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The Digital Bedouins and the Backpack Office 149

Posted by Zonk
from the natural-extension-of-flextime dept.
PetManimal writes "The laptop and wireless revolutions have led to the rise of a new class of digital 'Bedouins' — tech workers who ply their crafts from Starbucks and other locations with WiFi access. Another article describes some strategies and tools for embracing the Bedouin way of life, and even having fun: 'If you have the right kind of job, you can take vacations while you're on the clock. In other words, you can travel for fun and adventure and keep on working. You can travel a lot more without needing more official vacation time. I've done it. In August I took a month long vacation to Central America, backpacking from one Mayan ruin to the next, and I never officially took time off. I submitted my columns, provided reports and other input, participated in conference calls and interacted via e-mail. I used hotel Wi-Fi connections and local cybercafes to communicate and Skype to make business calls. Nobody knew I was sunburned, drinking from a coconut and listening to howler monkeys as I replied to their e-mails.'"
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The Digital Bedouins and the Backpack Office

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  • Mayans? (Score:4, Funny)

    by Paolo DF (849424) on Friday March 16, 2007 @03:26PM (#18379077)
    So, mayans had developed wifi technology? ;-)
    This explains a lot...
  • by Morinaga (857587) on Friday March 16, 2007 @03:32PM (#18379159)
    I'm not sure about anyone else but that sounds like one of the worst "vacations" possible to me. Perhaps his type of work lends itself to productivity in such an environment. I wouldn't be as productive and more importantly I wouldn't enjoy my vacation all that much. I see the appeal and relative productivity of sitting in a cafe or park and getting work done but to really travel and sight-see?
    • by SoTuA (683507) on Friday March 16, 2007 @03:40PM (#18379301)
      I agree - I took 'vacations' where I was supposed to keep in touch via laptop (email, skype, etc) and it made it for me impossible to create the mental disconnect that is the requisite of proper rest during vacations.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by PopeRatzo (965947) *
        I've tried it, too, and it sucked. A "working vacation" is neither.
      • by flyingsquid (813711) on Friday March 16, 2007 @05:01PM (#18380443)
        I'm on the other side of the spectrum, in that I prefer to travel for work. I feel that my interactions with the culture and the people are a little more genuine when I have a real reason to be there, other than to take pictures of the cute little brown children and pose in front of old buildings. Trying to live a normal, day-to-day existence in a foreign country, versus doing the tour thing, gives you a better appreciation of what the country is really like, I think.
        • by Nasarius (593729)
          Absolutely. It doesn't have to involve work; see Rick Steves' Europe Through The Back Door [ricksteves.com] (which sounds like gay porn, but isn't) for guidebooks based on the philosophy of living as the locals do when you travel. He's geared more towards older people who travel with suitcases and stay in modest hotels, but backpacking is the way to go especially if you're under 26.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      I see the appeal and relative productivity of sitting in a cafe or park and getting work done but to really travel and sight-see?

      Well, for one thing, you're already there. So at 4:00 or 5:00 PM you shutdown, put your laptop away, and walk a few feet to do something fun, instead of still having to get on a plane :)

      Sheesh, if you're having enough fun on a "real vacation", you probably wouldn't wake up until then anyway ;)
    • by Otter (3800)
      I'm not sure about anyone else but that sounds like one of the worst "vacations" possible to me.

      I think his point isn't that it's a superior alternative to a non-working vacation, but that it's better than being at work and isn't charged against his vacation time.

      Anyway, when backpacking you wind up with long stretches on a bus or ferry where a little coding wouldn't be an unwelcome distraction.

      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        Anyway, when backpacking you wind up with long stretches on a bus or ferry where a little coding wouldn't be an unwelcome distraction.

        Unless you're in Latin America and you're two meters tall, in which case you're either riding inside the bus chewing on your knees, or holding onto the top. I'm planning to make a trip down there pretty soon and my biggest concern is actually fitting into public transport :/

        • by metlin (258108) *
          Ahh, the advantages of being vertically challenged! :)

          Flights are also not half as uncomfortable for me as they are for a lot of people.
        • I can only speak for Mexico but I found that the "first-class" busses there for going between cities were great. From Mexico City to Puebla was one of the most comfortable rides I've had (movie screens, snacks, clean toilet, etc). Even the local bus to a small town wasn't bad, and that included a stereotypical chicken in a cage and two teens necking in the back.
          • by drinkypoo (153816)

            Even the local bus to a small town wasn't bad, and that included a stereotypical chicken in a cage and two teens necking in the back.

