17 November 2009

Travel and Technology (Fall Conferences)

Fall conference travel... for SAIR, IUPUI, NCFR, and next up, SACS... has prompted a new technology list for the season. These are my new and returning tools that make working possible during travel weeks:

VOIP headsets are as old as VOIP (Voice over Internet Protocol), but its the ear bud version (with mike in the cord) that caught my eye this year. This version of connecting to the laptop is comfortable and easy to pack. Don't get confused by regular ear buds and mike (for your cell phone). Nor the plain ear buds (for your MP3 player). In short, look for the two crucial components: the mike in the cord and the ending points in 2 input jacks. Find all those elements (happily, for under $20) and you're ready for enhanced VOIP. (The graphic above also shows one more feature: retractable cords via the round element in center.)

My waves can still be counted on one hand but I'm working on learning Wave, Google's new email offering. It's really a conversation piece, in more ways than one, and it requires one of just a handful of qualified web browsers. So, that's why chrome is new for me, now, too. After the novelty wears off, we'll know if Wave really adds to my productivity. Right now, it's a major learning curve. Chrome is much easier to adopt and I especially like its + sign at the top to create a new tab.

I travel with my PCs, not my Apple laptop, but I carry along the Apple Airport in order to turn cable Internet access into wireless access in my hotel room. This durable item is a standard now. I spend a lot of time worrying that I will fail to unplug it upon departure.

For the hotel rooms with too-expensive or too-slow Internet, I plug in my USB "card" which is really a neat little stick for accessing the 3G network. I also use it in airports. (Think of it as a cell phone for the laptop because it actually does have a "phone number" assignment from the cell service company.)

And then there's this new inducement to work while traveling: Internet access from 30,000 feet. Just a couple of days ago, on an aging S80, I found the plane to be WIFI-enabled. It was a red-eye flight and I didn't want to disturb neighbors with my laptop so I accessed the network with my iPhone. And surfed. Hardly got my money's worth ($7.95) but enjoyed the luxury of having WIFI everywhere.

What's missing? Life could be pretty darn perfect if we had an assessment cruise... with affordable WIFI on ship. Travel and technology go well together.

© 2009 Mary Bold, PhD, CFLE. Email contact: bold[AT]marybold.com. The content of this blog or related web sites created by Mary Bold (www.marybold.com, www.boldproductions.com, College Intern Blog) is not under any circumstances to be regarded as legal or professional advice. Bold is the co-author of Reflections: Preparing for your Practicum or Internship, geared to college interns in the child, education, and family fields. She is a consultant and speaker on assessment, distance learning, and technology.

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