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Internet Communications While At Sea?

timothy posted more than 5 years ago | from the use-carrier-whales dept.

Communications 504

ubergamer1337 writes "Next semester I will be participating in a college study abroad program known as Semester at Sea. The gist of it is that over four months 600ish students sail around the world on a converted cruise ship, visiting diverse port cities while taking classes when we are between ports. Debates about its educational merit aside, my internet options while I will be at sea will be severely limited. We get just 100 minutes of internet access for the entire voyage, and once thats gone the only internet access we have is a university email address, which is limited to messages under a megabyte with no attachments. I have been pondering different ways to staying in contact with friends and family back at home without running to an internet cafe in every port, and I have already decided that I want to set up a blog that can be updated by email, but I wanted to ask the collective wisdom of Slashdot if anyone knows of any other ways to transmit more then just your standard message through email. Some things I would be particularity interested in being able to figure out would be a way to send photos (encode them as text?), and a way to get Wikipedia pages etc. emailed to me."

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504 comments

how do they calculate the time? (5, Interesting)

mnslinky (1105103) | more than 5 years ago | (#26435321)

That works out to 55.5 seconds, roughly, per day. Do they calculate the time you use the computer hooked to the internet, or do they calculate the time actually used to transmit and receive data?

Message queuing (5, Informative)

Wrexs0ul (515885) | more than 5 years ago | (#26435511)

That's a ridiculously good point. Applications like Gallery 2 [menalto.com] have remote applications that I'm sure can be tuned to your disconnected-mode needs. Simply get everything ready to upload before you login, then when you're online all the human slowness will be taken out of the equation.

55.5 seconds per day doesn't seem like a lot, but if their internet connection is worth their (sea) salt even a 1mbit satellite link is almost 7 megabytes of data per day... assuming everyone else isn't doing the same thing at the same time of course.

If you're really interested in the process, check out Message [wikipedia.org] Queuing [wikipedia.org]. The idea is asynchronous communication between client/server so that you can do stuff when disconnected from the network, and saving your precious "almost" minute per day :)

-Matt

Re:Message queuing (3, Funny)

Fred_A (10934) | more than 5 years ago | (#26435839)

Oh come on, people have been using bottles in situations like this for ages and it worked out fine. If he's really starved for bandwidth he can just pop a thumbdrive in each one. I hear they come in 64MB flavour now.

OTOH if he *really* can't stand being offline while out at sea, what he needs isn't a tech solution. What he needs is professional help. That comes in a lab coat.

Or maybe he's just not ready to come out of the basement yet.

Re:Message queuing (4, Interesting)

cream wobbly (1102689) | more than 5 years ago | (#26435927)

It's supposed to be for ed-you-ma-cay-shun. Being online is pretty much a requirement for education these days. I'm sure he'll have a whale of a time, but unless this boat has a huge library, I don't reckon there's much benefit in being at sea while studying.

Re:Message queuing (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26436085)

It's supposed to be for ed-you-ma-cay-shun. Being online is pretty much a requirement for education these days. I'm sure he'll have a whale of a time, but unless this boat has a huge library, I don't reckon there's much benefit in being at sea while studying.

Please tell me you're not serious. Handy? Yes. Useful? Yes. Required? No. It's only my opinion, but the more I work with students the less critical thinking I run into. Perhaps being unplugged for more than two minutes might be useful.

Flame away.

Sounds like fun (5, Informative)

ballwall (629887) | more than 5 years ago | (#26435329)

My wife and I love cruising, but she runs her own business and can't be away from email for that amount of time. Thankfully there are options now :)

Most ships these days have cell towers on the ship connected by satellite that usually provide GPRS data (and it looks like the SAS one does as well). The problem is they're considered international roaming, which costs tons of money. However, T-Mobile has an unlimited international 'email' option for blackberry for $20/mo that we've discovered includes BIS traffic through the web browser and even tethering (though we've heard conflicting reports about tethering, we've never been charged for it while at sea). There's always Mobi-shark for routing laptop traffic through the BIS, if tethering is a problem.

So we either tether to her laptop, or just use blackberry and a wireless keyboard and end up with a reasonable means of staying connected (granted, at dial-up speeds). Of course there's also the expense of the blackberry and monthtly plan, but that's only going to add ~2% to the cost of the semester.

There's also the option of paying for the wifi access on a per-minute basis. The latency sucks, but if you're using a fat email client (thunderbird, etc) it only takes us 1-3 minutes to sign in, send and receive messages, and sign out. On commercial cruises they charge somewhere around $.50/min, so when there's cabin based wifi we generally opt for that route, since it's way less hassle than the cell option, we don't have to worry about T-Mobile changing their policies on what's included, and $1.50 a day is not a huge price to pay relative to the cruise.

If they're limiting your email to text based only with no attachments, it's probably at their computers (since I'm not sure how they'd restrict you to that on theirs), which means your options for doing funky encoding stuff to get around it will likely be limited. If not, and you can use your own computer, there are tons of ways to convert anything to text (after all, that's what your email client has to do to send attachments, too). The downside is the receiving end would have to be smart enough to know what you're sending.

