Trip report: taking my law office with me to Europe

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As you may remember, I recently took off for Europe with nothing but a USB drive and my Blackberry, audaciously leaving my laptop running UltraVNC on my desk at home. Fortunately nobody took that as an invitation to ransack my home. Here is how my portable law office experiment all panned out.

Phone

I did bring along my headset for Skype, but I never needed to use it. Instead, I used my cell phone once or twice, at $.99/minute. Steep, but quite convenient for short phone calls.

A possible roadblock is the fact that many internet cafes will not let you access your USB drive. Look for gaming cafes, which have faster computers, faster connections, and give you more access to the computer.

E-mail and scheduling

E-mail access from my Blackberry worked flawlessly in France and Spain. I left it in the hotel room where it would not interfere with my sightseeing and checked it once or twice a day. It allowed me to keep in contact with co-counsel, potential clients, and staff, although with my autoreply going, I did not feel obligated to respond to anyone as quickly as usual.

The Blackberry worked equally well for scheduling, although my need for it was virtually nil.

Access to client files

I did need to access my computer once, and it was a piece of cake using UltraVNC. I had the good luck to drop into a gaming cafe in Paris. The USB socket on the computer didn’t let me push my drive all the way in, however, so I had to download the UltraVNC Viewer from the website. This was nearly as easy, and made me realize I should just store the file on my web space, which I have done. The connection was a bit slow, but it worked well enough that I could use my computer at home just as if I were sitting in front of it.

All in all, I was only mildly inconvenienced by being away from home. I didn’t leave without notice, so my workload was obviously far lighter than usual, but I was able to get to everything I needed. When I returned, all I had to do was a bit of scanning of mail, and I was back up to speed with no other catching up. It might have interfered with my vacation a tiny bit, but I was grateful when I returned to work not to have post-vacation stress that might make me hesitate about going away next time.

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