At Sea Deployment with no Peronal Internet

I’ll frame the problem- I’m on a deployment at sea with the Navy. There are no personal internet options to connect personal devices to on the ship.

There are a few problems my shipmates and I’ve run into:

  • The monthly subscription model requires check ups with various companies on a monthly basis, if not your services stop.
  • The yearly subscriptions aren’t much better. I’ve had Day One, Ulysses, and all my Microsoft Office programs stop working.

I’m fortunate that I brought my MBP too, but even then the subscription model has bit me with Office. Day One is working for the moment, but Ulysses has decided I’m not a paying customer.

In hindsight I should have asked the collective-

Is there a way to avoid all of this hassle?

Could I, and all of my shipmates, have found a way to keep our apps and services running smoothly while out condunducting the country’s business without personal internet connections?

What are some suggestions for next time?

Thanks much!

Perhaps find a way to send a rather pointed letter/email to all the companies involved asking for how to fix this IMMEDIATELY? Probably won’t work but at least it might make you feel a little better.

For the MS Office issue, if you can get any sort of access even for a while you can download LibreOffice which is free, open source and can read and write MS Office file types.

For Day One, perhaps a script that lets you create a text file diary entry you save for later and upload to Day one eventually?

Sorry I can’t be of more assistance.

When you are in port would it possible to find a trust worthy WiFi cafe, connect to the internet and open those apps to get that communication between the apps and servers? Maybe get a mobile hotspot that works globally from AT&T it T-Mobile and use that to connect online when in port, might be a little safer.

I had issues like this, no personal internet, waaaaay back in 2010ish when I was on a M.E.U. It was back when Steam had just started getting big and I tired for hours to download a game from the USO that was at the port we docked at. It didn’t end up working.

A strongly-worded email won’t get you anywhere with Ulysses, let alone Microsoft.

If you have cellphone service you can at least use Ulysses on an iPhone to update subscription sync info in iCloud. And if you have even 2G phone service then depending on the service of your cellular provider you could use any phone as a hotspot for your Mac to quickly launch the apps, let them log into iCloud, and renew your subscription tokens.

Depends, coming from a deployed sailor in the midst of a pandemic it’s exactly the situation that the TPTB like to bump up the chain and actually fix for the PR if nothing else. It can’t hurt and might actually help.

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That’s the sort of thing I’d be inclined to place a wager on. :moneybag: Especially when dealing with Max at Ulysses.

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I don’t know Max and I don’t use Ulysses at all so I’l defer to your opinion on that. But in spite of my avoidance of everything Microsoft I do know that on occasion they will pick some poster child type cause and make real changes. It’s all for their benefit of course but it might also actually help the person making the request. It’s a total crap shot but IMO worth a try on the very slim chance it might work.

There’s no “fix” when it’s clear, pandemic or not, that anyone deployed without WiFi access for 30+ days is in this situation, that users agreed beforehand to the terms, and that this restriction has been in place literally for years.

I suggest writing to at least a couple of the vendors and/or Daring Fireball, Six Colors, 9to5Mac and other key Apple blogs, to get the message out that vendors need to fix this problem.

Perhaps @MacSparky and @ismh would mention this on an episode to boost visibility as well.

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Isn’t enabling auto pay and make sure your credit card is valid for at least a year sufficient?

Sure there is, 1 quick way would be for the companies involved to automatically set everything ok on their site for deployed service people.

Another is to change how things are done, instead of software “phoning home” to check for validity turn it around and shut off when bill isn’t paid. Sure you could potentially never connect to the internet and keep using said SW package for far longer but realistically how many people would do that? A shut off not a phone home option would solve the problem.

Those are just 2 options I can think of right off the bat, I am sure there are other ways to accomplish the same thing.

The point is that these conditions have existed for many years and the companies that are protecting against misuse decided to code protection for x number of days offline, consumers agreed, and these conditions did not stunningly surface in early 2020; users without extended internet access have always had this restriction. Indeed, Apple similarly has restrictions on access to downloaded Apple Music and iTunes Movie content - want to petition them to keep your music offline for longer? Try and see what happens. Just because a company can theoretically bend over backwards doesn’t mean they would, that anyone wanting it is somehow in the right, that’s it’s something broken, or that there’s a moral issue of right and wrong. It’s an inconvenience, but one agreed to by people who license software and music and movies. The fact that we’ve had these agreements/restrictions in place speak to the substantial unlikelihood that anything will change now, no matter how much it is an inconvenience for some. :man_shrugging:

The fact that it’s in an EULA or contract doesn’t inherently mean it’s legal and/or enforceable. This one might well be (I’m definitely not a lawyer!), but it would be worth poking / prodding.

Either way, if you paid for a yearly subscription to something, it at least feels slimy for a company to deny you service for any reason in the middle of that year. Shouldn’t be that big of a deal for their software to understand that it’s active until “date X”, and act accordingly.

I believe you. :grinning: ‘Click-wrap’ license agreements have been found to be legally binding and enforceable yet nothing is written in stone so nothing is stopping anyone from trying to find a lawyer to work on contingency to press class-action suits against Microsoft, or Apple, or Ulysses, or a hundred different makers of audio plugins that also require their apps to periodically phone home to insure use continues to be legitimate. Go for it! BackBlaze sets a 30-day period for logging into their servers before they delete backups; don’t like that agreement previously agreed to? Sue 'em too!

However I think companies are on pretty firm ground having clearly articulated requirements that users follow simple ways (simple for the vast majority of people most of the time) to establish that licensed software products remains legitimately in use. Courts have sympathetically considered ‘click-wrap’ agreements compared to earlier, legally problematic shrink-wrap licenses that users didn’t see until they took home software and opened the boxes. (The Olden Days.) Without getting into a dense legal argument I’ll just point out that with respect to this specific thread the OP knew about the 30-day phone-home requirement, and was simply trying to find a way to perform it.

Just another reason not not to use web apps or subscription services when viable alternatives exist. Simple as that really.

It’s a pretty sh*tty practice that’s for sure, I do use some subscription apps but nothing that’s “mission critical” nor would I.

This is a good point.

A couple of years ago I was pissed off with Adobe, that forced me to update my expired Credit Card information to continue using their photography plan, prepaid for other six months or so.

Anyway this behaviour (unfair, if you ask me) might not be against laws and regulations (not to mention the mess in jurisdictions with the internet, were contractual parties may well be scattered around the world).

Sadly, none of this can help the OP. It might be useful for the next pandemic…

I‘m a former polar researcher converted into a developer. Some years ago, I was working for a popular Mac reference management app. When subscriptions were added, I was arguing heavily to have relaxed rules of license enforcement, precisely for cases like described in this thread. But unfortunately, it was considered an edge case back then.

In all academic disciplines which rely on field research, elongated field trips with no or only sparse internet access aren’t uncommon. When I was on a 2.5 month research expedition to Antarctica, there was no internet access (except sending emails w/o attachments via the ship’s satellite connection which you had to pay for). What makes things worse, these field trips are also very important times for researchers to work on their data and academic papers. I.e., they definitely require their apps to work reliably during this time.

For these reasons, I’ve personally decided to prefer native apps that are payed with a one-off license and which don’t rely on a web service in order to function properly. For the same reasons, I’ve decided to always offer one-off licenses for the app that I’m developing (which targets academic customers).


This is the conclusion I’m settling on.

It seems painful since I’ve built my electronic life on app some of these apps.

But, I suppose it’s an opportunity to simplify my app catalogue and file structure.

That would be the plan…but the pandemic.