Logitech G533 DTS 7.1 Surround Sound Wireless Headset Review| By |Brendan Toner

Today I will be reviewing the G533 DTS 7.1 Wireless Gaming Headset which bring together the rather desirable features of near audiophile 7.1 surround sound, wireless connectivity to a PC and retractable microphone.

I have been poking around for some time now in search of a wireless headset with a split personality for both enjoyment of music/films and for productivity applications. For the latter I would like the ability to use it for voice to text dictation and for communicating for the PC. Ideally it would also have noise isolating capability which is useful in an open plan office context. Imagine to my delight when a Logitech press release popped up in my inbox about the G533 Headset which seemingly ticking all these boxes. This, I had to check out and many thanks to Logitech for providing a sample for me to test.

The G533 Headset is officially a gaming peripheral. I will have to put that capability and its aesthetics to one side and review it on the basis I would like to use it for, wireless enjoyment of entertainment and it’s use as a communication and dictation headset. Let’s kick off with to design.

G533 Headset Design

Normally gaming peripherals have all the aesthetic subtlety of the Shinjuku district during a power surge and by that measure the G533 headset design is rather tame. Absent are the glowing neon colours, enjoyable to all but the wearer, but the G533 still retains the bulky, angular design of many of its gaming peripheral brethren.

Normally gaming peripherals have all the aesthetic subtlety of the Shinjuku district during a power surge

The construction is full on plastic, with a reassuring heft to it. The underside of the headphones and over the ear cups are well padded to ensure comfortable use. For me, I found the fit to be quite snug and it needs to be. When you move your head the weight of it tends to carry some momentum and so a snug fit ensures it stays in position, especially for all those head banging session! The left ear cup contains all the useful stuff. Here you find the on/off switch, volume control and extendable microphone.

G533 Headset review

The Logitech G533 Wireless Gaming Headset

The ear cups can swivel around 90 degrees so should be able to fit the most angular of heads and it also means the headset can lie flush to the table when you lay them down. The usual complaint about over the ear cups is that one’s ears tend to get a bit toasty. In the the case of the G533, I did not find that to be the case in a 28C ambient with 60% humidity. That said, after wearing it for a couple of hours your ears will feel like a stretch although I did not find the 300g to be too taxing. I should also mention the foam ear pads are not particularly good at noise isolation so you will still be cognizant of noises around you.

  • The microphone can be folded down, extended and bent to shape.
  • The over-ear construction encapsulates one’s ears but don’t expect perfect sound isolation.
  • The G533 Headset size can be adjusted. A snug fit can be expected.
  • The ear pads have a generous foam surround. I found them to be pretty comfortable even after a couple of hours of use.

The microphone folds away when not in use. When you fold it down you hear a little noise to indicate it is now active. It can be extended forward and you can also bend it round in front of your mouth. Voice quality is excellent, if a little soft, even with the gain turned up. I also tried it with the voice to text function in Google Docs. Actually much of this article was dictated on Google Docs while sitting back several meters from my desk, swiveling on my office chair and swilling a glass of Bushmills. I could certainly get used to this style of “writing”! While on this topic I should mention I have best dictation accuracy with Google. For some reason, Siri has some problems with my viscous, though charming, brogue.

Logitech G533 Wireless Headset Hardware

OK, let’s get the science bit out of the way first. The Specs are as follows,

  • DTS 7.1 Surround Sound
  • Charging Cable Length: 2m
  • Battery Life: 15 hours
  • Wireless Range: 15m
  • Size: 197 mm x 189 mm x 85 mm
  • Weight: 350 grams (12.5 oz)
  • Boom microphone with flexible arm
  • Window 7 or higher
  • USB port needed on the PC for the transceiver

While you are digesting that I will help myself to a little bit of chocolate cake.

Right. Let’s get to the sound quality. First thing you will need to know is if you really get the benefit of the 7.1 surround sound from headphones? Is 7.1 surround sound even possible from a headset?

Is 7.1 surround sound even possible from a headset?

