The Cloud Warrior: Mobile Computing and its Discontents

The first-world problem of the year: I have been exasperated with my mobile computing experience for a long time. Whether I’m working from my client’s office, from the back of an Uber, in an airport, at a train station, in my camp chair, in the passenger seat while my wife drives, or on the upper deck of the Pacific Surfliner, it has become painfully clear that I cannot work on-the-go trusting in a kludged combination of my phone and my laptop

IOS on either the iPhone 8 Plus or my laptop-sized iPad pro simply does not have the juice for handling my Office 365-dominated workflow. Trying to deal with highly formatted Word documents on an IOS app gets awkward pretty quickly.

My laptops – both my MacBook Pro and my Microsoft Surface Pro 6 – are fantastic machines, but connecting to the internet on the go is dicey at best. I’ve either got to scramble to find a coffee shop with Wi-Fi, or I have to mess with my phone and hope tethering works. (And oh, by the way, my carrier charges more for the tethering capability.)

This all came to a head one Friday morning last spring. I had dropped my family at LAX for a trip to China and was just driving home when I got a call from a client. She needed revisions to a press release we had drafted the night before. I drove around looking for a Starbucks, finally gave up, and pulled to the side of the road to tether to my phone. By the time I had found a spot, stopped the car, set up the hot spot, got the hot spot connected with the computer, downloaded the document with her comments, made my revisions, uploaded the document and got her acknowledgment, it had taken 35 minutes. We went through this three more times. In short, a 75-minute trip wound up taking me 4 hours. I have been praying for a better way ever since.

Next: I Need a Mobile Computing Carbine

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