E L S U A ~ A KM Blog by Luis Suarez

Tools and Gadgets

Experimenting with Moblogging – Finally, Proud Owner of an iPad

Gran Canaria - Parador de Tejeda in the SpringIt has been nearly a month since I came back from Boston, MA, from attending and presenting at the wonderful Enterprise 2.0 Conference event, and here I am readying to start sharing a number of different blog posts with some of the major highlights from the event itself.

This year I have decided to perhaps put together smaller articles focusing on the various keynote and breakout sessions I attended, as well as sharing some further thoughts on other events I decided to check out and scatter them around with other entries from other interesting and relevant stuff I haven bumped into since I came back, so that we would have some variety along the way…

However, for now I would like to take this opportunity to share with you folks what, to me, has been one of the major highlights from my stay in Boston and which has nothing to do with the #e2conf event at all. A highlight I have been enjoying for the last few weeks and still going strong…

Yes, while in Boston, I, finally, had the opportunity to get my hands on an iPad and bring it back home. Yay!! Indeed, I am now the proud owner of a 64GB 3G iPad! and I am having a blast with it!! I just can’t imagine how I could have gone without it before for so long!

Ever since it came out, I knew it was going to be *the* mobile device that would make my life a lot easier, both at work and in my personal life. But I never thought it would change my online digital habits this bad. For the better, of course! I have gone from spending plenty of time sitting in front of my MacBook Pro, to split that up by nearly half with my iPad. And when doing so I just can’t help thinking about a single word coming to mind: Mobility. With a capital "M". And that is a good thing, right? 😉 Isn’t that what we always wanted to have? An ability to be constantly mobile, yet fully online, and ready to engage.

I guess in its due time I will be putting together a much more in-depth blog post where I will detail what I find truly fascinating from using such mobile device to allow me to stay connected, do my job and still have plenty of good fun along the way. Not that I am not having lots of fun with my MacBook Pro already; it’s just a different kind of fun, if you know what I mean. This post has been drafted from the rich text editor of my blog and must confess the experience has been pretty good, although I am having an issue with the categories, and therefore finalising the post using Qumana, my default offline blogging client on the Mac. I guess perhaps I may not be putting together such long entries with it from here onwards…

How about if we would introduce though, over here, another experiment?: moblogging. Yes, I am thinking it may well be a good idea to explore, specially for those of you who may be into brevity, because that is the essence of mobile blogging, don’t you think? And if you have been following this blog for a little while, you will notice how bad I am at it. Well, this may change things a little bit. What do you think?

Fear not, however, I am not going to turn this blog into a moblog, just exclusively; there will be plenty of opportunities for me to expand a good number of thoughts into larger entries, mostly when I am back in front of my Mac, but with the iPad it’s now time for me to try a few other things and a couple of experiments; the first one … do plenty more moblogging. The following one(s)? Who knows…

You will find out pretty soon, I am sure! For now, going to keep enjoying this major highlight I bought while in Boston after several, miserably failed, attempts over here in Spain. So far it’s been worth the wait and so much more! Hopefully, I will be able to share a proper overview of it pretty soon! Hang in there, although if you already have one, I bet you already know what it is like, right? 😉

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Barriers of Social Software Adoption within the Enterprise: It Will Cost You More than You Think!

Tenerife - The RoseIn my last blog post I hinted I will be putting together another entry where I would reflect on something that has been in my mind for a good number of months, if not years altogether. Something that, to me, comes pretty close home as the main problem, issue, bottleneck, challenge (whatever other term you would want to use) on the full adoption of Social Computing within the enterprise by knowledge workers.

Funny enough, it hasn’t got to do anything with a good number of the various different challenges that plenty of people have been talking about all around for a long while now. Yes, this is a blog post where I would not talk about cultural barriers, nor the various technology challenges (Social software tools being too complex to use, as the main one, for instance, as well as the plethora of them available coming as a close second one), nor the difficulties in letting command-and-control let go by organisations as well as some of the management layers, nor the reluctance to change and so on and so forth.

No, this is not going to be a blog post about any of those. I’m actually going back to basics. Back to what I consider the root of the problem as to why we are probably not as effective and efficient as we could be with our own adoption of social software within the enterprise. And I will use myself as an sample providing you guys with a bit of context and background of where I am coming from with such statement.

