Do more by carrying less

Oh, my aching back! That’s what I was thinking while walking around Microsoft’s TechEd conference a couple of week ago. Perhaps I’m getting old, but a briefcase full of papers, plus a 5.5-lb Apple MacBook Pro, got old really fast.

I’d already lightened my load by picking up an Amazon Kindle 2 digital book reader in April. That meant no more heavy books when I travel; nowadays, I just take a few magazines and the 10.2-oz Kindle. That’s taken a lot of weight of my aching back, while also giving me a much wider choice of reading material. (Right now, my Kindle has about 150 books, nearly all of which were downloaded from Project Gutenberg.)

Often, even when my notebook is handy, I’m accessing data using my iPhone 3G. When it comes to checking e-mail, scheduling appointments, sending instant messages or checking the latest news from the New York Times, the 4.7-oz device is just as convenient as my MacBook Pro. Thanks to solid syncing technology, I can access the same e-mail, calendar, messages and news on either the notebook or the phone—and the phone is with me nearly wherever I go.

The message here is that for business users, the days of the standard notebook PC are limited. Multi-purpose devices, like Kindles or iPhones, aren’t just consumer electronics toys. They’re business machines, and software developers and IT professionals should be thinking about those devices in addition to standard browser-based clients. If you’re creating reports, for example, think about making those reports accessible on smartphones and eBook readers. Is that more work? Yes. Is that good for your business? Yes.

Finally, for those days when I truly need a large screen and full keyboard, I’ve purchased a new back remedy: an HP Mini 1120NR, a Linux-based netbook that weighs only 2.45 lbs. So far, my only complaint is its short three-hour battery life. But for daytrips or doing some work on the sofa, it sure beats a standard notebook PC.

Thinking small can be good for your business—and your health.

Z Trek Copyright (c) Alan Zeichick