The author of the Outlaw Design Blog is planning on spending the next few months "living and working from the sandy beaches of Costa Rica". Sounds a lot like the concept of Liberation that Timothy Ferriss advocates (and seems to live) in The 4-Hour Workweek. To support this experiment in telecommuting, Danny Outlaw (which I am certain is his real name) figures he has to address the following challenges:
- Lack of access to traditional paper based "snail" mail.
- The ability to access "the office" while jet setting about the region on any number of short trips.
- Mitigate the risk to business continuation in a worse case scenario such as his laptop being stolen.
The resulting post: Online Tools for Working Abroad, is a description of his planned mobile office setup which consists of several online tools. Mike Elgin of The World Is My Office blog over at Computerworld has already weighed in, and since I have been on a quest to get as much as possible online lately (particularly my email, calendar and contacts), I thought I would add my own two cents.
Mike Elgin correctly points out that for most, photo organizing and storage is probably not a key component to a mobile office, but since Danny Outlaw mentions it...
- Danny: Flickr.
- Mike: Flickr.
- Me: I have just starting using Flickr and it is a great tool. What I have been using for a long while is Picasa Web Albums. The main reason I have used Picasa is that I get all the benefits of online storage, organization and access while at the same time tight integration with an incredible desktop photo organizer. Just because you want everything online doesn't mean you can't have a great desktop application at the same time!
- Danny: Media Max - 25 GB of free online storage.
- Mike: Jungle Disk - not free, but uses Amazon's S3 service and therefore ultra safe and secure.
- Me: For my office documents I actually use Google Docs and for other files I just back them up by sending them as an attachment in an email to myself (my email is hosted by Google). I know this is not necessarily an ideal backup strategy so I will probably investigate Jungle Disk and the like. I have heard good things about Mozy and how it can perform a seamless backup in the background.
- Danny: Earth Class Mail - They give you and address to which you redirect all your mail. The service scans the front and back of each envelop which you review online and instruct them the open and scan the contents or trash it. Sounds very very cool and Ferriss-esque!
- Mike: Earth Class Mail.
- Me: I have been trying to get as many of my bills and statements sent to me as "e-Bills", but Earth Class Mail is a rather complete solution.
- Danny: Zoho.
- Mike: Google Docs - although he points out that Zoho also offers a Wiki, a project management application and CRM.
- Me: Google Docs. I don't use wikis or project management software. I use SugarCRM which is hosted online.
- Danny: MyQuire
- Mike: AIM for chat.
- Me: I think of MyQuire as being more of a groupware application than an online meeting application. For purely online meetings, real time collaboration and application sharing I use LiveMeeting which is not cheap, but a good product. For groupware type features, I use shared Google Calendars (which I synch to my nice desktop client), email and instant messaging as the case may be.
- Danny: Mint.
- Mike: Desktop application (e.g. Quicken) plus an online backup.
- Me: Is a personal finance application really a must for running a mobile office? I would think that access to Internet banking is probably the more fundamental requirement. Internet banking comes with most decent banks these days. The only online personal finance manager I have tried is Wesabe which is like an online, social networked version of Quicken. It is very cool, but not essential in my own humble opinion.
To Do List
- Danny: I Want Sandy.
- Mike: Gubb.
- Me: I Want Sandy integrated with Jott. I am a huge I Want Sandy fan. I hear great things about Remember The Milk (RTM). RTM has a great looking iPhone/iTouch application, the iPhone with its built in wi-fi being an great mobile office gadget in its own right.
- Somehow email was not on the list while photo editing was! I am not going to bother covering photo editing, but I will put a plug in for Gmail, particularly if you have it integrated with the Thunderbird desktop client.
- What are your favourite and/or indispensable tools for when you are working remotely or travelling yet need to be connected? I would love to hear about them in the comments.
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