            I'm not worried about chickens, and the teens can be fucking if they like. What I'm worried about is that my girlfriend who is over a foot shorter than I am has traveled around Latin America a bit and everywhere she went she said she was stuffed uncomfortably into the vehicles. Which means that I am just hopelessly shit out of luck.

    • by mindstrm (20013)
      ... Says the guy who's NOT working from a tropical country sipping rum from a coconut watching beautiful dark skinned women run around in the sun...

      just sayin'

      • by SydBarrett (65592) on Friday March 16, 2007 @04:30PM (#18380013)
        That would sound awesome except for that whole working part. I guess some people can't really enjoy the tropics without a LCD screen in your face or banging away like a crazed badger at your blackberry while shoving fistfulls of Pocky into your eat-hole.

        Either work or dont work, stop half-assing it already. You dont travel to someplace nice just to do the same shit you do at the office because it's like going to England just to eat at McDonalds. You updated some dohicky from India just the same as you could from home. That's really fucking impressive. Be sure to tell us all what you DIDN'T do there since you dont have the will power to PUT DOWN THE FUCKING LAPTOP ALREADY.

        You are just wasting your time. Even though you are getting paid, you are stuck someplace great that you cant enjoy fully since your bizarre nerd ego demands that you never stop working at all. I bet the grankids will love that story of how you were deep in some jungle when you BRAVELY REPLIED TO THAT IMPORTANT EMAIL. Wow, dad! Tell us again how bad the signal strength was!
        • by Slashdot Parent (995749) on Friday March 16, 2007 @04:59PM (#18380409)

          You dont travel to someplace nice just to do the same shit you do at the office because it's like going to England just to eat at McDonalds.
          In fairness to McDonalds, the cuisine at your local neighborhood McDonalds is far superior to anything purporting to be British food.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Otter (3800)
          I bet the grankids will love that story of how you were deep in some jungle when you BRAVELY REPLIED TO THAT IMPORTANT EMAIL.

          The point is that he is in the jungle while you and I are bitching at each other from our desks in the middle of a snowstorm!

          I don't understand what is so freaking difficult about this concept -- the idea is that you get **MORE** vacation, not that you enjoy it less.

          • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

            by fishbowl (7759)
            >The point is that he is in the jungle while you and I are bitching at each other from our desks in the
            >middle of a snowstorm!

            Not me. I'm bitching from a rooftop in the middle of Balboa Island. My boss thinks I'm in a hotel room in Costa Mesa.
        • by Do You Smell That (932346) on Friday March 16, 2007 @05:46PM (#18380999)
          Assuming your post isn't a joke (it is modded funny, afterall)... Recently my company sent me to Holland for 2 1/2 months of training. Never having been outside the US before (Canada totally doesn't count), this was an incredible opportunity. All the benefits of vacationing in a foreign country (when you're working, you still get weekends off and have the right to use sick days... accruing more of them all the while), but without having to worry about moving in, finding yourself a hotel, etc. Plenty of time after work every day to go out and mix with the locals, and you're in town long enough to actually find your way around and pick up a bit of the language and culture. If you look at it from the point of view of "I'm doing my same job, just from a much cooler office" instead of "I'm on vacation stuck doing work for the man", you'll feel much better about the whole thing. Then again, the more I think of it, my situation is nothing like that in the article... in his case, the vacation was his idea. :sigh: Time to go home.
          • by ghoul (157158)
            At my ex company (which I left to do my Masters) I used to do this all the time. I used to be on site in different countries for 1 month 2 month assignments. Those were the days. Stay in 5 star hotels paid by the client so no need to clean or do laundry (laundry allowance), no need to cook (per diem for dinners), no transportation problems - taxis reimbursed or rented cars with unlimited mileage. After work you can go out and party on the town and a month really lets you hit all the party spots and the club
        • by CptNerd (455084)
          The way some employers pay, a "working vacation" might be the only way to be able to pay to go to some faraway locale. It does partially defeat the purpose of "getting away" but there is a definite fiscal advantage. The other reason would be to avoid using vacation time, or "personal leave" or whatever they call it nowadays.
        • Either work or dont work, stop half-assing it already.

