It is becoming more common, especially with younger generations, to eliminate land lines in favor of cell phones only. One drawback with this approach is you need your cell phone nearby to take a call unlike traditional phone systems. Now there are devices that connect your cell phone through a corded or cordless phone system using Bluetooth. We use the Xlink-cell Bluetooth Gateway with the Uniden DECT 6.0 Cordless Telephone System (DECT3080-3). Yet almost any telephone system will work. We have the freedom of a cordless multi-handset phone system using our cell phone line. The setup and pairing process was easy. Making and receiving calls is seamless. The cell phone simply needs to be nearby. The Xlink supports up to 3 cell phones. We already have cell phones so we save the cost of a land line.
With the proliferation of iPhone applications it was time to re-evaluate the Apple iPhone 3G as a viable business mobile device. The iPhone 3G added support for Microsoft Exchange, which is important for many business users. The mail interface is good and different than the Windows Mobile alternative but not significantly better. Navigation between multiple mail accounts is cumbersome. Accepting appointments does not prompt with reply options. Alerts are not persistent, causing me to miss notices. It does not have Outlook Tasks. Although there are iPhone Apps alternatives such as KeyTasks. It still does not have tethering for Internet pass-through, which it should support considering the costly data plan. The Safari Internet browser is superior to the Windows Mobile browser. The lack of copy and paste is sorely missing. The Windows Mobile home screen with calendar and email for quick reference is preferable to the iPhone home screen. Battery life is acceptable, even with Wi-Fi and Blueetooth. At times I miss a keyboard. The feel of the iPhone in your hand is superior. The iPhone Apps make a positive difference, especially the position based applications such as AroundMe, FreeWi-Fi, Cheap Gas, and Yelp. It is not difficult to see the potential of business applications on this platform. There are trade-offs between other devices. The iPhone 3G is not a clear winner, yet the best mobile device for business.
The Kindle: Amazon's Wireless Reading Device may seem like an unlikely purchase from someone who listens to audio books. Listening to audio books is a great time saver. However, it is not possible to bookmark, take notes, or highlight material. During and after listening to books, particularly business books, I use them as reference material. The Kindle provides a compact, portable library of reference material. With a library of books on the device, the Kindle provides search for the entire library. For example, I may want to reference information on "accountability". The Kindle quickly provides access to readings on the topic from my library. In addition, the Kindle has highlighting, bookmarking, clippings and note taking features. And when books are not available in audio format, the Kindle is my preference when reading.
In most professions time is a valuable resource. Efficiency and productivity depends on how we manage our time. It is my experience most people do not effectively manage their time by prioritizing, delegating and leveraging tools because they are unaware of time spent on tasks. A simple method I find effective is keeping a log of activities throughout the day. For this I simply use Microsoft Excel and record all activities even a 2 minute phone call or 1 minute email reply. After doing this for several days, examine it. Analyzing your time isn't necessarily easy and may require questioning long-held assumptions. Often you do not realize how much time is spent on certain tasks. Question your priorities, identify opportunities for delegation and discover opportunities for leveraging technology. It is difficult to apply technology solutions until you have a clear understanding of the opportunities.
Linkedin is a pervasive business network that leverages the Internet and the web. It is a good tool for maintaining and building business contacts. It syncs to Outlook so it keeps contact information current. The connections are helpful if you need a service or want a referral. While I do not use it to solicit business, it has led to sales leads. I simply hope people think of Tushaus Computer Services when they need computer services. It is useful when filling job openings. The contacts provide advice. Or I provide advice which builds reputation and credibility. It is interesting to observe what other contacts or connections are doing or reading. I learn from others this way. With a public profile it increases visibility on the Internet. With links back to your web site it increases [Google] page rank. I only add people I know. It has not added unwanted email. The people in the network are respectful of others. The blog Ten Ways to Use LinkedIn by Guy Kawasaki is a useful reference for using the tool. Linkedin is a business tool worth using.
TagCrowd helps you visualize tags for blog posting, bookmarking, social network posting and other interesting applications. TagCrowd is a web application for visualizing word frequencies in any user-supplied text by creating what is popularly known as a tag cloud or text cloud.
Use Jing Project to capture computer screen images or record video and instantly share online, in email or IM. This is a useful tool if you ever provide simple instructions remotely and find it frustrating to describe what you see on the computer.
The Internet is changing marketing. Find out where you may apply virtual marketing in your business, as I conduct a workshop on how to apply Internet technologies in your marketing plan. Learn techniques such as blogging, search, feeds, widgets, podcasting, Internet advertising, web-analytics and web collaboration. Start using these techniques by attending the BIZremedies Lunch and Learn Friday, July 18th at noon at Lakeview Center161 W. Wisconsin Ave., Pewaukee.
