When we think of technology for financial advisors, we usually think of wirehouse or broker-dealer platforms attempting to integrate financial planning, portfolio accounting and customer relationship management functions. But sometimes it’s the little things — the “utilities” — that make our day easier because they help us work around deficiencies in our mainstream systems.
Here are 10 such utilities, both software and gadgets, that can make a crucial difference in your personal productivity.
xe “one”1) EVDO Cards
Evolution-Data Optimized, or “EVDO,” is a wireless radio broadband data standard currently employed in the U.S. by Verizon and Sprint. In short, this technology takes the form of a PC card that you can slip into a laptop computer so as to obtain an Internet connection anywhere you can get cell phone service.
You’ll pay an additional monthly fee (over and above your cell phone charges) for the privilege of using an EVDO card, but it will be well worth it if you travel and want to work during airport downtimes or when staying in hotels with pricey Internet service. Connection speeds average 400 to 700 kilobytes per second, depending upon your location.
Check out http://estore.vzwshop.com/overview/wirelessinternetaccess/ or http://www.sprint.com/business/products/sections/wirelessData.html. You can generally get a deal on the PC card based upon contract duration, and monthly charges run about $60.
Let’s face it: Passwords are a pain in the neck. You’ve got 200 different websites bookmarked in your Web browser and half of them require distinct usernames and passwords. Keeping track of all of them is a real time waster.
That is, unless you use RoboForm (www.RoboForm.com), a “Web form filler” that automates password entry. For a $30 one-year license, you can begin having RoboForm encrypt your usernames and passwords and enter them for you when you load bookmarked pages in your Web browser.
3) Pass2Go USB Key
How about when you’re not at your own computer, though? RoboForm now offers the Pass2Go USB mini-drive (you’ve seen them — they’re those thumb-sized flash drives that fit easily in a pocket or purse) that holds your passwords and logs you onto bookmarked websites automatically from any third-party computer. And security’s not a problem because as soon as you remove Pass2Go from a “foreign” computer’s USB drive, all traces of your private information are removed with it.
The Pass2Go USB Key will set you back $40 on the RoboForm website.
4) KGB Keylogger
We all know the importance of backups, so we back up critical files at the end of the day or week — to tapes, to DVDs, even to commercial online backup sites. We back up data to keep regulators happy and to recover from major disasters. But how about minor disasters, as when you’ve been composing a letter to a client for the last 15 minutes and forgot to save the text, only to have a power surge suddenly reboot your computer?
You need a “keylogger,” software that records your keystrokes. And an excellent one is KGB Keylogger (http://www.refog.com/keylogger/) by Refog Software, which can be yours for just $40.
When needed, KGB Keylogger will give you a log of your keystrokes from which you can quickly re-create your lost composition without having to actually rewrite it.
Conference calls are mainstream. Individuals use them for three-way conversations; coaches use them for 100-person workshops. But did you know you can have your very own free conference line service?
It’s not the only such service around, but www.FreeConferenceService.com is one of the best. You get 24/7 access to a bridge line that will accommodate up to 50 callers any time you want. The only catch is that each person must spend his own dime to connect with the bridge line.
If you want toll-free service instead, www.FreeConferenceService.com will be glad to give it to you because that’s where it makes its money — on toll-free calls and bridge lines for more than 50 persons.
Another free service with lots of competition is www.SendThisFile.com, which is designed to do one thing well: send very large files to people whose e-mail probably wouldn’t accept them.
Most e-mail servers limit the size of file attachments you can send and receive. With www.SendThisFile.com, it’s not a problem. Upload your file at no cost and your e-mail recipient receives a link to the file that’s good for three days. Have a 100MB graphic file you need to get into your printer’s hands yesterday? Forget burning CDs and overnighting them; just use this service.