For wikipedia, I'd say take a copy with you [ece.ntua.gr].

RMS (4, Informative)

hansamurai (907719) | more than 5 years ago | (#26435365)

Surf the RMS way: set up some kind of server at home that you can email a link to and it will wget it and return the content back to you via email. Since you have seemingly unlimited email access, this might be the most efficient way to surf.

You can also encode images into base64, don't know how big an image it would take before you hit the 1MB limit, but it's possible.

Re:RMS (1)

nwssa (993577) | more than 5 years ago | (#26435451)

kind of painful/slow and with limited time you want to spend it more efficiently. Write an application that pulls in your favourite RSS feeds and emails you (triggered by CRON). You read the stories you have time for each docking. Actually, there's probably already apps that do this.

Re:RMS (1)

hansamurai (907719) | more than 5 years ago | (#26435547)

Well, there's no reason he can't do both. If he's going to at sea for a week at a time between ports, why not have the article you want emailed to you right then? I'd rather do more interesting stuff when docked, like actually explore the city we're at. Save the internet stuff for the boring boat ride, in my opinion.

Re:RMS (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26435607)

My advice is to trade internet access for sex. These horny college-age girls will do anything for another hit off Facebook.

Re:RMS (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26435769)

Best post of the day.

Re:RMS (1)

colmore (56499) | more than 5 years ago | (#26435805)

If he really is going on this ridiculous rich-kid cruise semester, I hope he'll be able to get some without resorting to prostitution. It's about half the point.

Bring a little dvd player for your room (or maybe they already have them) and some popular with the college kids shows and movies on DVD. Let one of the shows / movies come up in conversation. "Oh I have that back in my room."

These are really very good times for nerds having sex. Do you own Guitar Hero?

Re:RMS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26435637)

I think when binary things get attached to emails they are normally converted to base64, or at least all of the messages I can find in my inbox were.

Or do you mean convert the image then copy and paste the base64 encoded thing into the email (trying to approach that 1MB limit that is mentioned) so it doesn't seem to be an attachment?

Either way, trying to hit 1MB for a normal message would be really challenging w/o attachments. (Or funny things like mentioned above)

Re:RMS (2, Informative)

Rei (128717) | more than 5 years ago | (#26435907)

For those who aren't familiar with how to encode to base64:

# cat /bin/echo | openssl enc -base64 > encoded_echo
# tail -n 1 encoded_echo
AAAAAJhHAAAZAQAAAAAAAAAAAAABAAAAAAAAAA==
# cat encoded_echo | openssl enc -base64 -d > decoded_echo
# chmod +x decoded_echo
# ./decoded_echo Test
Test

That would be an interesting concept, though -- "email tunnel" -- where you set up a local proxy and it communicates with your backend via email. Http tunnel software could be a good starting point for implementation.

In port... (1)

bwcbwc (601780) | more than 5 years ago | (#26435373)

Assuming that at least half of the places you visit will be fairly modern cities, you should take advantage of the opportunities for internet access while you are in port. Investigate places that offer free or low-cost WiFi service in the ports you'll be visiting. That will at least mitigate the low access levels you are limited to on board ship.

Re:In port... (1)

bwcbwc (601780) | more than 5 years ago | (#26435429)

Yeah, that probably means running to an internet cafe or else incurring international roaming charges on a cellphone.

I'm surprised they don't give you the opportunity to pay extra for additional access rather than just cutting you off.

Re:In port... (4, Informative)

ballwall (629887) | more than 5 years ago | (#26435469)

Speaking from experience, we hated going this route. You end up spending all of your time in ports searching for internet, which is really the last thing you want to be doing in some exotic foreign city :)

Plus, we've discovered that it's nearly impossible to research ahead of time, the language barriers alone make googling for it really hard.

Re:In port... (5, Funny)

Hal_Porter (817932) | more than 5 years ago | (#26435821)

Maybe it's some sort of strategy. They want the students to like see the world rather than sitting in their cabins in underweat with the curtains shut trolling slashdot and IMing each other about how bored they are.

Or something.

Base64 Encoding (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26435375)

Learn it.

Missing the point? (4, Insightful)

Some guy named Chris (9720) | more than 5 years ago | (#26435387)

Isn't the point of something like "Semester at Sea" to immerse yourself in the program, and become involved deeply in the studies and the people you're traveling with?

What you're wanting to do is like ordering escargot in a French restaurant and smothering them in ketchup.

Used to be... (2, Funny)

C10H14N2 (640033) | more than 5 years ago | (#26435557)

Back when Chapman University ran it, we called it "The Love Boat," so immersion and deep involvement with fellow travelers, yes, the studies, not so much...

Re:Missing the point? (1)

camperdave (969942) | more than 5 years ago | (#26435681)

What's wrong with putting ketchup on escargot? (apart from ruining perfectly good ketchup, that is)

Re:Missing the point? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26435995)

Haha, yeah, those whacky French will eat anything that isn't fast enough to escape, won't they? Unlike us civilized folks here in America.