So let’s get things going with that context. In the current corporate environment one of the growing trends that you would have to agree with me it’s becoming more and more prominent by the day is how global, distributed and virtual it’s become over the last decade for all of us knowledge workers.

Right now it is almost impossible to find a business that may have all of its employees working in the same building, the same city, or perhaps, in plenty of cases, the same country. Yes, we all becoming more global, more virtual, which means that we are no longer being "restricted" to working in a traditional office (That same office building where 10 years ago perhaps we would’ve spent plenty of time at the water cooler, or coffee corner, in our early mornings and afternoons catching up with our team and other fellow colleagues enjoying a cup of coffee, or some tea).

Instead, we have all been getting used to the idea of working remotely, whether it is at our own home offices, while we are on the road, while visiting customers or business partners, while at the airport, and the nearest Starbucks "office", etc. etc. You get my drift. We are all basically taking the office with us.

And that’s where the problem starts. Right at the root of the cause as to why perhaps we may not have adopted social software as much as we probably should have in the first place. I guess by now you know where I am heading at this point in time, but, just in case you may not have, here it goes: to me, the biggest challenge for a successful social software adoption for remote knowledge workers within the enterprise is no other than the appalling quality of broadband connections we have got in our virtual offices.

There! I said it! I let it all out! The main problem that no one wants to talk about. The complete rip-off that us, knowledge workers, have been suffering from for a good number of years. But let’s see that with a bit more context and provide an example. In this case, an easy one: myself.

I have been a remote employee, working from my home office, for over six years now and I absolutely love the experience. I probably wouldn’t even change it for anything else. And I suppose that would apply as well to the over 50% of IBM remote employees who work away from a traditional office. And I bet that would apply to most of you folks out there as well who have been working remotely for a while now.

So that basically means that if we want to become heavy users of social software, we need to rely, now more than ever, on faster remote network connections, not just the clunky ones that would allow us to just replicate our mail and go off-line again. I mean, we are having access to hundreds of information resources (News Web sites, blogs, podcasts, videocasts, screencasts, social networking sites, micro-sharing services, etc. etc. You name it!), where plenty of them are rich media based, which means they are rather heavy. So you would expect that we would have an opportunity to enjoy faster speeds, right?

Well, we are not. Quite the opposite! How many times have you been to a conference event where on the first keynote session the connection offered goes down? How many times have you been stuck in a hotel room with Internet access where you are paying up to €22 per day for very poor quality of service? How many times have you been at the airport, waiting for that flight, connected to the WiFi, paying €6-€10 "just to be connected"? How many times have you wished that your 3G smartphone would have decent network coverage to allow you to use the tethering service, so you could continue to work online? How many times have you thought you are paying too much, every month, for an Internet connection that is way less than desirable? How many times have you wished that things would be different, perhaps much more accommodating to our own needs as a paying recurring customer than the Internet Service Provider that keeps letting you down time and time again?

I’m sure that if you go through those questions you will feel identified with a good number of them. You may be even nodding, as I put down these few words, that it is just far too close to reality. Yet we don’t seem to be doing much about it. And that starting with myself having experienced that lack of service, but still paying through the nose for it. If you have been following my blog, or my tweets, for a while now, you could probably identify the kind of fun that I have been enjoying all along. Latest example, being stuck in a five-star hotel in Tenerife, paying the heavy charges per day for an Internet connection that was just as slow, if not worse!, than my 3G smartphone’s. Ouch!!

And like that one, I’m sure there will be hundreds, if not thousands, of different examples that you could go ahead and share away in the comments along the lines of "Yes, been there, done that, got the T-shirt and the souvenirs". Yet we don’t seem to do anything about it. It’s like we enjoy being abused by those who charge us huge amounts of money for very poor quality service.

And this bugs me. A lot! I mean, I have got tons of rich media and web resources that I would love to share out there with the rest of my social networks, yet it is all been religiously stored in my Mac, because I cannot be bothered any longer waiting for hours to upload a video of 30 to 50 MB (And that talking on the low file size of things…). I gave up a long while ago. And I feel very sorry about it, because it clearly reminds me of plenty of the issues that Knowledge Management has been having over the last few years: i.e. lack of knowledge sharing or, even, hoarding one’s own knowledge. Yikes!!

