Originally Posted by zdgp
I understand that you can use your own laptop on the ship. How difficult is this, and how much does it cost? Is security a concern? What equipment must I have with my laptop in order for it work? (I don't want to lug it along only to find that I can't use it.)
The per minute charge when using the ship's terminals is high, and I would never access something like my brokerage account from a public terminal. I have used it for E mail only.
The cost for wireless Internet on HAL is .75/minute. You can buy packages that bring this cost down.
100 minutes for $55 or .55/minute or 250 minutes for $100 or .40/minute.
For your laptop to work you only need it to be wireless compatible, i.e. wireless card or integrated wireless adapter. You will also need to be able to connect to their network (instructions are available in the Internet Cafe).
To keep costs down I suggest you use a Webmail service. If you email provider has a web interface that you can check mail then that is much more cost efficient than downloading all your mail to Outlook. It takes time to download email. Check your providers website for "Webmail" to see if this is offered. Almost all major mail systems have a webmail interface.
In terms of security I would keep your Window Firewall or other firewall system turned on and try to stay away from sensitive areas such as banking or financial services. (If you are familiar with setting your security settings you can but otherwise you may not want to.) I do check my finances and pay bills online but I have a fairly good understanding of security.
I also suggest not running any programs you don't absolutely need. Such as; Weatherbug, stock ticker, or online updates to Windows or your anti virus. If these kick off you will go to a crawl and eat up minutes and money.
One other thing that can help in terms of not using up minutes is to go online at "off hours". The ship has only so much bandwidth available and in the morning and afternoon everyone is online and the response time is slower. You are charged your per minute charge even if you are waiting for a page to download, so slow response time will eat up your minutes like popcorn. Go online in the late evening: After 9:00 p.m. or before breakfast in order to get the fastest times. I like to go online around 1:00 a.m. but for most people that isn't convenient.
Overall, it's really quite easy but you need to be conscious of you per/minute usage.