Roaming About

A Life Less Ordinary

I is for Internet

Day 9 of the A to Z Blogging Challenge – Thoughts on Being a Nomad

Gone are the days of expensive international calls and old news received through general delivery in one or another city in the world. While I still enjoy sending the odd postcard to family and friends, I am happy that hand writing multiple letters for hours on end are a thing of the past! When backpacking in the nineties, these “nuisances” (I mean romantic ways of correspondence) were a part of the present.

Our office on the boat for eight years

Our office on the boat for eight years

The introduction of the internet has made communication, and in fact a big part of our lives, much easier. I can only imagine how my parents were worrying, when they didn’t hear from their daughter for weeks at a time, until she decided to give them a call from a phone booth in some place exotic, at the other end of the world. While on our sailboat, Mark and I often reminisced how easy it was to shoot our families an update, thanks to the internet. We use this magical invention to send emails, make Skype calls, check the weather, post blogs, find jobs, submit articles and photos, research projects, answer our questions, search the web, and run our business. It is also indispensable for my writing “career”.

At work on the internet during a house and pet sit

At work on “the internet” during a house and pet sit

For Mark and me, the internet plays an even more important role than “just” providing easier communications and a wealth of information. It allowed us to be creative and resourceful, and start our own (unplanned) business. Like many cruisers in 2009, we were getting tired of having to take our computers to shore and spend sweaty hours finding an adequate bar, restaurant or internet café with WiFi to do what we wanted/needed to do. Once we found a place that might work, the internet signal would be weak or unreliable, or there was a power outage and we’d have to start all over again. We would also have to buy a drink/meal or pay for the internet usage. On the way back to our boat, it might rain or be so windy that the salty chop and bumpy rides threatened our computers. We needed a better solution…

Imagine being able to get online from the comfort of your own boat! (This is how we initially advertised our invention.) There were a few long range WiFi systems on the market in the spring of 2009, when we were checking our options from St. Martin in the Caribbean. But, they were all too expensive or of inferior quality to survive the salty environment. What were we to do? That’s right, build our own device. Mark’s software engineer skills, research genius and perfectionism came in handy to create the best long distance WiFi product available. We managed to get internet on board and we were happy. Our friends and fellow cruisers were not. They wanted what we had. Therefore… The Wirie was born!

Many years, improvements, options and sold units later, Mark and I need the internet more than ever, and we are proud to provide it to numerous happy customers in the boating and RV world with our products as well!

Our "Christmas" Wirie - white being the newest color of the ensemble

Our “Christmas” Wirie – white being the newest color of the “ensemble”

How important is the internet to you? What do you use it for? Are you someone who is always checking his/her phone for the latest updates and messages? Do you mostly use WiFi or 3G/4G service to get online? Do you remember a world without the internet?

(As the alphabet is progressing in the A-Z Blogging Challenge, so are my blogs for the “Thoughts about Being a Nomad” series. Tomorrow, I will write about “J is for Joy”!)

26 Comments

  1. I can imagine you guys on Shark Tank or one of those programs 🙂 Kudos on your invention!

    • Thanks! We actually never heard of Shark Tank, until we moved ashore from our boat. We watched it a few times since and it is a very interesting program. We are not quite “businessy” enough to take part of it, though. Plus, we don’t quite need investors. We are worried that the sharks wouldn’t even know what we are actually trying to sell, but it might be a unique twist to the usual participants.

  2. I always read really good things about the Wirie 🙂 Internet access is a huge one for me! It’s possible I might be slightly addicted.

    Cheers – Ellen | http://thecynicalsailor.blogspot.com/2016/04/i-is-for-island-nancy-drew-investigates.html

    • That’s great Ellen… that you have read good things about The Wirie. Not that you are addicted to the internet! 🙂 I actually miss the days that we did not have internet sometimes. Then, we could really enjoy the cruising, without the desire (and necessity after we started the business) to get online! How to get rid of this addiction???

  3. Wow. An example where necessity is the mother of invention. Great product. You are helping so many people. Do land lubbers also use your internet device?
    Mary at Play off the Page

    • Thanks, Mary. And, those people are helping us as well, by buying the product and keeping us on the water or on the road. 🙂 We also sell to people in RVs and we have sold a few to people who live on land, in a remote area. They would buy our product to connect to their neighbor’s WiFi network and share the internet cost. But, The Wirie was built with the marine environment in mind.

  4. Sounds like a great invention! Congratulations!

  5. I do remember no internet and wandering town looking for a payphone to call home. It’s amazing how much we rely on the internet now- for everything!

    • True, Lucy. I sometimes imagine telling the “next generation” about growing up without the internet. They would never be able to believe us or understand. Just like when our grandparents told us stories about the “good old days”… Wow. I do feel old now! 🙂

  6. I’m familiar with the Wirie — what a great idea. It was one of the product we looked at when we were thinking about boosting our signal (in the end, we decided to switch our cellphone carrier to one that provided unlimited data when travelling outside the US).