          Nobody works 24 hours a day. Even if you can't take *any* vacation time (because it's used up, or whatever), once your workday ends, instead of stepping out into, say, a freezing drizzle on the same old dirty city block, you put away the laptop/cellphone/etc. and walk out into the sun, onto the beach, whatever.

          But people usually use this as a way to extend a vacation, not avoid one entirely. Let's say you are allowed (or can afford) 5 days vacation this spring. Instead of going someplace cool for a sing

          • That sounds great -- what motivated to move to France?
            • by JavaRob (28971)
              Largely, just to do something different. To get out of the US and stop gritting our teeth over the news every day. We don't have kids yet, and my wife's a writer. She had just finished an MFA program in Michigan and our friends were scattering anyway... it was a great opportunity to shift gears.

              France was a good candidate for us because French is the only non-English language we both speak well, and living in the UK (speaking English) would have been too expensive. The dollar isn't doing very well again
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          Tell it brother. All these people working in pleasant environments are missing the whole point of work. It's supposed to suck. I personally won't settle for anything more than a cramped cubicle with inadequate air-conditioning, poor lighting, and an extremely uncomfortable chair. I *need* an overbearing control-freak breathing down my neck while I'm working, and lazy colleagues interrupting me to offload things they're too incompetent to handle themselves. At the end of the day, I demand an exhausting commu
    • by jvagner (104817)
      Works for me. I don't like the idea of traditional "vacations", and I like involving far-flung places in my normal life. A vacation is a week or two or three (at most).. but if you want, you can go off for a month or two and really get into other places.
    • by raju1kabir (251972) on Friday March 16, 2007 @06:11PM (#18381221) Homepage

      I'm not sure about anyone else but that sounds like one of the worst "vacations" possible to me. Perhaps his type of work lends itself to productivity in such an environment. I wouldn't be as productive and more importantly I wouldn't enjoy my vacation all that much. I see the appeal and relative productivity of sitting in a cafe or park and getting work done but to really travel and sight-see?

      Three years ago, with yet another business trip to the other side of the world (Asia) coming up, I decided on a whim to put all my stuff in storage and give notice to my landlord. I had a bunch of projects in Asia on the horizon, so I figured I'd just hang out there for a few months.

      Well, it's been more than a few months. I am renting an apartment in Kuala Lumpur, where I spend about 1/3 of the time (those periods when I really need to sit at my desk and focus). Another 1/3 of the time I'm on-site for work, which could be anywhere in the world.

      But the good part is, since my expenses are so much lower over here (I'm paying half the rent for a flat twice the size), I have plenty of money left over for plane tickets. So the other third of the year I toss my laptop in a bag and go anyplace that sounds interesting that the airlines have on sale. Australia, Bali, Spain, Morocco, Korea, to name some of the most recent. Heading to Oman in a few weeks. I find hotels with decent internet connection (believe it or not, it's usually the cheap ones where you get the best net access) and let Asterisk route my calls to me, and nobody's the wiser.

      No, it's not a traditional vacation. I don't spend a rigidly demarcated two weeks totally divorced from routine, with colleagues and work a distant memory. I normally have to at least think about work every day, and occasionally I find myself doing 10 or 12 hour days in a place where I'd really rather be outside.

      But when my "vacation" lasts 4 months a year, I don't mind that. The memory of a few 10-hour stretches melts away when I walk outside and spend the rest of my time being fascinated by my environment, eyes wide open and days filled with discovery and wonder. Since I buy my air tickets in Asia, I can normally push back my return to make up for unexpected work, without paying change fees.

