Digitize Everything! How to Simplify Your Life by Going Digital

Digitize Everything! How To Simplify your Life by Going Digital Live Work Anywhere

This is a follow up post to my posts about 4boxes, Dropbox, and Google Apps.

One of the most surprising facts is that even in the digital age, many individuals have drawers, cabinets, and shelves filled with technologically obsolete items such as, CDs, DVDs, photo albums, and others. So if you belong to this category, first and foremost you can rest assured in the knowledge that you’re not alone. However, if you’re looking to make a change nonetheless, to simplify and become more mobile, it’s time to go through those old photos, CDs, and other types of analog items and convert them into a digital format. The easiest way to downsize today is by DIGITIZING everything!

CDs became mp3s.  DVDs can now be streamed by using a Netflix or iTunes account. So why not digitize and minimalize? Not only are these items outdated but they also take up a lot of space. So transferring the data from such devices to digital mediums can also help you de-clutter and stay organized. Even if you don’t want to cut down on the number of things you actually own, it’s easy to streamline things. 

However, as you begin the process to digitize everything and minimize “things”, remember it’s easy to be overwhelmed by the sheer amount of work it may seemingly involve. But you don’t have to be. LiveWorkAnywhere has got you covered with these simple but effective tips on ‘How to digitize your life”.

CDs and DVDs

You can import CDs into an iTunes Library. Then back up that library using Dropbox. Then do the same with your DVDs. Transferring the contents of CDs and DVDs into your digital library will be easy. However for cassettes and records, a little more effort would be necessary. If it’s too much for you to handle, consider getting professional help. You can then donate all the physical media to Goodwill (if they’re still accepting these types of media!), or get money for them using CD Exchange. Think of the amount of space you’d be creating in the process. Moreover while you’re digitizing everything, you also get the opportunity to reconnect with some old tunes – added bonus! 

Photo Albums

How to digitize your life? The answer is simple: digitize your photos! While all photo albums are precious, especially those dating back to those times when Smartphone cameras were not in use, are even rare. So why not scan them to transfer them into a digital form that is not prone to fading, tearing, yellowing, or scratching, as paper-based photos are? The best part about scanning is that it’s easy to do.

Using a service like ScanCafe, you can have your photos scanned into a complete digital format. Use services such as Picasa, Lyn, or Flickr. Lyn offers great desktop-based photo management for Mac OS X but it’s a paid service after the initial free 15-day trial period. However if you’re looking for free service, then even Facebook can be useful in showing photos online efficiently. My suggestion, however, would be to always have a backup on a file storage service (like Dropbox), then select and showcase specific photos online.

Using a photo management program like Picasa or any other not only allows you to neatly organize your photos but also helps put them in one easy location from which they can be easily retrieved and viewed. And you can share them online with friends and family whenever and wherever they may be based. 

To-Do Lists and Notes

How to digitize your life, especially your professional life? If you want to make living and working from anywhere a reality with Live Work Anywhere, digital to-do lists, post-its and other notes can help facilitate your transition. Imagine having all your work-related notes accessible in a digital form that you can access from anywhere! 

No matter where you’re based geographically, all you have to do is switch on your PC or tablet to get started with your scheduled tasks for the day. Traveling someplace? Or feel like working from a café? Or perhaps you’d like to move your work desk outdoors for a day – to a park maybe? 

Use digital managers like Evernote, Zenkit To Do, or any other to-do management program or app – there’s a plethora of apps to choose from, based on your specific goal – to organize your pending tasks and keep track of your progress.

It feels great to simplify and digitize your life and of course another benefit is that everything stays with you, no matter where you are in the world. Additionally it just makes everything so much easier to share with your near and dear ones and life so much easier to enjoy!

Also by digitizing your life you minimize and clear clutter, which is very rewarding – and allows you to get up and go more quickly! 

How are you planning to downsize this year?

Google Apps and Why They Rock

Because everything I do has completely morphed to online.  I haven’t lost a file, thanks to Dropbox, and with Google Apps have been able to:

  • Create and Share Company Documents
  • Maintain and Share Spreadsheets
  • Create a mini-CRM system
  • Connect a Domain Name from GoDaddy and create company email account
  • Use Google Sites to create company wiki pages to manage daily operations manuals, sales sheets and employees, human resource and legal documents, and the list goes on and on

Google Apps makes it possible for you to truly run your business from anywhere.  I use Microsoft Word and PowerPoint to create documents sometimes, but as often as I can and especially for collaboration, I’ll use Google Apps.  I post my MS docs, Excel spreadsheets, and PowerPoints into my Google Site wikis.

