Please excuse me while I exercise my inner geek. I have spent the last few days reinstalling the operating system on my 6 year old MacBook Pro which has been on every voyage and road trip that I have embarked upon. It has taken a few licks along the way and served me well, keeping me in touch with friends and family. Dented and scratched it just keeps plugging right along, well almost. After being bounced out of the v-berth and onto the floor during a gulf stream crossing, it started acting a little funny and needed some tlc. She is back up and currently running like the day I bought her. While I was reinstalling all the programs I work with I thought that just maybe I should share some of the things that we use to keep everything up and running in our floating home/office. Jane ,btw, uses an Acer Netbook running Windows 7 running the same versions of most of the software we use. We both have Kindle Fires and use android phones.
We use a lot of open source software on our computer(s); my operating system of choice is linux (free), our office suite is OpenOffice (free),we use GIMP (free) for photo editing and graphics, Blender (free) for 3d graphics, Inkscape (free) for vector graphics, Scribus (free) for desktop publishing and I am still experimenting with (free) video editors to determine which one works the best for my needs. iMovie works so well I use it primarily.
Our little floating abode has it’s own local area network that connects to the outside world via a “hacked” linksys wifi router turned into a “roaming” universal access point. If we are not at a marina with wireless access we can hotspot our phone(s) and the router uses the phone data connection to access the internet. This summer I am installing a “server” on the boat that will also connect with the NMEA instruments; gps, depth, wind, etc. and provide extra storage and file sharing between our various devices. It will also stream movies and internet radio.
There are also great web resources for cruisers and day sailors alike. ActiveCaptain (free) interfaces with $49 marine navigation software by Polar Navy. PassageWeather, BouyWeather and of course NOAA are the weather sites we use the most.
This is just a partial list and in case you are wondering, we do not receive any compensation whatsoever from any of these resources. We just use them. Look for a couple of detailed reviews, how to’s and tutorials coming soon!
I have actually enjoyed playing around with all this stuff the last couple of days, nothing like the command line of fresh install of linux or the tug of a line on a sailboat in a freshing breeze.