That’s the first thing I wanted to check and for that I used the G533 partner software. With this software you can send a sound to each of the seven virtual speakers. I tried that and the results were as follows. The sensation is a little unusual hearing seven virtual speakers from a pair of headphones. The sensation of direction can certainly be discerned but it is like the sound is inside your head. For example, when the centre speaker is sounding it appeared to be originating from the middle of my head. So, “surroundish”, sound is possible but be prepared for some in body experiences.

In terms of the frequency response the G533 is weighted a little towards the lower end.

The G533 headset bass was such that you wonder why your chest is not vibrating, as would be happening in some club with subwoofers the size of a sumo wrestlers dinner plate. However, this can be tweaked as desired using the partner software graphic equalizer. Those settings can also be saved should you wish to tailor it between your different entertainment needs.

The range of the G533 headset is about 15m or so line of sight. In practice I found this to be reasonably accurate. When you add some concrete walls to the mix it will then start to struggle with the consequence that the sound will start to break up and eventually cut out. But for all but the most luxurious of houses the range should be sufficient for the quick dash to the fridge.

The specified battery life is 15 hours which is certainly long enough that you should not be suffering from range anxiety. When you start coming close to the end of the battery life an intermittent beep is sounded to indicate the end of the party is nigh. At least until it is again fully charged or you can tolerate being shackled by the USB cable.

G533 Headset Software

A partner app for the G533 can be downloaded from the Logitech site. The main useful features it brings to the party is,

  • Battery life indicator
  • Surround sound configurations
  • Graphic equalizer

Logitech G533 review - Software

The graphic equalizer has a few preset settings, such as flat across all frequencies, upping the lower and upper frequency ranges, “Cinematic Gaming”, and so on. If none of these are to your taste, you can configure your own custom frequency level.

Logitech G533 DTS 7.1 Wireless Headset Price

At the time of writing the price on Amazon.com stands at $129.98. On Amazon.co.uk, the price comes in at £129.35. So the Americans seem to be getting a bargain compared to the British prices.

Logitech G533 Headset Review Summary

Logitech have done a great job in putting together a comfortable headset capable of both wireless consumption of entertainment and when needed transforming into a fully-fledged communication headset. For watching films, I cannot imagine going back to a tethered headset and for dictation to the PC it is now my solution of choice. The downsides I see to it are although it fully encloses the ears in a rather bulky, angular design, it does not provide very good sound isolation. My preference would be to have that….although I wonder if it will come at the expense of two, rather toasty ears.

The other downside I found is that it is heavier than other headsets focused on the productivity applications. But, if you want it to double for entertainment this is compromise that needs to be made.

In the end, it is a great option for wireless enjoyment of entertainment, be it music, games or films with the added bonus of having an extendable microphone for those instances when work interrupts!

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Google AMP Q & A: What You Need to Know| By |Kris Spisak

Considering their efforts in robotics and the life sciences, there’s little doubt that Alphabet, the parent company of Google, is thinking out of the box, and the development of Google AMP (or Accelerated Mobile Pages) is one more paradigm shift that businesses cannot ignore.

Major corporations from Disney to eBay to the Food Network to the NFL, not to mention countless news outlets, have started creating their own AMP pages. Have you heard about it? Have you been curious? Should you be an early adopter?

Let’s do a quick review of Google AMP so you know what it is and what it means for your business.

Google AMP logo

What is Google AMP?

AMP is Google’s new open-source initiative to allow content publishers to share webpages displaying everything from text to graphics to video using a singular code, which will work across all mobile devices, regardless of what model of phone or tablet one chooses to use. In doing so, their goal is to make mobile web surfing a quick and seamless experience.

When thinking simply about supply and demand, Google AMP makes a lot of sense. With mobile devices now accounting for 2 out of every 3 minutes spent online, slow websites are a hindrance in the process. Responsive websites—or websites that are designed to render well on devices from PCs to tablets to smartphones—have become essential. Google recognized this and has stressed it to the world with their SEO updates of 2015 and 2016. (Remember Mobilegeddon?) However, Google AMP strives to create a mobile experience on a different level.

