If you are traveling for business, you will probably be traveling with and dependent upon at least a smartphone and a laptop to get all of your work done and stay connected with your colleagues and family. That means these devices will need to operate at peak performance while minimizing the risk of a failure that could leave you in the lurch or forced to use an expensive business center at your hotel or serviced apartment.
With that in mind, here are six must do tech tips to do before you leave on your next business trip to ensure you stay productive and connected:
1. Download Any Computer or Software Updates. Before you leave on a business trip, be sure to download and run any and all operating system and software updates (e.g. Windows, Internet browser, Adobe etc.) as such updates can not only take time to download (a real pain if you are in a location with slow Internet), they might even crash your computer after they install. If you use Windows, you can update your operating system by going to the Tools menu and selecting Microsoft Update while Apple Mac users should be able to click on the apple in the top left hand corner of the computer screen and select Software Update.
2. Update and Run the Virus Scan. Make sure the virus definitions for your antivirus software are all up-to-date and do comprehensive virus scans before you leave just in case your antivirus discovers something big that cannot be quarantined while you are away.
3. Reschedule Scans and Download Updates. Both Windows and antivirus software scans and updates that need to be downloaded can not only take awhile to download, they can slow down your laptop's performance or your ability to use the Internet considerably while they download. That means it might be a good idea to reschedule any weekly scans or updates to take place after you return home from your business trip.
4. Run Disk Cleanup. Windows is rather notorious for cluttering up a hard drive with junk or orphaned files that can slow your computer's performance or even cause it to crash. Running the Disk Cleanup wizard and using its advanced settings to delete shadow copies of Windows backups before you leave on your business trip will likely improve your laptop's performance while you travel.
5. Clean-out Your Email and SMS Inbox. If you get tons of email or SMS and/or are carrying around multiple devices to access various types of messages, be aware that the storage space on those devices can quickly fill up if messages aren't being kept on your corporate server. Be especially careful about email downloaded to or sent from your laptop's Windows Mail or Microsoft Outlook programs as these programs are notorious space hogs on your hard drive - which can cause it to fill up and then fail at the worst possible moment when you are on a business trip.
6. Drop Copies of Important Files into the Cloud and Get Synced. Cloud storage services like Dropbox should mean that you will never need to make a frantic call to your secretary asking for a large and important file to be emailed over in a hurry. So before you leave on a business trip, make sure you are carrying the latest and most up-to-date copies of any files you might need by simply dropping them into a cloud storage service. Likewise, make sure that all of the devices you use are synced so that you aren't also calling your secretary for an important phone number, email message or address.
The mornings are getting cooler - a reminder that it's time once again for northern pilots to start preparing their planes for winter. Whether you're planning cross-country flying or not much flying at all, winter flying is all about assessing and managing risk. Here are some important tips and strategies to prep your plane. These do not supercede having your aircraft professionally serviced and maintained.
Know the weather. Obviously, weather is the crucial variable in winter flying. It's important to understand meteorology and keep track of upcoming weather patterns that could affect your flying. Start checking weather patterns three days prior to flight, but keep in mind patterns can change rapidly.
There are several useful weather tracking websites out there that offer forecasts, Doppler radar data, satellite imagery and useful aviation tools. Some of the best are the Aviation Digital Data Service at aviationweather.gov/adds/ and the FAA-sponsored Direct Access User Terminal Systems (DUATS) site at duats.com. The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association offers free online weather information for members at aopa.org. Also check out the Weather Underground and The Weather Channel on cable for helpful insight into national weather trends.
Preheat your engine. One of the most important things to do before cold weather flight is to preheat the plane's engine, especially if it is not housed in a hangar. If you use a combustion-type preheater, you'll need to stay with the plane while it's heating, as they can catch fire.
If you have access to electricity, an engine-mounted preheater can work well, but do not leave it plugged in all winter. To be safe, you'll need to get to the airport and start pre-heating well in advance of take off. Another alternative is an Internet-enabled, cell phone-activated preheater, which allows you to start the heater before you arrive. Again, don't leave the plane unattended for long.
Change the oil. Even if your plane isn't ready for an oil change, change it anyway - it's important to remove contaminates in the oil. First, take the plane on a short flight to get the engine oil temp up, then return to the airport and change the oil. Inspect and clean the oil suction screen in the oil sump and remove, cut and inspect the oil filter. After changing the oil, run the engine for several minutes to check for leaks and circulate oil throughout the engine.
Once the plane is back in the hangar, do not turn the prop. Pulling the prop makes the pistons go up and down inside the cylinders which may be wiping the oil off the cylinder walls, increasing the likelihood of corrosion. Also cover the intake or inlet to the air box with duct tape and foam rubber balls in the exhaust pipes to prevent outside air from getting into the engine and reducing the chance of air mixing with moisture, which leads to corrosion.
Important: Mark them well and remove them before starting the engine! Also, a warning against ground running: Running the plane on the ground will not heat up the engine oil sufficiently to burn off contaminates - it will promote internal condensation, which leads to corrosion.
Remember, planes need coats, too. If you keep your plane at an outdoor hangar, consider investing in wing covers to prevent frost, ice or snow buildup on the body. It takes some extra pre-flight prep time to remove, but you also won't have operative info to remove snow and ice from the wings and flight surfaces. Order soon before frost begins.
Tango Yankee, LLC is the parent company of Business Aircraft Center and Danbury Aviation, a self- and full-service aircraft and pilot planning center located at Danbury Municipal Airport that includes aircraft management, hangar storage, tie-downs and plane detailing. Tango Yankee, LLC is owned and operated by Santo Silvestro of New Canaan, CT, who is a pilot and aviation enthusiast.