Oh, BTW, could you pass me the clam chowder, please?

Re:Missing the point? (1)

MBGMorden (803437) | more than 5 years ago | (#26435685)

I hardly think wanting to check in on the computer for a few minutes at a time is going to destroy this supposedly life changing experience. He doesn't sound like he wants to be tied to his computer 24/7 during the trip, but rather just have the ability to checkup on the outside world a bit.

Re:Missing the point? (1)

fm6 (162816) | more than 5 years ago | (#26435783)

I don't see how exchanging a few emails every day makes the experience less immersive. He's a student, not a Monk.

Re:Missing the point? (1)

Seth Kriticos (1227934) | more than 5 years ago | (#26435829)

Seems you are on the wrong portal. This is Slashdot and I suppose most people here thing of Internet access like breathing air. Of course the abroad version is a bit tricky. The technical means to connect from a ship are mostly beyond student levels.

If the EMail option is enough for you, then you can of course set up a server somewhere (rent a virtual one with root access, would not set up one at home for so long with no supervision, also you are owned if it goes down). Then you can script an interpreter and connect it with Postfix or what ever you prefer.

It would check for a valid signature and execute the commands it reads form the data section of the email. You can also encode the pictures, binary data or whatever in Base64 and send it as text.

Pictures with jpeg compression for a blog like presentation should be well under the traffic limit too (read: you could transmit at least 2 dozen of them with one transmission). I personally would probably write the message, compress it (at least the text part, jpeg is pointless), encrypt everything and then send it as inline Base64 text with a valid signature.

Then you would have to set up some routines on the server to send it to a bogging service, but there is plenty of code / apps for that one.

Now I realize that you probably want to know if this kind of thing is doable in a point and click fashion. I actually don't know of any particular instance, but there is Google, so give it a try.

Slow connections! (3, Interesting)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 5 years ago | (#26435409)

Man. you're going to be SOL, my friend.

Your problem of only 100(125 according to TFA) minutes for a 4-month cruise will be compounded by a super-slow internet connection, compounded further by the extra speed-lag of wireless. From the looks of things, your computers will be all windows and probably use IE as the browser, which means no ad or script blocking. The best thing to do in this case would be to bring plenty of analog reading material and other distractions(read: pr0n, booze, or dope) aboard the ship and hope that you get laid.

The first thing you should do is wean yourself from constant gratification through the internet. When you do use the on-board internet, chances are that pages will load slow as hell so try to use "hypermiling" techniques like stopping the page load as soon as the link you want appears(don't wait for the whole page to load), then do that again and again until you get to the content you want. As far as the blog thing goes, use your free official E-mail addy to send plaintext to somebody else who will maintain your blog for you and send you plaintext wikipedia articles as desired, and do that as much as possible so that you can save your precious 125 minutes - It won't be a real-time thing, but that's one of the whole points of being at sea(or camping, for that matter). An alternate suggestion would be to do everything yourself onboard, then release it all at once when you hit shore. Either way, best of luck to you, because cruises are nowhere near as exciting as the commercials make them out to be ;)

Re:Slow connections! (5, Funny)

gardyloo (512791) | more than 5 years ago | (#26435765)

An alternate suggestion would be to do everything yourself onboard, then release it all at once when you hit shore.

Ah, yes. The traditional way of sailors dealing with . . . things, since man first started traversing the waters.

Cut the cord (5, Insightful)

Mononoke (88668) | more than 5 years ago | (#26435419)

Say goodbye to your friends/family when you depart. Tell them you will contact them in an emergency. Then stay off the computers and spend time creating relationships with others on the ship. You don't need constant contact with the folks back home. Don't use them as a crutch.

Temporarily cutting off contact will be the best thing you ever do for yourself.

Re:Cut the cord (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26435611)

hear hear

instead of spending all your time figuring out how to surf porn at sea, why don't you devote that time to figuring out how to get laid at sea

Re:Cut the cord (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26435799)

why don't you devote that time to figuring out how to get laid at sea

The guy's username is "ubergamer1337". I don't rate his chances very highly.

Re:Cut the cord (0, Troll)

lorenlal (164133) | more than 5 years ago | (#26435855)

I figure, all that time out at sea? He's got to be able to get a nap in there once in a while.

Why did you put laid in italics?

Re:Cut the cord (2, Informative)

Fallingcow (213461) | more than 5 years ago | (#26435643)

Research every place you'll be beforehand and print out anything you think you might need.

When I'm travelling the only thing I ever want from the 'net is info on the locales. When I'm well prepared I don't even want that.

Re:Cut the cord (1)

DentInYourHead (1331735) | more than 5 years ago | (#26435649)

Agreed. Four months is a long time but not THAT long of a time. You'll survive without being constantly "connected" for four months and be able to immerse yourself in the program better than if you were worried about getting emails, blogging and receiving Wikipedia updates all the time. If you're so set on blogging and having pictures to share, write your thoughts down and save those pictures to be uploaded after you get back. Anyway, what's wrong with emails less than 1MB for updates? You can't describe things without a blog or pictures?