Is Google AMP better than a responsive or “mobile-friendly” website?

The answer of “better” is hard to say, but the answer is clearly that they are different. Google AMP pages are streamlined by design, and because of this simplification, Search Engine Journal explains:

  • AMP pages are 4x faster and use 10x less data compared to non-AMP pages;
  • AMP pages load in less than one second (on average);
  • 90 percent of AMP publishers experience higher click-through-rates (CTRs); and
  • 80 percent of AMP publishers experience higher ad-viewing rates.

These numbers are nothing to sneeze at.

Google AMP has also recently released experimentation capabilities, such as A/B testing, allowing marketers to conduct user-experience experiments on their AMP pages.

However, one consideration that marketers presently have to keep in mind is that Google AMP pages take a viewer to a Google-based URL in the same way as Facebook’s Instant Articles and Apple News. The traffic isn’t going to show up in your business website’s Google Analytics. Tracking and data analysis is a present weakness in the AMP model, but with the data-driven nature of AMP-Experiments, this could be simply a matter of time.

Does Google AMP make sense for all businesses?

While AMP pages started with “Top Stories” and news-related sources, they have been growing exponentially. New AMP pages have been appearing across multiple industries, including ecommerce.

In fact, Google noted the ecommerce industry specifically when they suggested, “AMP is a natural fit for e-commerce because AMP makes webpages fast, and fast pages help with purchase conversions.”

Do ads still work with Google AMP?

While this was a later phase of the project, AMP for Ads has now been launched to allow for mobile marketing to continue on AMP pages just as it is everywhere else.

Are AMP pages ranked better on Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs)?

AMP pages will soon begin to appear in Google search results with a lightning bolt logo. At this time, Google execs claim that AMP pages will not automatically be given higher placement on SERPs, but who knows what the future will bring.

It should be noted that loading speed and responsiveness are major SEO ranking factors, though, so AMP pages already have a lot going for them.

How does a business create a Google AMP website?

The open-source code employed for Google AMP is AMP-HTML, which is a version of HTML5 with a specific set of requirements and restrictions. For example, an AMP-supplied JavaScript library needs to be the source of all JavaScript if this is applicable to the site. Anyone with a development background and an appreciation for the open-source community could develop Google AMP for your business.

AMP plug-ins are even starting to appear in frameworks like WordPress to make the mobile optimization even simpler.


Whether the future of the mobile web is Google AMP or something entirely different is yet to be determined, but businesses would be smart to be aware of AMP at this time. Maybe it’s time to pull the trigger, maybe not; however, either way, it’s something a business needs to have on their radar.

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GDPR Brings Shadow IT Under the Spotlights| By |JC Gaillard

12 months to go and nowhere to hide as potential fines could reach tens of millions for large firms by next year

Many IT departments in large firms are increasingly concerned with business units contracting directly with service providers, as opposed to relying on internal resources to address their needs. In some instances, it happens by mutual agreement as a result of resource constraints; in most, it reflects a deeper difference of approach, the internal IT practice being perceived as unnecessarily expensive, bureaucratic or old fashioned.

None of this is new and, in fact, it has been happening for the best part of the last 10 years in some areas. A great deal of it is rooted in cloud and consumerisation mega trends which have been transforming the nature of IT.

One small piece after another, significant chunks of the data processing needs of an organisation end up being externalised, without any over-arching strategy, and often without the knowledge of any control function. Individual contract values are low, so every deal remains under procurement radars irrespective of the potential sensitivity of the processing involved, and almost always standard vendor terms are accepted (even if they are invariably and shamelessly one-sided).

The forthcoming GDPR (the European General Data Protection Regulation coming into force on 25 May 2018) will bring this “Shadow IT” under the spotlights, as HR and Marketing functions have been historically the main exponents of such practices, and are by essence heavily dependent on personal data.

