The 'anywhere computing' era dawns

Don't look now, but the 'mobile computing' idea is suddenly obsolete. We hardly knew ye.

Low-cost online backup. As Francis Ford Coppola discovered recently, online backup is a really good idea. You can constantly back up gigabytes of data for just three or four dollars a month. And if your laptop is destroyed, you can quickly access everything with another system.

Web 2.0. Another dozen or more new Web 2.0 services emerge every day that empower users, often free of charge, and provide exciting new options for communicating, organizing, brainstorming with, accessing, learning about, filtering, managing, processing and enhancing your information.

VoIP. Online phone calls enable you to make free or low-cost calls from cybercafi¿½s or any other Internet connected computer, and can provide a backup if you can't call from a cell phone.

Phone-to-PC services. A new category of specialized, free voice-recognition services like Jott and CallWave enable you to send yourself reminders, add things to your calendar or to-do list with a single speed-dial button and a few choice words into your cell phone, or get voice-mail as e-mail. They turn phones into remote PC input devices.

Mobile phone versions of desktop replacement services. Many of these online services that replace desktop applications, such as Plaxo, Gubb, Google Calendar, Gmail, Maps and others, offer free minimalist cell phone views of your data.

Cybercafes everywhere. You can find a cybercafe now everywhere, even in small towns in Third World countries.

In-flight Wi-Fi. Major carriers in the U.S., Europe and Asia are rolling out wireless access during flights. Currently, the majority of U.S. carriers do not yet offer in-flight Wi-Fi, but you do have a choice in carriers. And soon enough, most airlines will offer it.

Hotels with great connectivity. Gone are the days when you had to fret over your hotel's connectivity. Most business hotels offer Wi-Fi. Others still offer Ethernet. Some provide both.

Neo-Bedouinism. A new breed of entrepreneur is starting companies, building businesses and doing it all without bothering to lease office space. Employees work wherever -- home, coffee shops, you name it. Even people at more traditionally established companies are using neo-Bedouin techniques every chance they get, sneaking off to the local coffee house for some uninterrupted productivity. Some are taking vacations without taking vacation time off. They're traveling abroad and working all the while. The idea here isn't to never really take vacations, but to travel three months out of the year, even when your company gives you just three weeks.

Generation Y. People in their 20s now entering the work force are different from the rest of us. They don't remember, can't imagine and would never accept a world without 24/7 Internet connectivity. They grew up being available at all hours to friends via chat and mobile phone. They don't see technology as an imposition, but as an enabler that connects them at all times to people they know.

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Mike Elgan

Mike Elgan

Computerworld
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