Tools I Use: Laptop

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I have no desktop computer. Why would I own desktop computer when I work remotely all the time?

I have no tablet. Why do I need another screen/device that does less than my laptop and/or my phone?

A computer should follow me where ever I go. Not the other way around.

In December 2014, I bought a 13 inch MacBook Air. Yes, it’s a Apple product. It is very light and easy to use.  It suits every purpose I need as a computer and its the only computer I use.

The best part is the battery life: 12 hours. Really. That is what I call freedom. Use it anywhere. For a long time.

As part of “work-life balance”, when I work the computer battery down to 1%, it is time to do something else. Network. Eat. Sleep. Recharge physically, mentally and electronically.

Since we are never off nowadays, I have my phone.

Looking forward to the next model of the MacBook Air for my wife who wants a larger screen on her computer.

Questions?

Tools I Use: to test bandwidth

I work remotely quite often and I am traveling away from home up to 90 days per year.

Whenever I am in a new work environment, whether it is a client’s office, a co-working space, a coffee shop or wherever, I test the internet speeds to see what is available. This is better than assuming speeds before I start working.

http://speedtest.net is a free online service that measures the bandwidth (speed) and latency (time delay) of your internet connection.

Using this site is a good practice before using any hardline connection or wifi. This is especially good before a video conference call or uploading some new audio podcast files since both could be taxing on the internet bandwidth available as well as anyone’s level of patience.

Remember the speeds slower than 56k? I do. I also remember transferring digital photos for print publications back to the office on a daily basis via 56k. Not fun. Luckily, those days are over.

I recently went to a co-working space only to find 8 Mbps for upload and download speeds. That sounds reasonable until we factored in all the people who needed to do different video conferencing sessions where a clear video feed was critical to seeing the human-computer interactions (UX) being measured during the interviews.

Most video conferencing I have seen are more talking heads just like newscasts, which provides little to no value and suck up bandwidth for no reason. Unless there is a slide deck to be shared/presented, I commonly shut off the video camera and use ‘audio only’ to get clearer audio, where the value comes from anyhow. I don’t need to see someone to understand them. If they have a thick accent, it is actually easier to understand them by closing your eyes and focus on what is said. Try it and hear it yourself.

Questions?

Tools I Use: One Phone

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I only have one phone. Yes, one (1) mobile phone. It simplifies life.

No home phone. No one of any value called us at home. Killed off that phone line.

No fax nor telex (that is so last century). No paper to scan either (that’s for another post).

No office phone. If a workplace issues me a phone, I program the office line to automatically forward to my phone. Minutes are not an issue since I have plenty of them.

I am not a slave to a phone nor multiple phones. However, access and simplicity for myself as well as anyone trying to call me (for the immediacy) is key.

I believe that in the 21st century, we have no reason to have multiple phone numbers nor phones. No juggling phones necessary.

Work-life balance

Most mobile phones have caller ID which identifies the caller, often by name. You can either take the call or you will not. That is the balance within your 168 hour week.

I do not need two or more separate devices to determine if it is work-related or not. I have met people that have up to five (5) mobile phones (often executives). Where is the balance there? I call that a juggling act, not a balancing act. Most of these people are dead and not of old age. Simplify your life rather than cluttering it.

It is very simple. One phone number to reach me. Period. If you can’t reach me, you can leave me a voicemail or text me. All to my one phone. I will follow up when I am available.

I accept a very few unscheduled calls from people calling me when it is not a robocall, some other useless call I don’t care about and when I am not on airplane mode working. I will tell you if you are wasting your time and mine very directly. I am really not shy about this. People deserve honesty 100% of the time, even if it bruises their ego (sometimes people mistaken ego for feelings). They’ll live. They deserve to know even if they call me names afterwards. Why? Because few have the courage to do this, so they rarely hear it. This not because people are too nice, but because many are too afraid to offend or have any form of confrontation.  I call it candor. Try it. You really should. With respect. And setting the scene for direction of the conversation with some framing.

Battery life

Many people struggle using a mobile phone charged for the entire day. That is the top buying criteria when I get a mobile phone. It lasts all day, or I don’t buy it. I am not blind (yet) so I don’t need a big screen. I know how to dim my screen to save battery life. I put my phone on airplane mode when I am in meetings that don’t require internet access. I am conscious of what apps suck battery life. All cars I ride/drive in have a phone charger, and I carry a phone charger with my laptop just in case. Be prepared.

Mobile hotspot

My mobile phone has the option to be a mobile hotspot to provide my laptop a wifi connection from anywhere I have mobile phone connection. I am not one to go off grid even if I were to go camping like I did when I was Boy Scout. This hotspot feature has proven invaluable many times in case a wifi connection is spotty or if I run into an unreliable ISP.  This is a second option for data which sometimes becomes the only option in order to remain connected  for online collaborative meetings, podcast interviews, webinars or quick email.

Unlimited data plan

In the early days of mobile phones, people talked a lot,m but the mobile phone provider would limit the number of minutes you could call per month. Now our Voice (minutes), Messaging (unlimited) and Data plan should be as close to unlimited as possible. This is a given cost of doing business for any basic or advanced operations today. When you are remote this matters even more. You learn quickly where dodgy spots are and adapt to avoid them.

Global Calls

If I need to call someone across the globe, I either use apps like Google HangoutSkype, Whatsapp or Zoom. Most people I need to speak with know how to use these tools. Otherwise, I use these tools to call their one phone. I am not the only one with just one phone.

Questions?