With potential fines reaching tens of millions for large firms from next year, many are starting to assemble compliance roadmaps and projects, but they will have to confront the reality of the data processing as it is really happening within their departments, and it may add significant costs and complexity to their GDPR alignment programme.

To start with, a real inventory will have to take place across the firm, without complacency, involving each business unit, support function and geography. It is a real mapping of all personal data treatment that must be drawn, encompassing all aspects, structured data as well as unstructured data, “proper” IT as well as “shadow” IT.

It will be easier for firms where the CIO has already built channels to listen to business communities and talk to them in their own language, but it cannot be ignored.

Behind that inventory, contracts will have to be checked and updated where necessary and assurance will have to be built around the presence of appropriate security measures in the vendors’ environments, taking into account the real sensitivity of the data being processed, not just the contract value.

All this embodies the real nature of the cultural change GDPR heralds: Just by the level of fines regulators can enforce (without considering reputational damage, adverse publicity, and potential damage or compensation claims), it places many legacy practices into a different perspective and by forcing executive management to look beyond short-termism, it can be a true catalyst to drive real action around Privacy and Security.

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5 Chatbot Mistakes To Avoid When Creating A Bot| By |Murray Newlands

Getting to the stage where your chatbot is ready to be launched to the world is very exciting. That said, if your chatbot has not gone through the right testing stages, it might not get the attention you originally intended. I have learned from my chatbot tool company Chattypeople that people make the same mistakes all the time and want to help you avoid them.

Although chatbot platforms allow companies to make bots powered by artificial intelligence in just a matter of minutes, mistakes are still made, like not giving the chatbot a unique name or forgetting to tell customers they are speaking to a chatbot and not a human.

Everything needs to be taken into consideration, as well as double and triple checked before being launched. To help improve your odds for success, I’ve put together a list of 5 common mistakes you should avoid making at all costs when creating a chatbot for your company.

1- Not Creating a Clear Bot Strategy and Website

Chatbot tools can help you create a bot, but it cannot put together your bot strategy. A clear bot strategy is the first and most important factor to ensure chatbot success. With a clear set of goals, you will be able to reach the right audience, thus providing them with the correct information that will eventually drive your bottom line.

Before creating your chatbot, you need to ask yourself:

  • What is the aim of my chatbot?
  • What do I need my chatbot to achieve?
  • What will be my chatbot’s key functionalities?
  • How is my chatbot going to help my audience?

To make sure your bot maintains a level of individuality from others, you will also need to create a dedicated website landing page. This will introduce your chatbot to your audience and demonstrate how it can help them. Like you would with a product description, make sure your bot’s functionalities are as clear as possible when communicating them to your customers. As well as telling your audience what your chatbot is capable of, its website page should be Search Engine Optimized (SEOd), making it more discoverable to new and existing customers.

Finally, when creating your chatbot strategy, make sure you do not go too broad. Chatbots are more efficient when they can undertake one or two tasks perfectly, rather than performing multiple tasks inefficiently. Build your first chatbot to represent a single campaign or with a focus on one specific product or service.

2- Not Undertaking the Appropriate Testing Before Launching It

It is hard to launch a product that is 100% perfect the first time around. When you first launch your chatbot, be prepared to immediately fix any issues it may have. The first launch of your chatbot will be the perfect opportunity for you to leverage existing customers to give you feedback.

Your customers will feel valued, as they will be given the opportunity to be part of your community and brand, and you will gather priceless insights and data from them. If you are a new company without someone test your bot on, ask your team members, people you know in your industry, and even friends.

Before launching your first chatbot, be sure to:

  • Research your chatbot’s audience
  • Test your chatbot multiple times
  • Gather feedback from your team
  • Launch it to external feedback groups
  • Be prepared to make the appropriate changes to fix any bugs

3- Making Your Bot Too Pushy

Conversational chatbots are a very personal way of reaching your target audience. After all, your chatbot will be communicating with your customers in the same way they normally do with their friends and family. Because of the nature of these conversational platforms, it is essential you do not come across pushy.

