The iPad: A Use Case

Remembering back now, almost a year ago, to a post I wrote about the iPhone as Swiss Army Knife. The post followed my use of the Phone over the course of a ski weekend, including connecting with a new client, drafting and collaborating on a project bid, finding local restaurants and tracking my husband and kids on the slopes.

Flash forward to last week, and I found myself in a similar situation, armed with my trusty iPad.

For those of you who are still on the fence about whether an iPad can further your business interests, read on. While it does not touch on the same range of applications as my prior iPhone post, it shows how a simple iPad can replace a laptop and help you get the job done with a much smaller footprint.

Last week, my mother underwent surgery. I took a personal day off to be with her at the hospital, follow her progress, and report back to interested friends and family members. These days, I can’t really afford to take an entire day – my workload suffers too much from the added weight. So, I packed my little bag with nothing but my iPad and Alu Pen stylus.

I got an email from one of my task force team members asking for research on a particular issue of New York Workers’ Compensation law and Medicare. I read the email on the secure webmail server that I accessed via Safari on my iPad. I quickly hopped onto Google for some quick searching and a general overview. I then opened a new page for westlaw.com, entered my OnePass and got to work.  Navigating Westlaw on the mobile interface is a little tricky but I somehow managed to access all the necessary functions through some creative tapping and swiping.

A couple of hours later, I had emailed all the pertinent information to myself. I then set to work drafting the research memo to the team, using the Word-compatible DocsToGo. I was able to incorporate all the necessary formatting using DocsToGo’s tools. And it did not take me much longer to deposit my writings on the virtual page than it would have with a keyboard.

And I do actually have a bluetooth keyboard for it. But I find that I really don’t use it as much as I anticipated and don’t really miss it when it is in a location different from my iPad and me.

Once finished, I sent off the memo to the team, again using the secure Web interface. I then read all the important news from my social streams and RSS using Flipboard and Feedly, sharing some key bits with my friends. While I still needed my phone to make and receive my work related and personal calls, I was able to do EVERYTHING else on the iPad.

The size difference between a small laptop and the iPad is not great. But, in my opinion, the difference in capability is not great either. I have yet to encounter an insurmountable problem while using the device for a particular task, and either leverage an app or come up with a clever work around to get the job done. It’s small, lightweight (to me anyway), and connected via Wi-Fi and 3G. It is instant on and solid as a rock. It has awesome battery life – much better than my three laptops. And it is fully customizable with a click of a button in the App Store. I have even gone so far as to control my remote laptop with my iPad, thus solving some of the issues surrounding the difference in capabilities.

In a word (or two), it rocks. The competition definitely has its benchmark.

Podio's Virtual Office Solution

Office applications suites are not new. So, what sets the competition apart? How about social connection and extensbility through your own, custom-built apps?

Podio (link here) is a new social office platform, invite only at this point, that offers customization of your virtual office suite with application add-ons. Through these applications, Podio allows you to modify your virtual office to better fit your particular needs. You can then invite people to join your workspace to get your particular job done.

The basic set-up includes “Activity”, “People”, “Calendar” and “Tasks.” It looks much like a “Facebook for the workplace”, but it doesn’t stop there. On top of the basic, you can create your own, function-specific applications yourself, or you can search the directory of applications offered by other app-creators. Open API is coming for further third party app innovation. Add-on applications currently include a wide variety of tools, from recruiting, bug reports, sales leads, meetings, ideas, team blogs, workshops, milestones, moodboards, PR trackers, projects, photos, brainstorms, investors, and scripts to inspirations, votes, mentors, menus, sprints, suppliers, and tons more.  

The overview of workflow on your various projects appears in a familiar stream format. Of course, you can like, comment and share within the stream, a la Facebook. Very social. Tasks can be integrated into other apps to assist workflow, or can be connected to individual objects, like meetings. Contacts are created from the groups of individuals with whom you are working. The Calendar is smart – it pulls tasks, deadlines and other important data from your schedule to keep you notified of what’s next. Spaces are virtual “work rooms” – you can incorporate your coworkers, your internal team, your customers and your outsourced developers or vendors.

With an open API coming, any third party can come in and develop apps to extensify the basic set-up.

Podio seems a very smart implementation of the tools required by a virtual office, with more than a little nod to the social networking format to which we have become accustomed. Looking forward to seeing where this innovative service goes.

Graphing The Day

Bureau of Labor Statistics
Image via Wikipedia

Now this is really fascinating, particularly if you drill down into the various categories across different groups. The New York Times published this interactive graph on July 31, 2009 which shows how people over the age of 15 spend their day. The graph is compiled with information culled in 2008 by the Bureau of Labor Statistics and purports to show results for “thousands” of people. The chart morphs when you select a group: everyone; men; women; employed; unemployed; not in the labor force; white; black; hispanic; age group; educational level; and number of children. When you scroll over the results, greater detail on the particular band pops up, changing as you move through the day.

I find interesting the breakdown on the chart between “work”, “household activities” and “family care.” Seems there might be some overlap there. There are also categories for: eating and drinking; assorted services; shopping; education; job search; nonfamily care; traveling; phone calls; volunteering; religious activities; sports; computer use; tv and movies (a shocking chunk); relaxing and thinking; socializing; other leisure; personal care; and sleeping. Oh, and my personal favorite “I can’t remember.”

Very interesting breakdown, indeed.

Hat tip to Feminist Law Professors.

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