Extreme mobility: Tools and tips for smartphone-only travel

By , Computerworld |  Consumerization of IT

There's no avoiding it: Sometimes you just need paper copies. After being frustrated by using several general-purpose printing apps for Android phones and tablets, I've found the only thing that works reliably is to use the apps that the individual printer companies have provided for their hardware. They're free and work well for everything from printing a boarding pass or Web page to creating emergency business cards.

At the moment, I have apps loaded on the Nitro HD for Brother, Canon, Epson and Lexmark printers. All three printer manufacturers offer similar apps for the iPhone.

Chances are that either your hotel's concierge or its business center will have a printer that works with one of them. If all else fails, I have been able to print at a local Kinko's or other print shop.

Each app generally works in much the same way. It starts by scanning the area for a wireless printer. After I select a printer, the software does the rest. All I have to do is wait.

Some of the apps, like those from Epson and Brother, also let you scan documents if the printer has a scanner, making it an imaging two-way street.

Making a stand for mobility

About 20 minutes of hunching over a smartphone's screen laid flat on a desk or airline tray is enough to convince most people that it's worth packing a small stand to hold the phone upright. A seat neighbor on a flight recently told me how to make a super-portable phone stand out of nothing more than a pair of binder clips. You'll need two sets of small pliers (needle-nose work great). Here's how to do it:

Step 1: Start by flipping the arms of one binder clip back away from the side that opens. Take one set of pliers in each hand; use one to hold the clip securely while bending one of its arms into a curve at the end. (With the arm flipped back, you'll be bending the end of the arm out away from the clip rather than toward it.)

This curved arm will wrap around the phone and hold it up. The object is to create a "J" shape, but it takes a little finesse to do it evenly, so don't expect to get it perfectly on the first try.

Step 2: Next, open the clip with one hand while slipping the second (closed) clip inside it, as shown at right. Both clips are now facing in the same direction, but the inside clip has both arms straight out, while the outside clip's arms are flipped back. Move the outside clip's unbent arm forward so that it lines up with the inside clip's arms.

Step 3: Set the clips down so that the broad back of the outside clip becomes the stand's base. The three unbent arms stand up straight, forming the backrest for the phone, while the bent arm curls down and out in front. Put the phone on the stand. It should sit securely; if it doesn't, try re-bending the clip arm until you get it right.


Originally published on Computerworld |  Click here to read the original story.
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