Scanners and Thumb Drives and Keyboards, Oh My!Posted on May 31, 2014 by
“The soul never thinks without a picture.” ~ Aristotle
It’s summer! It’s time for gadgets! Last month, we talked about some of the smaller extras you might want to get for your new tablet or smartphone – things like screen protectors and styluses and cases. This month, I’m going to talk about some bigger investments you might want to make in your business’s “infrastructure”: a scanner, back-up capacity, and a keyboard. I’ll also mention a couple frivolous items I just can’t resist mentioning.
First, let’s talk about scanners. Trust me, you want one. Why? Because it’s an essential tool for getting, and staying, organized – especially if you’re one of those people who writes stuff on whatever little piece of paper is close at hand. I used to be like that, and I could never find anything. Now, I scan that piece of paper, or receipt, or business card, or contract, and I save it in an electronic folder. I’ve organized those folders like an old-fashioned filing system, so I can find that little piece of information right away. This allows me to have as little paper in my office as possible. More importantly, the fact that I can find information fast gives me credibility and fosters trust.
Buying a scanner is easier than you think. In fact, there’s a good chance you already have one, because a lot of printers have scan functions, too. Your printer probably lives in your office, and this is very handy . . . when you’re in your office. It won’t do much good if you’re out and about and you want to email a signed contract to your lawyer. That’s why I also have a portable scanner that I keep in my car for just such occasions. By the way, make sure at least one of your printer-scanners can handle more than one page at a time. Mine can scan 24 pages a minute, and I can’t tell you how much time that thing has saved me.
All that scanning, though, doesn’t do you any good if you lose your data. Hey, computers crash. They get stolen. They get lost. You need to keep a spare copy of all your electronic records in a safe place. Remember: It’s not a matter of whether you’ll lose your data. It’s a matter of when. So there’s a second essential you’ll want to have, and that’s a way to back up those files.
There are a few different back-up solutions. The best way is to upload them to the “cloud.” But what does that mean? That term really confused me at first. It just means that it’s available somewhere out there in cyberspace. It’s not tied to a particular computer, so you can get to it from any computer – not just your own. A lot of Internet plans now include some cloud space for their customers.
In order to upload files to the cloud, though, you’ve got to have an Internet connection. What if you’re in a remote cabin somewhere, or you’re meeting with someone who doesn’t have a computer? In a pinch, my favorite back-up solution is the thumb drive. This little marvel is only about two inches long and plugs into your computer. It’s basically a big storage room for computer files. You can download files from your computer onto your thumb drive (or flash drive, as it’s also called), and then you can upload them again later. I have a thumb drive that fits on my key chain, so I’m never without it. I recommend getting one that’s at least eight gigabytes.
Third, you may want a keyboard. Most tablets and smart phones don’t have physical keyboards; instead, the keyboard appears on the screen and you type from there. I don’t know about you, but I can’t type fast on this kind of keyboard. I grew up when keyboards had, well, keys. Computer manufacturers have recognized this fact, and created all sorts of keyboards to go with your computer.
Keep in mind, though, that any keyboard is going to add weight and bulk to your computer. Don’t get one so heavy that you no longer want to carry around your tablet. Assuming you do want to get a keyboard, be sure to try it out in the store. This is especially true if you are used to “touch typing” – in other words, if you type without looking at the keyboard. Some keyboards aren’t much better than the one you see on your screen.
Finally, here are some strange miscellaneous USB gadgets that have come out in recent times: A wireless missile launcher. A disco ball. Hand-warmers. A toaster.
The people who developed these have way too much time on their hands.
Still, you never know when you’ll need a USB missile launcher. Now that I’ve got my business infrastructure in place, I think I need a missile launcher. Really. It’s for my kids. Yes, that’s it. For my kids.