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Computing Al Fresco?

timothy posted more than 10 years ago | from the not-necessarily-nude dept.

Wireless Networking 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?"

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Well, for starters. (-1, Troll)

Mr. Ophidian Jones (653797) | more than 10 years ago | (#9233493)

Intel [intel.com] has some thoughts on the topic.

Namely, the usual suspects like non-condensing humidity, temperature levels, and so on are things to consider.

Additionally, you can look at your monitor's specs to see what kind of viewing angles it will support.

Re:Well, for starters. (1)

WhatAmIDoingHere (742870) | more than 10 years ago | (#9233534)

Yeah, that's goat.cx in that link. Congrats, mods, on not clicking the damn link.

Re:Well, for starters. (1)

Hinkey (746112) | more than 10 years ago | (#9233599)

gotta love /. moderators ;) how can you justify modding up a post without going to the damn link!!! thats jsut stupid

Re:Well, for starters. (1)

magefile (776388) | more than 10 years ago | (#9233956)

Wouldn't even need to click - the URL ends with ?url=http://goat.cx.

Re:Well, for starters. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9234717)

I'm just happy to see that goat.cx still exists. for a while there, they got owned by someone and had to take the site down. And I was just getting over the mourning of the internet icon too.

Re:Well, for starters. (1)

cujo_1111 (627504) | more than 10 years ago | (#9235609)

I am only happy to hear that goat.cx still exists. I prefer not to look at it. But for some people it makes them happy :)

Al Fresco? (4, Funny)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | more than 10 years ago | (#9233601)

We always took that to be a euphamism for "Naked".

You want to do that? Keep it indoors, please!

Re:Al Fresco? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9243014)

Are you thinking of "au naturel"?

Re:Well, for starters. (1)

jaybird144 (558619) | more than 10 years ago | (#9233660)

Warning...goat.cx link above. Man, I haven't been hit by this one in a while... I was getting lax about checking them.

Re:Well, for starters. (0, Offtopic)

gristlebud (638970) | more than 10 years ago | (#9233662)

I've long wanted to be able to give up my occasional mod points that expire in 3 days, and trade them in on a single "persistent" point, that I can hold onto until needed. I know that the focus should be on modding posts up, not down, but jeez, for this to be +3 for _any_ length of time is just awful.

Wouldn't having a single point every 3 months be better than hoping that the mods catch screwups like this before you click on disgusting links?

consider the jihad (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9234206)

Slashdot's editors have created a system that generally rewards mindless moderation. For this and many other reasons, we are in sacred jihad against slashdot's editors. Join us sacred jihad [anti-slash.org] .


Re:Well, for starters. (1)

AndXorXnor (772039) | more than 10 years ago | (#9243494)

Here is an advantage to running your own DNS

Tables + Parasols (5, Insightful)

JeffHunt (129508) | more than 10 years ago | (#9233515)

Get yourself one of those fancy deck tables with the umbrella that comes out of the middle. Voila - sunlight problem solved.

Re:Tables + Parasols (2, Funny)

wan-fu (746576) | more than 10 years ago | (#9233539)

Some of us like being exposed...

to the sun.

Re:Tables + Parasols (1)

JeffHunt (129508) | more than 10 years ago | (#9233552)

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.

Daylight? (1)

Glonoinha (587375) | more than 10 years ago | (#9237148)

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 take my regular lappy outside and if the sun is shining directly on you, forget it. Even a deck umbrella or a big shady tree generally won't do it for you. You need to be roughly three degrees of freedom away from the sunlight (no direct sunlight, no reflected sunlight (like bouncing off the sidewalk onto you) and no two bounce sunlight (like sunlight bouncing off one wall, off another wall, then onto you.) Under a bridge, back in away from the light, or in a garage with the door open, those are pretty much ok but first and second generation reflected light simply overwhelms the screen (like using a laptop in a room or on a plane with the windows open, even if the sun isn't shining directly onto the screen.)

Overheating shouldn't be an issue, particularly if your laptop is running on battery and steps down the CPU.

The biggest environmental factor I would be aware of = keep your eyes and your hand on your laptop. All the time, be aware of your laptop. A nice laptop has ~steal me~ written all over it and in less time than it takes to go walk the lizard a n'er-do-well will swipe your $1,500 laptop and all your un-backed-up data (which is probably worth more than the laptop.)

biggest problem is.... (0, Offtopic)

arcanumas (646807) | more than 10 years ago | (#9233594)

i don't have a garden.

