Dan the tan man in the van


I’ve owned more vans than any other vehicle type:  three vans in my Seattle years, used mostly for moving musical gear around (I used to transport a Hammond B3, Fender Rhodes and various synthesizers and speaker cabs). I’ve toured a lot in all these vans. But even back in high school people used to call me “Dan the tan man in the van” after I returned to Anchorage from our annual family trip to Maui. I drove my parent’s Dodge van at the time. Toward the end of high school my dad bought the first generation Chrylser mini van. Daniel the vaniel-holic.

Fast forward to 2009 and I find myself working out of my 2003 VW Eurovan, using a small coffe cup power inverter, my laptop and an AT&T mobile internet dongle. Between the Olmstead Parks, Lake Union and a few other favorite spots I’ve stumbled upon an ideal work scenario. I’m able to meet with people and retreat immediately to a working office and living space that I enjoy. I’ve held a few one-on-one meetings in the van and people love it. Work on wheels.

One unexpected nomadic work observation: it’s hard to find free wireless in Seattle. Unless I’m missing all the known spots, coffee house wireless is unreliable or exceptionally slow. A few times I’ve lucked into a nice coffee shop session, but for the most part I haven’t found it to be a reliable way to work online. Between slow or flaky wireless (some places boot you after 30 minutes), unpredictable patrons, interruptions and milking a drink for wireless I decided to take the show on the road. I figured that in a mobile van office it would be easy to find a few go-to places in town where I could jump on an open network. I spent days driving around to parks or areas of town I like and in most cases I found TONS of networks, but all were mostly locked down. Those that weren’t usually had a weak signal or somehow didn’t work. What ever happened to the “future”!

This is a long way of saying I suggest nomadic nerds make the $60/mo investment in mobile wireless from one of the big carries. Not super zippy, but it’s reliable and allows you to go most anywhere in town. We’ll see how well this works when the winter months roll around, but I like touring in the van at the moment. If things work out I can extend my given title to Dan the tan man with a plan or some such thing.

One thought on “Dan the tan man in the van

  1. Hey – Do what myself and wife did. Buy an export Wifi radio (about 35USD) and use it with a parabolic reflector. We get Wifi signals from shopping malls, bookstores, coffeehouses etc…and never have to go closer than 1 mile or so. Also can use our “home” broadcast Wifi (similar unit) over 6 miles away. We are breaking FCC wattage limits slightly (about 2.5-4 watts) and these devices are externally powered. A little hassle but well worth it in the end. Works here in Texas anywhere we have been, even across the western parts. Just turn on your “net discovery” program and as you go, you see 50+ routers/hotspots in even the smallest of towns. Texas also has free WiFi at the Highway rest areas! If you can find (?) a McDonalds, they all have free WiFi also!
    Peace and good will.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s