I recently prepped my laptop for a new gig and I thought I write down a few notes about essential tools for the mobile worker.
A laptop from a brand (or provider) wtih good support, at least one gig of ram, good processor, enough hard drive.
Laptop is cleaned, so either it’s completely re-imaged by your IT provider, or it’s been cleaned of all the crap that’s been installed on it.
Ideally the laptop should be well managed. Ask your IT provider if they can keep your laptop, patched, and monitored in automated fashion. The good IT providers can do this for you, and do it for a reasonable price. Spyware, anti-virus, majority use of a browser other than internet explorer.
Backup – Have a backup system in place. Ideally it should be automated but if not, anything is better than nothing. Ask your IT provider about a back-up plan and have things backed up regularly to another computer or storage device of some sort.
MS Office (incl. Outlook 2003)
Newsgator for Outlook – Easily keep track of your news via RSS in Outlook. Great tool.
Salesforce helper app for Outlook (if using Salesforce)
Browser (only use IE when you must)
Firefox – A great browser with some great extensions. Subcribe to Lifehacker and learn more each day about how to use this powerful web browser.
Opera – Another great browser.
Spyware + Antivirus
Spybot Search and Destroy – great tool –set to automatically check for new updates.
AVG – good virus software and does it’s job without annoying you constantly. Free version works well.
Presentation / Media
Camtasia Studio – best software for creating screencasts and recording online presentations for later reference.
VidoeLan (VLC) – If you like to watch movies while traveling, this software is free, lite, and plays damn near everything.
Snippy – This very simple tools is great for grabbing a piece of a screen and slapping it into an email as in image. Very liteweight
Windows image resizer – Sick of resizing those large jpeg images coming from your digital camera? Do it with a simple right-click with windows image resizer.
Flickr uploader – If you need to put some pics up for all to see, open a flickr account and use the flickr uploader. Works very well.
Blogging – For a cheap web page or blogging page (for external or internal), use typepad.
IM / VOIP / Video Calling
Skype – Great IM client, great cheap voice over internet, and great video conferencing (skype truly amazes me as it improves). Skype is also well encrypted and in my experience not too resource intensive.
Startup.exe – This simple system utility is the best way of shutting down those pesky programs that start when your system boots. It tracks which programs start at boot and you can prevent them from starting. Great for saving resources for when you really need to use programs.
I see lots of people carrying a blackberry, an ipod, and a digital camera. Nowadays there is decent selection of phones with features that allow reduce our number of gadgets.
Consider consolidating with phones like the forthcoming Nokia E50 – you can get email pushed ala Blackberry as well as have music on your phone (you’ll never miss a call while listening because the phone can be told to pause on incoming calls.)
In addition to music, also make sure your next phone has a flight mode. If you can use it on the flight (turn off the phone part of the phone), it can replace your ipod.
The E50 doesn’t have the wide keypad of the blackberry, but it’s smaller and in my opinion a pocketable phone is better than a belt-clip brick like the blackberry or treo. And with services like IntelliSync Express, even a very small business can afford to have their business email pushed to them.
If push email isn’t a huge requirement for you check out the Sony Ericsson W810i. This “Walkman” phone, is quad band (so it can work anywhere in the world), has support for EDGE networks (fast internet access), plays music (removable memory card), has an FM radio, and takes good pictures with a built-in 2 mega-pixel digital camera.
If you wish to browse the web from your phone, try the opera mini browser. It’s a java browser that should run on almost any phone with a data account. It’s fast and resizes web pages to fit the small screen.
DSP noise cancelling headphones with mic. Great sound, and really great recording without any background noise. Excellent for recording screencasts or using with Skype. (Don’t use the included software either. Windows supports these headphones natively and that saves you resources and possible software conflicts.)
Logitech laptop webcam – Fits nicely on top of your laptop or on top of a shelf or standard monitor. Records nice video and great for video conferencing with Skype.
An extra power cord – always have one so that you don’t have crawl under your desk before hitting the road.
A mouse with a good scroll-wheel. The wheel should spin nicely without straining your finger.
An extra monitor at your office desk. Windows supports two monitors natively so that your desktop spans both screens. I’ve heard this can help productivity.