Kenny Sahr

When I was a kid, my parents bought me a Radio Shack 150-in-1 Electronic Project Kit. At the young age of 10, I was able to build an AM radio, a wireless burglar alarm that made sounds when Mom entered my room, blinking lights and even my own local radio station. Today, we can buy USB gadgets that are just as useful.

USB Refrigerator

Wouldn’t it be nice to cool a drink while sitting at your desk? The USB refrigerator does just that. Mine holds two cans of Coke or one small bottle of mineral water. The word “refrigerator” is a stretch – “slows down the heating process” is more accurate. You can buy one at Deal Extreme or Ebay for $20-$35. Since I threw away my Jar Jar Binks (the Star Wars dude who talked with a Jamaican accent) soap dispenser, it is the most ridiculous thing that I own.

Jokes aside, my USB refrigerator really works. Put your hand on one and you’ll feel how cold it gets. Until a few years ago, software (think marketing and filesharing technologies) was interesting while hardware (think computers and graphics cards) were boring. Mobile devices and the proliferation of the USB connection have helped bring about the comeback of hardware. Hardware has never been cooler and there’s no better example than the USB refrigerator.

USB Cup Warmer

On the other side of the spectrum is the USB cup warmer. Place your cup of coffee or tea and it heats it up – a bit. The one I bought is also a USB hub and comes with 4 USB ports. USB cup warmers go for $5-$10.

USB Fan Is the office a/c not cooling you enough? For less than $20 you can be the proud owner of a USB fan! They come in all shapes and sizes. A USB fan may not be of much use in the summer, but it will give you a quick burst of cool air.

USB Feet Warmer You won’t get far with these covering your feet, and you probably wouldn’t want to be seen with them anyways, but the USB feet warmer is the most ridiculous way to protect your feet from the cold.

USB Drum Kit Ever have the need to hit something hard while at work? The USB drum kit won’t get you an audition to join your favorite rock band, but it looks like a cool stress reliever. 2 drumsticks included.


USB Microwave

Have you ever wondered what kind of R&D they do at a ketchup company? Heinz has invented the world’s first USB microwave! The Beanzawave (I couldn’t make this up) lets you microwave a can of beans from your desk. Just don’t spill the sauce on your computer.

These USB gadgets have me dreaming. I would love to have a USB pizza microwave (are you listening, Domino’s?!), a USB dishwasher, a USB washing machine and a USB Fender Stratocaster electric guitar. What is your fantasy USB gadget??

Kenny Sahr

Have you ever been so mesmerized by a mobile game that you wanted to blast the sound even though you were at a restaurant? Ever been so hypnotized by a Facebook post that you ignored the person next to you? Eye contact is so underrated.

Sound Off!

It’s surreal to see adults squinting at a smartphone, clicking as if they’re playing their first video game. They look like kids who just discovered Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny. Gaming on the road is a game unto itself. You’re on the train or bus and need to whack some zombies while not forgetting to get off at the right stop. You could be standing on line at the store hoping to level up before it is your turn to pay for coffee and yogurt.

Mute it. We know you’re playing a game designed for bubble gum chewing high school students. Until they come up with built-in mobile subwoofers, there isn’t much worth listening to. Turn off the sound while gaming in public.

The Sounds of Silence

Don’t you hate it when you’re talking to someone and they’re chatting simultaneously with people from all 4 corners of the Earth? We all glance at our devices during conversations; there’s no going back. When I visit cafes, I find it creepy to see a room of people staring at screens with no one engaging in conversation. It reminds me of insane asylum scenes from movies. Like the Simon & Garfunkel song, I see the sounds of silence.

“RL people” (real life) should always take priority over online friends and events. Look the waitress in eye when you order food. Know when to turn off the screen. We live in a world with so many distractions. Set your own rules and don’t let your online presence set them for you.

Look Them in the Eye

60’s philosopher and troublemaker Timothy Leary has a great quote:

“George Orwell had it wrong. He was too optimistic. He wrote in 1984 that Big Brother would watch us from screens on the walls of our living rooms or bedrooms. The current horror is that Americans voluntarily stick their amoebic faces toward the screen six or seven hours a day and suck up information that Big Brother is putting there.”

Leary said this in 1987, when the Walkman was the most popular mobile device. I wonder what he would say today. He would probably offer insight as to why we shouldn’t be carrying around Big Brother’s eavesdropping tools.

Your mobile lifestyle should never prevent you from looking people in the eye. Don’t ever forget what it was like when people weren’t looking down all the time!

Kenny Sahr

When the boss gives you roundtrip tickets to The Bahamas, Las Vegas or Montego Bay, are you ready to travel like a star? Let’s prepare you for the mobile trip of a lifetime!

Your Mobile BYOD Travel Kit:

  • Travel backpack or purse
  • Smartphone
  • Tablet
  • Smartphone and tablet covers
  • Two chargers so you can charge both devices at once
  • External battery pack
  • Printed copy of your travel itinerary
  • Pen

Charge It!

As soon as you get your flights tickets, print your travel itinerary. Some things are too important for even low-tech batteries. On the day of your flight, charge both your smartphone and tablet all the way to 100%. Give them a “booster charge” an hour before you leave the house for the airport. This is good to do while showering and packing. Scout your travel backpack and decide where your devices and chargers go. The goal is to be able to whip them out in the dark!
What do you do with passwords? The best place for them is in your head. If you’re like me and have too many to remember, the next best place is a printed piece of paper strategically hidden in your backpack. A piece of paper is a lot safer than storing your banking and email passwords on Dropbox! A notes app that stores data in the cloud is a lot safer than storing the data on your device. If you lose your device, you want to be able to access your data.

App Planning

Download your BYOD app before you travel. Login and make sure everything you need is there. If you use Nubo, you have nothing to worry about – with zero data on your device, nothing from your work environment will ever actually reside on your device. If you use any other BYOD app, make a strategic decision as to what files you will load. Perhaps email and marketing documents are “safer” than financial spreadsheets. Speak with your managers and team before you head for the airport. The rule of thumb is “when in doubt, communicate.”
BYOD should make your life easier while on the road. You should be able to open your tablet, login, view and edit documents with ease. Be prepared to push the screen-off button quickly to avoid prying eyes. When you find yourself BYOD’ing in the sun, don’t hesitate to change the screen brightness.
What about chat apps? Skype and Facebook are easy to use. Skype is cool as it will let you video conference – and show your jealous friends your new desk, a tiki bar teeming with colorful cocktails. Keep in mind that there are some activities that you don’t anyone at work or home to see! Don’t allow your “worst yet most fun moment” to be indexed on Google.
Our friends at SysAid have put together a great list of 10 free Android and iOS business apps.

The Ultimate Mobile Lifesaver

The mobile battery pack is an old invention with a new audience. The good ones come with all of the connections you will need and can typically charge your smartphone twice. The energy they store is measured in mAh – milliamp hours. Mine helped me pass the time on my last flight. I was able to charge my tablet and get in another 2 hours of gaming on the way to Florida. You can find these on Ebay for really low prices – for the cost of a Big Mac!
If you are heading directly to a business meeting, leave some “juice” (electricity) on your devices. You don’t want to land and need a plug in order to make a call. Finally, be careful *where* you BYOD. I can think of a lot of places I’ve been to where I wouldn’t dare pull out a new tablet. Or even a Texas Instruments calculator.
Bon Voyage, BYOD’er!