Wednesday, August 31, 2011

XCom Global MiFi: Review after "practical" use

During the meetings today, I ran some short tests to the effectiveness of the MiFi wireless access point we rented from XCom. This post for example I create using the connection created by the device, and try to upload some pictures and see how well it works.

speed tests with connection via HSPA

this image uploaded in about 4-5 seconds during this test 0.5 MB
larger resolution images:
15-17 seconds for this higher resolution 1.3 MB
I dare not at this time try to stream a video (i should be paying attention)....
and see if location in the room finds me access to the 3g network which is not consistent in this area of Italy.

Cannot make any complaints about the Device or the service (it is not XCom issue that the Italian ether is not friendly for a 3G signal during my trip).


  • relative ease: ordered online, shipped to office, flew to Italy and Bang on the internet
  • no surprises: Flat rate for the daily internet hook-up
  • Multiple users on single wireless connection and rate-plan
  • reasonable price of occasional short trips, with my amount of travel I might be better off getting a local flat rate SIM
  • Battery life (could use for about 2-3 hours on single charge, supplied back up battery is helpful. but in Foreign land where converters and power is a premium might be nice to last longer, or ship with a USB-micro cable so I could charge on the fly with my Zagg Sparq2.0
  • shipping costs if booked less than 10 days in advance
  • Italian SIM did not work in cities where I had connecting flights (Netherlands) may have been my fault, for not indicating that I needed a roaming SIM
Overall I have to say that for the occasional traveler this could be listed among the essentials, especially as US mobile providers clamp down on roaming Data charges. Nobody has All-You-Can-Eat global any more.

Xcom Global is a winner

Friday, August 26, 2011

XCom Global: Mobile Hotspot review (pre-trip)

For an upcoming trip, I along with 5 colleagues will be traveling to Italy for a Corporate Sales Meeting. With all  our sales people out of the office, this could be damaging for our ability to respond to software licensing concerns, sales issues, and general business. To minimize any potential fallout from falling off the grid for a few days we rented a Wireless Hotpot from XCom global.

What arrives from XCom
Once you order the device from the companies website you will receive (a few day prior to the start of the trip)  the contents shown above and a carry case in the mail. They use a standard mi-fi by Novatel with a pre-installed SIM for the country we plan to travel to, in this case Italy.

Rates quoted start at $14.95 per day for "unlimited data" XCom does not mention any variable speed throttling but we will have to see.

To use the Access Point we should be able to find the device from the WiFi finder of any of our laptops and smart phones up to 5 Devices at a time.

Once connected the first browser window brings you straight to the admin page and Login window. After keying in the Login you can connect to the internet via the MiFi.

Another option is to buy your own device and use a prepaid or Flat rate SIM card from Whichever European country you like.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Employee Morale

Cains Brain ( not too long ago posted this cartoon, only recently brought to my attention by Guy Kawasaki and the folks at HolyKaw and

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Telecommuting: is it a good idea

As a consultant, employee, and manager I have often struggled with the topic of Telecommuting. Working from home was one of the "perks" of going independent for me years ago, the result was mixed: days and weeks cut off from humanity, with a dash of inefficiency, mingled with guilt and resentment on the part of my colleagues. 
Credit: via
In my own experience I had one job where the office was 4 hours drive from home, and I was the only employee who lived outside the city, state/province, country boundaries. Typically my job involved me calling on our customers on-site, performing training on-site, and supporting sales on-site. This was mostly a 3-4 day per week activity, with general administrative labor and follow-up being done from a "home-office"-the basement in my suburban rental home.
Other office staff resented the fact that I worked from home rather than and "office". The Solution? The Self-proclaimed-die-expert and Techni-ho was asked to drive from home to the office on the off days. Not just AN office, but THE office. So the policy was that if I had an off day, i would rent a car, drive to the office and "work" and leave when time allowed me to complete by drive before the end of the work day.

Correct. If I had one day off, I would rent the car, drive-in, walk-in eat lunch (on expenses) and leave for home (it made for just over a nine-hour day. Efficient? No, did it put an end to the debate over home-offices? Not really. It did put an end to my willingness to stay at that company, but created my first consultancy, once I was a consultant they no longer cared what I did on off days.

As we weigh the possibilities of allowing our staff to work from home one could unilaterally make an edict (usually not constructive) or just roll with it. In either case we might pay a price later. The Infographic below sums it up all very nicely (a little bit snarky but for the most part on the mark).
Credit: Mindflash
When you make the decision to either work from home or not, or to create an open policy for Home office hours. Be sure to have rational reasoning behind the policy. It can succeed, but only if you create the environment for it to work.

Treat your employees like grown-ups and they might prove worthy; treat them like children who can't be trusted you most definitely get what you expected.