    Cheers,
    Stephanie

    http://www.svcambria.com/2016/04/i-is-for-investing-in-future-solar.html

    • Thanks, Stephanie. We like it when people hear about The Wirie and spread the word when they are happy about it! Unlimited cell data, that’s quite amazing! Enjoy the emailing and surfing! 🙂

  7. It is sometimes hard to remember what I used to do before I had a cell phone. What did I do when I was delayed while driving? How did I inform others of my situation. Clearly, I didn’t inform anyone. We just dealt with it.

    I love and hate my connected life. It allows me to meet amazing people that I’d likely never interact with, but it is too easy to allow it to control my choices and options. I’m trying to make a conscious effort to use my phone less (as I sit here reading blogs and typing on the internet), and be more present with those around me. I have good days and bad.

    • I totally agree with your sentiments about good days and bad days when it comes to the internet, Ryan. I don’t have a cell phone, but I can live with that, since my husband has one now that we are “semi-settled”. And, each time I go to Belgium for a visit and meet friends somewhere, I don’t ever think about any “delay” issues that could arise, until I am at the meeting point, all by myself. Then I think “Darn. I wish I had a cell phone. I have no idea when she will show up or what is going on!” Then, I sit down on a bench, relax my anxiety and think “What is so different now? When I met up with these same friends many years ago, we made it work…” And, every time, even now, we do manage to find each other. It might take longer and be a bit more annoying than if I would have a phone, but this old-fashioned feeling sometimes makes me smile. 🙂

  8. Wow! That’s just plain awesome.

  9. I am easily old enough to remember the world without internet – or mobile phones, or personal computers! But internet connections here are not as good as in cities. 3G/4G is intermittent, even making ordinary phone calls. And we are still on copper cable so our home wifi is sluggish.
    @fparkerswords
    Frank Parker’s Author Site

    • I always think as long as the internet is good enough to write emails and look a few things up on the web (and check the weather while we were living on our boat), all is good. But, then I realize my husband needs to make phone calls with customers and I need to post blogs with photos. Bottom line, we need “decent” internet now, and while we could get away with intermittent WiFi and 2G while sailing, those days are off the past. And, you are so right. Even in the US, there are plenty of places still without cell service or with slow internet. When we decide on a new place to house and pet sit, we need assurance that the internet at the house is decent, but it is always still a little bit of a risk!

  10. That is a very interesting invention! I’m lucky that we have quite a few public WiFi areas in our city, and we can connect to all of our friends’ WiFi networks, so even without data on our phones, we still have access to the Internet most of the time. But, when we camp, we’re cut off. Sometime I like not being able to check my social media accounts, or get email. But sometimes I miss it.

    Tracy (Black Boots, Long Legs)

    • We are so used to having internet everywhere, that we can’t live without, it seems like. That makes it more unique to be cut off once in a while. If that cut-off is planned, anyway, like on camping trips! 🙂 Personally, I find it quite liberating to be off line for periods of time. If possible.

  11. Got to add that I am an older than average writer, and I think I’d be lost without access to internet — even when we travel. Biggest recent treat: Learning that my Kindle Fire can hook up to the internet, IF I’m near a Verizon network. Congratulations to you both for inventing that Wirie. You might have a wider market if people could use it on land and on the move!

    • Thanks, Beth. People do use The Wirie on land, when stationary in their RV, to get a better signal from the campgrounds. And, boats can use it while on the move within WiFi or cell service ashore as well. Adding the 3G/4G function to our newest product has opened up a whole new dimension and extended world! 🙂 People in houses don’t have the need for a product like ours, so we are not marketing to that. As writers, we rely on the internet more than I thought. I write “off line”, but each time I want to look something up, I need the internet! Darn… Much easier to carry “the internet” around than encyclopedia and dictionaries, though. 🙂

  12. Such a great invention Liesbet! While traveling wee often find ourselves challenges by internet or what I have come to call fake internet. You know the type I’m sure. It looks like you have a connection but in actuality it does absolutely nothing. More frustrating than having nothing at all I find. 🙂

    • Patience is key in some of those situations, Sue. The times are innumerable that we lost connections while paying bills, looking things up, refreshing an important page, dealing with a customer, posting a blog, sending an email (and losing the whole message, long ones in my case)… It can be soooooo frustrating, that… as you say, it sometimes is better that there is no internet at all. At least you know that then and don’t keep trying in vain to get something done. When we only had 2G connections, Mark would spend four hours on work that could be done in one hour with decent internet. It was one of the prices we paid for living our lives and running a business from our boat in “paradise”!

  13. I do remember a world without internet and it’s scary how reliant on it I am now, but it’s certainly made communication easier. I keep up with friends I would most definitely have lost touch with otherwise.

    How cool is that invention?! That’s awesome that you were able to fill such a big need.

    • We are all so reliant on the internet. Sometimes it is a curse (so much time spent online instead of doing other – more useful? – things), but mostly, it is a “blessing”, exactly for the reasons you mention. What would we do without it these days????

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