Aside from the fact that you may lose customers by spamming them with your products, services, and promotions, users could report you to Facebook. If multiple customers report you, Facebook could ban you from using the Messenger platform altogether.

Chatbot tools allows you to create a customer support chatbot that works seamlessly with Facebook Messenger and comments, as well as recognizes your keywords and phrases. This means it is able to push the right promotions, at the right time, on demand, without spamming your consumers.

4- Not Listing Your Chatbot in Bot Directories

Although your chatbot’s own website landing page will help with discoverability from an SEO point of view, it will not allow you to reach your full audience potential. A free and effective tool to make your chatbot known by the masses is to use bot directories.

There are numerous bot directories now available, some of which include:

5- Not Using Your Existing Customers As a Promotional Tool

Existing customers are extremely important from a marketing point of view when it comes to launching your new chatbot. They’re the perfect group of people to:

  • Give you feedback
  • Tell people about your brand and new chatbot services
  • Share and promote your bot through social media and various other platforms

To fully leverage your existing customers to promote your bot, monitor their usage through the tools dashboard and incorporate a variety of ways in which they can share your bot with potentially new users.

Finally…

Messaging platforms are the way of the future, and by leveraging them in your marketing strategy, you could reach a nearly endless audience on a much more personal level.

The chatbot platforms will help your customers:

  • View items
  • Order products
  • Make payments through all major payment systems
  • Get their products delivered to their doorstep

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5 Chatbot Mistakes To Avoid When Creating A Bot| By |Murray Newlands

Getting to the stage where your chatbot is ready to be launched to the world is very exciting. That said, if your chatbot has not gone through the right testing stages, it might not get the attention you originally intended. I have learned from my chatbot tool company Chattypeople that people make the same mistakes all the time and want to help you avoid them.

Although chatbot platforms allow companies to make bots powered by artificial intelligence in just a matter of minutes, mistakes are still made, like not giving the chatbot a unique name or forgetting to tell customers they are speaking to a chatbot and not a human.

Everything needs to be taken into consideration, as well as double and triple checked before being launched. To help improve your odds for success, I’ve put together a list of 5 common mistakes you should avoid making at all costs when creating a chatbot for your company.

1- Not Creating a Clear Bot Strategy and Website

Chatbot tools can help you create a bot, but it cannot put together your bot strategy. A clear bot strategy is the first and most important factor to ensure chatbot success. With a clear set of goals, you will be able to reach the right audience, thus providing them with the correct information that will eventually drive your bottom line.

Before creating your chatbot, you need to ask yourself:

  • What is the aim of my chatbot?
  • What do I need my chatbot to achieve?
  • What will be my chatbot’s key functionalities?
  • How is my chatbot going to help my audience?

To make sure your bot maintains a level of individuality from others, you will also need to create a dedicated website landing page. This will introduce your chatbot to your audience and demonstrate how it can help them. Like you would with a product description, make sure your bot’s functionalities are as clear as possible when communicating them to your customers. As well as telling your audience what your chatbot is capable of, its website page should be Search Engine Optimized (SEOd), making it more discoverable to new and existing customers.

Finally, when creating your chatbot strategy, make sure you do not go too broad. Chatbots are more efficient when they can undertake one or two tasks perfectly, rather than performing multiple tasks inefficiently. Build your first chatbot to represent a single campaign or with a focus on one specific product or service.

2- Not Undertaking the Appropriate Testing Before Launching It

It is hard to launch a product that is 100% perfect the first time around. When you first launch your chatbot, be prepared to immediately fix any issues it may have. The first launch of your chatbot will be the perfect opportunity for you to leverage existing customers to give you feedback.

Your customers will feel valued, as they will be given the opportunity to be part of your community and brand, and you will gather priceless insights and data from them. If you are a new company without someone test your bot on, ask your team members, people you know in your industry, and even friends.

