I have recently accepted been involved in a contract to support the Small Business Administration website that has me living, at least for now, in Washington D.C. while my family and home office remain in Aurora, Colorado.
Living and working a bit over 1,500 miles from home has
forced given me an opportunity to apply several of the technologies I have written about in the past. Their integration should prove that it is possible to replicate your home office and communicate while you are on the road.
Along with my notebook computer, I am carrying a portable printer, which I haven’t used yet, my Fujitsu ScanSnap S1300 portable duplex sheet fed scanner (Tech Bit 38—Portable Scanning), a couple of large capacity 2.5 inch pocket drives and a collection of cables. I also have a backup notebook and full sized terabyte hard drive that are along for the trip “just in case.”
Back home I have my PogoPlug (Tech Bit 59—The Cloud in my Basement) with 2.5 terabytes of storage sitting in my basement. I also have my Fujitsu S1500 desktop duplex sheet fed scanner (Tech Bit 64—going Paperless) sitting in my office. I made a small change to my scanner settings to have it scan as PDF files stored in the PogoPlug (which because of their software looks like a local drive to that computer).
So now when mail arrives at the house, my wife, who is not technical at all, can take any letters, bills, etc and scan them for me to view from my end. She even sent a subpoena couriered to the house (turns out to be for a different Rep Connection). Generally she sends an email just to let me know something new is on the PogoPlug.
I also have a copy of my scanned files (Tech Bit 64—going Paperless) on the PogoPlug so I can access any file that normally would be in a filing cabinet, which was handy when I needed a copy of my 2003 income tax return for my security clearance application.
On those very rare occasions I have needed something I haven’t already put on the PogoPlug, such as an old photograph I needed, I can use Microsoft Live Mesh (Tech Bit 8—Remote Access) to log into my desktop computer and copy the file onto the PogoPlug for access from my notebook.
I also back up files from my notebook onto the PogoPlug, including pictures I’m taking at Civil War battle sites near where I’ve been working (did you know it’s the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War).
Finally my wife, and the dogs, and I use video Skype (Tech Bit 51—Skype) to stay in touch on a daily basis. We can talk as much as we want since Skype to Skype is free, although the dogs haven’t quite figured out why “Dad” is talking to them from a computer.
There has been only one instance in the 6 weeks (I have been home a couple of weekends) I’ve been doing this that we’ve needed to mail anything in a hurry, that was when a replacement credit card arrived late and needed to follow me to D.C.
It is possible to work for reasonably long periods of time remote from your office and still have almost everything accessible using low cost technologies.