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Tech Savvy for November 27, 2008

by Dan Harper

HUERFANO- We all have time we waste out of necessity.  I dropped someone off in Colorado Springs at the ungodly hour of 5 am, and my next errand was in Pueblo at 8 am.  What can I do with the couple of hours in between?  This week′s Tech Savvy is about using those bits of lost time productively using mobile technology.

    Talking to my passenger on the way, mobile technology came up.  Two years

ago she bought a new Dell Laptop for school.  She said “The whole laptop thing changed my life.  I can do things anywhere.  I don′t need to be stuck at a desk in a cold room anymore, I can go where I′m comfortable.”

How much has it really benefited her?  She went on to say “I completed my study plan at school in those little ten to twenty minute breaks between sessions instead of using a desktop for hours, missing out on [everything] during that time.”

    That got me thinking. She and I have radically different styles of computer use.  Has my life also improved as a result of mobile technology?  I would have to say yes.  Rather than spend money at a coffee shop waiting for 08:00 to roll around, I am typing this article.  This in turn will free up a block of time later that I can use more creatively.

    How about something other than a laptop?  Again, specific uses will vary.  My passenger uses her cell phone to remind her of upcoming events by emailing notices to her phone.  She said that her next phone will probably be a Personal Digital Assistant (PDA) so she can expand on this mobile use and use online applications like Google Apps, Mail and Calendar.  She claims with a grin to have sold her soul to Google.

    I am not quite so high tech in my approach.  I also use my phone for schedule reminders and contact lists, I tend to just peck it in on the phone.  For everything else I use a laptop.  When I′m out and about it′s a tough-as-nails Panasonic Toughbook CF-27.  In the office, it′s… another laptop.   Why use a laptop in an office?  There are three compelling reasons:

• Versatility.  If I need to move to another part of the office, take my work home, or on the road, I can.  You can work where the work is.

• Price. Yes, laptops are generally more expensive than their desktop counterparts, but not when you add an LCD screen and an Uninterruptable Power Supply (UPS) to the desktop.

• Power.  Laptops consume much less power than their desktop equivalents and their equipment.  The power savings alone will pay for the laptop within its expected lifespan in energy savings.

    That′s it for this issue of Tech Savvy.  It′s coming up on that time of year again. Next time we′ll cover some bargains to put under the tree this holiday season. We′ll have something for every price range in Tech Savvy′s annual holiday gift giving guide.