      And to be honest, the other 4 months, the ones I spend in Malaysia, are pretty vacationey too. Tropical weather, weekend trips to the beach, monkeys in the trees, exotic holidays and festivals around every corner... the thought of going back to spending the year sitting in the office unless pulled elsewhere by work, well, it's unthinkable.

      • And the "fast food" is some of the best cuisine in the world, right?

        My wife is Malaysian (I'm an American), and she's been talking about the possibility of living back in Malaysia for a period of time. At the moment, it won't work -- I work remotely, but my clients are all in the US, and the 12 or 13 hour time difference would make that pretty much impossible. Being available from 9pm to 5am doesn't sound great to me.

        But how was it getting yourself set up there? Visa, renting an apartment, bank account,
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by raju1kabir (251972)

          But how was it getting yourself set up there? Visa, renting an apartment, bank account, medical insurance, car, that kind of stuff. Was it tricky? Particularly assuming you didn't speak Malay....

          Visa: No visa required to spend 4 months a year here. Actually you can spend 5 months at a time (three automatically on entry, then a 2-month extension). But the clock resets every time you leave and come back in.

          Apartment: Just found something in the newspaper. I spent about a week looking when I first arrived,

          • by JavaRob (28971)
            You're quite right, my wife would be able to sort out a lot of things.

            For ATM cards vs. a bank account -- I've found that this approach is definitely easy when traveling, but you can generally get exchange rates a bit better using a good currency trader (I'm using XE.com to buy euros) than you'll get from your bank or credit card. (That might depend on your bank, but it worked that way for me in France). Quite probably not worth the trouble for you since you aren't there year round.

            About medical insurance
      • by timeOday (582209)
        Interesting, but you didn't mention anything about timezones. Isn't that a problem?
        • Interesting, but you didn't mention anything about timezones. Isn't that a problem?

          I'm a night owl, so not really. I make up for missing late afternoons by my remarkable responsiveness super-early in the "morning".

      • by metlin (258108) *
        How's the work-load like?

        I've a few friends working in SG, and they're none too happy about the crazy work hours and the 6-day work weeks.

        Is that unique to just SG, or is that a characteristic of SE Asia?

        As long as I can get off work early and take my weekends off, I'd be a happy camper. =)
        • The stuff I do is based back home, so I'm insulated from southeast Asian work habits. Most of my friends with white-collar jobs have Saturday and Sunday off and leave the office by 6 or 6:30. I get the feeling people work a little harder in Singapore than here.
    • by sampson7 (536545)
      Why is this a bad thing? Sounds like an wonderful vacation to me.

      Option A:

      Work at the office for 10 hours, leave work, go home, go about your normal life for 6 hours, sleep. Rinse, repeat.

      Option B:

      Work in County X for ten hours, leave work, go explore exotic city for 6 hours, sleep. Rinse, repeat.

      Which would you rather have? Sure, pure vacation > working vacation. But it's just as clear to me that working vacation > staying home. And remember, he is not on vacation! He's simply remotely telecom
    • by ceoyoyo (59147)
      I've found every time I get out of the office I don't have to work very hard at all to match my "productivity."

      So, do an hour of work over an extended breakfast and spend the rest of the day on the beach or hiking.

      The only drawback is that you have to haul a notebook around with you.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by aclarke (307017)
      You're looking at this from a very narrow perspective. Let me ask you this: if the only tools you needed to work were a laptop, internet connection and mobile phone, would you rather work your whole year in some windowless cubicle, or spend a few weeks of it in a luxury hotel by the beach, or at a ski resort, or whatever floats your boat?

      I've been self employed for a few years. I've spent my time in various cafes for various reasons, and most of the time it was because I was going to be more productive
  • by cyberbob2351 (1075435) on Friday March 16, 2007 @03:33PM (#18379161) Homepage
    I've tried this lifestyle as a daily campus activity, and I have noted the following observations.
    • Laptop battery life still sucks. Someone start working on a solar solution :)
    • Even on campus, good WiFi hotspots are few and far between. We need hotspots that permit ssh tunneling, and encryption that works...Cell phones with internet hookups are probably the only option if you are backpacking Mayan ruins...
    • The home desktop will always be more comfortable, and as a result my files will always be there. Transferring them to the laptop on the fly is a pain when home upload speeds are so terrible with most ISP's
    • You lose lots of weight when you are out and about, seeing as how you don't have a home food supply to compel you. A major plus.
    • The public environment can be quite distracting, especially when you know people that always come and speak to you. Try and find a lonely corner, and suddenly finding a power supply and/or internet link can be challenging.
    • Reflections on your observations:

      Laptop battery life still sucks. Someone start working on a solar solution :)

      I agree that battery life sucks for most laptops, but I've got a two year old Dell 600m that still gets 4+ hrs. on the battery with the WiFi on. A bay battery is wonderful for extending your mobile time. Otherwise, learn to plot where the AC outlets are located.

      Even on campus, good WiFi hotspots are few and far between. We need hotspots that permit ssh tunneling, and encryption that works...

      I'm s

      • by njh (24312)
        The home desktop will always be more comfortable, and as a result my files will always be there. Transferring them to the laptop on the fly is a pain when home upload speeds are so terrible with most ISP's

        I think you'll change your mind eventually. I switched to a laptop about three years ago, and now I rarely (can't remember the last time) sit down at the desktop. In fact, I can't stand full sized keyboards anymore (and I have really big hands). As a result, all of my important files are on the laptop.
        • You can have both you know. I don't think there have been many laptops sold in the last ten years without some kind of monitor output, a PS/2 keyboard/mouse port and/or several USB ports.
    • by Irvu (248207)

      * Laptop battery life still sucks. Someone start working on a solar solution :)

      Try here [ctsolar.com] or here [google.com] to start.

      * Even on campus, good WiFi hotspots are few and far between. We need hotspots that permit ssh tunneling, and encryption that works...Cell phones with internet hookups are probably the only option if you are backpacking Mayan ruins...

      Yeah, Thinking about the kinds of vacations that I like (long time far travel) this wouldn't work. If however you restricted yourself to day trips or the Mayan ruin

    • one of those cranks they have on some flashlights/ radios. crank for half an hour, work for 15... something like that. sounds a little horrendous, but if the other option is not working at all, it will do (especially if say you were in edinburgh, or somewhere else basically sunless, which means basically anywhere else at night)

      i think those faraday flashlights- the ones you shake, is a principle that wouldn't scale up to a laptop, ehem. not at least until we get those solid state hard drives
    • by kchrist (938224)
      You could Unison [upenn.edu] (*nix, OS X, Windows) to keep your home directory synced between multiple machines, but another option might be to just get rid of the desktop altogether. Plug the monitor and keyboard into your laptop when you're at home and you'll always have all your data with you when you take it away.
    • by OldHawk777 (19923) *
      Try [http://www.fuzing.com/]
      site search enter [solar] [laptop] two words

      scroll down maybe there is something that will keep your laptop charged up on a sunny day.
    • by metlin (258108) *
      As someone who travels a lot and has encountered the same problems as you, here are my solutions:
      • Get another notebook battery - it's usually more than worth the cost. Also, if you like listening to music, using an iPod to do that will help save battery life. Setting your LCD's brightness to a couple of notches less than the highest also goes a long way (of course, this would require you to not be in a very bright environment).
      • WiFi hotspots are hard to find, but for most kinds of work, the Internet i
    • Laptop battery life still sucks. Someone start working on a solar solution :)

      Unless the efficiency of the solar cells is massively increased (unlikely) or the power requirements of laptops are massively decreased (more likely, but still not much) then you are probably SOL (pun intended) with this one.

      Even on campus, good WiFi hotspots are few and far between. We need hotspots that permit ssh tunneling, and encryption that works...

      There are probably too many people trying to use the hotspot simult
  • Oh yeah? (Score:2, Funny)

    by br0d (765028)
    Let's see you telecommute from oblivion on 12/23/2012.
    • The end of the Mayan calendar?

      A high-point in the major changes happening in our cultural evolution as a human race? Yes. Oblivion? Not so much so, no.

  • I think it would be useful to point people to the Coworking Wiki [pbwiki.com] for efforts to support mobile workers with a bit of community. It looks like a great start, though sadly, my home city, London is a bit lacking at this time. If anyone knows good spots, please add them to the website.

