The Stuff We Pack Makes the Home Office a Mobile Office

Technology, Telework & Virtual Officing, The Road Warrior
January 30th, 2020 1 Comment »

What's in your travel backpack?

This article originally appeared in 2009… To paraphrase the once-almost-ubiquitous line from a popular credit-card commercial, ‘What’s in your backpack’?’

Whether a family cruise or a two-week road trip, I make sure to pack my backpack with all the essentials needed to create a home office from the road. And with every trip, I find something new to stash in my travel case. I’m sure road warriors and teleworkers go through the same exercise.

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One Home Office Man’s Belated iPhone Migration

Commentary, Technology
January 5th, 2012 No Comments »

I bought an iPhone recently. After about half a century on a BlackBerry Pearl – whose case was battered and whose trackball had lost its ability to track – this home office entrepreneur picked what long had been the Forbidden Fruit. I really liked my Pearl, and especially appreciated its pintish size that made it nearly invisible in my pocket. It was a badge of honor — carrying something those who know me know I’ve carried for so long. But it was aged and dying a slow, undignified death. Most of all, it had little capacity to meet my real motivation: My 12-gigabyte-and-growing iTunes library.

But what’s a suburban-dad / small business owner to do when faced with dozens of smartphones – each fully capable of handling my business needs, but generally equal in attributes such as size, processing power, megapixel cameras and the like?

I searched and scoured the landscape — looking for one device that would replace a trusted tool and guide me gently (and belatedly, it seems) into the 21st Century.

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New Home Office PC? Thwart ID Thieves by Wiping the Old Box Clean

Home Office Security
December 5th, 2009 No Comments »

So you bought your home office or home-based business a spanky new laptop or desktop running on Window 7, huh?

What about your old device? Gonna throw it away, recycle it, give it to a charity and take some unreasonably mammoth tax deduction?

Think again (both about that deduction – and giving the box away). Identity thieves and malcontents are out there just hoping to mine your old PC for the treasure trove of personal or proprietary data that you’ve left behind.

Oh, sure. You think you wiped it clean. You erased everything you could find in MyDocuments. You might even have taken a hammer to the harddrive (assuming you know what it looks like).

Can you still donate, sell or give the device away – confident that no one will find your precious info?

Why not wipe it clean. I mean, really wipe it clean. Products like Laplink SafeErase (; $29.95) eliminates data completely making it safe to recycle or dispose of used hard drives. Read More »

Home Office for Road Warriors: Cooling Pads Draw Heat From Laptops

News & Reviews, Technology, The Road Warrior
December 4th, 2009 No Comments »

I’m sitting in a doctor’s office waiting room with my HP laptop whirring on my lap.

Man, things are getting toasty.

I’m using a LapWorks folding laptop tray. It folds in half, has grooves for cooling, and is light enough to be a permanent accessory in my Oakley laptop backpack. With a folding elevating flap, it can angle toward me for easier use.


Frankly, with some of the crazy things I’ve heard about working with a laptop – and its accompanying magnetic field emitted to the surrounding areas – upon my lap is probably the last place I want my laptop computer. Besides, heat is not good for laptops and other living things… Read More »

Home Office, Small Business: Thanks for the Level Landscape

Create & Run Your Biz, Technology
November 24th, 2009 No Comments »

Here’s an interesting take on Thanksgiving from the people at My Business

If you run a growing small business, home-based business, home office or even telework or are a telecommuter, you may appreciate (and nod knowingly at) the following list of Five Resources and Realities that have helped many small businesses and home offices flourish:

1. THE INTERNET: Small business owners should first give a BIG thanks to Internet. Internet and web-based technologies have been a HUGE enabler for small business growth. Websites, emails, search engines, online stores, contextual advertising, are just to name a few. Read More »

Password Tips Equal Home Office / Small Business Computer Security

Guest Column, Home Office Security, Technology
November 12th, 2009 1 Comment »

Good Password Management Practices

Perhaps the single most important thing to remember when creating a new password is make the password hard to guess, but easy to remember. ?That’s easier said than done, but follow some guidelines below and you will start using passwords that are more secure than what you’re doing now.
A good password is any combination of letters and numbers that cannot be found in a dictionary. ?Your password should be at least 6 to 8 characters long and should not have any personal information such as your name, child’s name, occupation, telephone number, address or birth date. ?A combination of letters, numbers and symbols will work best. ?Make sure you use a mix of capital and lower-case letters to make your password even more difficult to crack.
There are several techniques you can employ to make your existing passwords more secure. ?Whatever method you choose you should remember to make it an easy and understandable method so you will have stronger passwords without much more effort.
1. ?Use the first letter from every word in your favorite expression, or line in a story, poem or movie. ?For example, “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain,” could lead you to the following password: PnAttMBtC.
2. ?Choose a word as your password, but then substitute similar looking numbers for letters in your passwords. ?For example, Football may become F00t8a77 or sneakers may become 5n3ak3r5. ?Here is a sample list of numbers that could be substituted for letters:
I …1
You don’t need to associate every number with a letter. ?What is important is that you remember your list of associated letters and numbers.
3. ?Choose a password that you want to use and then come up with a keystroke mapping system. ?For example, if you choose to do an “upper-left” keystroke system you would choose the letter to the upper-left of the actual key you wanted. ?So if your password was qwert (not recommended) your new password would be 12345 (also not recommended). ?If the word you wanted to use for your password was football, your keystroke password would be r995gqoo. ?It sounds complicated, but you need to look at your keyboard anyway, why not just choose the letter to the upper-left, left, or lower-right of the word you choose to remember.
Despite these easy techniques, users still run into problems remembering all their passwords, especially when they have several different passwords that require periodic changing. ?Fortunately there are software tools available to make life much easier such as RoboForm and Large Password for Windows and 1Password for the Mac. ?These programs are designed to remember users’ passwords, securely store those passwords on the users’ computer, and log them into websites automatically. ?Many tools include other features such as automatic form filling, secure password generation, and secure yellow stickies.
About the Author

