Keeping Connected with FaceTime

In a little more than 24 hours I’ll be on a plane to go to work in Jersey City from Monday through Friday. This is one of the more painful aspects of my chosen career because of the heavy travel requirements and time away from home. Slowly but surely I have introduced a ton of iOS devices into my family so that now everyone has at least one. The one killer feature for me when I’ve been traveling over the past year has been FaceTime plus my3G. My family is young so seeing them is one of the bright spots in my day. I try to do FaceTime calls in the morning when my wife and daughter get up in the morning before I go to work so I’m in a decent mood for my first meeting. I remember before I had a daughter and before FaceTime that my wife and I barely spoke on the phone at all while I was traveling. We mostly did things by text message since it was unobtrusive and we were both normally distracted when we talked on the phone.

FaceTime has changed that a lot. Now I try and use it when I can with my wife when I travel because I also get to see my daughter too. I think them best feature is that it makes you focus on the person you’re talking to because they can see if you’re paying attention or not. I have even gotten on calls with my father in Hawaii and he appreciates the ability to see his grand daughter over thousands of miles like she is right there. While not really a new technology, FaceTime has tied you phone number and your device together. A lot of people also use Skype but they have to be on to make a call. Using FaceTime is as easy as picking up a phone for me but of course the person on the other side has to be using an iDevice too but since I only use this with family this is not a big deal to me.

One of the big reasons that I jailbreak my device is an app called My3G. This is a tweak I paid for t let me do FaceTime calls over my 3G connection rather than having to us wifi. Way back when I first got my iPhone 4S, iOS 5 only let you do FaceTime calls over wifi because it is a data hog. To get around this limitation I jailbroke my phone so I can FaceTime anywhere I have a 3G connection. This is especially useful in hotels because their wifi networks are weak and I probably wouldn’t be able to use FaceTime anyway. With the recent release of iOS 6, the carriers let people start using their 3G and 4G connections for FaceTime. The rub was that you had to be on a tiered data plan. For a person like me who is on an unlimited data plan, that’s a real deal breaker. I intend to keep my unlimited data plan and jailbreak my iPhone for as long as I can to even out my work/life balance.

There are others that I have used FaceTime with but they are all restricted due to wifi so sometimes it’s not the best way to contact someone which is why I just use it with my family. I just updated my Facebook app and its starting to off free voice calls in the US and Canada. I know the is also Google+ hangouts but no one save one person actually uses Google+. I’m glad that I was able to re-jailbreak my phone before I left to travel again, at least that keeps my FaceTime capability with my family intact while preserving my unlimited data plan.

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One Week to Go

In a little over one week I have to start traveling again for work. I’ve been on compensatory since December and I gotta say that I’ve loved it so far. I have enjoyed working from home and being able to spend time with my family since the holidays. I guess in the mean time I should take full advantage of my time with my wide and daughter while I’m home since I will only be able to see them on FaceTime in the mornings instead of continuously throughout the day. I’ll definitely miss the family meals and putting Elysia to bed at night. I will still have the weekends but I will miss doing it every night like I have been since I’ve been at home. Now I have to mentally prepare for going back on the road since I know that my time is short and local clients just don’t exist in Florida.

Luckily I have maintained my status on United and at Hilton for 2013. I just need to rebuild my status so that I can maintain or exceed my current levels into 2014. I don’t think that will be that difficult as long as I continuously travel for the next 8 months or so. With my current project I don’t think that will be a big issue.

The issue I have is that I will continue my travels to New Jersey for the foreseeable future. In not the biggest fan of Jersey (insert HEAVY sarcasm), but its what is going to pay the bills and I’ve me enough points and miles to go some place a little more exotic. I think a major trip in 2014 might be achievable I I can hoard my points to finally get my butt international. Maybe for the first trip we will try Europe and then the next one will be to Asia. By that time Elysia should be old enough to walk and talk better and can handle the long flight. I won’t be able to do the infant in arms thing but that’s fine by me.

I suppose I need to remember what it is I need to pack for work again. Bag I think I’ll just wing it next Sunday evening before I head off to Jersey again.

I want an iPad for work

The title for this post says it all. I want to have an iPad for work. This doesn’t mean that I supply the iPad and use it for work, I want work to supply me with the iPad. I have my own personal iPad that I take with me when I’m out on the job but it’s more for watching my movies, reading an ebook, or playing some of the games that I’ve downloaded from the app store. I also like to jailbreak my iPad so that makes things semi difficult since the app that my work uses doesn’t let me jailbreak my stuff.