Before launching your first chatbot, be sure to:

  • Research your chatbot’s audience
  • Test your chatbot multiple times
  • Gather feedback from your team
  • Launch it to external feedback groups
  • Be prepared to make the appropriate changes to fix any bugs

3- Making Your Bot Too Pushy

Conversational chatbots are a very personal way of reaching your target audience. After all, your chatbot will be communicating with your customers in the same way they normally do with their friends and family. Because of the nature of these conversational platforms, it is essential you do not come across pushy.

Aside from the fact that you may lose customers by spamming them with your products, services, and promotions, users could report you to Facebook. If multiple customers report you, Facebook could ban you from using the Messenger platform altogether.

Chatbot tools allows you to create a customer support chatbot that works seamlessly with Facebook Messenger and comments, as well as recognizes your keywords and phrases. This means it is able to push the right promotions, at the right time, on demand, without spamming your consumers.

4- Not Listing Your Chatbot in Bot Directories

Although your chatbot’s own website landing page will help with discoverability from an SEO point of view, it will not allow you to reach your full audience potential. A free and effective tool to make your chatbot known by the masses is to use bot directories.

There are numerous bot directories now available, some of which include:

5- Not Using Your Existing Customers As a Promotional Tool

Existing customers are extremely important from a marketing point of view when it comes to launching your new chatbot. They’re the perfect group of people to:

  • Give you feedback
  • Tell people about your brand and new chatbot services
  • Share and promote your bot through social media and various other platforms

To fully leverage your existing customers to promote your bot, monitor their usage through the tools dashboard and incorporate a variety of ways in which they can share your bot with potentially new users.

Finally…

Messaging platforms are the way of the future, and by leveraging them in your marketing strategy, you could reach a nearly endless audience on a much more personal level.

The chatbot platforms will help your customers:

  • View items
  • Order products
  • Make payments through all major payment systems
  • Get their products delivered to their doorstep

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Managing the Private Cloud at 35,000 Feet| By |Ariel Maislos

On a recent business trip, I remembered how significant the challenges of managing a Private Cloud (or any data center) operation model can be. Without reliable voice and video communication, and sometimes low-bandwidth data connectivity, tools used have to sip data, not gulp it. They also need to work offline whenever you’re doing something that doesn’t require connecting to an external service or server. Even in cases when you’re working with Public Clouds, most of the same challenges exist. With minimal space to work, using a full function laptop may just not be an option. So what tools can you use to get the job done?