I know that you may be wondering that I may well be over exaggerating this, but quite the opposite, to be honest. If you would like to see some proof of what I’m talking about I would strongly encourage to take a look into Speedtest World’s Results and statistics. Unless you live in one of those lucky countries you’re off to witness a very nasty experience. Another example? Here it comes…

I live in Spain, in Gran Canaria, to be more precise. And, according to Speedtest World’s Results, my country currently ranks at the 46th position worldwide as far as download speed is concerned and an incredibly depressing 98th position worldwide as far as I upload speed is concerned. 46th and 98th!!! Just unbelievable! But, not to worry, because it gets better; well, actually, much worse!

For those rankings that I have just mentioned above, I am paying a whopping 90€ bill for my home home ADSL connection (50€ per month with Telefónica) and my 3G smartphone Internet connection (40€ per month with the wonderful service provided by Movistar… NOT!!!). Plus you would have to add the hundreds of euros that I have been spending to pay for WiFi at hotels, airports, Internet cafés, etc. You would agree with me that it makes for a really nice yearly bill altogether, don’t you think? Yes, I thought so, but what did we get back in return…?

Well, I’m getting tired. I’m getting tired of it all. I’m finding it more and more challenging by the day to come to terms with the fact that in order to continue making heavy use of social software tools where rich media sharing is a rule (Not a nice thing to have, as most Internet Service Providers seem to think… since, to them, the less you use social networking tools the better for them because they will be charging you the same amount of money for hardly any quality service or probably not the one you think you would be entitled to for that amount of money, in the first place, anyway), I would need to pay a nice monthly bill to allow me to stay connected.

Not sure what you would think, but certainly I can think of better things to do with that money, specially when thinking what I get in return. I know, you may be thinking that I am over-exaggerating  again, right? Hummm, I don’t think so. Check the following screen shot with the charts for the top countries and judge for yourself whether I am on a unique situation or not. I am sure I am not… Here’s the snapshot:

I’m not sure what we could do about it, since, like I said before, no one seems to be bringing up this as an issue. Actually, most people think that broadband penetration is good enough. Well, maybe it is not. Maybe it could actually be way better. But, to be honest, unless we all say it is an issue, or a challenge, towards the successful adoption of social software within the enterprise, nothing much will happen. And that would be a real pity. All our evangelising efforts and hard work being shattered with a snap of a finger, just because we keep tolerating such poor quality of service for something that, to us, Web workers, should be our right. Like it is in some places already… Maybe I should move countries once again…

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Will Social Software Replace Email in an Enterprise 2.0 World?

Gran Canaria - Roque Nublo's SurroundingsNow that I have gotten off my chest that reflection on something I have been meaning to write about for a while now, I think it is time to move into the next one. Perhaps, in a follow-up blog post I will talk a little bit about which social networking sites have now been become part of my recently created and ongoing "black list". Facebook, LinkedIn and Slideshare are just three of them, but there are a few more. So I guess I will start putting together a table with those networking sites that, in my opinion, would need to get their act together, before I would come back to them.

But that’s the subject for another blog entry… For today I would like to reflect some more on something that has been bugging me for a couple of years and, which I think, is a good time now to share it and get it off my chest as well (You can see to what I dedicate part of my time during the holidays: think, rethink, ponder, ponder some more and finally share some of these crazy ideas out there. In this case in this blog).

You may have noticed how what I’m going to talk about (Expect a long blog post ahead, by the way, so you may want to grab a cup of coffee, or tea, sit down and read on!) dates back to around two years, more precisely a few weeks after I started this initiative of living "A World Without Email". Most of you know how I have been using social software for much longer, yet things changed when I kicked off that experiment. And time and time again people keep asking me how do I do it. How am I capable of giving up corporate email altogether and still do the stuff that I do on a daily basis.

Interestingly, plenty of people keep wondering how they could do it themselves as well, after having witnessed what I have been doing all along, and they continue to ask what would be some of the main challenges, issues, showstoppers, etc. etc. with the whole experiment itself, so they could overcome them and start walking away, slowly but steadily, from corporate email. And over the last few months I’ve come to the conclusion that the main obstacle there is out there hasn’t got anything to do with changing people’s habits, or provoking a cultural change, or trying to convince people there are better ways of collaborating and sharing knowledge out there.