Re:biggest problem is.... (1)

lmpinto (148989) | more than 10 years ago | (#9233618)

You insensitive clod!

Re:biggest problem is.... (1)

arcanumas (646807) | more than 10 years ago | (#9233767)

Dear lmpinto,
If the above post was made as a reflex response, like correcting something that "want's right" then you have been spending too much time on slashdot

I know because it took large amounts of effort to push the submit button without adding the "insnsitive clod" myself.

Re: An English garden is an American yard (1)

some guy I know (229718) | more than 10 years ago | (#9234940)

i don't have a garden.
Earl Gray is obviously British.
He means "yard".

It's kind of like how they say "pavement" when they mean "sidewalk", or "Tony Blair" when they mean "GWB ass-kisser".

Best practices: (5, Informative)

geohump (782273) | more than 10 years ago | (#9233633)

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

Re:Best practices: (1)

Jorkapp (684095) | more than 10 years ago | (#9234196)

#9 ...

#10 Profit!

Re: Profit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9234977)

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! That's the funniest thing that I've ever read, and so original! I'll bet absolutely no one here has ever thought of that before! God, you should go into comedy! Perhaps writing scripts for American sitcoms, since every single episode of those is completely original, too!

Re:Best practices: (2, Informative)

Fweeky (41046) | more than 10 years ago | (#9234516)

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: (2, Insightful)

DjReagan (143826) | more than 10 years ago | (#9235971)

More expensive sunglases tend to have things like polarising lenses which cause problems when viewing LCD screens.

Re:Best practices: (1)

Fweeky (41046) | more than 10 years ago | (#9236843)

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? ;)

Re:Best practices: (1)

Rude Turnip (49495) | more than 10 years ago | (#9238018)

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.

Sunglasses have the 2nd highest markup (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9238327)

Sunglasses have the 2nd highest markup of any mass-market consumer good. You can't find a non-prescription pair that cost more than $5 to make no matter what they're charging for them.

The highest markup is perfume which seldom costs more than $1 a bottle to produce.

bogus suggesion (2, Insightful)

frovingslosh (582462) | more than 10 years ago | (#9235261)

#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 only one who has been seeing this. So suggesting a Linux thin client as a power saving concept just doesn't fly, at least until Linux is able to manage power as well as windoes does on most or all of the notebook with that feature.

Re:bogus suggesion (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9235898)

Linux power management works fine for most people.

Re:bogus suggesion (1)

jismay (179462) | more than 10 years ago | (#9237844)

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.

More useful suggestion (1)

Spamalamadingdong (323207) | more than 10 years ago | (#9240795)

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.

Re:Best practices: (1)

Seydlitz (690174) | more than 10 years ago | (#9235963)

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?

What? You can't! (4, Funny)

The Munger (695154) | more than 10 years ago | (#9233686)

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?

Re:What? You can't! (2, Funny)

Nasarius (593729) | more than 10 years ago | (#9233772)

Don't forget the bears [penny-arcade.com] .

Re:What? You can't! (1)

cujo_1111 (627504) | more than 10 years ago | (#9235450)

When the Answertron 2000 [penny-arcade.com] gets its way, there will be no need to worry about glare...

Re:What? You can't! (4, Funny)

WolfWithoutAClause (162946) | more than 10 years ago | (#9236160)

What about the sun?

You mean The Daystar? Nobody believes in that anymore. I mean it's so improbable- a large blob of radioactive hydrogen emitting deadly ultraviolet radiation.

I mean, if it existed the environmentalists, they atleast must have gone outside once or twice; they would be up in arms about it, but nary a peep from them- get real; it doesn't exist.

Outdoors? (4, Funny)

Gothmolly (148874) | more than 10 years ago | (#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.

Re:Outdoors? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9234994)

Not only that, but the r_speeds are atrocious. Whoever designed the place doesn't know a thing about hint brushes.

Some of the textures are nice, though.

Glare Removal (2, Informative)

The Meeper (782183) | more than 10 years ago | (#9234080)

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. (2, Informative)

i.r.id10t (595143) | more than 10 years ago | (#9234179)

All references to pasty white skin aside, please do remember your sunscreen...

The Great Outdoors (1)

Phazz666 (778423) | more than 10 years ago | (#9234184)

Well Microsoft might release sunsreen for your computer but I warn you it comes with manditory security updates and licensing cost. But really the UV light will fry your monitor both LCD and CRT. Melt your keyboard. Overheat your processor. Cause your battery to explode. Great we can market it as a weapon of mass combustion.

