Thursday, May 15, 2014

Leaving Legacy

Now back at our home-port, comfortably tied up at The Bluffs Marina in Jupiter, I've finally found a few minutes to write a post.

The West Coast Of Florida Tour was a great success; from Marina Jack's at Sarasota to Legacy Harbour in downtown Ft. Myers, and over to Longboat Key Moorings, we've managed to make everybody's life online a lot better.
The onSpot wifi guys did a great job.

All of our installs are challenging, but Legacy Harbour Marina was an especially difficult undertaking.
It took more than just mounting the smart gear and turning 'em on, we had to break some rules, technically going where others won't go and doing what others don't.
Though they tried, most of the support the Ruckus techs kindly offered up didn't work, we were on our own.
We say we build Better Marina WiFi Hotspots and we didn't stop till that was true.

 Eric, Legacy's Harbourmaster, giving Will a few pointers on operating the manlift.

Just putting the Access Point high atop the marina office was an obstacle. We had to utilize a lift to get it up there.

But the real problems were to come from these Hi-Rise Condo Towers adjacent to the marina.

The radio frequency interference blasting from these towers can render most WiFi hotspots useless.

After the installation was complete, we ran our first tests and were amazed at how quick the network was. Immediately we were seeing blazing speeds. We were cautiously pleased to find our worries about the towers were unfounded and our smart gear was truly outsmarting the RF noise.
The boaters at the marina were ecstatic.
So we tested till late that night then tested again early the next morning and found the same thing. Fast, real fast.

As usual, I stay around after the install to provide the boaters technical support and do onsite, real life, monitoring. It proved to be a good thing, two days later the network came to a creeping crawl. Something had broken.
The boaters weren't happy anymore.

So we went to work on figuring out the problem and soon we found it.

Not only are the huge condo towers an RF nightmare, over on the other side of the marina is a large cell tower that's using the same 2.4Ghz frequency that we use. What we were experiencing was the radio frequency equivalent to the perfect storm.
Our very strong hotspot was causing disruption on the cell provider's network so they turned up their signal, effectively blasting us out of the park with their more powerful equipment.

So back to the drawing board.

We can make most changes remotely via the net, but this was an extraordinary situation. So onSpot loaded up the test gear and a few spare parts and headed back to Legacy Harbour.

To make this tediously long story short, we fixed it. Not only did we have to step out of the proverbial box, we had to throw the box in the trash. Almost everything the Ruckus smart guys had us try didn't work and almost all our past experience didn't apply.
But, after a couple of days of, "what ifs and let's see", we fixed it.

Like all things worth doing, Legacy's still a work in progress, but their network's running fast and reliably — at the speeds we guarantee.

Constant Improvement.

As Mel and I left the marina, heading back to Jupiter, I left my web-cam on to record our departure and to see how far our network reached... all the way out to the entrance of the marina.

The proof's in the pudding



P.S. I know most of you tune in for stuff about cruising and boats and we'll be headed to the islands pretty soon. Mixing business with pleasure, we're building a new network at Staniel Cay, Exumas. They've been needing it for a long time.
Should be fun in many ways.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Movin' On

Another opportunity has surfaced so we're leaving Legacy Harbour to head back up north toward Sarasota.

But, before leaving... We ventured into downtown Ft. Myers to the 86 Room; which on this night was an excellent Jazz Club. Featured vocalist: Lynn Richardson.
Lynn is Eric's wife and over the years he's told me his wife was a good singer — she's not just good, she's truly a remarkable vocalist, the woman sings like a bell.

We stuck around for a couple of sets and enjoyed Lynn and the band.

Good jazz done right. 

The 86 Room is an old bar that's been brought back and they've done it without trashing it's character.

The decor, the old Charlie Chaplin silent movie, the music, it all fit nicely.

We could make this a habit when in Ft Myers. 

The players are a trio of accomplished Jazz vets. They're also nice folks. 

Downtown Ft Myers is a damn eclectic place. I saw three young fellows in costume, goofing down the street, they were a knock off of the Three Stooges, the waitress at the 86 Room appeared to have just stepped off the stage of Rocky Horror Picture Show, and we've seen a Jesus impersonator walking about on a couple of occasions.

Great band, Great music, an extraordinary night.

So, movin' on.

One of those "Red Skies Mornings" 
Should've never untied

We left Legacy with a falling tide which gave us a knot of speed. I noticed the winds were a bit puffier than forecast, but we eased along at 9knts heading for Boca Grande Pass.

Our plan was to try and take what the locals call the, "Sneaky Pete" cut out of the pass which would save us 45 minutes or so, but when we looked at the seas we deemed it too unsettled to try. It's shallow and there's little margin for error. 
So we headed out Boca Grande with a head sea that was a bit rolly, then a bit rollier, then quickly evolved into a full tilt bull ride. To add to the excitement, Boca Grande has shoaled in quite a bit and the marked channel took us into comfortable 40' depths, followed by some uneasy < 9' depths.
At one point I saw 2' under the boat as we were riding over 6' rollers. Breathtaking!
Should've taken Sneaky Pete.
Looking back now... that's two should'ves on a day we shouldn't have.

We forgot the Gulf of Mexico must be respected, but we quickly remembered the tall/sharp/mean rollers she can deal you.
We had a Nordhavn day—Istaboa's a great boat.
After a while, we turned north, putting the southerly seas on our stern and easily surfed all the way up to Venice.

After the bull ride, the following seas were a respite. We made it into Venice just before a storm so we decided to tie up at the Crow's Nest for the night and wait for more settled weather.

Today will bring Sarasota and Longboat Key.

A better day, we hope.