Re:Cut the cord (4, Insightful)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 5 years ago | (#26435719)

I think that is the point of the 100 minutes of internet. Enough for some emergency communication, not for blogging and letting people know what you are doing every second.
Drop the blog, no one cares anyway about the blog. And save it for a cram research of data, that emergency patch that you need on your laptop. Getting those baby pictures that come while you are out.

There is life outside the internet.

Re:Cut the cord (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26435899)

I've cracked the crypto code he used in his AskSlashdot:

I have been pondering different ways to (strike: staying in contact with friends and family back at home) surf for porn without running to an internet cafe in every port, and I have already decided that I want to set up a (strike: blog) USENET autofetcher that can be updated by email, but I wanted to ask the collective wisdom of Slashdot if anyone knows of any other ways to transmit (strike: more then just your standard message) high quality videos and images through email. Some things I would be particularity interested in being able to figure out would be a way to send photos (encode them as text?), and a way to get (strike: Wikipedia pages) AVIs, MPGs etc. emailed to me.

Supposedly... (2, Insightful)

i.r.id10t (595143) | more than 5 years ago | (#26435421)

Supposedly Stallman doesn't surf the web - he sends an email with a URL and the email is returned with the page...

You can also look into maximizing your 100 minutes - cache a lot, don't get images, don't get ads, etc. Maybe team up wtih a few other people, so common interests/needs can be cached instead of downloaded once for each of you.

What about wireless access via PCMCIA card or cell phone? May work when closer to the coast, would certainly work in-port (depending on where you are in port of course). May even be able to make some $ off other students by setting up your own network, etc.

And of course you could always social engineer someone elses time away from them for non-identifying use such as fark, slashdot, etc. Save your minutes for your educational needs :)

Re:Supposedly... (1)

SlashDotDotDot (1356809) | more than 5 years ago | (#26435745)

Supposedly Stallman doesn't surf the web - he sends an email with a URL and the email is returned with the page...

Also, he sends the email using nothing but butterflies, which should work equally well from a cruise ship.

Limitations are in place for a reason (4, Insightful)

fprintf (82740) | more than 5 years ago | (#26435427)

Did you consider that the limitations on Internet usage are in place for a reason? It may not be the bandwidth, it may be to force participants in this program to get away from their computers and interact with each other. The limits they place sound pretty reasonable to me.

With that said, I'd say satellite is an option while at sea. Otherwise depending on where you go perhaps a tethered cell phone would do the trick. Expensive either way!

Re:Limitations are in place for a reason (5, Insightful)

hansamurai (907719) | more than 5 years ago | (#26435595)

It may be their intent, but this is Slashdot. He poses to us an intriguing and difficult problem and we solve it through various obtuse and technical solutions.

Build a email to HTTP to email gateway. (2, Informative)

fedcb22 (1215744) | more than 5 years ago | (#26435431)

Why not whip up some code that will wait for you to send an email to it containing some sort of pass code and a URL, then it fetches the page and all images, lzma and yEncs it, and then emails it back to you. It may not work so nicely with complicated sites, but for things like Wikipedia it would work great. I'm willing to bet however, that with enough effort you could write a fully fledged proxy. Latency may be really crap, but it would be undeniably cool. Also, have a look at programs such as http://code.kryo.se/iodine [code.kryo.se] that allow you to run IPv4 over DNS.

Amateur Radio? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26435439)

It's an interesting alternative - although the time taken to get a license good enough for maritime mobile operation may be prohibitive, along with the equipment and you still need permission of the ship's captain to transmit. Apart from that....

Re:Amateur Radio? (2, Funny)

jluros (82770) | more than 5 years ago | (#26435521)

You have plenty of time to get your general license, which should permit you to use airmail using an amateur radio. But you have to hurry, and come up with the $2500 for equipment.

Re:Amateur Radio? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26436019)

Parent's joke has a good grain of truth to it. One of the best tools for non-commercial communication in this environment is Amateur Radio.

Re:Amateur Radio? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26436061)

Yeah, and where are you going to hang the 150' antenna so nobody notices? :)

Also, $2500? You can do this for much less, around $1,000.

Cold Turkey? (2, Funny)

Hal_Porter (817932) | more than 5 years ago | (#26435477)

I know some guy who went without email access for a whole month. Mind you, he ate his own head.

Still if you're not one of those types who defines himself by being "l33t" or a "gamer" you'll be ok.

E-Mail? (1)

athakur999 (44340) | more than 5 years ago | (#26435491)

So, you have unlimited access to email and yet you still don't how you're going to keep in touch in friends and family? Is e-mail "only for old people" now?

If your concern is sending pictures back, a small JPG file should only be a few dozen KBs and will easily fit in your 1MB attachment limit. Keep the high resolution originals on your computer and promise your friends you'll send them the high resolution versions once you get back on shore.

