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Portable Gadgets: Your Office Away from the Office

What is a slacker to do in today's digital world? Portable devices allow your boss to check up on you no matter where you are. Find out how to waste time in style when you're on the go in this sample chapter.
This chapter is from the book

This chapter is from the book

Slacking to Go with BlackBerry, Cell Phones, and PDAs

Slacking with Portable Gadgets

  • Learn how to edit your BlackBerry messages to make it look like you're in your stupid cubicle like you should be!

  • Forward your office phone number to a handheld device so that your customers or clients think you're diligently plugging away at the office.

  • Copy an entire DVD over to your PDA or cell phone so you can watch Office Space while in your office space.

  • Or how about faking an incoming phone call so that you can get out of a meeting?

  • Learn how to play sound effects on your cell phone so your boss thinks you're stuck on the freeway when you're really just running into the shower!

...so what are you waiting for, get slacking!

It's not easy being a white-collar worker today. Not only are you expected to work longer hours (nights, weekends, holidays, you name it), but thanks to mobile inventions such as cell phones, PDAs, BlackBerrys, and GPS devices, your boss can track you down wherever you may be.

Isn't it ironic that "wireless" devices are tethering us to the office even more so than before these inventions debuted? Sheesh.

Yes, portable gadgets might serve as an office away from the office, but they can really impede on your personal life. Don't think this hasn't happened—you could be in the delivery room with your wife awaiting the arrival of your precious bundle of joy, and still be expected to respond to the ringing of the cell phone or buzzing of the BlackBerry (although we all know you're not supposed to have these things on in hospitals!).

So, why not turn the tables just a little? For example, these devices can be used to make it look like you're in the office when you're really enjoying a beautiful day on the fairway. And did you know you can copy a DVD to your PDA or SmartPhone? Or, why not join a text-messaging club where members call your boss to get you out of work? Oh yes, 'tis true.

And so this is the topic of discussion in Chapter 4.

Finding Your Way Out of a BlackBerry Jam

  • Get rid of that pesky BlackBerry signature that tells the whole world you're not in your office replying to email like you said you were.

  • Fix the subject line of your emails so that it complies with the look of an email sent from Outlook—just in case you've got a really tech-savvy boss.

  • Use my list of BlackBerry shortcuts if by some chance you really do want to get your work done but you want to get it done faster.

Without a doubt, the biggest thing to happen to the white-collar working world is the BlackBerry from Research in Motion (http://www.rim.com). As opposed to Internet-enabled cell phones where you must log onto a site to "pull" your messages to the phone, the BlackBerry "pushes" email so that the handheld rings or buzzes every time you receive a message. Want to respond? Click Reply using the intuitive thumb-keyboard and then type a note and it's zapped away to the recipient. BlackBerry devices are easy to use and reliable, but they can also be quite addictive little devices (hence the nickname "CrackBerrys").

Because you can set up your office email account to be sent to your BlackBerry, many employees can spend more time out of the office than ever before. But if you believe a tech-savvy co-worker you're communicating with doesn't know you're on a BlackBerry—think again.

How's this, you ask? "But when I send a message, it looks like it's coming from my office email account!" you insist. True, but only to the untrained eye. You see, while someone who receives a message from you might see jdsmith@microsoft.com, there are ways to see whether the sender is really in the office.

Goodbye Auto-Signature, Hello Three-Hour Lunch

One way is to take a look at the bottom of the message. By default, BlackBerry messages contain a signature file that says "Sent from my BlackBerry Wireless Handheld." Doh! What—you didn't know that?

Removing the BlackBerry signature at the bottom of every email is a breeze. This isn't performed on the BlackBerry itself, but rather, it's a setting in the BlackBerry desktop software.

Here's how to do it:

  1. Open the BlackBerry Desktop Software on your computer. By default, it will be under Start, and then Programs (or All Programs), and then BlackBerry or BlackBerry Desktop Manager.

  2. Four icons appear in the window: Application Loader, Back Up and Restore, Intellisync, and Redirector Settings. Double-click on Redirector Settings (underneath the picture of the antennae—see Figure 4.1).

  3. Figure 4.1

    Figure 4.1 Although it doesn't sound like the right choice, select the last icon—Redirector Settings—to change (or remove) your auto-signature.

  4. Under the General tab (the first tab you should see), the last option will be titled Auto Signature (see Figure 4.2). As you'll see, the default setting is Sent from my BlackBerry Wireless Handheld. Simply delete this entire phrase (and the solid line before it) or choose another signature that doesn't tell recipients that you're not in the office! Cradle the handheld and synchronize.

    Figure 4.2

    Figure 4.2 Simply delete the text in the last window (Auto signature) or replace it with something else.

So, what should you replace your signature with? Hmm, perhaps you want to use one of those fancy motivational quotes that make you sound all brainy and stuff. How about, "Example is not the main thing in influencing others, it is the only thing" (Albert Schweitzer) or "Everyone is trying to accomplish something big, not realizing that life is made up of little things" (Frank A. Clark). Either way, there's no chance anyone will know where you really are when you reply to messages.

Hide Behind the Subject

If you want people to think you're using Outlook at your desk (when you're really nursing a hangover in a hotel room), be aware some technically savvy folks will see you're on a BlackBerry—if you don't watch your step.

When you receive an email message in Outlook and respond to it, the subject line (for example, "report") now has a "RE:" in front of it "RE: report". But did you know that when you reply to a message using a Blackberry, it adds a "Re:" in front of the subject like "Re: report", instead? Don't see the difference, you say? The Outlook response has an "RE:" all in capital letters, while on the BlackBerry only the "R" is capped. If the recipient (such as your boss) is knowledgeable enough, he or she will catch on to your little scheme. So be sure to change "Re:" to "RE:" in the email's subject line, before you send that reply!

Be sure not to tell too many people about this trick, as it's a little-known gem!

Get Sports Updates Right on Your BlackBerry

If your boss sees you scrolling through your BlackBerry messages while in your cubicle, he might think you're actually checking work-related messages. Little does she or he know that you're actually reading about your favorite sports, thanks to a product called BerrySchedules (http://www.BerrySchedules.com). For example, the Pro Football Schedule is a mobile schedule for the BlackBerry that features the complete NFL season schedule by week, by team, and full-season. What's more, all schedules automatically adjust to your time zone. BerrySchedules also offers scheds for college football and pro hockey and basketball. The product is free to try; $9.95 to buy (see Figure 4.5).

Figure 4.5

Figure 4.5 Are you ready for some football? This product from BerrySchedules.com is a handy app that displays the complete NFL season schedule so you'll never miss a game. Work, shmirk!

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