Are you tech savvy? Similar to health assessments that calculate your relative health age or the popular game Brain Age, what is your tech age? Determine your tech age by completing the survey, averaging your score and multiple by 20.
My computer is . . .
- multiple computers including at least one notebook.
- a notebook that travels with me for work and to my home.
- a pair of desktops at work and at home.
- a computer I use at work or at home.
- a hand-me-down.
Email is a tool I . . .
- use regularly at work and at home, which I access anywhere I have Internet access.
- use regularly at work and at home.
- use occasionally at work and at home.
- use occasionally at work.
- do not use.
Web feeds (i.e. RSS) are . . .
- my primary source of news and information that I integrate with other applications.
- something I rely on often for news and information.
- something I tried but do not use or use infrequently.
- something I know about but do not use.
- unknown to me.
Web search (i.e. Google) is . . . .
- a tool I cannot live without and selecting effective keywords is second nature.
- a tool I cannot live without.
- a tool I use frequently.
- a tool I use occasionally.
- not a tool I use.
My . . .
- work and personal calendar is on the computer and my mobile device and integrates with my social networks applications.
- work and personal calendar is on the computer and my mobile device.
- work and personal calendar is on the computer.
- work or personal calendar is on the computer.
- calendar is on paper.
My mobile device is . . .
- for phone calls, email, scheduling, task management, text messaging and web browsing.
- for phone calls, text messaging and email.
- for phone calls and email.
- for phone calls.
- a device I do not own.
When I need driving directions I . . .
- use my GPS for turn by turn instructions.
- store driving directions in appointment notes on my PDA or SmartPhone.
- use an online map such as MapQuest or Google Maps, then print directions before I leave.
- use a fold-up map or call ahead for directions.
- drive around aimlessly, then ask a person for directions.
I manage my business contacts with . . .
- a contact management system that synchronizes to my mobile device and integrates with a social network such as LinkedIn.
- a contact management system that synchronizes to my mobile device and integrates with a web based contact list.
- a contact management system that synchronizes to my mobile device.
- a contact management system (i.e. Outlook).
- a rolodex of business cards.
When it comes to digital photography I . . .
- am exclusively digital and I often upload pictures to social networking sites or photo sharing sites.
- am exclusively digital and often share or exchange photos via email.
- am exclusively digital yet print all the photos I share.
- use both digital and film cameras.
- prefer the familiarity of film.
Thanks to me, my home has ______ network device(s).
- five or more
- one or two
Time shifting is using technology to alter the time when we perform a task. The process of recording and storing data for later viewing, listening, or reading is time shifting. Time shifting is a great efficiency tool. Most of us already time shift when we record a TV show to watch at another time. Leveraging opportunities in your work for time shifting often requires innovation, creativity and challenging the status quo. Certain forces such as globalization are requiring time shifting. If applied effectively time shifting reduces costs, improves service, improves productivity, enhances flexibility and improves work life. Considering these examples.
- Podcasts provide a great means of time shifting by listening or viewing content while exercising, traveling or driving. Many radio programs are available in a Podcast. Newspapers are distributing news in audio form.
- Many companies offer webinars as an on-demand educational tool allowing you to set aside time for education based on your schedule.
- E-mail and voice mail are forms of time shifting where messages or data are read, heard, or viewed by the recipient at a later time. Technology makes it easier to compartmentalize communications and tasks on a more effective schedule.
- Video conferencing is a form of time shifting when you avoid travel for a meeting or conference.
- Audio books, similar to Podcasts, provide an opportunity to listen while exercising, traveling or driving. Audible is a excellent source for audio books.
- Use of a mobile device for reading email or browsing the web is good for filling gaps in your schedule such as waiting for appointments. For example, if I am waiting for a doctor appointment, with my SmartPhone I read my Google Reader feeds to get caught up on the news.
- Anytime you automate a process this is a form of time shifting. Automatic bill payment is an example. Nearly all my personal bills are paid electronically and automatically. Another example are Outlook rules.
- Using meeting time more effectively with a notebook computer by taking notes and assigning tasks during the meeting shifts the follow up into the meeting time. Ready access to information via the notebook computer reduces follow up items.
Qipit is a free service that uses photos taken with your camera phone of documents, whiteboards or handwritten notes and turns them into into digital copies (PDFs). I've found this most useful with whiteboards. It is very handy when you are working remotely and do not have access to a scanner. Since I always carry my phone, it is a good alternative to finding a piece of paper and a pen to take a note. The quality with my AT&T Tilt is very good. Qipit will send the document to your contacts, which you can do from your phone. It makes distribution of meeting notes (i.e. whiteboard) quick and immediate.
