As part of my experience on the Clipper Race I trialled a Iridium Go! Satellite phone and wifi hotspot device. My goal initially was to have a reasonable cost way to stay in contact with friends, family and work in case of emergencies.
After meeting with Terry and Martyn from range global it became very clear that the accessibility to tech and costs of the networks meant having a satellite phone was within the grasp of the everyday consumer or adventurer.
Not only does the Iridium Go have a very clear call quality, it also has apps that work with most smart phones.
On my first trip with the clipper race (Australia to China via Vietnam) I just used the phone occasionally and sent the odd Update home by email. Due to the way the wifi hub works, whilst in port I was able to setup other crew with a @myiridium.net email account that they could access from their own smart phones. The iridium go app also has a very basic twitter and Facebook tool that enables you to send posts to your account. It was quite cool being able to tweet as we crossed the equator. Clipper Race provided their own website which incorporates a race tracker and crew blogs, this was a fantastic tool that helped friends and family stay engaged with the experience.
For my next trip with clipper (New York to Londonderry then to Den Helder and finally London) I wanted to ensure that the new business RISQ Ventures could continue to operate and contact me if needed. This was the start of me trying to remote work. Technology was not the problem, in fact having enough energy after a watch and the time zone differences are what made it challenging.
12 months on, once the race had finished I was left with the iridium device wondering what I should do, so I contacted Terry at range global and the next time he was in the U.K. we arranged to catch up and discuss if the Iridium Go! was still the best option on the market. What makes working with Range Global great is their personal service and flexibility in creating a solution and contract plan that is right for you.
During the summer I was helping out on a yacht delivery from the Mediterranean to Holland so decided to use the Iridium Go! to stay in touch with work and keep projects ticking over.
So what's different now?
Well I started to look at what features the Go! has and what other tools I would like to use whilst I am away at sea to assist with updating friends and family but also enabling more effective remote working.
The main limitation of the Go! Device is the interaction to the internet is limited by its own app. Due to the speed of the data transmission on the Iridium satellite network you are limited in the size of emails and attachments that can be sent or received. Whilst the network has now opened up an integration layer, there are only a few weather and main apps available to use.
So I started to research ways you could use email as the interface to other social media apps. I was able to use twitter and link it to my Facebook account so that my tweets post to Facebook and the twitter plug-in on my website www.colinblears.com. I then got an account with tweetymail.com. This allows me to send emails to my twitter account to create tweets.
Features that are supported an Twitter by sending emails from your linked email address to any of the following "@tweetymail.com" email addresses include:
email@example.com Tweet text, pictures, and links
firstname.lastname@example.org Post tweets longer than 140 characters
email@example.com Request the latest tweets from your friends
firstname.lastname@example.org Send or reply to a direct message
email@example.com Start following a user
firstname.lastname@example.org Block a user from following you
email@example.com Stop following a user
The next step was limiting the way people could contact me using plain text emails to keep the file size small for speed. This lead me to creating the contact form so the website generates a plain text email with the users name, email address and message to my satellite phone.
So far this has been working perfectly other than I am not able to see responses that people post on Facebook, personal FB messages or receive emails sent to my business or personal email accounts. So apologies if you have posted a comment or question and not received a response, I will aim to get back to you as soon as possible once I reach land. If in the meantime you would like to send a message of support or ask a question then visit www.colinblears.com and post a motivational message.
Some people question why you would want to be connected everywhere? and are you not doing these challenges to escape from technology and social media. I guess my the issue is not the ability to be connected but having the will power not to let it control your daily activities. Using it as a business tool, a way to keep friends and family up to date and more importantly have the safety net that if something goes wrong at sea, home or work, then I can be contacted provides everyone everywhere peace of mind.
Please can you follow me on twitter @Cblears so you can stay updated with this and future challenges.
Please can you share the post with others on Facebook.
Most importantly please take the time to read about the charities I I'm supporting with your hard work. https://colinblears.com/challenges/#atlanticrow
Thank you so much for your support so far and please do keep it coming, it really helps knowing what's going on in the world. The jokes, motivational quotes and general life chat really make a difference when you are living in an 8x2m bubble.
Here is a Challenge for everyone else who has a social media addiction. For one week turn off all notifications on Facebook, WhatsApp, twitter, etc and just check you phone 3 times a day. Then work out how much of your day you have saved and what else you could do with that time, I think you will be quite surprised. Technology and social media tools are not the issue, our will power is.
For more information on the iridium Go! Contact www.rangeglobal.net