One of your only options for global coverage: (1)

jstockdale (258118) | more than 5 years ago | (#26435501)

Iridium modems.

Yes, it actually is good for something, albeit slow as old-school dialup.

Re:One of your only options for global coverage: (1)

maxrate (886773) | more than 5 years ago | (#26435667)

I own an Iridium, it's horrible for this - I would not recommend it. For voice, it's great.

Re:One of your only options for global coverage: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26435881)

I will be spending a month in africa and was planning on using an iridium phone to blog the trip. is your problem with iridium just the bandwidth/latency? i plan on setting up an email->blog gateway so i can limit my connection (which is insanely expensive) to just the time it takes to connect to my email server, and not browsing the web at all (or downloading much of anything really)

is there something else one should know about? i'll be using a thuraya so-2510 fwiw.

Re:One of your only options for global coverage: (1)

jandrese (485) | more than 5 years ago | (#26435819)

Assuming you like paying $4/minute for coverage (assuming you can find some amazing cut-rate airtime broker). And when jstockdale says "old-school dialup", he doesn't mean "like having to use a modem instead of DSL", he means "you're not going to get the 2400 baud this thing advertises".

Why not everyone share the internet connection? (2, Interesting)

McFly69 (603543) | more than 5 years ago | (#26435515)

Why not share the internet connection with everyone. 100 minutes for 600 people is alot. Setup an intranet or even a wireless network. Combine the minutes and you will have close to 42 days of internet access for everyone. ((100 minutes * 600 people) / 60 minutes) / 24 hours = 41.666 days.

If you limit the internet conection to evenings, lets say to 12 hours, then you can double that to 83 days.

Does nobody know about RFC1149? (5, Funny)

thomasdz (178114) | more than 5 years ago | (#26435519)

What? Am I the only old-timer here? There's an RFC standard that fits this PERFECTLY
http://www.rfc-editor.org/rfc/rfc1149.txt [rfc-editor.org]
"1 April 1990: A Standard for the Transmission of IP Datagrams on Avian Carriers"

Thomas Dzubin

Re:Does nobody know about RFC1149? (2, Insightful)

kylegordon (159137) | more than 5 years ago | (#26435563)

These kids have no idea what an RFC is...

+1 Informative from my imaginary mod point collection.

Re:Does nobody know about RFC1149? (4, Funny)

Wrexs0ul (515885) | more than 5 years ago | (#26435687)

Wasn't this discarded years ago because of the dropped packets problem?

Or was that packet droppings?

-Matt

Re:Does nobody know about RFC1149? (1)

lazyforker (957705) | more than 5 years ago | (#26436053)

On the surface it seems like a good idea. The problem is that modern cruise ships have insufficient storage and buffering for the number of avian carriers. If all 600 students (plus the crew plus the staff) are sending and receiving email, images, YouTube etc they're going to need a lot of pigeons, lofts, birdseed etc. Never mind all the paper to write the packets.

Get your ducks in a row... (1)

bushboy (112290) | more than 5 years ago | (#26435543)

100 minutes is longer than you may think.
Compose everything offline and minimize the size of any images.
If you limit your online time to simply uploading/sending all your pre-created content and try to limit your online time to 2 minutes each session, you could get away with it.

It's simply a case of getting all your ducks in a row.

Aside from that, there's a chance of bartering with other shipmates for online time.

Sadly you have next to no options (5, Informative)

areusche (1297613) | more than 5 years ago | (#26435555)

There is pretty much next to nothing you can do. Since you are at sea you won't be able to use your cell phone to connect to the web.

A satellite phone with a very very slow dial up connection is your best bet, but too cost prohibitive. Here's a company that does its job fairly well http://www.globalstar.com/ [globalstar.com]

The only way you'll have affordable and uninhibited internet access is to wait until you get to port.

However, for wikipedia you can actually download an offline version of the entire database. For a wikipedia like experiance follow the instructions on this website

http://www.blindedbytech.com/2006/08/31/how-to-install-wikipedia-for-offline-access/

Also the raw dump for the english articles is here:

http://download.wikimedia.org/

Oh you can also download a DVD version of Wikipedia from that link above. Definitely worth looking at!

Good luck! And definitely have an awesome time. That program sounds interesting and I will look into it as well since I'm a 2nd semester college freshmen.

RFC 1149 (2, Funny)

schmidt349 (690948) | more than 5 years ago | (#26435569)

Unfortunately short of hanging a satellite dish out your cabin window there really isn't a way for you to get a TCP/IP uplink. RFC 1149 does specify a TCP connection modality which could be suitable to transmission of data over long distances at sea, but it was last implemented in 1991 and the engineers responsible were never able to get it to send more than a few hundred bytes of data. YMMV, but I think it's probably your best shot.