It is actually a lot simpler, and perhaps even more upsetting, too! Remember that brilliant piece that Andy McAfee put together a couple of years ago under "The 9X Email Problem"? Well, it has got to do with it, and quite a bit! In that brilliant article Andy comes to highlight, amongst several other very interesting things, how the biggest challenge for social software to take over email and become the primary corporate collaboration and knowledge sharing tool is its simplicity, or the lack of.

We all know that sending and processing email is very easy, perhaps far too easy. It’s the tool that we have been relying on for the last few decades and it has evolved good enough in the direction that today it is an indispensable business related tool. There’s no reason to deny that. And, in fact, I’m not going to.

What I have noticed though, as I have been more and more involved with getting the most out of social software (versus corporate email), is that social software tools, in my opinion, are almost there: just as easy to use as email is. Everybody knows how easy it is to create a blog post, to edit a wiki page, to tag a Web resource, to bookmark a link, even to tweet. So what seems to be the problem then, you may be wondering, right?

Well, you are not going to believe this, but over the last few weeks I have been studying how I work and interact with social software tools on a daily basis and, to me, the biggest obstacle, the main challenge why social software is still going to take a long while to replace email altogether is no other than something we are all very familiar with: the Web browser.

Who would have thought about that, eh? The main issue I am seeing when interacting with social software tools is actually not the social tools themselves, but how I access them. You know the story, if you want to write an email to someone, you bring up your favorite email client in a second or two, you hit the magic keystroke combination to bring up a new memo and you start writing away and send it off. All of that in a matter of seconds. You know how it works.

The thing changes when you need to do something in one of your social networking tools and you need to go and access the Web. What do you do? You go and launch / switch to your favorite default browser (Internet Explorer, Firefox, Flock, Safari, Chrome, etc.), start loading the URL you’re interested in and start interacting with it. Now depending on the social software tool, depending on the Web browser you may be using at that time, or your network speeds (Even more, if you are travelling!), depending as well on how many other things you’re doing at the same time that relatively simple task may take from a couple of seconds to a whole bunch of them!

And that’s where the problem starts. Because, as I continue to rely more and more on those browsers, the overall user experience has deteriorated quite a bit for most of them, if not all of them!, to the point where opening a single page to start loading a Web site can take several seconds, and if you have multiple screens (multiple tabs) it will get worse. And worse! And much worse as you try to work your way through various multiple social networking tools!! To the point where you would realise you would have been much faster reaching out to that person through email (Versus whatever the social tool). And we are back again to square one! Email rules!

Now most of you know that for the last two and a half years I have been using, almost exclusively, a MacBook Pro as my main work machine. So from that list of browsers mentioned above you will need to scratch Chrome and Internet Explorer (No, I don’t have a virtual Windows machine running on the Mac. Never have, in case you are wondering…). Thus for my day to day work I have four Web browsers opened, at all times: Firefox, Flock, Safari and Opera (Which has remained, throughout the years, as my preferred default browser!). I’ve got all of them fine tuned to be top-notch web browsing experiences. Yet all of them, except one, keep failing miserably, time and time again, to get me the kind of response, as far as performance is concerned, as to what I usually get from my email client that I have been utilising for a few years.

And that’s not good. Because it basically means that email will "win" over and over for as long as those browsers don’t improve themselves against overall outstanding performance benchmarks. It’s got even to the point where I have almost given up on all of them (Except one! Hint, hint…) and instead of using and relying on them rather heavily I am noticing how I keep downloading the various different desktop applications to interact with those social tools. So I hardly use the Web browsers anymore for my own productivity. Instead I just use them to read Web resources.

All except one, like I just said: Opera, the one that rules them all and which, on the Mac, is a unique Web browsing experience! Even today! Too bad though most Web applications and other social tools don’t interact too well with such browser, probably just because it is not one of the popular / hyped ones (I know, a shame!). Talking about following Web Standards …

You would probably say I may have become, over the course of time, what some people would call a "Power Web Worker"; someone who spends a good chunk of his time (Probably 80% of his working time) on the Web, if not more! Remember, I don’t rely on email any longer! Instead, I rely on Web applications accessed through the browsers and continue to expect the same kind of response from those productivity tools, i.e. the browsers, as what you would expect from the various desktop applications we are used to, including our email clients. Yet they keep failing to deliver and, as you may have guessed, they keep adding further up on my frustration levels, something that, for instance, email clients haven’t done any longer for a long while now.