  1. A text editor or code editor. Scripting and minor coding is something that can easily be done between airports. You may not be able to test if there’s no in-flight Wi-Fi, but you can tap out scripts to have them ready to go when you land. The key here is simplicity in the interface, and support for multiple scripting/coding languages. You don’t want to have 18 different sidebars or pages and pages of settings just to get to the point where you can start typing code. Whichever product you choose, make sure it can sync with the cloud file service of your choice. You will need to be able to move this stuff between your desktop, tablet and laptop quickly and easily.
  2. An SSH client. There’s a ton of these for iPad and Android, and of course you can use the native tools on Mac and Linux, as well as alternatives like PuTTY for Windows. You’re going to want to use your cloud platform’s web interface for as much as you can, but nothing can replace SSH for a lot of common tasks. Have one in your tool-kit, and for the tablet tools make sure you pre-configure the servers you’ll use and test the connections before you leave for your trip. Make sure they also have any key pairs you need to log into VM’s and services. Nothing is more frustrating than realizing you can’t log into a VM because you’re using keypair authentication and your tablet doesn’t have a way to just grab a key file.
  3. A robust web browser. Safari mobile and Microsoft Edge are not bad browsers for most general use operations. Cloud software/provider web interfaces are not, however, general use. They leverage a lot of JavaScript, sometimes even use plugins, etc. I’d recommend using a third-party browser like Chrome or Firefox portable on your tablet devices; or the full-function browser of your choice on your laptop. Double-check before you leave that these tablet browsers are set to emulate desktop so that they don’t identify themselves as portable browsers and hamstring you while in-flight.
  4. A VPN client and service. Your company may provide this for you, and that’s not a bad thing – use it! For those cases where VPN connectivity isn’t required (such as accessing the AWS websites), or where your company doesn’t provide VPN services for you; remember you’re still sharing a network on-board with dozens of other people. Since you’re probably touching systems that contain proprietary or confidential info, you don’t want your browser leaking into to everyone on the plane with a packet sniffer going. So even if your company doesn’t provide a VPN for you to use, invest in a personal VPN to at least get your traffic outside the plane in an encrypted stream. I have personally used Witopia (witopia.net) as they support just about every device out there from desktops/laptops on Windows, Mac and Linux to iDevices, Android phones and tablets, and Windows-based tablets. One annual fee and you’re safely getting your data stream outside the in-flight wireless provider without anyone being able to snoop on it along the way.
  5. Instant Messaging clients. If your company uses Slack, Skype for Business or other messaging platforms, make sure they’re on your mobile devices and set up for the lowest bandwidth use possible. Slack, for example, can shut off trying to download and display video and images unless you purposely click on them. This ensures you can keep in touch with your team in close to real time, but not have to wait half an hour just because someone posted a .gif to the chat channel.
  6. Mobile versions of your business applications. If you’re using Google Apps, Microsoft Office, etc., make sure you’ve downloaded and configured them prior to boarding. Nothing will bring productivity to a halt than to find out you need to open a document to edit it, only to find that you forgot to install MS Word or configure Google Docs for offline use. Open each app you will use while you’re still on the ground, as most will need to periodically re-check. Your subscription or perform a login operation – something you don’t want to have to do at 35,000 feet – or may not be able to do if there is no in-flight Wi-Fi.
  7. A Cloud File Sync service provider that allows for selective sync of specific folders to mobile devices. This allows you to hold your work product someplace that will end up synced between devices, but not have to worry about a dozen GB of data all getting dumped into your mobile device’s memory. Set up a folder for work-in-travel, and place what you’ll be working on when you’re traveling into that folder. Ensure that all your other tools can also save their data to that sync service in order to make sure anything new you create also gets sync’d up. DropBox and many other tools have this functionality and integrate seamlessly into tons of mobile applications.
  8. Possibly not required, but definitely recommended – grab a combination external battery and Wi-Fi router. The battery is a lifesaver on longer flights if the aircraft you’re on doesn’t have in-seat USB charging ports for your tablet. The Wi-Fi router can make your hotel stays a lot easier since you can just connect the router to the hotel Wi-Fi and have all your devices connect to the router. No more trying to get every device individually walked through the captive network logon, and no more individual fees for each and every device just to get online. I’ve used HooToo products for years, and they’re great. They make several, so pick the one that has the battery size you want, as they all handle the Wi-Fi router functionality excellently. Bonus: Most come with multiple USB charge ports, so your seat mates will love you when there’s just one outlet to share between the whole row.

Now that you’re properly armed for working at the speed of flight (or train, etc.), you can get out there and be productive while you wait to arrive at your destination!

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Managing the Private Cloud at 35,000 Feet| By |Ariel Maislos

On a recent business trip, I remembered how significant the challenges of managing a Private Cloud (or any data center) operation model can be. Without reliable voice and video communication, and sometimes low-bandwidth data connectivity, tools used have to sip data, not gulp it. They also need to work offline whenever you’re doing something that doesn’t require connecting to an external service or server. Even in cases when you’re working with Public Clouds, most of the same challenges exist. With minimal space to work, using a full function laptop may just not be an option. So what tools can you use to get the job done?

