No question the most popular type of article I post on jkOnTheRun is the "day in the life" articles where I run through a whole day and describe how I use my mobile gear as the day unfolds. The first such article I wrote covered my usage of the Toshiba e-805 Pocket PC in all its VGA splendor to handle everything I did during that day. The look into my typical usage of the Toshiba resonated with readers and I realized this type of article could benefit a lot of people, so I promised myself to write new articles when my mobile gear changed. The most popular "day in the life" article is without a doubt the article that describes how I used the Sony U50 as a mini-Tablet PC. It is now time to take you through my day with the Samsung Q1 SSD (and friends) to show what I do with my mobile gear and how it makes my life easier and more efficient. This is a typical day in the life of a Samsung Q1 (after the jump):
I have two careers going on simultaneously and at times it can make me crazy trying to keep up with everything and keeping straight what I’m supposed to be doing at any given time. It doesn’t help that my two careers have absolutely nothing to do with each other and require me to use totally different tools to make my job(s) easier. You are familiar with one of my careers- blogger/ freelance writer/ general mobile wise-a$$/ Tablet Guy. It’s the career I really like. In my
real other career I am a consulting geophysicist who provides technical quality control and project management services handling complex 3D seismic imaging projects for oil companies. That’s right, you hate the oil companies but I love them because they feed my family. I have multiple clients located all over the greater Houston area (and one in Scotland) with my major client, Big Oil Company, having offices in downtown Houston. I have an office in their building with a nice view of the Enron Building, or the "monument that Lay built" as it’s also known. It’s now a 30 story cubicle farm for another oil company. But I digress.
I have to go downtown to the Big Oil office 3 days per week and on those days I usually have meetings in the office during the morning and in the afternoons I have one or two meetings at other locations around town. My alarm clock goes off at God-Awful-Thirty and I drag my sorry butt out of bed and downstairs to get that first eye-opening cup of coffee. It’s brewed fresh and waiting for me as the first gadget of the day (Hamilton Beach Brewstation) has been programmed to have the coffee ready at the precise time I stumble down the stairs. I have a few
slurps sips of coffee and I’m awake enough to turn on the Samsung Q1 SSD, otherwise known as Flash, to get ready for my day. I sit in my easy chair, otherwise christened The Man Chair by my wife, and check my email in Outlook 2007 using just my fingertips to tap things on the screen.
Outlook portrait orientation (note all sidebars are collapsed for maximum viewing pleasure)
After I check my email I’m off to check my RSS feeds to catch up on what happened during the night on the 300 or so web sites I follow. I use Onfolio, a free RSS aggregator that is now part of the Windows Live offering from Microsoft. I like Onfolio for a number of reasons, chief among them is how easy it is to pull up my "river of news". Onfolio does what few other aggregators I’ve tried will do- when I click a button or down arrow to go to the next news item, Onfolio marks the one I leave as read. This is essential to me as I don’t always have time in a given session to process all my news and Onfolio makes it possible to return later and know exactly where I left off. It works especially well on Flash as I rotate the screen to portrait orientation which displays the maximum amount of news in an easy to follow fashion. I use the joypad button to go from one news item to the next, a method that lets me check hundreds of news items in the quickest way possible. When I see a new item I want to save for possible use later, I tap the appropriate icon in Onfolio to save the item in one of several folders I’ve set up depending on what I will likely do with the news. Simple and easy, Onfolio is a mainstay application for me and one I will visit several times during my day whenever I have free time.
Onfolio portrait orientation (note this screen and the next were taken prior to upgrading to IE7)
River of news
Once I’ve processed my news items I take Flash to my home office, plug it in to charge up, and unfold the ThinkOutside Sierra Bluetooth keyboard. This wireless keyboard is a full-sized keyboard and I use it all through my day with no compromises, even though it folds up for transport to a highly mobile size. I also turn on the ThinkOutside Travel Mouse, a portable Bluetooth mouse by the same maker, and in just a few seconds I have a complete laptop (if not desktop) replacement. I use this setup for the next hour to write any articles I am working on and to post items of interest on jkOnTheRun. I also write a couple of posts for my Houston Chronicle blog, jkOnThePhone. When I first got Flash I would switch to high resolution (1024 x 600) to get the maximum amount of display possible but with IE7 I don’t do that anymore. Now I hit a button on the D-Pad on Flash that I’ve programmed to provide an F11 keypress and IE7 switches to full screen mode. This lets me see a good amount of screen real estate and yet stay in the native Q1 resolution of 800 x 480 and I find that works very well as it leaves the screen easy to read by these old eyes.