When traveling, from any computer, you can be instantly working and collaborating online.  I’ve tested this in Argentina, Hungary, Costa Rica, and all over the US.  By slowly switching everything over to Google Apps and Dropbox, your files will be completely mobile!

Files on the Go: Mobile File Management for the Busy Traveler

Mobile File Management for the Busy Traveler Live Work Anywhere

Mobile File Management for the Busy Traveler Live Work Anywhere

About two years ago I was introduced to two file sharing services have that saved my life: Box.net and Dropbox.com (formerly GetDropbox). As a traveler, I’ve had to deal with countless number of files lost after computers hard drives simply crashed. If it wasn’t that, I had to deal with laptops being stolen, or even external hard drives going bad (or, honestly, going out of date!) Then I found Dropbox.

Dropbox is a service that allows you to store your files online.  I pay for their 50 gig service, which runs me only about $100 a year. Much better than having to replace laptops and external storage drives, and I never have to worry about anything going out of date.

Best of all, with Dropbox, you can synchronize your folders online with your local folders. It’s a seamless experience!  You use your folders like you normally would, then when you connect to the Internet everything syncs  up to the server and stored automatically.  If your laptop is stolen, as mine was, you can en-sync that computer just by going onto the website.

Why wasn’t this invented sooner? It’s breath of fresh air! You can get Dropbox here—you’ll be helping me out by giving me extra storage if you sign up using my link, and you get more than the average amount of space for accepting my invite. Another reason to love Dropbox—a great affiliate program.

Box.net is another great service I use, but it’s less suitable for the independent traveler and more so for the corporate group looking to share files.  There’s no desktop component (as of this writing).  The biggest plus to using Box.net, in my opinion, are its easily shareable links to files.  As a company, we store information both on Dropbox and Box.net. Both handle information in a way that is accessible, editable and secure. We can even share the information with others we work with outside of the company.

The shift to mobile file storage makes it possible to be working from a desktop computer in an internet cafe in Argentina, from your iPhone in NYC, or your laptop in Seattle… and stay on top of it all. It’s so important to have a virtual file system in place!

What are your favorite tools to use to manage files while traveling?

VoIP and Text for iPhone?

This article has been updated. See: https://liveworkanywhere.com/tools/can-i-text-via-sms-using-your-cell-phone-overseas-to-text

I love the iPhone and just got the latest 3Gs. Heaven! Almost…

When traveling I paid $60/month just to keep my number with AT&T and rarely used the number. As long as you can get connected with wifi, you should be able to use:

VoIP
Text

What are some of the services that exist? Let’s take a look:

VoIP –
Skype
> Does not offer service for 3G, this is disturbing to me, I hope they have a release announcement soon!
TruPhone
Fring

Text –
TextFree
> Costs $5.99 for full version and sends texts to/from email
Google Voice
> Not an app and not yet listed in Google Apps for iPhone but promising from-web texting

So, in the hopefully near future, the iPhone will be able to be used strictly with wifi connections – no more expensive phone plans and international calling plans!

Best Phone for International Travel

liveworkanywhere best phone international travel tmobile

Best Phone for International Travel

Taking your cell phone abroad historically has been a real hassle.  For all the advancements our society has managed, stepping over an international border still has rendered many of us lost, communication-wise.  That’s why I wanted to share my advice on the best phone for international travel so you can continue to travel without the hassle.

Depending on your plan, carrier, and device, you stand to face several challenges that you might not be aware of until arriving overseas. Having a nonfunctioning phone in a different country can be annoying at best and dangerous at worst. Travel is part of my life and business, so the uncertainty of cell phone functionality is something that had plagued me for years, but all that stopped when I realized something.

None of it was necessary.

All the worry and bother of messing with airplane mode and wi-fi, switching SIM cards, dead zones and insanely high cell phone bills was avoidable. All I had to do was change to my phone plan. And so I did just that.

About five years ago, I moved to T-Mobile’s Simple Choice plan from the AT&T plan that I’d kept for 12 years prior. There were a couple of things that played a factor in my decision and the main points were:

  1. T-Mobile plan had no monthly contracts.
  2.  T-Mobile plan had an international plan that included traveling abroad.
  3. T-Mobile’s International plan allowed seamless access in over 150 countries.

