Tech Savvy: Takin' care of business
Hey there Tech Savvy fans! This week I wanted to give an update on some of the things I’ve been using for my iPad that help me stay up to speed with my work when I’m out of the office. I’ve got a business trip coming up and as I’m preparing for it I am finding myself reviewing some of my apps and accessories to make sure I can both travel light and have what I need to stay connected.
First on my list is still my Brydge+ keyboard. This Bluetooth enabled-keyboard and integrated speaker system really changed how I used my iPad. The added functionality of having a good-sized keyboard was something I didn’t really realize I had missed until I got my Brydge+. Having this makes it really easy to type, work on my projects, and have it support itself on a table without goofy gimmicks. I also really like how it is constructed out of aircraft-grade aluminum; it makes air travel feel much more secure for my expensive gadgets.
There are other keyboard options out there, but I honestly think this is still one of the better options out there right now. They are also compatible with multiple models of iPad, so there is some flexibility in there. If you haven’t checked them out yet … here you go: www.thebrydge.com.
The cloud is the second vital component of my out-of-office gear. I keep telling people that if you had asked me a year ago if I would consider using the cloud as a replacement for my laptop and external hard drives I would have laughed and said no way. If you asked me today, I’d tell you that I haven’t used my laptop in about nine months and I haven’t carried external hard drives around with me for about the same amount of time.
What changed my mind you ask? Everything. The long story short is the cloud services like Dropbox, Google Drive and Box have made amazing strides to make their products better and more importantly, arguably, found more ways we can integrate them into our lives.
For project collaboration, presentations, data storage and picture holding my cloud programs are the next best thing since sliced bread. I actually use the three main ones — Google Drive, Dropbox and Box, in about that order, and I have found that not only is it convenient, but they are also helping me stay organized. Wait, me organized? Yep, that’s right! See, most cloud services offer free and paid services, just like anything these days, and how they regulate that is in the storage space you’re allowed to use. Once you exceed that amount you have to either upgrade or remove files.
I purposefully didn’t upgrade all my accounts and I keep my transitional projects and files in the ones with the lowest limits. That way, I am constantly reviewing what is in those folders so I don’t exceed my limit and therefore reviewing my projects almost daily so I keep everything fresh in my mind. You don’t need to dive in with this, and I would encourage anyone who is interested to test the waters by using one and seeing what you think.
Quickoffice Pro HD is an app for my iPad that has been indispensable when I’ve been on the road. It is basically an office suite that works on my iPad. It has word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, everything you’re used to,.It is also compatible with Microsoft Office programs and . . . (drum roll) it can sync with your cloud drives. What this allows me to do is to use the same file format from my PC to my Mac to my iPad, without having to convert files and having everything with me wherever I go.
It is not the only office app out there, and at $19.99 it may seem a little steep. That being said, it has worked flawlessly and — if this is a case of you get what you pay for — I have no ill feelings for forking over $20 to know it will work. One other neat feature is you can sync multiple cloud accounts to it. So if you have a personal Google Drive account and a Dropbox account, you can sync them all. Even if you have two Dropbox accounts you can sync both of those, too.
My phone is still my go to daily “away-from-my-desk” tool. If I’m not at my desk, most folks know I can be reached on my phone, usually via text.
Not only is it a communication tool, but I have also found it is easier for me to take and share pictures with my phone, whether it is work related or personal, and it is far more convenient to do with my phone rather than my iPad. My phone has also eliminated some other things from my packing bag I brought historically — a camera, notepad, CD or MP3 player, etc. Now my phone is my hub for my daily life.
Power. The downside to my smart devices is they aren’t so smart when it comes to conserving their battery. And it’s not just me; this is across the board and has been the case ever since the first iPhone was released. What this power dilemma does is force us to carry chargers or cables with us or never leave our homes. Thankfully, in the last couple years, portable power technology has made great strides and now we have some better options.
One I reviewed was the Eton BoostTurbine 2000, a portable power block that allows you to recharge your mobile devices. If you recall, the one unique feature about this device was in addition to the standard charging method, you can also use the built-in hand crank to recharge the power supply.
Most recently I used this device during Lakes Jam at Brainerd International Raceway when I was working with Great White. Because we were on the move all day I did not have a chance to get to a regular power supply. The Eton BoostTurbine 2000 kept my phone charged from 7 a.m. Saturday to 2 a.m. Sunday with no problem. That was with a day of taking photos, video, texting, web browsing and some serious social media.
The BoostTurbine will be making my business trip with me, it is perfect for traveling and will also be coming with when my family goes camping … that hand crank should keep the kids busy during the car ride … good old-fashioned family fun! (www.etoncorp.com)
FinderCodes are something new I just wrote about a couple weeks ago, but they definitely deserve a mention again here. If you didn’t catch my initial review, they are tags bundled with software people can use to help identify lost items and increase the chances of finding them. The basics are they use QR codes, or unique ID numbers, to label your property and if you lose it you can use the mobile app or the website to identify it as lost.
When someone finds your lost property and they scan the QR code or enter your ID online, a notice will be sent to your email and a text to your phone notifying you someone has entered that information. The cool thing about FinderCodes is they also have an option where you can pre-arrange the return of your property through FedEx and also offer a reward if you would like.
I’m planning on using them on my next business trip coming up soon, but I may have to rethink that one ... rumor has it that the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) isn’t too keen on people leaving abandoned items around the terminals … maybe I’ll try leaving something in a park instead. (www.findercodes.com)
All in all there are a lot of great products out there that can make travel and being out of the office that much easier, and there are new ones all the time. I would ask, please, if you have found something that has made your lives easier let me know. I’d love to hear what great time-savers you have found.