I've surfed from a hammock (2, Insightful)

Kris_J (10111) | more than 10 years ago | (#9234265)

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

Re:I've surfed from a hammock (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9241799)

Also, it's just started winter here

judging by your comment, it appears you're from another hemisphere. Stop playing anti-bush sig crap and go back to your wallabies, mate.

TFT (3, Insightful)

nerd65536 (692353) | more than 10 years ago | (#9234476)

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 (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9235770)

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 orientation. The light source can either be external light which is reflected or an internal backlight. This has nothing to do with the display being a TFT and LCDisplay.

Well... (1)

Cyno01 (573917) | more than 10 years ago | (#9234949)

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.

NEC Daylite (1)

taped2thedesk (614051) | more than 10 years ago | (#9235071)

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 them on eBay. (I've heard a few e-tailers still carry them too, but you might have to dig to find them)

Wireless Signal (1)

WoodChuckNorris (760773) | more than 10 years ago | (#9235107)

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.

Should have noted this when I posted ;): SHADE! (1)

timothy (36799) | more than 10 years ago | (#9235233)

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 I bought -- $15 on sale -- was a big help. It may also let you get away with *less* than the maximum brightness on your screen, so if battery life is a concern it's an important addition.



Been there, got it wired (4, Insightful)

tornadoslims (782399) | more than 10 years ago | (#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 (2, Informative)

pipingguy (566974) | more than 10 years ago | (#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.

Re:Big Buck Solution (1)

ear1grey (697747) | more than 10 years ago | (#9236822)

Buy and install
one of these [poetictech.com] ...

Shudder. It's both awesome and yet somehow reminiscent of a bad hacker movie.

Their price list [poetictech.com] is a little blank. Anyone had the benefit of a quote / delivery from these guys? ...or is it just wish-ware?

Re:Big Buck Solution (1)

pipingguy (566974) | more than 10 years ago | (#9237853)

A page from 1999 says they start at $7200. I won't be getting one anytime soon.

Choose the best times (3, Insightful)

Peter Cooper (660482) | more than 10 years ago | (#9235370)

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!)

macs dont like sun (1)

fraccy (780466) | more than 10 years ago | (#9236458)

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 (2, Informative)

R2.0 (532027) | more than 10 years ago | (#9237162)

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 (2, Insightful)

sakusha (441986) | more than 10 years ago | (#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.

Re:Sunlight is toxic (1)

R2.0 (532027) | more than 10 years ago | (#9240149)

"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?

Re:Sunlight is toxic (1)

sakusha (441986) | more than 10 years ago | (#9242094)

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 is standard practice to excise precancerous moles. No, not every mole is precancerous, but there are indicators that they should be removed for biopsy. Don't ask me what the signs are, ask a dermatologist. I thought the signs were just if it oozed or grew, but she's the expert. I just asked her about a little bump on my leg, she said, "that's nothing significant, but I don't like the look of that mole next to it." So she pulled out a magnifier, examined it for a minute, and said, "it will have to come off." And that was just a cursory examination, she decided I needed to have every square inch of my skin examined under a magnifier, which is going to take about an hour. I can't wait to hear how many little spots she's going to cut off.

Re:Sunlight is toxic (1)

/dev/trash (182850) | more than 10 years ago | (#9244414)

Have you not heard of sunscreen?

Re:Sunlight is toxic (1)

sakusha (441986) | more than 10 years ago | (#9245033)

Yeah right. When you were 12 years old, were you worrying about getting skin cancer when you were 45?

Re:Sunlight is toxic (1)

/dev/trash (182850) | more than 10 years ago | (#9252910)

My parents were.

What outside? (1)

natefanaro (304646) | more than 10 years ago | (#9239373)

Do you mean outside of the room/rooms that your computers are contained in? Like a hallway or bathroom?

Slackware (1)

xend (756853) | more than 10 years ago | (#9240950)

its newbie and veteran friendly!

The last Macintosh readable outdoors: Powerbook180 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9245573)

I tried a G3 Powerbook; when the screen gets warm in the sun the display washes out. OOOOgly.

The NEC Daylite suggested elsewhere sounds tempting, albeit no longer made.

This is why I kept a couple of PBook 180s running all this time, so I can work outdoors and read what I'm writing.


I use a Toshiba Sattelite 110CS oustside (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9250379)

You can view the model details here:


or here

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