Re:RFC 1149 (1)

jandrese (485) | more than 5 years ago | (#26435895)

It seems to me that TCP/IP is not the proper protocol for this, something like DTN [ietf.org] is far better suited for his connectivity situation, especially since you could theoretically get an international phone service and have most bulk data sent only when you get close enough to port to relay through cell phone services. He could even write up an Email convergence layer if he wanted and theoretically get around the online time limitations (even if, as I suspect, email is only sent in big batches at non-peak times). The downside is that this depends greatly on how the online access is structured in the ship, and doing something like this would be somewhere between difficult and near impossible.

Dear Nerd: For Pirates +1, Informative (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26435605)

Get some GUNS [exiledonline.com].

I this helps your grades.

Yours In Communism,
Kilgore Trout

I'd check the fine print. (2, Insightful)

astrodoom (1396409) | more than 5 years ago | (#26435613)

What you're talking about really seems like they're going to be conducting some sort of study involving you guys. At least, I sure as heck would if I was going to have the oppurtunity to put 600 people to sea for 4 months. I'm betting that what you do (and how well you do in the classes) is going to be monitored much more than you seem to think, and if this internet thing is part of their rules, it would be a good idea to stick with it. I could be wrong, I just can't see a university letting a chance like that for their psych/soc department going to waste. If I was a professor in either of those departments I'd be all over this program like white on bread.

Re:I'd check the fine print. (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26436067)

This is not just wrong, but wildly paranoid and refuted with a minimum of effort. 10 seconds of googling would have show that Semester At Sea is a long established academic program, not a psych project. To borrow a quote from the old days: Please check your nonsense before posting to Usenet. Or in this case, Slashdot.

Efficiency is key (1)

nwssa (993577) | more than 5 years ago | (#26435615)

Limited time would be painful. You will need to maximize efficiency. Leverage your best friends and get them to keep you in touch with only the real important news. Then bring laptop and/or USB keys to pull down your news to take back to your cabin.

For upload, write your emails/replies before hand (in your cabin) and have them ready to send.

BBS (1)

Tom (822) | more than 5 years ago | (#26435623)

You want fetchmail and a local SMTP server with modified queue times.

In essence, you want what used to be the norm back in the BBS days - queued up mail. When you go to port, you get a connection and fetch all your mails, then reply to them and send the answers at next opportunity. 15 years ago, that was how mail worked, whether it be Usenet or FIDO or others. The tools are still around.

And you want to become accustomed to not having a 24/7 connection for a change. I know it can be hard, but if you're doing something it's a quick change. I was without any Internet at all for 5 days in a row twice last summer, and I barely noticed except by the amount of mail that had piled up when I came back. So: It ain't that bad. You can live without Internet. It's doable. :-)

Still the way. (3, Informative)

camperdave (969942) | more than 5 years ago | (#26435887)

In essence, you want what used to be the norm back in the BBS days - queued up mail.

Actually, this is still the way email works. It's just that, with the connection always up, you never see stuff waiting around in your outbox anymore as it gets sent right away.

It's not a technical limitation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26435653)

The limitation that the university email account can only be used for mail under 1MB with no attachments is probably not a technical one. I think it's meant to prevent exactly the kind of data traffic that you have in mind. You're likely going to use a very expensive satellite link to the internet which is low-bandwidth and billed by the kilobyte. Except when you're close to land, there is no other option. You can try 3G or GPRS connections while you're in port or within a few miles of the coast, but that's still going to be much more expensive than internet cafes due to roaming charges. It's probably best to collect pictures, messages, voice recordings and whatever else you want to send, package it up before you enter a port and send it to a server in one go, so that you won't be wasting too much time in internet cafes. When you've done that two or three times, you'll probably realize that you're really not approaching your time on the high seas the right way.

BTW, Wikipedia has an offline DVD version which you can download for free.

iPhone (1, Interesting)

pla (258480) | more than 5 years ago | (#26435663)

Just get an iPhone with the biggest data plan they offer. Seriously.

I normally get modded down for my opinion of Apple, but in this case, it seems like the optimal solution... A portable, fairly efficient all-in-one platform for communication, including at least basic web browsing and multimedia capabilities, and most importantly, including its own built-in means of getting to the 'net (at least when in port, anyway).

Find files that are saved in ASCII encoding! (1)

Jonas Buyl (1425319) | more than 5 years ago | (#26435691)

The easiest way would be to see if you can find an archive tool that can save your file to ASCII text so they can archive+split the files, copy+paste it into a mail and send it. Then you paste it into a new text file and you should be able to open it as an archive. Another way is to see if you can find a converter that can convert your binary .7z archive (e.g.) to readable ASCII. But more specifically: Wiki pages can be saved as html which are already in ASCII format so just copy+paste html code from the mail to a text file, save it as .html and open it in a browser. For pictures you can resort to the several (hardly known) picture file formats that use ASCII encoding. I hope this helps you a bit but the important part is to enjoy the trip! Generally a minute/day should be enough to send stuff through a gmail anyway :)

Be wary (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26435747)

When I was on Semester At Sea, in the late 80s, we were totally cut off except for the one phone line that cost something like $25 a minute (If it was available) which few people used and then there was the ability to send a one page fax for something like $5, but you could find a way to write a whole heck of a lot on one page. We were totally cut off in ways I doubt you will be cut off now. We had one movie night a week, but other than than we had nothing. This led as another poster said to us playing a lot of board games, poker and backgammon. It was like rolling back to the 1940s before the age of television. We interacted with one another in ways that, due to the colossal time suck that television is and the internet has become, just do not happen any these days. It was refreshing and that seldom seen level of interaction and involvement with the other students has stayed with me to this day. You might find a way to keep in constant internet communication, but be wary that burying your head in your lap top tethered to your cell phone will likely deprive you of one of the best parts of the experience. Enjoy!

