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11/12/2017

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A minute into the meeting, his laptop blinks out. A minute later, everyone is bored shitless and looking at their smartphones again. I am looking up Black Friday.For weeks, I have been receiving press releases, unsolicited marketing email and LinkedIn bollocks – a tautology, I know – telling me how important it is to spend my money in shops on Black Friday, yet not telling me why nor indeed when. My initial wild hunch was that it would take place on a Friday turned out to be correct. But which Friday? And why was it Black?As the whole world apart from me knows only too well, it took place yesterday and the supposed shopping insanity should start putting retailers into the black financially in the frantic run-up to Christmas. It happens, I understand, because it’s the first shopping day of a long holiday weekend that began with Thanksgiving the day before. It’s a bit like the January Sales, I guess, except that I’d never heard of it in my previous 50 years of existence.

Well, hot-dang, hoo-whee and yeefuckinghar, you rootin’ tootin’, shankin’ wankin’ cousins from the Tea Partying land of the free and drive-by shooting. It’s just possible that one or two of us in the primitive, nomadic wilds beyond the borders of civilisation – in my case, south-east London – do not celebrate Thanksgiving. If I did, it would be like this:To give it credit, though, Black Friday 2014 has been a marketing success in the UK in reminding lazy people like me to get buying Christmas presents before December has even begun. In the Dabbsy household, my artificial tree is up, the LEDs twinkling and the decorations already hung. Effectively, Black Friday has turned me into my own Mum. Next thing, I’ll be screaming at my family on Christmas morning not to tear the wrapping paper and will spend Boxing Day ironing it for next year.No doubt The Reg will shortly bring you one of those Best Gadget Stocking Filler type of product roundups. I still hope to read Lucy Orr’s exciting review of the extraordinarily fascinating lightbulb she won in a hi-tech tombola a few weeks ago.

No more misery of having to operate a lamp switch manually for Lucy, oh no: now she can download and install an app, fail to connect to Wi-Fi, restart her router, update her OS, restart her phone, shout “Connect you stupid bugger” and spend half an hour on a call to a Customer Engager in order to turn on the light. Ah, progress.In case you are more of a stop-in than a shopper, Black Friday also featured a TV ad on British commercial channel ITV2 by “intense sensation” specialists Durex just ten minutes after the 9pm watershed. A boring old ad for rubbers? Oh no, young Bucky, nothing of the sort. Instead of watching soft-focused footage of loving heterosexual couples laughing on a sunlight street or clinking wine glasses in a restaurant (as opposed to clips of them grunting and all sweaty while shagging in a damp bedsit to the soundtrack of a fan heater at the foot of the creaking bed), Durex ads have gone all hi-tech.On the dubious premise that British people are reserved and suffer from having an emotional broom handle stuck up their arses, the concept is that they maintain decorum in public while sticking very real broom handles up their arses in private. According to the press release, the British are “tight lipped” about sex and adds, hopefully choosing its words deliberately: “Brits are still maintaining their traditional decorum when it comes to spilling the beans.”

To peek into this secret life of the rampant Brit, you point your smartphone or tablet at the TV ad to trigger a behind-the-scenes view of what they really think.Brilliant. Instead of sitting back to watch a TV ad recommending the barrier method, preferably the ribbed range in fluorescent colours with spermicide lubricant, you can download and install an app, fail to connect to Wi-Fi, restart your router, update your OS, restart your phone, shout “Connect you stupid bugger” and spend half an hour on a call to a Customer Engager.Durex’s press release shone light on the most popular sex toys, so I do hope some of these can be er... slipped into any El Reg gadget roundup. Certainly, I know very little about this field of product engineering. I have worked out that a “clitoral stimulator” stimulates the clitoris but why pet owners would feel compelled to purchase a “rabbit vibrator” to vibrate their rabbits is beyond my comprehension. I shall never be able to look a Duracell bunny in the eye ever again.And on that note, I’ll leave you with the idiomatic slogan that make Durex a best-seller in shit barber shops all over the UK for generations: Something for the Weekend, Sir?

If you're a member of the backroom staff at a big company, you probably spend a lot of time sitting at a desk bashing at a computer. Indeed, in my day job as IT ops manager for a telco I'm delighted to have probably the only truly comfy chair on the premises and my huge desktop screen for the Excel-wrangling that forms part of what I do.For small and medium businesses, however, getting out and doing stuff on the move is the order of the day. Being able to work while out seeing clients, visiting suppliers, wiggling wires in your data centre, or even working at home wiping the noses of sick-note-wielding children is hugely desirable. Even in largish companies the ability to be in touch despite not being on-site brings mutual value: the company benefits from increased productivity through increased availability; on the employee's side the work-life balance is made a little easier by allowing a slightly earlier escape from the office ball and chain each afternoon.Happily we're now at the stage where computing on the move is not just doable, it's positively attractive. Let's look, then, at the ingredients that you need in order to cut the cord without losing touch with the office.

The first thing you'll need to decide is what device(s) you and your users should be using, and this depends entirely on what they'll be used for. So for instance if you don't need to type a great deal or access many apps on the move, a standard iPhone or Android phone may well be sufficient if all you need is email and a bit of internet access. Actually I find something the size of an iPhone 6 Plus about right for this kind of stuff – I recently tested a similarly sized Nokia Lumia 1320 to see if I could live with it as a business device and it was just great.If, on the other hand, you do more “proper” mobile computing with browser- or terminal service-based applications where you use the apps remotely, don't actually store much data on the device itself, and you need a sensible size screen, then you're looking at a ruggedised tablet. Finally, there's no shame in admitting that you need or want a laptop: there are plenty of instances when you do just need to carry an armoury of files around with you and access them without being able to connect back to the office all the time.

Even if you're a laptop jockey you'll still have some requirement for connectivity so you can check email, upload and download files, and so on. And clearly you'll be looking for mobile data on your assorted portable devices.The latter – the phones and the tablets – is an obvious one to deal with: the devices have SIM card slots and you'll need a SIM with a data service if you're to use it for working on the move. There are two things you need to think of in this respect: working in your home country and working elsewhere under “roaming” conditions.Even for small companies I'd suggest arranging a shared data service bundle with your mobile supplier – that is, you have a corporate “bucket” of megabytes/gigabytes and all the handsets eat their data from that bucket. It's usually a whole lot more economical – and is always way easier administratively – than having a data allowance per handset, as some will go over their limit while others will leave much of their allowance unused.For roaming, most suppliers provide “bolt on” data options for users wanting to roam overseas. So for instance my mobile supplier in the Channel Islands has a standard rate of £5.99 per megabyte for data if you're roaming in the EU or USA, but for a five-quid-a-month bolt-on, this comes down to 50p per meg. Others, such as O2 in the UK, allow you to pay by the day (£1.99 per day in Europe, for example) regardless of volume. What about laptops? Well, unless you want to ignore mobile data completely and rely on Starbucks and your hotel WiFi, you have three options here.

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