And the T5 played on
Unlike the leisurely Jim Fidler, a bad day at the call centre for Up the Tree’s Ben leads to a podcast that’s only 18 minutes long, while the following week Ben and Josiah get together on air to drink beer and ramble on for more than an hour, getting increasingly drunk as the podcast progresses. But this is what podcasting is all about – diversity and an anarchic kind of broadcasting that would never get commercial air time on an established radio.
For the past two months, I’ve been on the Business Growth and Development programme at Cranfield University School of Management in Bedfordshire. All my fellow students are owners or managers of fast-growing organisations who get to analyse their own growth strategies and develop a specific three-year business plan. The course contains a mixture of lecture theatre, group working and follow-up work with tutors. The on-site element takes place over Fridays and Saturdays at the Cranfield campus, which is a strange mix of former aerodrome with state-of-the-art modern buildings. However, by the time it comes to late Saturday afternoon, some of us drop all the talk about business to compare the different phones or handheld computers we’ve brought with us.
Barry Burke is managing director of JD Edwards, a management software specialist, and faces the challenge of a whole new business environment with Oracle’s recent acquisition of both PeopleSoft and JD Edwards. Barry uses a Sendo X smartphone both as a phone and as a personal organiser: ‘I looked at the Treo, but I wasn’t happy with the size; I looked at BlackBerry, but after a lot of research I settled for the Sendo. I didn’t want a toy that just looked good.
‘My key uses are contacts and calendar: I sync it with Outlook on my PC twice a week, but the information doesn’t change that rapidly for me. I don’t need to be in email contact all the time – perhaps if I’m at a conference, I’ll check my email, but I’m not looking up my email every time I’m out of the office. Apart from anything else, I have to pay per email on my phone tariff, and I’m fiscally prudent.’
Dr Philip Posner has just been elected managing partner of a six-partner medical practice in Kentish Town. This practice has been a pioneer of many medical computerisation advances, not only in digitising all patient records, but in allowing patients to order their own repeat prescriptions or cancel appointments with their GP via the website. Like many others in the medical profession, he’s an ex-Psion user. ‘At one point, we had a high-profile application where we used a modem to dial into the surgery from home visits,’ he says of his Psion days, but he’s now moved on to an iPAQ h5450.
Gerrard Kennedy from Image Integrators prefers not to carry a BlackBerry: ‘I use an Orange 3G datacard in my laptop so I can choose when to power up and get my email. Last night when I got back to my room, I thought, “Do I actually want to see my email?” and then thought, “No, I don’t!” so I left the laptop off. If I’d had a BlackBerry with the messages already showing, I’d have been tempted to read them. The Orange datacard contains a second SIM, which costs me £32.50 a month. I can’t remember how much data I get for that, but I never go over the limit.’
For myself, the most useful gadget I took to the course was a 128MB Disgo USB flash drive. I can carry my entire business plan on this simple USB drive and it even conveniently attaches to my keyring. The 128MB is easily enough for several Word and Excel documents, and I can plug it into whichever computer I get the use of in the Cranfield library. I could, of course, use my palmOne T5 to store documents, because if you connect it by cable to a USB port and set it to ‘drive mode’ then the internal memory and SD card of the T5 appear as drives E and F on your PC, just as with a USB drive.