Start your own ISP? (1)

Delta (16579) | more than 5 years ago | (#26435763)

There are 600 students, most of which will probably bring a laptop, and want to stay in touch, just as you do.

Seems like it could be an idea to bring a satellite uplink, provide services to the students at a small upmark in your costs, and use the earnings to pay for your own bandwidth use?

Alternatively set up a proxy;

Charge the others for their used bandwidth, on their side of the connection. If two people download the same URL, you're charging them twice, leaving earnings to cover your own use.

Be honest with them about that though, so nobody feels cheated.

Another thing to consider is to go to a satellite provider and simply ask if they want to provide you with equipment and/or some bandwidth for free, or at a reduced cost. It's a great way for them to market themselves to the 600 students, which throughout their careers might need a similar service, and guess which provider they'd think of first? Surely the one that helped them out when they were students.

The three options can be combined offcourse. If you can borrow equipment for free, get slightly lower bandwidth fees, and a flexible payment plan, so you don't get stuck with a huge bill, you could be set for the duration. :)

money-making opportunity (4, Interesting)

davejenkins (99111) | more than 5 years ago | (#26435817)

You should view this as an incredible money-making opportunity: they've created an artificial shortage for online access, so exploit it:
  1. go to radio shack/fry's/wherever to get your satellite broadband hook-up equipment. It doesn't matter if the equipment costs you $5000-- you'll make it back.
  2. Set up Internet access in your cabin
  3. Charge the other students $10/10 minutes. Bonus points if you can get 2-3 terminals working over your sat connection. You'll probably be billing out a solid 3 hours/night = $180/day * 90 days = $16,200.
  4. Profit!!!

You're welcome.

UUCP for images (2, Insightful)

Lorens (597774) | more than 5 years ago | (#26435825)

Technically: you say "messages under a megabyte with no attachments" and ask for "a way to send photos (encode them as text?)". That's UUCP. Setting up a mail/web server that receives a mail with text followed by uuencoded images and posts that to a blog if and only if there's a password in the header or subject sounds like a 50-line perl script.

However, you don't say that you get to take your own computer along; if you can't do that a lot of your options are shot.

Socially? My advice: live with it. Make a website later. Make the most of the cruise, spend time on your homework^Wcabinwork. OK I'm extrapolating, I know Internet access at sea is extremely expensive and that that's probably the reason for the restrictions, but it probably isn't a good idea to spend time circumventing your Internet restrictions to update your blog while the guys who devised said restrictions to get you weaned off your Internet addiction are wondering why you're not socializing ;-)

Wireless the oldschool way (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26435847)

Amateur radio ticket + HF QRP Rig + TNC + Dipole + Ocean = RTTY and AMTOR all night.

Innovative methods? Old ones work best (1)

doktorstop (725614) | more than 5 years ago | (#26435863)

A data transfer protocol described numerous times...
send messages in a bottle! Seems to work, search Slashdot for rubberduck stories!

Try pen, paper, and the postal carrier (1)

CHK6 (583097) | more than 5 years ago | (#26435873)

The only thing the pen and paper can't do is update your contacts in speedy fashion. Other than that you can send lengthy letters and include pictures. Imagine that, non-digital communication. And best of all sending hand written letters to friends and family from foreign ports is much cooler. And they are more likely to read what you have to say and you are more likely to actually address specific people directly. The horror of having to directly communicate with someone and not just a general audience.

sailmail over HF (4, Informative)

sammyo (166904) | more than 5 years ago | (#26435915)

There is a free email option. It requires a HAM license (note: morse code is not required anymore) and a SSB transmiter and a hundred foot antenna. A good SSB unit is around a thousand bucks.

It is only for text based non-commercial emails but functions anywhere (under most weather conditions).

Doesn't sound like a solution for a students desire to surf the web for free anywhere/anytime but email is available and pervasive just about anywhere.

E-mail/Connectivity at sea (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26435917)

Well.....

I'm probably going to get laughed at, but so what. This is /. ....

If you are using a GUI-based system, you have no chance in Hell of trying to stay within the time constraints. Pictures are large, no matter what compression scheme you are going to use. T-mobile is expensive. Satellite is even more expensive (last I checked, it was about USD 10.00/Min).

