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Taking time out, while on the road

AvantiKumar | Feb. 23, 2009
Using mobile tools to escape from it all

Malaysian ICT executives seem to have reached the first fatigue point this year. For the first time in three months, the discussion over a coffee break at the most recent forum was not about the economy.

"So how are things in your world," I asked, as usual.

The person, a senior executive for an outsourcer, shrugged his shoulders. "Sama sama." (Malay for "same as usual".)

Then he lifted out his mobile device and showed me what he was working on. I expected the usual spreadsheet or PowerPoint of his intended speed for the day. Or, perhaps how he'd reduced his handicap on a mobile golf game.

The serious conversations about surviving the downturn could wait until the break had ended, it seemed.

It was a home video he was working on. Five minutes long: a mix of stills and video of his two daughters. "I've been using a mobile app to edit and mix my holiday photos and videos taken on my mobile when in Penang during this New Year break."

He'd done a good job. Then someone else in that group showed me that she was putting together an application that would embed Word documents into a calendaring tool on the Windows-based device.

This made me realise that mobile technology could be used to preserve sanity as well as meet ever-increasing stresses of the daily grind. Use the PDA or mobile device to have a few moments having fun. After all, the best innovations come when the mind is switched away from direct contemplation of current worries.

Not seeing the wood for the forest

I have to confess I have put those odd free momentswaiting for meetings and weekends to good use in my own life. For the past several months, I used an older E-series Nokia, coupled with its Bluetooth keyboard, to write a whole book (The Science of Happiness, a motivational title just published by Marshall Cavendish, for those who are curious).

A person at Nokia had seen that I still used my old workhorse (The Psion Netbook) and challenged me to use one of their devices. For once, I admit the person was right. Not only did I manage to make use of free moments in a busy daily schedule on my hobby, that of realising the dream of finally completing my book, but I also found that being away from the office and on the road actually made the creative juices flow to good effect.

So now my Nokia is not just for sending messages and organising my calendar. It really is a mobile computer and communications device that fits into my pocket and frees me to be even more productive than in the office.


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