Bill Carey is the Vice President of Marketing and Business Development at Siber Systems. ?Siber Systems creates and markets a wide range of software for consumers and businesses. ?The company is best-known for its family of password manager products which include RoboForm, RoboForm2Go, RoboForm Online and RoboForm for the iPhone. ?For more information on RoboForm please visit

Predictable, Searchable, Familial WordsHave NO Place in Your Home Office User ID and Password Combinations.

I got hacked last last week.

Not my home office computer, per se. But this site – Chief Home Officer – was hacked on its server. Some malcontent embedded on my homepage a 10,000-word stream of vile, vulgar, pornographic — and keyword-rich — terms.

My web guy was able to undo the posting with a few keystrokes. And most viewers were none-the-wiser.

But the attack opened my eyes and set me on a mission. Worried that my user ID and passwords had been compromised, I changed them for my most important online services – this and other sites I control, and all my banking and financial services sites.

I went from a single word to a phrase that has nothing to do with my family, kids, pets, mother’s maiden name — you know, the usual cast of words or phrases we’re prone to use, but compelled not to by computer security experts.

Then I wondered IF those keywords had been compromised. The people at Siber Systems penned this piece on “Good Password Management Practices.” I’ve given it a read. Maybe you should, too — before someone hacks your system… Read More »

Short on Space? Five Tips That Maximize a Tight Home Office

Set-up / Design & Organization
November 11th, 2009 No Comments »

Not every home office is in a spacious bedroom with enough square footage for all your stuff. Some are downright tight. To capitalize on the space you have, make the most of idle or ill-used space.

Here are five tips to better space management…
– Go flat and wireless. Whether it’s a flat-panel dispanel monitor, or use of wireless computer accessories like the keyboard or mouse or a cordless desktop phone, today’s tech maximizes space while ensuring function. Moreover, it eliminates unsightly and space-consuming wires. Even a wireless telephone headset can allow you to work away from the workspace.

– Use your walls. Wall-mount accessories, including the phone, computer speakers, task light, flat-panel monitor and even the broadband router or modem, to clear the desktop of required tools. An alternative: Secure monitors or phones on retractable, wall-mounted arms.

– Use your walls, Part II. Pens, pads of paper, pictures and other “stuff” have no place on your desk. They clutter the space and become a gathering spot for dust and allergens. Install a shelf to make a home for the detritus, and clear up your desk space.

– Hide the lights and wiring. Whether it’s beneath shelves or tucked behind cabinets, wiring, outlets and lighting can be hidden from view – while still providing full functionality and access.

– Bury the CPU. Put the computer tower under the desk – preferably in a mounted unit with a door that closes to protect the unit from kids and pets. Make sure to provide ventilation or install a small fan to avoid overheating.
Have your own solutions? Let me know…

Big Back-Up Goes Ultra Portable

News & Reviews, Technology
October 31st, 2009 No Comments »

It seems the more digital detritus we amass in the home office or telework / road warrior workplace, the more of it we expect to wedge into a smaller and smaller space. That’s where the?Sandisk UltraBackup USB Flash Drive comes in.

This flash drive — or “thumb drive” as some people call it, referring to its digit-like size — is small on size but huge on capacity. Measuring from 8 gigabytes to 32 gigs, this traditional flash drive offers one-touch back-up. It’s ideal for traditional back-up, or just stashing stuff to take on the road.

Good thing, since most?IT pros joke about there being two types of computer users in the world: Those who have lost data, and those who will.

Manufacturers include Seagate, Western Digital and Toshiba, among others. The Seagate FreeAgent Go portable storage device ($159) uses a hard drive docking station. The SanDisk Ultra Backup USB flash drive comes in eight gigabytes to 64 gigabytes. Both back up selected files with push of a back-up button. Prices range from $49.99 to $277.99.

Beware the promise of portability, for it has ?its shortcomings. Should a portable drive fall into the wrong hands, data can be compromised. When buying a drive, look for those with built-in encryption to keep intruders out.?Smaller devices ferried about also are susceptible to damage if dropped.

To read a full review, check out?TechwareLabs’ latest look at the Sandisk UltraBackup USB Flash Drive. “We all have at least one type of portable memory storage unit laying around the house filled with music, work, pictures, videos or what have you. But now those guys from Sandisk have created the first flash drive with a “Backup” button. With no wires and no fuss, see if they made a breakthrough in storing important electronic data safely and with ease.”?Read the whole review here.

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