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Posts Tagged ‘warrior

Yesterday I shared some wifi-related tips for the road warrior. Today I focus on hardware peripherals.
 

 
If wifi is like the air, then electrical power is the food and water of your devices. Since you cannot guarantee yourself a power point when you are on the move, an external battery that can charge a phone, slate, or even a laptop is a must.

I do not recommend skimping on quality when buying a battery and the cables that feed your devices. You do not want to risk damage to either the battery or your devices.

A good (but expensive) brand is Anker. (Disclosure: I am not paid to promote the brand.) If you choose to buy external battery packs and charging cables from Anker, I recommend you buy them online from the supplier instead of a store. A SGD24 cable online can cost between SGD5 to 10 more in store.

If, like me, you need to conduct seminars or facilitate workshops, you need a laptop charger and a dongle to connect to a projector. I recommend buying a spare charger from the maker of your laptop or go for a reputable brand.

If you have a Macbook Pro, you might only have USB-C ports and need to get a multi-purpose dongle that provides power, one or more USB-A ports, VGA and/or HDMI output, and a LAN (cabled Internet) connection.

If you can afford to, get one dongle and a set of cables for home and one for the travel bag. This avoids the inconvenience of disconnecting and reconnecting cables at home while ensuring you are prepared for whatever a new room throws at you.

My last tip is an expensive one: Noise-cancelling headphones. These drown the world out while allowing you to make clear phone or video calls. While some might baulk at the cost, noise-cancelling headphones are an investment for your sanity.

Oh, and get the over-the-ear headphones and not the stick-in-your-ear earphones. The headphones send others a visual signal that you are not to be disturbed.

I never found the companion that was so companionable as solitude. -- Thoreau

Yesterday I had a meeting at a Starbucks with someone who just learnt that its free wifi expired after 30 minutes.

I realised that what I took for granted was news to others, so I decided to type out a few of the many things that make a local road warrior’s office tick. I focus on wifi today and an assortment of tips tomorrow.
 

 
Wifi is the lifeblood of the road warrior. But if you use the free wifi offered by places like Starbucks or McDonald’s, you pay for the convenience with some inconvenience.

Starbucks in Singapore currently partners with MyRepublic and wifi access is free after you register. However, you are limited to 30 minute sessions and must reconnect in between. (Disclosure: This is not a sponsored piece.)

If you do not want your workflow interrupted, you might do what I do — I set a timer for 29 minutes by Googling “timer for 29 minutes” as a reminder.

At other eateries, you might be able to set up a mobile phone and laptop for automatic connection to Wireless@SGx. The mobile and laptop apps that facilitate this process and can be downloaded here.

M1's FAQ #8 on Wireless@SGx.

Note: There is the Wireless@SG variant (no “x” at the end) that requires a manual login via SMS, but this service is less secure according to one local telco’s FAQ.

Most malls offer free wifi in exchange for some personal information. I do not risk abuse of this information, so I recommend avoiding them. If you must connect, use temporary email and generic contact numbers. These are good options if messages are not sent to the email and number for verification.
 

 
Regardless of the wifi source, it is always a good idea to use a VPN service to protect your connection. I have used Private Internet Access (PIA) for years. It costs me only about SGD3.50 a month for peace of mind. (Disclosure: I have not been paid in any way by PIA to mention this.) Here are some paid and free VPN alternatives.

If you are not on VPN, do not conduct transactions like banking, billing, or otherwise logging into sensitive sites.

Using VPN is not without its hiccups. One mall I frequent blocks VPN services on its free wifi. Some online services like Google Drive, Google Photos, and macOS Notes might not sync or work properly when connected to public wifi protected by VPN. For me this happens on my laptop, but not on my phone (VPN is on all the time), so I am not sure what it going on.

Where public wifi is not available, you may need to tether your phone to a laptop with a suitable cable or use your phone as a hotspot.

To ensure that my laptop sips data instead of gulps it, I make sure that background processes are shutdown or paused. File sync and media streaming services can rack up your bill.

We have it relatively easy in Singapore with free wifi almost everywhere. But the convenience should not lull road warriors into a false sense of security. Better to be safe than sorry.


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