    -Grey [wellingtongrey.net]
  • Meh (Score:5, Funny)

    by Stanistani (808333) on Friday March 16, 2007 @03:37PM (#18379241) Homepage Journal
    >Nobody knew I was sunburned, drinking from a coconut and listening to howler monkeys as I replied to their e-mails.

    If I just make myself a mug from a coconut, I'm there. I've got the cube next to the window.

    *listens to the howling of middle management*
    • The thing about the interent is that no one can tell if you're a dog.

      --woof.
      • Re:Woof (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Stanistani (808333) on Friday March 16, 2007 @03:48PM (#18379415) Homepage Journal
        Or even a Prairie Dog.
        From Wikipedia:
        "In companies that use large numbers of cubicles in a common space, employees sometimes use the term "prairie dogging" to refer to the action of standing up in one's cube to look around or converse with another employee in an adjacent cube. This action is thought to resemble prairie dogs standing in the openings of a burrow."
  • I miss it (Score:3, Interesting)

    by HikingStick (878216) <z01riemer @ h o t m a i l . com> on Friday March 16, 2007 @03:37PM (#18379249)
    I had a good thing (albeit not as good as the author's) going before I took a new position in December. Now, I'm paying my dues in my new area. Before, it was working from home at least two days a week. Unlike some, I didn't have a problem shutting the machine down at the end of my day. I loved sitting out on the deck (in good weather) and enjoying the sun while handling my trouble tickets. Even better was going to the local cafe (in a small exurban town, equipped with a Verizon wireless card, and doing my work from there while clogging my arteries with a 3-egg bacon and swiss omelette! Most days, I was working by 6 AM and done by 2:30 PM. I figure I'll need to wait another six months before I can pitch a similar arrangement in my new digs (once they know I can be trusted to perform, no matter where I am).
  • "Nobody knew I was sunburned, drinking from a coconut and listening to howler monkeys as I replied to their e-mails."

    Hey, you! Stop hanging around my cubicle!

    Damn hippies!

  • is you don't talk about Digital Bedouin club.

    No seriously, letting your boss find out that you're doing business while on vacation is a sure way to gain lots of hate. Unless they actively encourage that sort of thing, be happy with what you've got, and keep your mouth shut.
  • In August I took a month long vacation to Central America, backpacking from one Mayan ruin to the next, and I never officially took time off. I submitted my columns, provided reports and other input, participated in conference calls and interacted via e-mail. I used hotel Wi-Fi connections and local cybercafes to communicate and Skype to make business calls. Nobody knew I was sunburned, drinking from a coconut and listening to howler monkeys as I replied to their e-mails.

    I'm sorry, is some strange new u

    • by Skidge (316075)

      Put down the laptop, turn off the cel phone and leave your work behind you! That is what a vacation is for!
      That's what your official vacation days are for. If you can get your work done in a more exciting locale than your cube, you shouldn't consider it wasting a vacation; rather, it's improving upon work.
    • Always a cynic, huh? Looked at a little differently... Why pay rent in urban America when you can spend your evenings on the beach in a tropical paradise on the cheap?
    • I'm sorry, is some strange new use of the word "vacation" I'm not familiar with? Why in the name of the eight-hour day would you go some place neat and exciting and use your time there to work?

      Well, it doesn't sound like a real vacation, but that doesn't mean it's undesirable. Weighing it out, I might rather sit someplace warm, near a beach, do my work there, and have a nice night someplace exotic, rather than sitting in a dank office and trudging through the snow in order to go to the same old places n

    • by gstoddart (321705)

      I'm sorry, is some strange new use of the word "vacation" I'm not familiar with? Why in the name of the eight-hour day would you go some place neat and exciting and use your time there to work?

      As much as this guy's travel methods don't suit me, I can see the benefit to it. Time is hard to come by.

