August 20th, 2009 No Comments »
In a non-descript building in suburban Tampa, Florida, resides the nexus of Verizon Wireless’s customer experience.
It’s the experience that occurs after the new wireless customer has left the retail showroom, after the first bill has arrived, when a question arises or when it’s time for an upgrade and a live operator must get involved.
It’s an experience handled by one of some 1,200 live operators (CSRs, or customer service representatives, as they’re called) at this six-story building just off a bustling throughway. The wireless carrier’s Florida Customer Service Center handles calls from across the state. The center is one of 24 nationwide, but it’s anything but typical.
And though it’s a call center, don’t come in thinking you’ll see row after row of stereotypical phone banks. Read More »
August 14th, 2009 No Comments »
In the world of computing, seemingly simple mistakes can have devastating consequences.
When we were on Home Office Highway, our technology was subject to all sorts of hazards.
Falls, spills, the heat of an RV all were potential problems. In fact, several times the MSI Wind netbook almost took a fall from the dinette table because RV vibrations set it into motion.
I discovered a simple solution: A few small strips of adhesive-backed silicon stuck to the bottom of the computer. Tacky with the rubbery feel of silicon, they hold the device snug in place.
Such is the premise of Laptop Lifts (www.laptoplifts.com). The product and its creator offer a plethora of PC protections — and lessons in entrepreneurship.
Slippage is just one problem laptops face. Low and close to the table, one spilled drink can soak and fry the device in a flood of fluid. The Laptop Lifts, though, raise the device a mere quarter inch, allowing safe passage for an otherwise disastrous deluge.
August 11th, 2009 No Comments »
Paul Holstein’s summer trips to Europe are a holiday indeed — especially considering how little he has to worry about staying connected during his time away.
This is the second installment of a two-part snapshot offered by the owner of CableOrganizer.com into the must-bring tech that keeps him productive “across the pond” — as if he hadn’t even left his Fort Lauderdale offices.
Last time, we looked at some of Holstein’s hardware selections. This time, it’s his software and accessories he’ll introduce us to…
Syncplicity is a software application allows you to setup one or more folders on your hard drive and it synchronizes that folder with all your other computers. In my case, that’s office, home, and laptop.
When I need to make a presentation or work on a document both at home and the office, I make sure I keep the document in my synchronized folder. I gave a presentation in Boston a few months ago and forgot to put the presentation on my USB flash drive. No worries, it was on the syncplicity server. I just fired up my web browser and downloaded it. Unlike other sync programs, Syncplicity copies all your files to the cloud so that your computers don’t need to be all on to synchronize. It works really well with my next favorite software…
RoboForm. How many times do you sign up for a website at the office, then try to access it from home? Or how often do you change your password for sensitive sites with a complicated password, then you need access from your laptop or you forgot the password? Well, with Roboform, it remembers all your logins. When you open a page with a login, it fills in the information for you. In addition, it generates really secure passwords for you and it will even fill out your name, address and credit card information that is needed on a lot of sites. When I use RoboForm in combination with Syncplicity, I don’t have to worry about remembering logins anymore. They are always up to date.
LogMeIn is fantastic and free. They have a paid version, but if you have syncplicity, you really don’t need it. I use logmein to access my enterprise programs such as our ERP program and our accounting system.
Skype is the mother of all VOIP applications. I use it all the time to save money on phone calls. Skype lets you call regular phone numbers for about 3 cents per minute. That’s a lot cheaper than most other plans and the voice quality is great. In addition, you can even do video conferencing with people who have Skype.
Sound is an important and often overlooked component of travel. I also carry my Bose Headset with a special microphone adapter and my custom earplugs. The Bose Quite Comfort headsets are a lifesaver on long trips. You’d be amazed how much calmer and relaxed you are after a long trip if you use noise cancelling headsets. I found a special communications kit that you can use with it that lets you make phone calls. This is incredibly useful in crowded airports or on the road. You can hear your callers perfectly no matter how much noise is around you. The sound quality is great on the other end as well.
I also had custom earplugs made for me. These are incredibly comfortable and allow me to sleep with the earplugs in. I can even turn my head on the side on my pillow with no discomfort. I used them on the plane and also in noisy hotel rooms. It cost me about $100 but it is well worth it.
August 9th, 2009 No Comments »
When Paul Holstein heads to Europe for summer holidays, he’s packed and ready for business.
The owner of CableOrganizer.com offered a snapshot into the must-bring tech that keeps him productive “across the pond” — as if he hadn’t even left his Fort Lauderdale offices.
What a perfect topic for me. I’m on vacation in France now and, of course, totally connected.
My favorite laptop these days it the Toshiba Portege R600-ST4203. It’s built for the traveler. It’s 2.4 pounds and one inch thick. You can’t imagine how this changes everything. You don’t need to carry a separate laptop bag if you don’t want to. You can tuck it into your regular carry-on suitcase.