  1. A text editor or code editor. Scripting and minor coding is something that can easily be done between airports. You may not be able to test if there’s no in-flight Wi-Fi, but you can tap out scripts to have them ready to go when you land. The key here is simplicity in the interface, and support for multiple scripting/coding languages. You don’t want to have 18 different sidebars or pages and pages of settings just to get to the point where you can start typing code. Whichever product you choose, make sure it can sync with the cloud file service of your choice. You will need to be able to move this stuff between your desktop, tablet and laptop quickly and easily.
  2. An SSH client. There’s a ton of these for iPad and Android, and of course you can use the native tools on Mac and Linux, as well as alternatives like PuTTY for Windows. You’re going to want to use your cloud platform’s web interface for as much as you can, but nothing can replace SSH for a lot of common tasks. Have one in your tool-kit, and for the tablet tools make sure you pre-configure the servers you’ll use and test the connections before you leave for your trip. Make sure they also have any key pairs you need to log into VM’s and services. Nothing is more frustrating than realizing you can’t log into a VM because you’re using keypair authentication and your tablet doesn’t have a way to just grab a key file.
  3. A robust web browser. Safari mobile and Microsoft Edge are not bad browsers for most general use operations. Cloud software/provider web interfaces are not, however, general use. They leverage a lot of JavaScript, sometimes even use plugins, etc. I’d recommend using a third-party browser like Chrome or Firefox portable on your tablet devices; or the full-function browser of your choice on your laptop. Double-check before you leave that these tablet browsers are set to emulate desktop so that they don’t identify themselves as portable browsers and hamstring you while in-flight.
  4. A VPN client and service. Your company may provide this for you, and that’s not a bad thing – use it! For those cases where VPN connectivity isn’t required (such as accessing the AWS websites), or where your company doesn’t provide VPN services for you; remember you’re still sharing a network on-board with dozens of other people. Since you’re probably touching systems that contain proprietary or confidential info, you don’t want your browser leaking into to everyone on the plane with a packet sniffer going. So even if your company doesn’t provide a VPN for you to use, invest in a personal VPN to at least get your traffic outside the plane in an encrypted stream. I have personally used Witopia (witopia.net) as they support just about every device out there from desktops/laptops on Windows, Mac and Linux to iDevices, Android phones and tablets, and Windows-based tablets. One annual fee and you’re safely getting your data stream outside the in-flight wireless provider without anyone being able to snoop on it along the way.
  5. Instant Messaging clients. If your company uses Slack, Skype for Business or other messaging platforms, make sure they’re on your mobile devices and set up for the lowest bandwidth use possible. Slack, for example, can shut off trying to download and display video and images unless you purposely click on them. This ensures you can keep in touch with your team in close to real time, but not have to wait half an hour just because someone posted a .gif to the chat channel.
  6. Mobile versions of your business applications. If you’re using Google Apps, Microsoft Office, etc., make sure you’ve downloaded and configured them prior to boarding. Nothing will bring productivity to a halt than to find out you need to open a document to edit it, only to find that you forgot to install MS Word or configure Google Docs for offline use. Open each app you will use while you’re still on the ground, as most will need to periodically re-check. Your subscription or perform a login operation – something you don’t want to have to do at 35,000 feet – or may not be able to do if there is no in-flight Wi-Fi.
  7. A Cloud File Sync service provider that allows for selective sync of specific folders to mobile devices. This allows you to hold your work product someplace that will end up synced between devices, but not have to worry about a dozen GB of data all getting dumped into your mobile device’s memory. Set up a folder for work-in-travel, and place what you’ll be working on when you’re traveling into that folder. Ensure that all your other tools can also save their data to that sync service in order to make sure anything new you create also gets sync’d up. DropBox and many other tools have this functionality and integrate seamlessly into tons of mobile applications.
  8. Possibly not required, but definitely recommended – grab a combination external battery and Wi-Fi router. The battery is a lifesaver on longer flights if the aircraft you’re on doesn’t have in-seat USB charging ports for your tablet. The Wi-Fi router can make your hotel stays a lot easier since you can just connect the router to the hotel Wi-Fi and have all your devices connect to the router. No more trying to get every device individually walked through the captive network logon, and no more individual fees for each and every device just to get online. I’ve used HooToo products for years, and they’re great. They make several, so pick the one that has the battery size you want, as they all handle the Wi-Fi router functionality excellently. Bonus: Most come with multiple USB charge ports, so your seat mates will love you when there’s just one outlet to share between the whole row.

Now that you’re properly armed for working at the speed of flight (or train, etc.), you can get out there and be productive while you wait to arrive at your destination!

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