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Ten feet to my left the Rio Grand flows with gentle consistent grace. I'm shaded by tall trees and am kept from total solitude by small land animals, birds, and butterflies moving around me. The air is warm and dry and the smell of the flowing water is fresh in the air. Miles from even the faintest cellular reception, a constant breeze keeps me cool with a laptop on my lap wirelessly connected to a two way satellite communication system housed in a hacienda twenty feet behind me. This is my office and it's available to me because I live in the 21st century.

Possibly one of the greatest benefits of the 21st century is the freedom its technology provides. If your work does not require a physical presence (and if you think it does, you may find, after consideration, that in the modern world it does not), with simple and established technology you can be anywhere on the planet and operate with all the flexibility of being in an office. This article discusses two technologies than can enable rural living and vacationing.

High speed Internet access is now available almost anywhere with two way satellite systems. This complex system is no harder to install and use than a DSL connection. The system incorporates a dish style satellite transceiver generally only slightly larger than a satellite TV receiver. Using the satellite Internet connection is no different than using any other high speed connection and, unlike residential satellite equipment of the past, this works through storms. There are many satellite options, so check with your IT provider.

Rural living provides limited access to repair and shipping facilities and encourages an outdoor presence, so you'll be happiest and most at ease if you obtain a computer that is rugged, intended for outdoor use, has a screen readable in sunlight, and will not need to be repaired if dropped. To find the most "rural friendly" computer, here are tips: 1.) Look for a modular computer. A modular computer means that you can remove components that fail without the entire computer becoming unusable. Most importantly look for a DVD drive that can be removed and replaced by you if it fails and make sure that the warranty covers module replacement without the entire computer being sent in for service. 2.) Look for computers that are bolted instead of snapped together. You can generally tell by examining the case for screws. If you find little or none, then then the computer is snapped or glued together and is not strong. 3.) Look for computers with outdoor screens. Computers without outdoor readable screens have screens that appear dark under sunlight. If you're using the computer for photography, then also look for monitors that are at least 450 nits bright and have antireflective coatings. This will provide great color and allow for the best work even in sunlight.

The 21st century brings us new technology that enables more comfortable living and, most significantly, freedom.
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