A Portable Office
January 10, 2012 3 Comments
Because my teaching, research and much service work is done online, I split my time between my university and home offices. Doing so means having my work accessible no matter where I am, and whether I’m online or offline. I have been a big proponent and user of cloud services. But lacking ubiquitous and free wireless throughout my hometown, constraints are placed on my use of cloud stored documents. This is why I like the approach Apple is taking with iCloud, storage and “syncing” across all of my devices. The only issue with iCloud at this point is that it does not replicate Dropbox-like synching. Docs created on my MacBook Air do not automatically sync to my iMac. Until Apple comes up with true device-to-device synching, I’ll rely on a local, but portable storage system.
To get my work done, I use a 350 GB external drive that is slightly bigger than a deck of cards. This is backed-up automatically once a week to my home office iMac and another external drive. Yes, three backups. I keep all my university work on the external drive and back up the documents to my university office iMac. This may not be solution for all, but it works for me.
My 11″ MacBook Air is a joy to use, full-size keyboard, solid-state storage wrapped in an ultra-thin case. Though some might think it overkill, my portable office includes an iPad. Kicking back with the iPad makes long form reading much more enjoable. Add a Bamboo stylus and its free app and you’re set for serious notetaking. Fire up the $4.99 “GoodReader” to highlight and annotate that “stack” of journal articles needed for projects I’m working on. My iPhone 4s is a fantastic device with versions of my productivity apps, location aware reminders, and of course Siri, my digital assistant.
Apps are certainly important, and that’s where Apple’s controlled ecosystem works for me. Apple’s iWork suite is available across all my devices. Evernote is used to capture, what else, notes, and especially items from the web. Ominifocus is my project management software and ToDo integrates with iCal to handle my to do lists. These apps sync across all my mobile devices and home office desktop.
My portable office is neatly stowed in a STM Bags Xtrasmall Scout bag. The Xtra-small is plenty big to handle the MacBook Air and an iPad. Two front pockets hold keys, iPhone, external drive, power brick for the Air, and stylus. A zipped pocket is provided, with a quick-open full size pocket on the back to slip a few papers in. I also own the vertical style bag when just wanting to travel with my iPad. Though this approach won’t work for all, it has been a near-perfect solution for me.