Not too long ago, if you wanted to have cell phone connectivity in another country, you needed to purchase a phone and/or SIM card once you arrived. Due to the fact that GSM and TDMA networks often require different phones, switching out SIM cards was not as easy as it is with international phone plans.

I considered the dual SIM feature available on some phones, but stumbling across T-Mobile’s international plan made it to where I did not need to invest in this.

Plan Details

While I started out with T-Mobile’s Simple Choice month-to-month plan, I was eventually grandfathered into the newer T-Mobile One plan, which includes these features:

  • $70 for one line, $80 for one line on ONE Plus
  • Unlimited 3G hotspot, 10GB of 4G LTE on ONE Plus
  • Both have unlimited text and talk to Canada/Mexico
  • Standard definition video quality, High definition video quality on ONE Plus
  • Unlimited text/talk/data in the US, Mexico, and Canada
  • Free Netflix service and streaming capabilities
  • In-flight texting and 1 hour of data on GoGo-enabled flights
  • Mobile hotspot data

Why It’s the Best Phone for International Travel 

T-Mobile offers the best features for abroad travelers being that this plan has automatic coverage in more than 150 countries around the globe. It comes with unlimited international data coverage and texting, and the prepaid plan has call options as low as $0.25 per minute. T-Mobile plans are compatible with most phones, either GSM or TDMA and customers don’t have to switch out SIM cards or buy a new phone every time they visit a new country.

All of these features are available with no monthly contract, overage fees, termination fees, or hidden charges. Customers can keep their original mobile numbers as an added convenience (can you even imagine the hassle of changing a cell phone number these days?).
Comparing Other Carriers
T-Mobile was compared with several other carriers in 280 major markets, with emphasis on its map coverage and reliability scores. It earned a whopping 95.1% coverage and reliability score with very dependable coverage in urban areas around the world.

Though there are not many, the weak points should be noted. Rural area coverage is slightly less dependable than urban coverage and data can be throttled after 26GB.

AT&T

AT&T has two international plans available, Unlimited Choice and Unlimited Choice Plus which have received a 96.3% coverage and reliability rating. Unlimited Choice starts at $60 for one line and includes standard definition video quality, no mobile hotspot data, and unlimited text/talk to Canada and Mexico.

Unlimited Choice Plus is slightly more pricey at $90 for one line, but it includes high definition video quality, 10GB of 4G LTE mobile hotspot, and unlimited text/talk to Canada and Mexico.

Verizon

Verizon Wireless also has two international plan options, Go Unlimited and Beyond Unlimited which have received a 97.5% coverage and reliability score. Go Unlimited starts at $75 for one line and includes standard definition video quality. It also includes 600 Gbps mobile hotspot and does not include free text/talk to Canada and Mexico.

Beyond Unlimited starts at $85 for one line, comes with high definition video quality and 15GB of 4G LTE mobile hotspot. Beyond Unlimited also includes free text/talk to Canada and Mexico.

Sprint

Sprint has one international plan, the Unlimited Freedom plan which has received a coverage and reliability score of 93.9%. The plan starts at $60 for one line, includes high definition video quality, 10GB of 4G LTE mobile hotspot and unlimited text/talk to Canada and Mexico.

Considering the features available through T-Mobile in and out of the United States, I would personally rank the plan’s value for the price at 9/10 and 9.5/10 when it comes to coverage and speed.

In addition to the features and savings available with T-Mobile’s international plan, customers do not have to call their provider before traveling, and these services are priced with no credit check necessary. Should you incur any issues during your travels, T-Mobile staff provides excellent customer service and tech support.

Conclusion

We are moving toward a borderless world in which we can communicate using our cell phones.  Just hopping off the plane our phone carriers now switch automatically over to partner networks.  For local service in the US, there are many options that offer international calling plans but in my opinion T-Mobile is the best phone for international travel.

Skype versus Google Voice International Calling

Skype vs. Google Voice International Calling

One of the benefits, to me – now living back in the US, is Google Voice. US numbers only, I can call from my cell phone or landline and get low international rates:

https://www.google.com/support/voice/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=141925

If I’m international, I can call my Skype using my Skype to Go number, then dial my Google Voice for 2 cents/minute and make international calls also for as low as 2 cents/minute. So calling London might now cost 4 cents/min versus 20-40 cents/min.

I haven’t tried this yet and I’m guessing the VoIP quality is not great, but in theory, it works!

Google Voice also announces the cost of the call before it makes it, sweet!