg>> on Sunday May 23, 2004 @08:00PM (#9233633) Journal
    From experience, the following are useful.

    #0 - Laptop - easily moved and re-moved

    #1 - Go wireless. For both network and power. Don't put any AC current anywhere near the pool!

    #2 - Think Dark places -Stay in the shade. Install/build shade if you have no alternative, especially next to the pool. Go for blocking out as much sunlight as possible.

    #4 - LTSP.org - Use your laptop as a wireless thin client. It reduces local CPU power consumption, extends the life of your battery, and your server, (any desktop machine), does all the heavy lifting so you can still go fast.

    #5 Cheap Sunglasses and a hat. Brim helps block out sunlight, Iris will dilate just "a leetle bit" so you can see the screen easier.

    #6 Pump spray bottle of sunblock! SPF 30+

    #7 Ice tea. (Or caffinated beverage of choice)

    #8 Extra towels
    • #9 ...

      #10 Profit!
    • Re:Best practices: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Fweeky ( 41046 )
      Cheap Sunglasses

      Eh, you can afford laptops, wireless networks and pools, but you skimp on the sunglasses!? Do you not like your eyes very much or something? :)
      • Re:Best practices: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by DjReagan ( 143826 )
        More expensive sunglases tend to have things like polarising lenses which cause problems when viewing LCD screens.
        • Tend to != necessarily have. Polarising would be Bad[tm], but you don't want to get a pair of sunglasses made of crappy fogged plastic, do you? ;)
        • If I turn my polarized sunglasses 90 degrees, my LCD screen looks pitch black when viewed through them. Luckily, my head doesn't bend that far so I haven't run into any practical problems.
    • bogus suggesion (Score:3, Insightful)

      #4 - LTSP.org - Use your laptop as a wireless thin client. It reduces local CPU power consumption, extends the life of your battery, and your server, (any desktop machine), does all the heavy lifting so you can still go fast.

      This makes sense in theory, but I've yet to find a Linux that will run on my HP notebook and manage power properly. The fan comes on shortly after booting and the batteries run down in half the time or less than with XP, no matter what I'm doing , even sitting idle. I'm far from the o

      • If your power is running down too fast, then you need to make sure you have the CPU scaling module which is appropriate for your architecture installed. Then you can use something like "speedfreqd" http://www.goop.org/~jeremy/speedfreq/ to dynamically scale processor usage. Lastly, make sure that you adjust the brightness of your display. Dimming the display even a little bit will greatly increase your battery life.
        • Even if you do throttle back, you're going to have to go indoors or swap batteries every few hours. Investing $80 in a nice deep-cycle 12 volt storage battery and a battery box will let you plug into a DC power source outside and run your 'puter all day without having to worry about running out, and you have no shock hazard or installation issues either. Haul the battery in at night and put it on a charger and you should be fine.
    • And, if you're anything like here in the UK, please don't forget to keep an eye on the weather. Nice one minute, and it'll be thundering the next.

      Maybe a nice RSS feed would do the trick, or even a low tech solution like a portable radio?

  • by The Munger ( 695154 ) on Sunday May 23, 2004 @08:10PM (#9233686) Homepage
    You mean (gulp) outside? You can't do that. There's like plants and animals out there. They eat you and stuff. And the sun! What about the sun? I'm sure you've been working on your geek tan. Why would you want to ruin that? Mine's a lovely blue. The star burns [penny-arcade.com] you know.

    I hear there's even girls out there. Dude, it's not worth it. Trust me - I've heard the stories.

    Pass the cheetos will ya?
  • Outdoors? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Gothmolly ( 148874 ) on Sunday May 23, 2004 @08:38PM (#9233835)
    Isn't that the room outside the server room, where the ceiling is sometimes blue, and sometimes black with little white lights? The HVAC doesn't work to well there either.
  • Glare Removal (Score:2, Informative)

    by The Meeper ( 782183 )
    In order to reduce glare, you may want to look into glare reducing filters [kensington.com] and monitor hoods. [photodon.com] The filters are extremely expensive but do the job well enough, and the hoods will work brilliantly if the monitor is positioned correctly.
  • Sunscreen. (Score:3, Informative)

    by i.r.id10t ( 595143 ) on Sunday May 23, 2004 @09:41PM (#9234179)
    All references to pasty white skin aside, please do remember your sunscreen...

  • by Kris_J ( 10111 ) * on Sunday May 23, 2004 @09:57PM (#9234265) Homepage Journal
    I've done some non-work stuff from a hammock outdoors using an ultralight PC with a WiFi card. Fairly pleasant but a little uncomfortable. However, given that I have three screens wrapped 'round me at work and I'd have more if I could justify the cost I think that going entirely portable for work would be counterproductive. Also, it's just started winter here ;-p
  • TFT (Score:3, Insightful)

    by nerd65536 ( 692353 ) on Sunday May 23, 2004 @10:47PM (#9234476) Homepage
    Thin Film Transistor screens, like those found on the GameBoy Color/Advance/SP thrive (if you can get around the glare) in high light conditions, as do a good number of LCD screens.
    • Re:TFT (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      You're thinking of reflective displays, but most laptop computer LCD screens are backlit (transflective). The brightness of a normal backlight (100-250 cd/m^2) is nothing compared to direct sunlight (1,500,000,000 cd/m^2). Good luck seeing if the thing is even on. There are reflective displays, but you have to look for them. Transflective is much more common.

