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Summary:

As webworkers, our prized possessions are often worth a pretty penny, and for the most part, we rely on them to do business. Blackberry’s, Macbooks, iPods, wireless mice, the list goes on. When we travel for brainstorm sessions, cafe trips and meetings we stuff all of […]

As webworkers, our prized possessions are often worth a pretty penny, and for the most part, we rely on them to do business. Blackberry’s, Macbooks, iPods, wireless mice, the list goes on. When we travel for brainstorm sessions, cafe trips and meetings we stuff all of these in our gear bags and trample off to our destinations. Maybe they get bumped on the way, fall off a table, corner bumped into a brick wall, dropped on a sidewalk, or rubbed up against something in our bag the wrong way. These tend to leave us with a device that is somewhat, weathered looking. Let’s look at a few different ways that we can protect gear without adding a metal shell around them.

What’s the first thing that tends to get scratched up on mobile devices? The screen. It’s always getting scratched from being in our pockets, sliding across tables, or just plain too much usage. I recently came across a product called Screenguardz for handhelds, and tried it out on my Blackberry before the screen got ugly looking. This strong, clear plastic is custom fitted based on your model of Blackberry, Nokia, or Palm and comes in a package of 15, so you won’t have to worry about screen scratches for a while. Don’t worry about the bubbles after you stick it on, they seem to all disappear after 24hrs or so, leaving you with a nice, clean bright screen.

So what about our beloved Mp3 players that we truck around? You could grab some screen protectors for handhelds and cut them down to size, or get a nice colorful iPod sock, or if you’re like me and find yourself dropping your iPod at least once a week on everything from concrete, carpet, and cafe floors (hey, this might be a reason why its not working right now!), you might want to grab an accessory case that covers your whole iPod and cushions it against falls.

I found that a leather case that flipped up in the front and covers almost every square inch of my player worked well for me. It looks great, access to the main connection wasn’t messed with making for easy connection without taking the cover off, the headphone jack area was open and ready to use, and boy does it protect against falls. I wouldn’t doubt that my iPod would have been majorly dented without it.

Laptops, a webworkers prized possession. This is the core of your artillery. Your communication portal to the WWW and device that makes it possible to work from anywhere on the beach, restaurant, park or cafe. Break this sucker, and you will be confined to your home! Look our for a simple sleek laptop sleeve as some extra protection when traveling and not using it. There are some neoprene ones on the market that are actually waterproof as well. Keyboard covers might be a good idea if you find yourself around liquids often. There is nothing like spilling a glass of water or coffee on a keyboard, these covers will save you from a nice 48hr drying out period, and possibly a few keys that won’t work.

If you travel with a wireless mouse I think the only thing you can do is hope that you don’t accidentally elbow it off of a table. Besides that, you’re on your own with this one. There really isn’t any protector on the market that doesn’t restrict the mouse’s movement. When traveling, just make sure that it’s packed in a protected area and you should be safe.

I hope this gave you some extra little thoughts on protecting your devices. But now for the good stuff.. Who wants to share some mobile artillery horror stories? You all know about my butter fingers constantly dropping my iPod, up to this point where it’s freezing, chugging, and causing a hardware malfunction when I plug it in to sync. Oh well, at least I have the latest onPod session synced up to listen to.

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  1. On the wireless mouse front all I would suggest is that you do at least place it in a small bag or wrap it up somehow before throwing it in your main bag. I’ve had problem with a Microsoft Laser Mouse getting a lot of dust and stuff in it, from rattling around in my bag, which has made it less accurate (something that you don’t notice is happening until it’s really bad and then wonder how you’ve put up with it for so long). This also stops bits and bobs getting in and clogging up the wheel.

  2. With our wireless mouse, we store it in a large clam-like glasses case (it’s a smaller model mouse). The case gives you a hard shell to protect the mouse and limits the room the mouse can rattle around in. We have yet to have any problems with said mouse (we have had it about 6 months).

  3. For mobile phones, PDAs, iPods and so on, I highly recommend Crystal Cases. I got myself one (via eBay) and am pretty happy with it, although it gets some tiny scratches with the time. Make sure to get the right one, so it fits your device.
    You could also check out Silicone Cases, but they usually don’t cover the display.

  4. I find the iPod socks pretty handy for my iPod, HTC Atemis phone, and mouse. Hey, you’ve got five, so why not? I’m not really a dropper of stuff, so this is good enough.

  5. I highly recommend the “Invisible Shield” which is available at ShieldZone.com.

    I use them to protect the screen of all my electronics including MP3 player, Portable DVD Player, Cell Phone, Digital Camera. They go on easy and they are incredible at protecting the screen.

  6. Backing Up is the most important thing. My horror story is that I went to change a file name once and the file bacame corrupt. It was the culmination of almost a years worth of work and I could not restore it or turn back my computer. Nothing fixed it. I’m not an alcoholic but I said screw it and started drinking. By 11am I was very drunk. Then I decided to look back at some old CDs and realized I had backed up my computer the Friday prior and I was saved, drunk but saved.
    That weekend I went out and purchased a 120gig external hard drive and now back up my computer and all my data every day at 6pm (as long as my laptop is connected). It is automaticaly done and now I feel a lot better about taking my computer out and about.

    The lesson is, Always Back Up.

  7. Neoprene for laptops is good for scratches, but won’t help if it falls. After the first time I dropped my laptop bag and dented it I found the zeroshock notebook sleeve from shinza.com. There’s a double wire through the sleeve that will be impacted first if your laptop drops at an angle. Once in the sleeve I just throw my laptop in any old bag with no worries. (The only caveat with these sleeves is you don’t want them to get too hot, or they lose their stiffness and become less effective – no using this as a barrier between a hot computer and your lap, for example).
    Has anyone ever used a toughbook? I read about them all the time but don’t know anyone who actually has one. Curious.

  8. Got your life on your handheld? Then you know you could lose it all in an instant, unless you take steps to protect yourself.
    If you are really serious about protection I strongly recommend you consider a tuff as nuts leather case from Nutshell.
    These reinforced, real leather cases are available in a wide range of sizes; from belt cases for nano up thru smartphones and PDAs to larger reinforced leather carry cases and portfolios for Tablet PCs. They have been developed to provide strong, long lasting stylish protection for most every mobile info-tool available.
    Not the cheapest on the block, but a Nutshell belt case is fast being recognized as one of the best “must have” items in any serious web-workers toolkit.
    Check them out at tuff-as-nuts.com

  9. The Law of Mobility » Blog Archive » Managing the Danger: Week of 1/07/07 Tuesday, January 9, 2007

    [...] Brick walls [...]

  10. Not bad, it really can occur

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