That’s definitely why Posterous has become incredibly popular at the moment, way beyond the hype. And, as you may have guessed, for a particular good reason; it is dead simple to use! It still allows you to share your knowledge and collaborate with other knowledge workers in an open, public and social space by bypassing the main issue that is stopping us all from adopting these social tools in the first place even more: The Web Browsers. I bet most of you folks have got your own war stories about your default Web browsers (Anyone care to share theirs?)

But how does Posterous do it? Well, using something that will still be with us for decades to come, not only because it just works, but also because it’s the easiest way of helping you stay productive: email, which is not the same thing I could say for all of those Web browsers, that will keep hindering your overall productivity due to their appalling performance, except for that one in the minority that I wish people would pay more attention to, because so far it’s the only one that can deliver a true Web browsing experience: fast, secure, reliable, stable, complete and straight to the point! Opera rules! And so does email (Through Posterous though)!

So imagine the possibilities of this newly born nifty combination between Opera, which happens to be an email client as well, and Posterous. Are you ready to experience the Web once again? Are you ready to leave behind the daily headaches, the increasing level of frustrations, behind your Web browser(s)? I surely am!

(Thanks for reading this long blog post directly from your favourite RSS / Atom feed reader… You just proved the point ;-))

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Excellent Customer Support Summarised in a Single Word: ScreenFlow

A few days back you would remember how, in a recent blog post, I stated that nowadays it seems it is becoming more and more difficult, and rare!, to find excellent customer service, as I was trying to share further insights on the recent fiasco I have gone through with both movistar & Apple with the 3GS iPhone. But that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist altogether, right? Well, today I thought I would share a story with you folks. A story that features yours truly, once again, but this time around on what excellent customer support is all about. But one step at a time…

It all starts with an email sent to my personal account by the Telestream folks, announcing that the super fine ScreenFlow 2.0 is now available for download and upgrade. Now, I probably haven’t mentioned this here before, but ScreenFlow is actually one of my favorite screencasting tools for the Mac, if not my all time favorite (Yes, I know, Camtasia for the Mac comes pretty close, too!). The thing is that ScreenFlow has been there for a while now, while Camtasia is just getting started, so over time I have gotten used to the excellent features, and capabilities, the former has got to offer.

So after checking out what ScreenFlow 2.0 has in store, including some of the features I have been looking forward to for a little while now, I decided to go ahead and upgrade to it. I was advised to check the upgrade link to see how it would work, so I did that. And that’s when the problems started. Apparently, I was not the only one who didn’t go through a successful upgrade to the latest version (A whole bunch of us seemed to have problems with it, too!).

From there onwards, I decided to check what people were saying in Twitter, and when I realized I was not the only one having such problems I tweeted it to a couple of people I follow indicating it was not an isolated problem. By then, I had already sent out a note to customer support asking for further advice on how to fix it. Usually, that have been rather responsive as well, which is always a good sign. So I decided to wait…

In the meantime, I carried on with my daily work and, all of a sudden, I get this tweet from @screenflow where they are kindly offering to help out right there. Yes, almost an immediate response to my tweets. Whoahhhh! Truly amazing! I know that if you have been out there in the Web 2.0 world for a while, as a customer or a vendor, this is pretty much common thing, but yet one has got to experience it in first person to realise the kind of impact it has got! What followed afterwards was a bunch of tweets that helped me sort out my problem and helped me go through the upgrade successfully in a matter of minutes. Goodness! And that thanks to a couple of tweets!

So what originally started it as potential problems and issues to finish off a successful upgrade of my license for version 2.0 of ScreenFlow, it turned out to be an amazing experience with regards to customer support, having helped me solve it within the same day, in fact, shortly after! I am not sure what you would think about this story folks but the people over at Telestream have managed to do something, with a couple of proactive interactions, that movistar hasn’t managed to do in over nearly a year that I have been with them: gain and retain my loyalty, as a customer.

Like I said, I wanted to share this story to also show the other side of the coin. To prove the point that there is excellent customer service out there; that there are some vendors out there that get it, that understand how things have progressed and improved over time in managing customer relationships through engaging actively in the social media space; that there is an opportunity to have an open dialogue between customers and vendors and engage in solving customer problems in the shortest time possible, because, after all, that’s what exceedingly good customer support is all about: gaining the loyalty of those customers that you would want to keep for a long while!