Alternatively, you can carry a small laptop bag and add clothes to it for short trips. Forget the headset and webcam. Those are built right in to the laptop. They are built into most laptops today. That saves you a lot of effort as well. Read More »
August 3rd, 2009 No Comments »
After two weeks in an RV, I’m ready for a staycation closer to the home office.
Yet if the soft market has let slip any hopes of exotic travel this summer, don’t cave to “vacation envy.” Get creative and plan a “stay-cation” of your own.
Urban dictionary defines stay-cation as “A vacation that is spent at one’s home enjoying all that home and one’s home environs have to offer.” Don’t blow your stay-cation catching up on chores, straightening up the garage, fixing the roof or painting the house. Make sure that you limit the time you spend on email.
The well-planned stay-cation, or stay-at-home vacation, can help de-stress and re-energize the soul, notes FAT Bastard Wines. Here’re nine tips for planning a killer stay-cation… Read More »
August 2nd, 2009 No Comments »
After two weeks on the road, it’s the simple observations that bring clarity to the home office adventure. Like…
- Sponsor or no, the Verizon Mifi ‘personal hotspot’ won the day — hands down. It was a true fan favorite and winner of the HOH’09 Product of Choice. Hey, anything that keeps the hoards from beating me up for my Internet connection is worthy of praise. Teleworkers and road warriors alike will find this tool extremely useful.
-Yes, family, we WILL survive two weeks without a TV. And we did. We talked, played more Yahtzee and Racko than we ever thought possible, and watched burning embers in the fire pit. And yes, we surfed the Web. A lot. Truth be told, we watched a few DVD movies on Zack’s HP laptop. But that’s NOT TV.
- Open a bag of animal crackers, and a dog’s nose knows. “Food, food, food…”
- “Yes, Mom, Spaghetti-Ohs make a perfectly suitable breakfast.”
- Success is in the gadgets you choose. Like the Belkin Clamp On surge suppressor that, well, clamped on to the edge of the bunk and supplied power to all our gadgets (no small feat, given the number of gadgets we employed).
- When plugs aren’t available, old-fashioned cigarette lighters will work. Just the ticket for the Scosche reCoil retractable car charger for iPod and iPhone.
- Netbooks beget adaptors and accessories. And manufacturers are responding. The Targus Netbook Accessory Kit includes a nifty USB hub, a travel mouse and a slip case for netbooks with screens up to 10.1 inches. Read More »
August 1st, 2009 No Comments »
To meteorologists and remote workers alike, The Cloud is a beautiful thing.
One makes his living off cloud formations. The other has discovered a mobility, flexibility and an untethered experience working in the cloud. These include teleworkers, telecommuters, road warriors and others released from place-based work.
For those not clear, the “cloud” — according to Wikipedia — “is a style of computing in which dynamically scalable and often virtualized resources are provided as a service over the Internet. Users need not have knowledge of, expertise in, or control over the technology infrastructure in the cloud that supports them.” In other words, all your applications — and even your documents, if you want — are stored and hosted via a computer with an Internet connection and a Web browser.
So with a laptop or netbook, and our Mifi broadband Internet personal hotspot, I have worked - literally - from anywhere. Or as techies call it, Out There. In the interest of full disclosure, I’ve also used some apps that I’ve downloaded to my laptop. But they’re free, and more useful and utility-driven than those that come for free with Windows.
Among the applications I’ve used most have been: Read More »
July 31st, 2009 No Comments »
Want to learn how to become a more efficient, productive and fun-loving road warrior? Whether you’re a home officer, a teleworker or a road warrior, you can.
Download the same Brochure that was given away across the South as part of Home Office Highway ‘09. Just click here to download your own copy - where you’ll learn all about netbooks, Mifi personal hotspots, and other tips and insights to help you work wisely from the highway.
You also can download the Home Office Highway ‘08 eBook. The booklet and ebook both include tips and insights on where vocation meets vacation on the open Road. Read More »
July 30th, 2009 No Comments »
More tweets from Home Office Highway (@homeofficehiway). And with Tweetlater, I was able to dual post to @chiefhomeoffice . Social Media tools helped spread the word…
22. Midnight in the RV. Campfire’s burned to embers. Robbie & Stella sleep. Zack reads. I write. Mifi & laptop = productive time
23. Workation, staycation, camputing. Is Home Office Highway is part of a larger trend? From the Detroit Free Press http://snipr.com/nv31b
24. The greatest challenge for HOH ‘09 is finding productive time to work. AM, Stella’s active. PM, I’m spent. Daytime, outdoors beckon.
25. Financial Times needs an pic of my home office. Good news: Even from Georgia, I can see all my pix w/Carbonite. Bad news: No recent pix
26. More on scale: Mobile Workmate is my mobile ‘home office’ (PC, tech, supplies, etc.), messenger bag for day trips, shoulder bag for netbook
27. Hikes beget scale. To walk w/ netbook in tow, my Be.ez messenger bag is a tad large. Next time, my cloth shoulder bag (a la Jack Bauer) Read More »