What exactly would I use my iPad for? Most likely I would use it for emailing and taking notes while in meetings. I like to think that I’m green by using technology to replace paper and honestly, I can type way better and faster than I could ever write. I can barely understand my own chicken scratch half of the time. I think it would be awesome to use to create some documents or at least to review work that was emailed to me so I don’t have to wait for my laptop to boot up and then load my email and then launch the app I need to see what I’m going to review.

Although I can mostly do this on my iPhone, it would be nice to have a really big screen to see this stuff. I have used my iPad before while at work but I try and not to bring it out too much since its my personal device and not one meant for work. The model that I think would be of the greatest benefit would be the 4G LTE iPad that just came out this year. This would give me connectivity everywhere I can get a cell signal whereas with my laptop, if I’m not near a wifi spot, I’m just dead in the water when it comes to getting my emails.

I’m hoping soon that there will be a time when my job offers me an iPad for work as part of some “green” initiative and makes some truly excellent apps that I can do my work on or just does a bulk purchase and loads them for me when they hand it to me. Granted these iPads are a big chunk of change but if you get the lowest end model they’re still cheaper than your average laptop. In the mean time, I’ll whip out my personal iPad out from time to time for work but it definitely won’t be my “go to” device until someone else pays for one 😉

Timbuk2 Command Messenger

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I recently purchased the Timbuk2 Command Messenger bag for work to replace my aging Targus back pack that I’ve been using for quite a while now. It’s hard to get used to a new bag because it doesn’t have a familiar feel but there were a few reasons to get the new bag. First I got the bag because my back pack has seen better days and it needed to be replaced as my work bag. I’m still going to use it for vacation and stuff since its already messed up but for work it’s going to retire. Second I need to really reduce the amount of crap that I bring with me while I travel. I picked the bag because it reduced the overall cargo space I had to play with. I’ve removed quite a bit of stuff but now it will be harder to bring food home from my client sites but that’s a small sacrifice really. Third is that it is TSA friendly so I no longer have to take my laptop out of the bag when I go through security. That’s a real time saver for me since I can just grab and go instead of trying to pack my laptop back in my bag when I go through security.

I gave the bag a test this past week on my trip to Dallas and it held up pretty well. I’ll admit that using just the shoulder strap is a bit annoying since it doesn’t distribute the weight that well but it’s not that big a deal. It does take a bit longer to get to some of my stuff but that’s to be expected on my first trip. I do like that there is a dedicated pocket just for my iPad so I can easily pull it out of the bag. Having the bag smaller is helpful for me because it fits better under the seats in coach. I wish I could always fly in First but since I lost all my status with the airlines I’ll be in coach for a long time.

So far so good though. The Command messenger is living up to my expectations. I don’t think there is anything else on my travel shopping list in the near future. We’ll see how much more abuse my travel pro rollaboard can take before I replace it with a spinner.

iPhone 4S for Work

Tomorrow should be pretty good because I’m going to activate my work iPhone 4S to replace my myTouch 4G. For work I was allowed to choose the cheapest model iPhone for free which was pretty nice. The only limitation was that I have to keep the phone for two years instead of being able to switch out my phone every year. I normally like to refresh my tech pretty quickly but for phones I can wait the two years with no problem. I could have waited for the iPhone 5 but June is a long time to wait.

The biggest reason to switch isn’t driven by the fact that it’s an iPhone since I already have an iPhone as my personal phone, the reason is because my company has a lot more apps available for iPhone compared to android. On the iPhone there are apps for looking up people on the corporate directory, booking travel, and even entering m time and expenses. To me that’s really awesome since those apps aren’t available on android. The reason my company has given to all the android users is that android wasn’t as secure as iOS and they are seeing increased usage in iPhones compared to all other devices including our old stranded Blackberrys.

I received the shipping notification from my corporate procurement department and my new phone had been sitting at my house since Tuesday. It’s a bit late to be setting up a phone so most likely I’ll do that tomorrow morning. To differentiate my personal phone from my work phone, I decided to get the phone in white. I have a case that I’m using too so I can stick that on there as well so it’s semi protected.

Slowly but surely I’m trying my best to reduce my reliance on my laptop even though I just got a new one to test Windows 7 for my company before its official release. The ability for me to do menial tasks like time and expense are huge since I need to do it every day. The real value will be when I’m allowed to use the corporate intranet using my iPhone, then the only reason to use my laptop will be to do my work in MS Office products. It’s time to land finally. Hopefully I can post this when I touch down.