Once I’ve done my writing it’s now time to hit the shower, get dressed, and jump on the motorway to get to the downtown office. I throw all my gear into my Booq Boa XS backpack and hit the road. I don’t leave the tech behind of course, and once my roaming butt is nestled in the seat of Sally, the 1997 Mustang GT convertible I picked up recently, I attach the TomTom One GPS system to Sally’s windshield. I enter the route downtown with three screen taps and the TomTom gives me the planned route in less than 5 seconds. Now, I know how to get to the office so you’re probably wondering why I need to use the GPS to get there. That’s a fair question but experience tells me it helps in a couple of ways. Firstly, Houston traffic is terrible and many times I’ve encountered an accident on the freeways that brings traffic to a standstill. WIth the GPS system it is now a no-brainer to hit the next exit off the freeway and detour around the problem. The TomTom instantly senses when I am doing this and in just a few seconds generates a new route to help me get around the problem and still get to my destination as quickly as possible. Secondly, I find it beneficial to have the TomTom in front of me where I can instantly see how far I have to go before the next waypoint so I am always prepared to be in the correct lane. No more last second cutting across two lanes of the freeway to make my turn (unless I just feel like it). The TomTom One gets about 3 hours of use on a single charge of the battery and it hasn’t run dry during the day yet. It comes with a charger that plugs into the lighter outlet so even it that were to happen it would be no big deal, I’d just plug it in.
It takes me about 45 minutes to get to the downtown office, even though I leave the house at 6 am. If I leave any later than that I really start hitting traffic so I leave early on the days I go downtowm. I get in my office at 6:45 and set Flash up to use at my desk. It is largely the same setup I used at home with a couple of additions to make it all work. The Big Oil Company is a tightly locked down facility so there is no WiFi network I can tap into. They have a LAN, of course, but since I work for multiple clients I don’t like to tap my own computer into their network for confidentiality reasons. That’s no problem for me as I connect my Verizon XV6700 Windows Mobile 5 Pocket PC Phone to Flash using a BoxWave miniSync cable. I leave the phone tethered to Flash the entire time I am at my desk and enjoy the EV-DO speed connectivity throughout the morning. I use PDANet from June Fabrics to connect the phone to Flash via USB. This has another advantage as it charges my phone while connected. I am getting 3 hours of battery life with Flash which is not enough to get me through my day as a lot of meetings I attend take 2 hours or longer. I need to conserve the battery for meetings so I need a power source at my desk but I don’t even carry my AC adapter with me. That’s right, I leave it at home so how do I power Flash at the office? I use the BatteryGeek Portable Power Station (PPS), an external battery that weighs less than 2 pounds and provides 18 hours of power for Flash. I have never run it completely dry so the battery life I am quoting came from reviews of the PPS that others have published. I don’t doubt it as I use it all day and then some without running dry. The PPS charges Flash while it’s powering it so when I head off to the first meeting of the day the Q1 has a fully charged internal battery. More on the PPS later.
Before heading off to the meeting I slide Flash into the neoprene sleeve Samsung provided and head into the conference room. My co-workers are now very familiar with seeing Flash at meetings and no one gives it a second glance anymore. I open Outlook and go to the calendar, tap on the meeting item in Outlook and tap the meeting notes icon which opens OneNote to a new page with the meeting details duly entered, including all attendees. It is on this page that I ink notes throughout the meeting, and I make full use of various ink colors and the yellow highlighter as I take notes. The fact that the ink notes are searchable in OneNote 2007 always blows people away when I show them how I can find information instantly, even given my horrible handwriting. Once the meeting is over I head back to my office to get some real work done after plugging Flash back into the PPS for charging. One thing I like about the Q1 is it charges really quickly, so when I need to head to the second meeting Flash is back at a 100% charge.
OneNote in full screen mode
OneNote portrait orientation
The second meeting lasts 2 hours and I need to head across town as soon as it’s over to attend a review session at a contractor’s shop. I don’t have time to charge Flash before heading out but that’s not a problem as I have a method for handling that. I slide Flash into the sleeve, put it into my Booq backpack in the back pocket, slide the PPS into the next pocket and plug Flash into the PPS. Flash charges all the way across town and is almost completely charged when I arrive at my destination. This is just so cool and doing this throughout the day keeps Flash running and me happy.
