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Bring an IT person on your next cruise

Technology company can fix your computer problems, even when you’re at sea

Technology company can fix your computer problems, even when you’re at sea

Imagine, as you’re cruising the Caribbean islands, you log on to check your e-mail and your computer freezes. Who are you going to call? A Massachusetts company says the ideal solution is online tech support.

Daniel Barnes two years ago launched a support system that uses the Internet to access computers. A mariner experiencing computer problems can log onto . Providing the problem isn’t in the hardware, a technician from Minuteman Support Services works on the computer over the Internet. The company is targeting boaters, as well as several niche markets that also rely on wireless Internet connections, like RV owners and truckers.

“The boating industry really appealed to us,” says founder Daniel Barnes. “If they’re on the open water and they need computer support, we’re the ideal solution.”

Barnes, who is a veteran of tech support, says he developed the concept two years ago. He says he recognized that the boon in wifi technology allows people to access the Web from remote locations, but there weren’t ample support services. He launched Minuteman a year ago.

Here’s how the service works. A customer logs on to the Web site and fills out a form. A technician replies and, with the customer’s permission, remotely accesses the computer. The technician literally takes over the mouse and keyboard, working on the computer as if on the boat, says Barnes.

The boater pays with a credit card or PayPal, a secure online payment service. The service is charged on a per-call basis and costs $35 per half-hour. There is no membership fee.

Barnes says the company can also do routine maintenance and, in some cases, can provide on-site service. The company, for example, offers a cleanup package for $235 that identifies and disposes of viruses, uninstalls duplicate programs and damaged applications, fixes security patches and other tasks to maximize computer performance.

Barnes, who was most recently manager of the national help desk at Pegasus, says he plans to expand his network of technicians. Since it’s an Internet-based service, technicians can work from anywhere in the nation.