      You take as much of the prime hours in the day as you can to do the touristy stuff. Then you use evenings and convenient/scheduled times to get other stuff done. Provided you can make it work, it's probably muc

    • How about this... If you are able to travel, once your work for the day is done, you're already in a location that you would have had to have waited for the weekend to get to otherwise. So, in your off hours you can now travel more and actually enjoy it. During the work day, staring at a computer screen is staring at a computer screen. As long as you're in a safe environment, who cares where you are? This scenario is perfect for young professionals who aren't tied down by marriage, kids, etc.

      A friend of mi
  • Just watch out for people sniffing your traffic on those unsecured Wi-fi connections.
  • If you have the right kind of job, you can take vacations while you're on the clock. In other words, you can travel for fun and adventure and keep on working.

    I think the term is called self-employed.

    Can I go to the mall and other well-covered places? Yes. Can I go to the nice movie theater with it's crappy reception? No. This kind of thinking bleeds into pretty much every "where do you want to go?" discussion.

    I'm saying it certainly changes the way you think. Definitely not complaining.
  • by Jimmy King (828214) on Friday March 16, 2007 @03:40PM (#18379305) Homepage Journal

    You can travel a lot more without needing more official vacation time. I've done it.
    Everywhere I've worked you don't get a laptop and VPN access so that you can stay home and work. You get them so that after you've spent the day at work you can go home and continue to do more work.
  • by Tackhead (54550) on Friday March 16, 2007 @03:41PM (#18379325)
    > 'If you have the right kind of job, you can take vacations while you're on the clock. [ ... ] Nobody knew I was sunburned, drinking from a coconut and listening to howler monkeys as I replied to their e-mails.'"

    If you really have the right kind of job, you can take vacations while you're on the clock without the hassle of air travel, without the pain of the sunburn, with a slightly-modified version of the coconut, and yes, even with the howler monkeys.

    I call it "reading Slashdot while sitting in a meeting".

  • In August I took a month long vacation to Central America, backpacking from one Mayan ruin to the next, and I never officially took time off.

    I want to go along with a camera crew and shoot a documentary about your adventures working on the road. And, just think, I can file the dailies, look at the rough cuts and hack out the promos while we're at the hotel. Try not to hog all the bandwidth.

  • by KeyThing (997755)
    4 years ago, I was working for myself as a field technician. I had basically farmed myself out to about 6 different companies, and was supporting their IT needs.

    It became very obvious to me that I needed Internet Access anywhere I was. I found the Merlin PCS card (EVDO), and a PCMCIA sleeve for my iPAQ. I added "mobile professional" to my list of qualifications, and immediately cut down my response times to my customers. Now I could be stuck in traffic, and be remoted into their system. Often times, the pro
  • by Ted Cabeen (4119) * on Friday March 16, 2007 @03:55PM (#18379521) Homepage
    This is my favorite part:

    A client calls your office number and imagines you in a suit in a downtown office. In fact, you're wearing jeans and enjoying a midmorning brunch with your spouse. The client is happy because he reached you in one try and didn't get voice mail. Your employer is happy because you're providing prompt and reliable customer service. But most of all, you're happy, because you're doing your job without being chained to a desk.
    What about your spouse in this situation? Do you think they appreciate having their midmorning brunch interrupted by a client's phone call? Interrupts cost, both in computing and in social relationships.
    • by Dunbal (464142) on Friday March 16, 2007 @04:06PM (#18379673)
      Interrupts cost, both in computing and in social relationships.


            Nah, just push your wife on the stack, clear the registers, and pop her off when you're done and jumping back. Of course the script kiddies won't get ANY of this ;P
    • by gstoddart (321705)

      What about your spouse in this situation? Do you think they appreciate having their midmorning brunch interrupted by a client's phone call?

      Without the possibility of receiving that phone call to interrupt your brunch on the patio, you wouldn't be having that mid-morning brunch now, would you? You'd be chained to the desk, and couldn't see her until you got home after work.

      Seriously, I'm sure his wife just goes on with her breakfast, and assumes he'll be finished in a few minutes. Or, understands that some

    • What about your spouse in this situation? Do you think they appreciate having their midmorning brunch interrupted by a client's phone call?

      Better that than no honey at 11am. It's not like you always get interrupted during brunch.

