the bane of my existence….

If you guessed that the bane of my existence on this 8-month pet photography road trip was sleeping in uncomfortable beds, guess again. If you would say it’s having to drive long distances, not at all. If you wonder that it’s maybe having to use public toilets everywhere I go, not a problem.

It’s high-speed internet, or rather- the utter lack thereof.

I miss having my super fast high-speed 5GHz network on my Apple airport extreme base station like nothing else I had back in Seattle. I almost miss it more than family and friends. In fact, I love you guys, but I DO miss it more than family and friends!

I realize now that having the luxury of full time, super fast, truly high-speed internet whenever and wherever I wanted back home was a luxury that I completely took for granted.

Now in the motels and hotels I’m staying at, my internet access is slow and unstable at best, and impossible at worst.

I DO have a little MiFi box (called a ‘Unite’), from AT&T, that I’m paying $185 per month for for 20Gb of shared data between the box and my iPhone 5. The problem is my profession, and my personal needs. I do a lot of uploads and downloads, and updates, and anytime I try and do any of those with my AT&T plan, it eats through my monthly GB so fast it’s just not feasible. Below is where I’m currently at after ‘accidentally’ spending 20-minutes trying to download a Lightroom update yesterday through my AT&T data plan, a download that would have taken nearly 24 hours. I went from 17GB of use to 19GB in those 20 minutes. Sigh…


Although, I do have to say that the AT&T 4G wireless speeds are pretty damn fast, even on my MacBook Pro. Below is the difference between the AT&T network, and the one at a recent hotel.

Screenshot 2014-04-07 11.11.53
AT&T 4G network speeds through the little MiFi box. Not too bad.
Screenshot 2014-04-07 11.28.13
The hotel’s network speeds. Can you say dial-up?

I do A LOT of work with Google maps on this trip, both on my laptop and my phone. Even using the old Google Classic (the new Google maps is too slow to use at all), this is what I see much of the time. It makes me want to tear my hair out…

Screenshot 2014-04-09 11.54.36
What I often see when I use Google maps.

I need to use Google maps every week when planning upcoming lodging, researching places for photo and mentoring sessions, and figuring out what’s around me. This process has been incredibly time-consuming, and I estimate I’ve been spending at least 20 hours per week just researching locations.

Then, when it comes to working with clients, I can’t even get their images to load in their galleries. Below those are supposed to be thumbnails where you see the little ’23’. What would have taken seconds back home, takes minutes on this trip. Minutes add up quickly!

Screenshot 2014-04-09 13.17.10
Where are the thumbnails? Sighhhh….

The only way I can upload or download images, do software and app updates, download or upload PDF files or any other file, and do blog posts that don’t take absolutely forever, is if I’m using the WiFi at a public place like a Starbucks or library. I’m in my motel room right now, and yes, this blog post has taken forever.

I also haven’t been able to send emails from my iPhone, because I’ve been getting ‘server rejected the email address’ error messages, and haven’t been able to troubleshoot the answer. So emails, uploads, blog posts, downloads, and updates have been very challenging on this trip. Oh, you know, just a very big part of my overall workload!

This has become a very serious problem, and it is affecting my work greatly unfortunately.

The only solution I have come up with is to have multiple, regularly scheduled days each week at a local Starbucks or other free Wifi cafe for several hours at a time. This is easier said than done, because I’m usually staying on the outskirts of cities in industrial areas where there really isn’t anything around except warehouses and airports, so it may take me 20 minutes each way to get to the nearest place where I can work. (Ha ha, I just tried to spell warehouses wrong, and my browser tried to auto-correct it to ‘whorehouses’. Yes, I suppose there have been those around me too. Do they have free high-speed wireless internet at whorehouses??).

I also hate leaving Fergie crated for hours at a time every day, and with my coffee shop work needs and session needs, it may become inevitable, which is not what this trip is about- crating my dog every day- this is time I want to be spending together- this trip is as much for her as it is for me. As the weather gets nicer and I start getting away from the rains, hopefully I can start bringing her with me to these cafes, and we can work together outside. She loves laying in the sunshine, so hopefully she’ll be ok with this.

I’m incredibly grateful that so far I’ve had very patient, very understanding clients, and I hope and pray that I continue to.

I’m also hopeful that within the next couple of weeks I’ll come up with a new system, and be able to have my workload under control.

For clients- both photo shoot and photographer clients- who are currently working with me, or will be soon, thank you so much for your continued patience. I will get this system down if it kills me, and after my trip I may just need to move to a place that has FIOS, because that’s all I can think about these days. 🙂

-Jamie Piper

Find me on Instagram @Cowbelly, and Fergie on Instagram at @MissMonkeyPants

2 thoughts on “the bane of my existence….

  1. Jamie, you can move to Austin. We will have google fiber here real soon!

  2. Most McDonald’s have free Wi-Fi and there are a lot more of them around than Starbucks.

    Good luck!

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