Get a text-based e-mail (mail in *NIX). That sends EVERYTHING in ascii. Nice and small, but picture attachments are still HUGE, especially if you have a high-res camera. If you have the skilz, go with a *NIX OS and cron the e-mail to send after you update your blog file locally (grab the copy and send it every other day or so. For the big stuff, run into the Internet Cafe at what ever port you are in and send the pics off of a thumb drive. ...my $0.02...

Well, the easy answer would be (1)

hey! (33014) | more than 5 years ago | (#26435923)

rental a satellite phone or satellite terminal.

I think you can find a satellite terminal for about $10/day and $7 or so per MB. So let's say you are at sea for eight weeks, or 56 days. Assuming about $20/day (a bit more than 1MB per day), it's going to cost about $1,120, which isn't bad at all if it really is important to you. I imagine business is bad so you might be able to talk them down for publicity purposes.

Other solutions probably take more time than you want to spend. The obvious one would be to get your Ham license. It'd take time, cost about the same, but then you'd have your license and the related equipment. Alternatively, I've looked at self-contained container tracking units that have a limited telemetry transmission capability. Imagine sending your data as a series of SMS messages spaced apart every ten minutes or so. That's enough to update your blog, but you aren't going to be able send anything but the lowest res pictures in less than a day.

You could probably find a satphone rental for less money, which is intermediate in cost and capacity. You can send data at something like 2KBaud, but you'll have to work the details to see whether you come out ahead for your planned transmissions.

Pull out the guns (1)

nwssa (993577) | more than 5 years ago | (#26435949)

With such short Internet allotment the guys running the ship are asking for trouble. It will be a war out there - somebody someday will be running Denial of Service (Dos) attacks to knock others off. Do this for a couple of weeks and nobody will want to waste their time signing up for Internet time.

Here be Pirates.

One more thing (1)

areusche (1297613) | more than 5 years ago | (#26435961)

Get a flash drive and download Portable firefox. With that you can run adblock, noscript, and all of the other wonderful firefox extensions you like. Make sure you turn off images as well. You can definitely get a TON of internet browsing using only text.

interesting concept (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26435963)

internet through email proxy. i wonder if instructions exist on how to set this up yourself so these operators aren't monitoring everything you do.

also many of the sites listed are very (very) old.

Just cut one of those large cables/pipelines... (2, Funny)

Nine Dice (907451) | more than 5 years ago | (#26436007)

and you will have enough Internet spewing all over the place for everyone!

A crazy idea that just might work. (1)

john.picard (1440397) | more than 5 years ago | (#26436015)

Let's see if I understand you correctly on the email thing, putting aside the 100 minutes of regular Internet access. The way it sounds, you can send and receive an unlimited amount of email messages, so long as each message is under one megabyte in size. It also sounds like this is probably not a web-based email, because if it were, you could access the rest of the web. So this is what you should do if you have some time available to you prior to the commencement of this voyage. You should hack up a tun device that sends each packet as a single email message to a specified email address, or converts an email message received from this address back into a packet. Then you run OpenVPN and have it use this hacked tun device. You set up a computer at your or someone's home and in addition to running this tun device and OpenVPN on it, you also install packet forwarding rules that NAT the "normal" interface over to the tun interface. You set up OpenVPN accordingly on your laptop. It will probably be very slow, but the advantages are that you will have an unlimited amount of access through this system, and you will be able to access any part of the Internet through this system that you would be able to access from your home. And if it works, it would make a good magazine article for Linux Journal, too.

You're Missing the Point (4, Insightful)

likerice (1046554) | more than 5 years ago | (#26436021)

The severing of your electronic tethers is a luxury not to be taken lightly, my friend. Relax and enjoy the ocean breeze and various ports of call.

Sailblogs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26436025)

You might want to check out sailblogs. It allows you to blog with a few nice travel related extras such as your gps location if that info is available to you, and I think it's pretty friendly to limited bandwidth issues.

BGAN (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26436027)

as a professional captain,
a personal bgan terminal is around $1000
it does work under way at sea, just needs a little alignment when the ship moves.
then all the broadband you want. for $6/Mb.
the ship is probably using similar connections (sold as FleetBroadband with a stabilized antenna) all run by inmarsat, they're just paying the bulk rate, which works out to around $3/Mb instead.

or you could spend your time with a captive audience of college girls by the pool.

I'd go for option #2

Stallman has a method (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26436049)

Richard Stallman has already figured out how to surf the web via email:

"For personal reasons, I do not browse the web from my computer. (I also have not net connection much of the time.) To look at page I
send mail to a demon which runs wget and mails the page back to me. It is very efficient use of my time, but it is slow in real time."

http://lwn.net/Articles/262570/

download it all (1)

penguinbroker (1000903) | more than 5 years ago | (#26436069)

instead of fetching wiki pages throughout the trip you should consider downloading the entire site onto your laptop. the content won't be up to date but for the most part it won't be that outdated either. i believe the entire corpus is under 5 gigs.

Maintaining a blog (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26436097)

I can't help with the majority of your question but as far as maintaining a blog, look into Posterous, really easy to set up an account and you can update it through email as well as have it automatically forward your updates to other various services.

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