Mobile Tools | Feature
Mobile Apps That Make IT's Life Easier
Six IT professionals share their favorite tools for tackling both tech and everyday tasks.
- By Dian Schaffhauser
Platform: Google Android
Matt Edwards, operations manager for IT at Tri-County Technical College in Pendleton, SC, uses PRTGdroid, a free app from Paessler that connects to the company's network monitoring application (PRTG Network Monitor, which is in use at Tri-County), "so I can look at live or historical details on any monitored device on our network."
But perhaps the most used apps on his HTC Inspire are mail and the calendar. "Getting e-mail notifications immediately about any network or system changes is critical to keep everything running smoothly," he notes.
All of the apps he relies on "help keep me informed of our network and systems in near real-time and help to keep things running 24/7."
Platforms: Apple iPhone and iPad
Network and Systems Manager Matt Barber, at Morrisville State College in Morrisville, NY, has found pTerm for the iPhone "extremely helpful sometimes." As he explains, "It is just a [secure shell] client, but often that is all I need to troubleshoot network issues or make quick changes. I do most of my network changes and quick monitoring with SSH, so being able to do that from anywhere is very valuable."
Besides providing a channel for secure data communication, this app from Instant Cocoa also does xterm terminal emulation.
Wayne State Mobile
Platforms: Google Android and Android Jelly Bean, Apple iPhone and iPad
Rob Thompson, in the Computing and Information Technology organization at Wayne State University (MI), finds his own university's mobile app the most useful for his job as director for academic and core applications.
"Wayne State Mobile lets me check my e-mail, query my work calendar, search for WSU people, find any location on campus, check real-time parking space availability, query my parking balance, read our student newspaper, access secured library resources, view daily campus dining menus, directly contact public safety, and much more," says Thompson. "I use it many times on a daily basis to keep me informed and connected with the greater Wayne State community, and it has become an invaluable tool."
Thompson runs the app on his Galaxy Nexus running Android Jelly Bean.
Platforms: Google Android, Apple iPhone and iPad
Like most people, Purdue University (IN) Director of Informatics Kyle Bowen uses a passel of mobile apps everyday: e-mail, Dropbox, and Evernote.
But the one he highlights above the others is Adobe Ideas, which helps him capture and share visual concepts on his iPhone and iPad.
"Adobe Ideas is a drawing tool with simple controls," Bowen says. "It makes it easy to capture and share visual information. Like the virtual version of doodling on a napkin, this can be helpful for explaining a complex process or planning a presentation." The layers feature is helpful, he adds, "for overlaying yet separating visual concepts." On a tablet the app can be used in a makeshift "pass-and-play" style where multiple people share the same device to build on each other's annotations. "Adobe Ideas also provides a vector output that is efficient for sharing and editing in other tools," he notes.
Platforms: Apple iPhone and iPad, Android, Windows Mobile; BlackBerry edition available in beta
Michael Belote, chief technology officer for Mercer University in Macon, GA, hasn't really found any mobile app that helps him in his IT-related tasks. "There's still a long way to go on that," he says.
But one app he's come to rely on for both work and personal use is Waze from waze Mobile, a GPS traffic and navigation service. The idea is that users share what's happening on the road by keeping the app open on their phones while they're driving. Data that's passively collected is automatically relayed back to the company, which tracks the GPS points of its user drivers. The mapping application offers route options based on traffic conditions.
"I use it multiple times per week, and it has saved me a lot of time and wasted miles," Belote says. "It's free and it has a social aspect that really increases the value." He runs it on both his iPhone and his iPad.
Apple iPhone and iPad, Blackberry, Android, Nokia Symbian S60
Price: $9.99 for Apple, $6.99 for Symbian
George Alaimo, senior multimedia specialist in Information Services at John Carroll University in University Heights, OH, has come to rely on DocumentsToGo, which he runs on his iPad 3.
This mobile and tablet app from DataViz "covers all of the office suite features that I use," he says. This all-in-one application allows users to view, edit, and create Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint files; view PDFs; and work with files stored in Google Docs, Box.net, Dropbox, iDisk, and SugarSync.
But Alaimo's app choices don't stop there. He recommends a number of tools to his university's mobile user community, including: