Welcome back to the United States. Now let’s see what’s on your laptop

Authorities need a search warrant to get at a computer in your home, and reasonable suspicion that you’re up to no good to search your laptop in other places (like if you’re surfing bomb-making sites while using WiFi at a coffee shop).
But the rules change when you’re crossing the border back into the United States. And that has raised concerns from business travelers, privacy advocates and some lawmakers about the vulnerability of the huge amounts of information people carry on their laptops and other digital devices.

Continue reading Welcome back to the United States. Now let’s see what’s on your laptop at the Los Angeles Times.

Coworking partner

One of the benefits of working from home with and for great people is the flexibility it affords. The focus becomes what is produced vs. ensuring there is a body in a chair. Catriona wasn’t feeling well today so she is staying home with me which helps alleviate one of the negatives of working from home — loneliness.
To beat the isolation of working alone, I’ve often thought of setting up a formal coworking space, I have the room, but with my location being so far removed, the only people who would show up are my dogs.
More on coworking:
They’re Working on Their Own, Just Side by Side
A Shared Office Is a Great Escape From Working at Home
Coworking going mainstream
Original photo here.


iPhone cupcakes. Nick and Danielle Bilton iconic cupcakes which won The Cupcake Decorating Championship at Ignite NYC II. Via Core77.
iPhone apps. cupcakes found on Textually.
Fin-ish Me Cupcakes, Bangkok. While visiting the Kingdom order some custom home cooked cupcakes delivered to your hotel room. I know I will the next time I visit Bangkok with the kids. Visit her site to order.

Staying in Touch Internationally, on the Cheap

Throughout the call, neither Gary nor I was particularly worried about the cost of the conversation. That’s because, over the past few years of traveling internationally, I’ve developed a system that not only lets me make inexpensive local calls but also allows friends and family back home to reach me cheaply. It’s a little complicated, but bear with me and I’ll explain.

REad Staying in Touch Internationally, on the Cheap

TatSkinz for iPod

I recently received a Tat Skinz for my wife’s iPod nano 4g and hope to persuade her to give it a try over the weekend. Essentially Tat Skinz are protective skickers that cover the whole body of your iPod to add a new visual effect and help protect against scratches. My wife is hesitant to try as we are more the conservative leather case types but the design is attractive and can be taken off with ease.
TatSkinz – Protective Body Art For Your Electronic Devices

An orderly office

In the last decade, as our personal and work lives have become more frenetic, books by organizing gurus like Julie Morgenstern, Peter Walsh and David Allen have packed the best-seller list, and magazines like O and Real Simple have spent tens of thousands of words on the subject. The professional organizing business has grown exponentially (as evidenced, for example, by a 400-percent increase in the membership of the National Association of Professional Organizers since 1999).
What I needed, on the other hand, was a system that would allow me to see a lot of my papers and other materials at once, without the chaos of a paper-cluttered desk. To create this, Ms. Whited said, we’d have to make use of vertical space.

Read Custom Solutions to Office Clutter

Simple Dock for iPod

The Simple Dock is designed for desktops and smaller office spaces. It plays audio through a built-in speaker while recharging your iPod. If you are looking for a device to fill a room full of stereo sound this won’t be ideal but if love to listen to Podcasts and the like than this is a great option. Looks great on a bookshelf.
The Simple Dock from Pottery Barn

Try Doodling To Keep The Brain On Task

To understand where the compulsion to doodle comes from, the first thing you need to do is look more closely at what happens to the brain when it becomes bored. According to Jackie Andrade, a professor of psychology at the University of Plymouth, though many people assume that the brain is inactive when they’re bored, the reverse is actually true.
This brings us back to doodling. The function of doodling, according to Andrade, who recently published a study on doodling in Applied Cognitive Psychology, is to provide just enough cognitive stimulation during an otherwise boring task to prevent the mind from taking the more radical step of totally opting out of the situation and running off into a fantasy world.

Read Bored? Try Doodling To Keep The Brain On Task from NPR.

Shop for laptop bags by career

If you don’t have time to sort through the dizzying array of bags available online there are options to help filter your search. Ellen Hart at Careerbags recently introduced me to their sort by career function and its seems a like a great way to see what others in your field have been buying.
Some interesting finds:
Jack George Madison Avenue tote in Management
Maddie Powers Messenger Bag in Creative Arts
Knomo Siena Laptop Shoulder Bag in Hospitality
Shop by career at Careerbags.com.

Porter Duffle

I came across this duffle from Headporter last night while out scouting around the ‘younger peoples’ fashion shops in the downtown core. I want to buy it but it was incredibly overpriced. While not the most durable bag I’ve come across I do like the flight jacket motif. Very light and understated.
I still have a backpack designed by an American company, tucked away in storage in Canada, which shares many of the characteristics of this line. Unfortunately that bag was designed to carry trumpets, the main reason it isn’t with me today.

Read more

Hideo Wakamatsu Attache Backpack

A popular style of bag, at least for those who are carrying a Lenovo laptop. I’ve seen them everywhere lately.

This 3-way (handgrip, shoulder-strap, backpack) attache features backpack straps that can be deployed during your commute or trip through the airport, and stowed when you arrive at your office or meeting. High-tech hollow-threaded Japanese nylon reduces weight, increases durability, and has a shimmery look. Hideo takes advantage of the low weight to add lots of features and pockets that would be prohibitively heavy if done in a lower grade of nylon.

Read more

Managing Interruptions

It’s discouraging to put in a busy day only to realize that despite the time and effort you haven’t really accomplished much at all. Between email, IM, the phone, noise and quick questions it seems your time can easily be spent dealing and recovering from interruptions.
Interruptions tend to make your work day much longer than necessary.
I find that I am at my happiest and most productive when I am working in the “flow”, perhaps more commonly referred to as “in the zone” or “in the groove”. “Flow” is a mental state in which a person is fully immersed in the completion of an activity. It’s a state of deep concentration. It typically takes about 15 minutes of uninterrupted study to get into a state of “flow”, and the constant interruptions and distractions of a typical office environment will force you out of “flow” and make productivity difficult to achieve
When you work in a number of different environments like I do — home office, work, café, airport — it can add further to the challenge of avoiding interuptions. Here a number things I do to help avoid this productivity killer.
1) Turn off all notifications. Auditory and visual signals from IM, email, twitter clients and your mobile phone are all designed to grab your attention in order to inform. Turning this signal to silent or completely turning them off is perhaps the most obvious first step in creating an environment free from distraction. Some of my colleagues simply display a status of ‘busy’ but that is seldom enough, as people will contact you regardless of what your status message displays.
2) Set up office hours. We need to eventually respond to messages received so set-up specific times to reply, perhaps as part of your normal work cycle, or schedule a period where distractions are less of a liability. I work in 45-50 minute cycles and use that 5-10 minute off period to reply to IM, twitter or text messages. I respond to email in the morning, at lunch and prior to days end. I worked with an engineer who had a public policy of no interruptions in the morning. The mornings were his time to get things done, the afternoons were for communication. It worked well.
3) Face away from people. This isn’t as much a concern if you work in a home office or a cubicle farm, but if I am working in a public area, like a café, I find myself constantly being distracted by people and their gestures. If you love watching people like I do taking the simple step to position yourself facing away from people can do wonders. If it’s not possible to find a seat facing away from the movement of people I’ll start reading a book, something to revert my attention inwards and away from the environment around me.
4) Wear earplugs. I live and work in the noisiest place on earth. Music through headphones can sometimes work depending on the task I am trying to accomplish but if the music is good I start to focus more on the music than the work. Earplugs work best for me.
5) I avoid my office desk. Your desk phone, your colleague’s desk phone, the loud colleague who seems to shout when talking, the walk-bys asking for help, and on and on, all these compete for your attention. With iPads, netbooks and laptops there are few reasons to be glued to your desk. When I worked in a noisy office environment I got permission to escape to the library where I was far more productive. As long as I showed an increase in productivity it was of little concern to my supervisor where I got work done during certain times of the day. Find a quiet place to work free of distraction and watch your productivity soar.
It’s amazing what you can accomplish in a couple of hours when you eliminate interruptions thereby creating the right conditions for getting in the flow.
Some further reading:
Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience
Outliers: The Story of Success
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
Happiness and the Art of Innovation
Eight Components of Enjoyment
Goof off at work, read a book, ignore e-mail