smArtist hardware! AKA How I manage my business from everywhere.

Hi, guys! I’ve been spending the last few months really digging into the most efficient ways to manage my business from wherever I happen to be while having plenty of backup options for staying communicative even if everything starts exploding. First off, I’d like to showcase my hardware!

These are the main tools I use for smArtist! Detailed below:

My command center! HP Pavilion dv6t quad core. Intel i7 Q 820, 8gb RAM, 500gb HD, etc. This is my primary laptop where I do all the heavy lifting, be it art, mass file storage, syncing data everywhere, etc. It’s heavy, but can handle anything I can throw at it. I take this laptop to client sites, set it up wherever there’s room, sync the data to my local HD and mirror onto an external HD then do all my work on this. This helps me work remotely and have everything at my disposal and help save my clients time and money trying to get a new system set up for me.

My Google Chromebook! I got this for free in Google’s very first round of beta hardware, and a year later, I still use it extensively. I use this for responding to email, dealing with documentation and spreadsheets, etc. I’m an ENORMOUS fan of Google and actively use most of their products, especially Gmail and Docs.

For the most part, everything I ever need to manage my business with exists in Google’s cloud — securely passworded a hundred ways, of course — and it’s all automatically accessible from this Chromebook. All I have to do is log into my Google account, and all of Chrome’s browser settings and Chrome web store applications and their relevant data are instantly accessible to me. The best part is that the Chromebook comes with 3G data plan through Verizon, so I can access the internet and all my data from wherever I am, at any time.

My Motorola Atrix laptop dock! This is the most awesome cel phone accessory ever devised. I have the Motorola Atrix phone with Android, which is an absolute beast of a phone. One of its most notable features is the laptop dock accessory.

It’s basically an entire netbook with a dock for my phone, and it’s powered by my phone’s hardware. The lapdock’s OS is actually Ubuntu, but the Android OS runs in its own window as a separate app. That window is everything on my phone. All my settings, apps, everything, 100% exact copy except I can use the lapdock’s mouse and keyboard to click on and run everything. I even unlock my phone and entire my PIN from the lapdock’s keyboard. :)

The way it works it that I dock my phone into the lapdock, then boots into Ubuntu and has a virtualized window of my phone’s Android OS as a running app. It’s incredible. It’s a fully functional netbook with 3G access through my AT&T data plan using my phone, and for no extra charge. The best part? The laptop dock has its own battery that automatically charges my phone when it’s docked, even if the laptop dock is closed.

My first-generation 64gb 3G iPad! This is the best piece of consumer electronics I’ve ever purchased. Except for the graphics work I can only do on my primary laptop, I can do EVERYTHING I need to do for my business through my iPad and with its keyboard dock. Emails, spreadsheets, reviewing portfolios, Dropbox, FTP, reading PDF docs, everything. I have apps to do basically anything I’d ever need to do, and since it’s 3G, I can do it from anywhere. :) I’m writing up an article on how I use my iPad to manage my business, and I’ll be posting that at some point in the near future.

The net effect of having all this hardware is that I can pack as light or as heavy as I need and use any of these devices to access the internet and my data through a) direct ethernet connection, b) wifi, or c) two different cellular networks. I can do face-to-face calls through Skype or various VoIP solutions on basically any of these devices if I need to. Since all my tools are based online and backed up every which way, I can be on the highway in the middle of the desert and have full access to my entire business if I even have a single bar of cel reception on either AT&T or Verizon. I’m always on.

In addition to this, I actually have a really amazing laptop \ messenger bag from Timbuk2 that’s always loaded with all the cables and peripherals I need to work remotely. This enables me to simply toss my laptop in the bag and go where I need to immediately instead of having to wrap\pack everything and make sure I didn’t leave anything behind. Among the items in my bag are my earbuds, external speakers, extra mouse, extra USB cables and AC adaptors to charge my phone and iPad, a portable three-port surge protector with two USB outlets so I can split power in busy coffee shops, and so on.

Two of my next purchases are a keyed laptop lock for security and a spare AC adaptor \ power brick for my laptop so I don’t even need to pack my primary when I need to pack up and go work somewhere without wasting a moment’s time. It may not seem like a big deal at first, but I’m out and about working from a wide variety of locations all the time, and it sucks to spend a ton of time packing\unpacking and forgetting something important as I go.

So, in a nutshell, that’s how I run my business from anywhere I am. What kind of cool tech and tools do you guys and gals use for remote work? I’d love to hear!

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