    • by aclarke (307017)
      ARGH!!! I'm getting so sick of people spouting this ridiculously narrowminded viewpoint! How's this for an idea: you still take your weekends off, or whatever, but Friday mornings you and your spouse go out for brunch together. Your spouse knows that he/she still gets "non-work" time with you, but your Friday morning date is shared with work. It's a win-win-win situation. Your spouse gets to feel EXTRA-special because you're taking time out of your work day to be with him/her, which you are.

      I don't
  • I cant actually stay away from internet, even if on vacation. I need to be WITH people. In addition to colleagues, clients, community people, there are 'internet' and real life friends who have histories ranging from a few years to 4-5 years or more in my instant messenger lists.

    Working a fraction of a day is just an addition to internet connectivity time.
  • ...and I will confirm, this can be done. And yeah, it's nice to be in a beautiful tropical setting to do your work. But, it's also nice to just bike down to your local coffeeshop and hang out there and work. I'm in my cubicle here at work now, and the idea is very distracting...
  • You rang? (Score:5, Funny)

    by bedouin (248624) on Friday March 16, 2007 @04:29PM (#18379977)
    Hi.
  • If it's just email, conference calls, processing status reports, etc., then I could do this too. But when it comes to actual productive work, I can't. Airports, hotels, beaches, and all other non-home non-office locations conspire against me. I need to concentrate and think about my work, and I can't do that in a coffee shop.
  • The look on my boss's face when he checked an old Subversion log and discovered I'd done a commit at 4am was priceless.

    It took him a while to remember I'd been in Malaysia that week! It was worth taking the laptop all that way, just to bash out a couple of lines of CSS and mess with his head.
  • Do they like/encourage digital Bedouins? You would basically be subletting 2m^2 of prime inner city real estate in exchange for nothing more than a stream of coffees. That's very cheap rent!
    • This is why I can never find a seat because of all these moochers. Don't they have homes or offices? I'd think the noise and foot traffic would be too distracting to concentrate.

      I joke that the high prices at Starbucks are actually rent, not the price of coffee.
  • Let's see...I live in a motorhome, use a Verizon EVDO card plugged into a Kyocera KR1 router, the PCMCIA card is attached to dual antennas and a signal booster, I've got 100gal of freshwater storage, 120gal of waste, 660w of solar panels driving a 650lb battery and 2800w inverter, got a 4kw fuel-efficient genset for backup that can drive air conditioning all day on a gallon of gas... Basically I can go a week at a time with zero hookups, and that's with daily showers. And I was able to get a decent Intern
  • I did this a lot until the current stretch in law school, which keeps me pretty well stuck in Philadelphia for a while.

    However, there are a few things which make it easier that I recommend:

    - An outlet splitter. When someone else has dibs on ("sovereignty over") the only electric outlet in a particular place, and your battery life is draining-draining-draining, you may luck out and find that he (or she) is reasonable, sharing-oriented, etc. Or, he (or she) may just be a greedy, sanctimonious ass. If you have
  • I mean, once in a while it's fun to be working from the yard or a cafe or something, but it's disastrous for my health. After a few hours of working with a laptop at a table (as opposed to a desk set to the proper height) my back aches and my wrists start complaining.
    Also, working on a tiny laptop screen sucks.

    All in all, I prefer working at my desk. It's got the right ergonomics, a huge monitor etc. If I don't feel like working at the office I can always work from home, where I've also got a decent setup.
  • I do this with my own design/consulting business every night. I usually go hang out at the local coffee shop, inviting disruption on occasion (I'm good at multitasking, though). In fact, my business has improved since doing this - I've met most of my recent clients through it.

    When doing this for a 8-5 or 9-5, though, you have to worry about whether you are really getting the benefit of the new environment (as many other posters have ranted about) - Here is the key..

    .. Don't work more than your normal

  • ... But that was a few years back.

    I guess that, post 9/11, Sheiks have become Chic.
  • Which have been doing this for 30 some years. Now it is just easier. But, hey, this is the brave new world where we need to make up new words to make what people used to do seem new and neat.

You can bring any calculator you like to the midterm, as long as it doesn't dim the lights when you turn it on. -- Hepler, Systems Design 182

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