Tech advice for crew

Cateogry
Article read time
4 minutes
Cateogry
4 minutes

Overview

Get general IT tech advice with useful tips, cost-saving and time-saving advice that will help you perform your daily duties.
Documentation

Documentation

Document wiring and more and you'll be in good shape if issues arise
Protect data

Protect data

Give minimum access to ensure your data is protected
Future planning

Future planning

Plan for the future and you'll save yourself money and a headache

Whether you’re a Captain, Engineer, ETO or Electrician – it often falls within your remit to ensure that the technical components of the yacht are working.  Owners and guests don’t care how internet and video streaming services work – expectations are that they are easy to use and work well.

We put our heads together and came up with a quick list to help you turn your technical nightmare into something a little more manageable.

When it comes to tech stuff, you’ll often need to think outside of the [computer] box.  Things you can see on-screen are often controlled by many other intermediately devices.  Take email for example – how does that new email really find you and the right inbox?  It’s not down to magic or luck – it’s a sophisticated relay of routing, satellite connections, cabling, routers, switches, servers, and wireless devices.  Ask yourself questions about your infrastructure, explore dark corners of the yacht and prepare for issues – if you do, you’ll stay a step ahead if things go wrong. [1]

Wires, wires, wires

Wires can be your worst enemy – take time to explore the dark cupboards and bulk heads to ensure you have a “map” of wires.  Create a simple diagram of equipment and connectivity, what it’s connected to and what it’s used for – this will help when troubleshooting connectivity issues.  It’s often best to undergo such discovery during a large amount of downtime (in a dry dock or shipyard for example).

Following wires through walls and ceilings is a difficult task to undertake alone.  Do yourself a favour and grab a workmate and invest in a simple network tester.[2]  Network testers allow you to plug in a wire at one end and will flash when you find the end of the corresponding wire. [3]  Initially, create a hand-drawn diagram of the connections (if you decide to get a little fancier, try our 3D PowerPoint drawings). [4]

Network diagram example

Protect confidential data

Do you have a routine when crew are dismissed or leave employment?  Crew members will often take a copy of files and emails before leaving the yacht for good.  Disabling USB drives and access to private file areas will help keep data under [digital] lock and key and help protect your assets.  Remember to disable a user’s email account when they clock out for the final time. [5]

User access control

Control access to your valuable resources by locking down things that users (crew and visitors) don’t use.

Physical access

Server rack access, Crestron, Kaleidescape and other entertainment systems should be under lock and key where possible.  Accidental removal of cabling from these items can cause a big headache – labeling cables and making a note of which port they plug into will save you hours (and even days) of laborious work.

List which users can access these resources. It’s also a good idea to create a shareable time sheet that can be updated when resources are accessed – allowing you to quickly find the person responsible if required.

Digital access

Access to confidential information, accounts, emails and other digital resources are normally controlled by a server. It’s possible to group users – management, crew and accounts for example. Give crew the absolute bare minimum access – preventing installation of software on computers can increase network security and even decrease bandwidth (torrenting movies can be a big cause of bandwidth resources).

Plan for the future, not the present

It’s easy to concentrate on what the yacht requires today but not planning for the future will trip you up.  When considering upgrades think about what may change – perhaps the hard drive space you are using on the server today will double in the next few years?  Use the best cabling, equipment and suppliers available for your budget – future proofing matters.

Consult an industry expert

Although the technology infrastructure on your yacht is similar to a shore based business – consulting with a technology expert that has experience in the marine industry is essential in getting you started (and continuing) on the right track.  Choose a provider that is trusted in the industry by reading reviews and ensure that their service is backed by technical support.

 

Page references

[1] Disaster recovery and planning should be prepared by an external company to ensure correct continuity.

[2] Ensure that the network tester has 2 parts and is capable of testing CAT5 Ethernet (if your infrastructure has CAT6, also ensure that this standard is covered).

[3] This is not quite as simple as it sounds – you may have to ensure that other cables are not plugged into devices that give a false positive such as switches, routers and power sources.

[4] 3D PowerPoint drawing is the creation of Azuz IT but may be used freely for your work.  If adding to your website, please add a link to the original URL on our website.

[5] Note that disabling a user account on certain server systems will mark an account for deletion.  You should make a backup of the users’ emails and files before disabling an account.

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