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Working on Vacation…Yet Again

A couple weeks ago, the kids and I went to Universal Studios in Florida (painful with the current exchange rate) for the week. Before we left I decided I wasn’t going to actively work for the whole week, but with todays technology it was too easy to keep up.

I pro-actively decided to leave my work laptop at home, and only took my 8 inch Dell Venue Pro (runs full Office) and a Bluetooth keyboard. I also had my Nokia 920, which is my personal/work phone and has an awesome camera. My daughter took her tablet and Galaxy S3 and my son took his tablet. I really did set out to have a work-free vacation, but I knew I would have Wi-Fi at the hotel and I added a “roaming” plan to my phone. I did let people at the office know that I would be checking email in the evenings and would respond to important email. Best intentions.

Family Vacation

Ahhh!

At Universal Studios, Wi-Fi was available – and faster than the hotels. I could stand in the long lines waiting for an awesome ride (and the rides were freaking awesome), and review some of the 200+ emails that came in during the week. Thursday, our last full day in Florida, we hung out at the hotel, and my daughter grabbed the Bluetooth keyboard and worked on her 1000 word essay on her phone, and was in contact with her teachers and classmates. Watching her made me think about all the emails I could take off the agenda efficiently, and I started sorting through the emails and responding to them on my tablet. Because I have full Office and OneDrive, I easily accessed required files to edit, send, or reference during a conference call.

I know some of you are thinking “you were on vacation, why were you working?” This was my choice; I love my job and what I do, and honestly by Thursday, I was bored. This isn’t the first time I have worked on vacation, and I blogged about a similar vacation experience a couple of years ago, but what struck me this time was just how much easier despite being in another country. Back in the day, when I vacationed locally, I would tether to my phone or use my data plan. If I travelled out of the country, I would not use my phone plan this time, as Wi-Fi was abundant and fast everywhere.

Does this mean I think everyone should work on vacation? Absolutely not!  Vacation is time for family and re-charging, but if you feel you have to work or opt to (as I did), todays technology has everything you need to work efficiently and effectively.

If you are like me and find it really hard not to work, there are now resorts that take your devices away from you for the duration of your stay. Here’s a list for the USA. Personally, I think it’s all about balance and that balance will  be different for each of us.

Are you able to disconnect for a weekend, let alone a full week? Let me know what you think in the comments.

Categories: Digital Life Tags: ,

Outlook, Google Apps for Business, and BB…What a Challenge

A few weeks ago, one of my clients handed me his new Blackberry Z10 and told me that it wouldn’t sync to his calendar or contacts via Outlook. Honestly, I thought he had lost it, how could BB release a product without this core functionality. Well he was right! It didn’t sync via Outlook at all (since this incident, BB has added this functionality in its newest desktop update). The client would soon be leaving for an overseas trip and needed a solution asap.

My clients company uses Google Apps for Business (free version), and had previously connected their phones to their systems, via a USB cable, to sync their calendar and contacts. (I am amazed at how many of my clients still sync their phones using a direct connection.) Because he hasn’t moved to the paid version of Google Apps, we are unable to use the Google Apps Sync, which syncs your Google accounts with Outlook, and in turn, syncs wireless to your device. Luckily, we had just purchased a sweet ultrabook with Office 2013, which gave us the tools we needed to come up with a solution for him quickly.

First, we created an Outlook.com account and connected it to Office 2013.  Then we copied all of his contacts to Outlook.com.

Contact Sync

Next we added his calendar events to the Outlook.com calendar.

Now, we added the Microsoft Outlook.com account to his BlackBerry. He was now able to see his contacts and calendar. Moving forward, he adds all his new contacts and calendar events to the Outlook.com accounts via Outlook.

Outlook Calendar Sync

This solution has been very successful. He can access his contacts and calendar anytime, and no longer needs to plug his phone in. One less cable to carry. This also provides a backup for his critical data. Our next step is to start using the SkyDrive integration to share files while he is on the road.

PS: Microsoft has released the Hotmail Connector for Office 2007-2010 which provides the same integration. Here is the link for the free program http://office.microsoft.com/en-ca/outlook-help/microsoft-office-outlook-hotmail-connector-overview-HA010222518.aspx

 

Side Note:

I have been finding that as each service updates, it’s getting harder to have these services work together as seamlessly as it has in the past. Personally, I feel the providers are forcing the users to pick one environment, whether it’s Microsoft, Google, or Apple.  All this does is frustrate the users, because it takes away previously had functionality and forces the user to pick a service which best meets their needs; and they may have give up, or modify, workflows to get all the functionality they used to have by combining the services.

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