      TFTs (thin film transistors) drive the LCs (liquid crystals). The LCs rotate the polarization of the light going through them depending on their orien
  • Dont get a black laptop and leave it out in the sun, a nice reflective silver laptop should keep things relativly cool. A white iBook would probably work even better. As for direct sunlight... Turn around at noon.
  • If you can invest in a new laptop, I'd recommend the NEC Daylite [pcmag.com] - it allows you to turn the LCD backlight completely off. This makes viewing the screen in bright light MUCH easier (it's virtually impossible with most laptops I've used).

    They're also very small and lightweight, and have excellent battery life. (Well, at least the older Transmeta CPU models had excellent battery life - don't know about the newer P-III models.) I'm pretty sure NEC has discontinued the line, but you can probably still find the
  • Be sure to pick a spot where you'll get a good wireless signal. Because of where my AP is, half my porch is covered, and the other half the signal craps out. Gotta get a repeater... Also, I've found that the more direct of sunlight you're in, the better you'll see if you turn the brightness of your screen up. Of course, YMMV, but I found that this helps.
  • I spent all of April and much of May away from my home in Seattle, and worked from my car quite a few times. (802.11 is wonderful stuff.)

    A useful item, I found, and one which applies in your case, is a velcro-attached sun-shade. I've seen ones that look both more functional and more durable than the cheap-n-cheerful one I picked up from a MicroCenter in Columbus or Cleveland ( it was a long trip [monkey.org] -- this map is largely accurate, just misses a dip I ended up making to the Four Corners area), but even the one
  • by tornadoslims ( 782399 ) on Monday May 24, 2004 @01:57AM (#9235236)
    I worked from home for about 6 months a few years ago on a consulting gig. I lived on the beach so whenever it was sunny I would want to bring my laptop on the deck with the wireless and work out there, but I couldn't see the screen. The key is to construct a highly technical cardboard shutter that you can tape around the screen of your laptop - 2 sides and top. Neighbors think your staring into the screen of some peep show, but regardless of the 73 other distractions that come with working outside, at least the sun won't be one of them. Tslim
  • Big Buck Solution (Score:3, Informative)

    by pipingguy ( 566974 ) on Monday May 24, 2004 @01:59AM (#9235241)

    Buy and install one of these [poetictech.com] on your porch near the garden. I think it tracks light sources and compensates by rotating itself. Apparently it also has built-in AC as well.
  • by Peter Cooper ( 660482 ) on Monday May 24, 2004 @02:37AM (#9235370) Homepage Journal
    Unless you have a veranda or porch where you can get a little shade so you can see the screen, I recommend chosing your times wisely.

    It starts getting light here (the UK) at about 3.45am, and I enjoy going out at this time. By 5.30am, of course, it's full daylight. Then at the other end of the day you get a nice light between 8.30pm and 10pm. The beauty of these times is also that it's not too hot to be sitting around, and there are also less flies/buzzy things about. Of course, not everyone has as loose a schedule as I do, and may not find these times ideal! (I do, as I sleep during the late morning and early afternoon, I like some night-time in my life!)
  • I've tried to do this over the past few weeks. I've been taking my iBook out into the garden, loads of sun. I've found that I can't sit in the sun (screen invisible), and sitting in the shade doesn't really help either (and its not going to help my pasty white skin). It seems that turning the brightness up and down doesn't seem to affect it at all, and often having the brightness lower makes it more visible! Why on earth is this?
  • Ask David Drake (Score:2, Informative)

    by R2.0 ( 532027 )
    Go to david-drake.com. He does ALL of his writing outside, on a computer. As in, if its raining, he doesn't write that day. And he writes a lot.

    Don't emulate him too closely - he apparently has a jinx that wipes out machines on a regular basis.

    See also http://www.baen.com/library/ for the Baen Free library, previously referenced on /. - he's one of the major authors involved.
  • Sunlight is toxic (Score:3, Insightful)

    by sakusha ( 441986 ) on Monday May 24, 2004 @12:10PM (#9238655)
    Direct sunlight is bad for you, why would you want to sit outside in the sun when everyone knows the proper environment for programming is a batcave?
    I'm not kidding. I just came back from my dermatologist, who gleefully cut away every little precancerous mole she could find, now I've got stitches in extremely uncomfortable places that won't be removed for another week. I used to work outside when I was a kid, mowing lawns and gardening, but now I regret it, since it apparently increased my likelihood of skin cancer.
    The whole REASON I studied computer programming was because I hated working out in the hot sun in dirty environments full of allergy-inducing pollen, I vastly preferred air-conditioned, dark offices. So I figured that computing was the best profession, back in those days, computers were always installed in glassed-in rooms with intense air conditioning and filtered air.
    • "I've got stitches in extremely uncomfortable places"

      Generally, "uncomfortable places" is a euphemism for pubic areas, buttocks, armpits, etc. Places that don't generally see the light.

      Also, I don't believe that "cut[ing] away every little precancerous mole" is standard practice. Were the moles showing precancerous signs, or was the mere fact that they were moles evidence enough?
      • You've got a dirty mind. My "uncomfortable places" are spots like the top of my ankle, where it flexes constantly and causes discomfort, or the top of my thigh, where I seem to hit it constantly whenever I let my arms relax while seated, or my nose, right where my eyeglasses sit on the stitches. If you want discomfort, just have surgery right where you need to sit the bridge of your glasses. And to anticipate your next question, yes, I used to work outdoors wearing shorts and sandals.

        And yes, apparently it
    • Have you not heard of sunscreen?
  • Do you mean outside of the room/rooms that your computers are contained in? Like a hallway or bathroom?
  • its newbie and veteran friendly!

I am more bored than you could ever possibly be. Go back to work.