Working | Telecommuting

Out of office, WiFi and chargers keep your laptop running

WASHINGTON — You work from home and there's no power. You work from an office and there's no power. You are a worker without a work station. But your boss would still like some work to be done, even if the power company's talking about keeping you in the dark till sometime in September. Fear not. In a digital, mobile world, little 1s and 0s dart all around us, even in 95-degree heat, even in the dark. Here's how the digital nomads who bounce from coffee shop to bookstore to home get their work done on the move. Washington Post

In a pinch: Many mobile phones can tether to laptops, via Bluetooth or cables, to get computers onto the Internet. The speeds are pretty fast. Call your mobile phone provider to see whether your phone has the capability. You can, in some cases, add a tethering feature for a limited period. iPhones can now tether, as can many Android devices.

Creating power: Your car is perfectly capable of charging computers, cell phones, DVD players, etc. Go to Best Buy, RadioShack, Office Depot, Staples or another retailer and ask for a vehicle power inverter. Inverters run about $60 and turn your cigarette lighter into a full-fledged power provider capable of charging multiple devices at once.

Another power idea: If the above idea fails because you keep running into declarations of "sold out," ask for a portable power pack. These are essentially portable batteries that you can charge anywhere — Panera Bread, Starbucks, you get the idea — and then you can plug your gadgets into them to charge at home or wherever. Duracell, Energizer and other battery manufacturers make them. Many come precharged, ready to go. Most electronic stores sell them, as do Target and Walmart.

Where to find free WiFi: The world reached the tipping point of free wireless when Starbucks took the price off WiFi last month. It's free and it's fast. Panera Bread has had free wireless for years and is a favorite spot of digital nomads. McDonald's has free WiFi. So do many hotel lobbies. (Note: Although the WiFi is free, don't be a freeloader. Order lunch. Eat several snacks. Don't be cheap.)

Most cell phone app stores — iPhone, Android, BlackBerry — are filled with apps that use your location to list free (or paid) WiFi hotspots near you. Also, check with your cable provider, as many packages include free access to otherwise for-pay WiFi hot spots.

Out of office, WiFi and chargers keep your laptop running 08/17/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, August 17, 2010 12:11am]

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