I leave Flash in the bag charging happily while I make a quick stop for a bite to eat and on this day I decide to eat in a Starbuck’s since my time is limited and I can take full advantage of the WiFi goodness they provide. I get one of the overpriced (and largely tasteless) sandwiches and a Venti Iced Tea (Black Passion) and head for a table. I decide to get some work done while I eat so I duplicate my layout of this morning with Flash, the keyboard, and mouse and connect to the network to connect to my hosted Exchange Server. This gets my email coming in so I then fire up IE7 with Onfolio and get my RSS feeds refreshing. While that is happening I dig into my sandwich and listen to a podcast with my Ultimate Ears Super.fi Pro 5 earphones. I use iTunes for that and even though Starbuck’s have become some of the noisiest places on the planet the noise-blocking Ultimate Ears let me listen in perfect silence. I process my RSS feeds and email while I finish eating and then it’s time to go back to work.
Best mobile tech podcast in iTunes
When I arrive at the 3rd site of the day Flash is at 50% battery level because while I was eating I forgot to plug into the PPS. I pull Flash out of the sleeve and I take notes throughout the QC session at the contractor’s shop and when the battery level drops to 25% I unobtrusively reach into the Booq bag on the table beside me, grab the charge cable still attached to the PPS and plug Flash in. Did I mention how sweet this setup is? I keep taking notes for the duration of the meeting and the PPS is charging Flash the whole time. It becomes obvious I need to refer to a data example that the contractor sent me so I fire up PowerPoint to show the other attendees. Even though the Q1 screen is so small the fantastic zoom slider bar in Office 2007 applications lets me zoom in and demonstrate the problem under discussion. By the end of this meeting Flash is fully charged and I’m off to the next location. I should point out that I am using the TomTom everytime I am traveling to the next location. Mobile tech rocks!
I arrive at the last destination for this busy day and pull Flash out and take notes. During this meeting it is necessary for me to refer to various bits of information from previous correspondence but that’s no problem with OneNote. Every email or document that I receive about a project that I deem important is immediately sent to OneNote, either through the aforementioned button in Outlook or using the virtual printer that is installed with OneNote. The documents, Word documents, Excel spreadsheets, PDF files and Project timelines mostly, come into OneNote as images and even though the UMPC screen is small the zoom function in OneNote makes it easy to blow images up to view if needed. OneNote now indexes text contained within images so all of the documents in my OneNote notebooks are fully searchable, something that I use repeatedly throughout the day. The whole purpose behind the way I work is to record information and more importantly to access that information and OneNote makes this bullet-proof. I like bullet-proof. I should point out that throughout my day I make extensive use of the UI in the Microsoft appications. It’s a simple double tap on a tab in Word or Excel to collapse the ribbon to free up precious screen real estate, something that also works in the Outlook email editor (which is Word). I collapse UI elements wherever possible to get the most of the small screen of the Q1.
During this meeting I do something that I have done during the earlier meetings so I can access my email in case a client sends me something I need to know right away. I connect the XV6700 phone to Flash via Bluetooth, also using PDANet which provides that capability. This way no one is the wiser that I am connected to the web and receiving emails while working. In this meeting I get an email from a client and ink out a quick reply using the TIP so there is one less thing to do when I get back to my home office at the end of the day, which is now approaching as my last meeting of the day draws to a close. I was delayed leaving the meeting as one of the attendees wanted to know what that "Star Trek" device was that I’d been using so I had to do a little demo. Once that’s done it’s time to head back to my home office.
I jump in Sally, fire up the TomTom and off I go. Of course Flash is charging all the way home, a trip that takes me about 45 minutes so when I get home Flash is raring to go with a full battery. I love mobile technology, not just because it’s cool (it is) but because it enables me to do things better, faster, and more efficiently than otherwise possible. Good tech is hard to beat.
NOTE: no trees were harmed during this busy day of note-taking and working with assorted documents
There are lots of applications that I did not use on this day including some Samsung utilities that were pre-installed on the Q1. Here are some assorted screenshots of those programs:
AVStation media player (running under Windows XP embedded)
Battery level and Samsung utility bar (right side)
Movie playing in iTunes from the music store
Samsung Battery Manager
Samsung Voice Recorder
eReader Pro in portrait full screen mode