And that is just what Telestream (And ScreenFlow) have managed to do for me. I am a rather happy customer now, who knows he can always count on wonderful customer support from those vendors that care about what matters: their customers. I wish both movistar and Apple would understand that once and for all. Forget about your exclusive rights of distribution and the hype; get down to work, do your business properly and show you care, because right now you aren’t.

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Is the iPhone Enterprise Ready?

Gran Canaria - Degollada de las YeguasFor a good number of weeks that’s one of the many questions I have been wondering about, on whether the iPhone is ready for the corporate world or not. I have been using mine from a consumer perspective for a few months now and I must say that I’m thoroughly delighted with the overall experience. There are so many things that I could talk about on how I make use of it as a consumer that I could probably write several blog posts about it! Just like that! From the usability perspective, to the couple of dozen applications I use on a rather regular basis, to the Web browsing user experience (Par to none from any other mobile device out there at the moment!), to the overall smart and elegance of using a gadget that makes the mobile world a treat!

However, the problem comes when you decide to take things into the next level and see if the iPhone would be able to make within the enterprise environment. Well, that’s a completely different story. In my case, and sorry to sound so blunt about it, and perhaps a bit harsh, too, I don’t think so. In fact, I know so! It is *not* ready for the enterprise! At least, in my own case.

There have been a number of various different blog posts and articles sharing further details on how popular the iPhone has become within the business world and how more and more companies are starting to pay attention to such mobile experience. Including IBM. And while I do enjoy the numerous positive prospects of using such device at work, I can come up with two main reasons as to why I think such device still has got a long long way to go, before it grabs the attention from the mobile knowledge worker. Specially power users. Why? Here is why …

Like I said, I have been using my iPhone from a consumer perspective for a few months now and I am quite happy with it. A really enjoyable experience. For sure. However, a couple of weeks back I was able to go through the final test for me which was when I managed to connect to the IBM network, through a secure VPN connection, and spend some time navigating through the corporate Intranet.

Ok, you folks know that for over a year ago I have stopped using corporate email (Yes, that well known “A World With Email” mantra), which means I rely plenty more on being constantly connected to the network, whether internal or external. Whether from my home office or while on the road. Offline work for me has been very minimal as of late. Thus, what happened that morning when I took the iPhone for a spin, you may be wondering, right?

Well, it took me a bit over one hour to completely drain the battery of the device to the point where I needed to re-charge it again. Yes, you are reading it right… A bit more than an hour and I had to charge it again! *Unbelievable*, if you ask me, to put it mildly! You know, I wish I would have to work every day just that one hour that the iPhone would allow me to before I would need to find a place to plug it back in again!

The reality is though that when I am away from the office, travelling, talking to customers, on the road, at workshops, or even at conference events, the last thing I would want to do is look for a plug to charge my iPhone. It’s just not going to happen! In most cases, because I may not be even have the opportunity to find one! So you are stuck! Trouble! Big trouble! No, thank you!

The iPhone needs to understand and come to terms with the fact that mobile knowledge workers do even spend more hours working while on the road than at the typical office location and as such relying on a device that will have its battery drained in a single hour of heavy browsing is just a no go. At least, for me!

So, that’s one of the main reasons why the iPhone will never become my mobile computer, as plenty of people have been claiming lately all over the place. Quite the contrary. It’ll just become my casual consumer mobile device for all other trivial stuff where I don’t need to depend much on battery life. So if it goes, it goes. That’s fine.

But you may be wondering what’s the second reason as to why I feel that this device is not ready for the enterprise just yet, right? Well, here is the scenario. I work full time remotely; I have got a Nokia N95 that I use for work (Battery lasts much much longer, by the way, in case you are wondering!); I have got the iPhone. Both with the same phone company.

Yet, while the N95 provides me an incredibly good coverage throughout, both at home and while I am travelling, the iPhone barely makes it. In fact, most of the times the coverage for this device is incredibly poor, which means when people call me they can’t reach me. So they have to leave a voicemail. Which I can only get to when I myself have got that coverage back. If at all! Frustrating… And that behaviour seems to be happening constantly throughout the day and very consistently, too! So can you imagine depending on that critical phone call, for whatever the reason, and you find out that the iPhone has let you down, once again, because of the poor coverage? No, thank you!