We have a growing, fundamental challenge with data relevance in the Information Age. Data is data in any form - digital or paper text, audio, video, etc. As information workers, our effectiveness depends on our proficient use of relevant information. Even the best search systems struggle with relevance. This post contains tips for managing data toward improving data relevance.
- Work - Improving data relevance requires work. Technology will help, but you need to work at it. Organization does not just happen. For example, work at keeping folder and files clean. Old files are not going to delete themselves. Most tools, such as Microsoft Word, have features that facilitate data organization and management. You need to make time to learn and use these features.
- Responsibility - You need to take responsibility for information. Even in shared, collaborative environments people shy away from responsibility. We expect someone else will delete an old file or update incorrect information in a document.
- Retention - It has become easier and less expensive to retain data. Retaining data seems the safe course of action. Simply discarding obsolete information such as files or documents improves data relevance. A common problem is the retention of draft documents. This leads to uncertainty regarding the relevant document version.
- Organization - For effective collaboration, we need to think of organization in broad terms. We have bad habits that stem from personal computing. If you work in an organization, I suggest there is no file or information that is personal. It may be confidential but not personal. Therefore store and organize folders, files, etc. for sharing. Organize based on the organization not your personal filing system. Collectively develop organization standards and follow them. Common storage infrastructure and information organization avoids duplication.
- Consumption - Our consumption of information needs [self] control. We consume information in many forms and through many channels. The web and email are channels most people find difficult to manage. For example, consumption of information through news sites can be addictive. It is my practice to avoid generic news sites such as cnn.com. Instead I rely on news feeds (i.e. RSS) to manage and direct my consumption of information. With fine tuning, news feeds are very effective method of consuming news. Email management is a constant battle. Using email filters and rules creates efficiencies. Avoiding the use of email programs as a filing cabinet makes a difference. With each email you receive you may have an opportunity to train the sender on effective email communications.
The Chumby is an alarm clock and more for geeks. Is it a tool or a toy? While I do not own a Chumby, I can see how this device has real utility. It can serve as an alarm clock, calendar, news reader, stock ticker, sports caster, digital photo frame, radio or weather reporter. Since my mobile SmartPhone charges next to my bed at night I use it for most of these functions. If not for that this product is very tempting.
Tablet computers are fully-functional notebook computers with an interactive pen and pen sensitive screen. You use the pen directly on the screen as you do a mouse to select or drag or in place of a keyboard to hand write notes and communications. My tablet of choice is the HP 2170p. Convertible models, such as the HP 2170p, have an attached keyboard and look much like a conventional notebook, except you can rotate the screen 180 degrees and lay it flat over the keyboard for a familiar reading and writing postion similar to a notepad. The following are benefits or features to consider.
- The tablet form factor provides a single, portable note taking device.
- Using Microsoft OneNote is a great tool for note organization. It is more than a simple tablet note taking tool. Microsoft provides tips for OneNote use with the tablet computer.
- Converting handwriting to text is a time saving feature.
- The tablet provides excellent mobility. By following other mobility and portability practices, my tablet provides access to notes, as well as any other information I need in meetings or on the road.
- With a tablet computer you can bypass note taking and assign a task immediately in a task manager such as Outlook Tasks or send an email inquiry. This is point of request action or service.
- While in meetings the computer provides quick and easy reference via the corporate network or the web.
- It is possible to go paperless. Instead of carrying materials between the office and home or bringing materials to meetings, with electronic documents your entire briefcase or office becomes the tablet.
- Having your computer with you is a great time saver if you have down time between meetings or during a meeting.
- The form factor is simply a great mobile computer.
Consider changing how you work. The best tools can make a difference.
Are you an innovator, preservationist or side liner? The podcast, "What Innovators Can Learn from Hollywood", by Scott Kirsner, Columnist for the Boston Globe provides an interesting perspective on technology innovation.
Technology innovators sometimes expect that users will embrace new ideas and new tools with open arms. In reality, most innovations are met with hostility and indifference, and it can take a lengthy campaign to persuade organizations to change the way they work. In an illustrated spin through Hollywood history, journalist and author Scott Kirsner will demonstrate how innovators like Pixar, George Lucas, and Bing Crosby have changed the movie industry while facing enormous resistance. He also describes the three kinds of people that exist in every organization and some of the key reasons people tend to rebel (or go into a shell) when confronted with a new piece of technology.