Like I said, I am starting to have very high expectations for the upcoming 3.0 release of the iPhone in the next couple of months; see if it would address these two main issues I have at the moment with it. And convince me that once again I can enjoy that working mobile computing experience without taking with me my MacBook Pro. Because otherwise, this device will just be that. A fancy (And expensive!) gadget that I can’t use longer than 1 hour a day, before it dies off again … That may be the time, perhaps, for a change … a change to other smarter mobile devices that understand what a mobile knowledge worker faces every day while getting to work. Because right now the iPhone just doesn’t cut it. And by far!

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Mac Tip #3: TextExpander – Mac Typing Shortcut Utility Saves You Time!

Continuing further with the blog post series of Mac Tips I have been putting together over here on the good number of (social software) tools I get to use on a regular basis to help me be more productive, I thought I would cover today what, to me, is perhaps the biggest productivity tool I have bumped into on the Mac for the nearly two years I have been using my MacBook Pro as my main work machine.

It’s one of those tools that I would not classify per se as a social software tool, yet, it surely is helping me engage further in the social networking space much easier, and faster (As well as healthier!) than whatever I could have imagined so far. Yes, indeed, I am talking about the superb TextExpander, your next best friend on the Mac!

TextExpander "saves you countless keystrokes with customized abbreviations for your frequently-used text strings and images" and although initially it may not say much more about it, once you start watching your behaviour of how you interact with your computer you immediately get hit by the numerous ways you could make use this application itself. And from there onwards, there is no way back! However, I thought I would expand further on the topic and perhaps share with you five different reasons as to why you would want to consider this tool to, at least, give it a try at some point. Thus here we go:

  1. Saving keystrokes: If you are one of those people that gets to type quite a lot of text all over the place, and if that text string happens to be rather repetitive sometimes, why should you type it again, right? Well, with TextExpander, a couple of keystrokes and off you go, it will add that text for you automatically, whether just plain text or rich text! Even images!! Amazingly easy!
  2. Spell check: With TextExpander you will no longer need to use a spell check; the application itself will become your default spell checker for everything! And all of that thanks to the AutoCorrect group of snippets. A huge database of strings that will correct on the fly almost every single spelling mistake you make. Try it! I know you will thank me later! Yes, it is *that* good!
  3. Filling out forms: How many times have you had to fill in an Internet form or a specific document, presentation, spreadsheet, regular text file, whatever, with the same information details over and over again? Far too many, right? Well, with TextExpander, a couple of characters and voilá! Your forms instantly filled in and ready to go! Priceless!
  4. Wealth of macros: One of favourite reasons. While you get to educate TextExpander to include the regular (rich) text strings you will want to avoid typing again, there is already a wealth of group snippets that you can import right away and start seeing the benefits of using this tool. Right from the Snippets user preference you can rather go ahead and create your own or import those already existing ones! That way you don’t have to start from scratch! Nice, don’t you think?
  5. Watching over your health: Repetitive Strain Injury anyone? In the past I have talked about RSI a couple of times and have shared a number of tips on how to help prevent it. Well, perhaps one of the most compelling reasons I can mention for TextExpander is how it helps you save time by not having to constantly be typing away the same text strings, which means that with a couple of keystrokes you are off to insert the text you need without having to type it and therefore freeing up your hands from your keyboard. To that extent one of the nifty features is providing you some statistics on how many characters you have saved, but most importantly how many hours you have saved in the end as well!

    And I can only say that in my case it has been plenty of them, so you can imagine how grateful both of my wrists are about the extended breaks I am enjoying from that all of that typing away! W00t!

I am sure there would be plenty of other reasons why you would want to make extensive use of the fantastic TextExpander application, so I encourage you all to perhaps share through comments what your favourite ones are. Yes, I do realise that there is a price tag for this tool, and, to be honest, considering the amount of time I have been saving already; considering as well how much less I get to type on a daily basis, I can certainly state that $30 is not that expensive. Quite the contrary! I consider it quite an investment not only for my time saved, but, most importantly, for my own health! And that’s what really matters, don’t you think?

Oh, to wrap this Mac Tip #3 blog post, I thought I would give a special thanks as well to Euan Semple, who first introduced me to TextExpander through Twitter and encouraged me to give it a try and from there onwards I haven’t been back and more and more by the day it’s becoming that essential tool for my Mac I cannot longer live without! So, thanks much, Euan! 🙂

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