Personal digital assistants (PDAs) have become a mainstay for IT professionals. In fact, many techies have become dependent on their PDAs to carry around a vast amount of indispensable data. In this article, we’ll look at 10 ways that IT professionals can optimize their PDAs to make their workday better and more efficient.

Tip number 10
Keep notes of activities during the day.
One great thing about PDAs is that they provide an efficient way to take notes while you’re in the middle of doing something. Say, for example, you’re repairing a server’s hardware and notice that the ribbon cable needs to be replaced. You can jot down a note on your PDA reminding yourself that you need to order more ribbon cables for that server.

Tip number 9
Write e-mail while you work.
Have you ever thought of e-mailing someone while you were working on a project? Instead of rushing back to your computer to send the e-mail before you forget what you were going to send, just write the e-mail on your PDA and send it later, when you connect the device to your machine.

Tip number 8
Start using that calendar.
If there’s one thing that IT professionals have an abundance of these days, it’s meetings. And it’s wise to use your PDA to keep track of all those important gatherings your boss set up for you, so you don’t accidentally miss them while you’re working on various problems. Many PDAs even have reminder features that will beep 10 minutes before a meeting to give you a little notice.

Tip number 7
Know where your users are.
Some organizations use numbers to keep track of specific users and the machines they use. You can keep this information handy in your PDA in spreadsheet format to determine where these individuals are in your network and in your building. Say you need to find a particular employee’s office to check on a reported cabling problem. You can look up the name in your PDA to determine the user’s phone extension and then call from your cell phone and ask how to get to that office.

Tip number 6
Keep track of equipment.
If your organization uses tracking tags on equipment, you can also keep track of those tags in a spreadsheet on your PDA. Not only can you make note of which machine has which tag but you can also record where a specific item is, whether it’s in use or in storage, and whether there have been any repairs or replacements.

Tip number 5
Download helpful tools.
Palms and other PDAs don’t come with specialized tools to help IT professionals with everyday tasks. But there are lots of tools available online that you can download and install on your PDA. You can find many of these free or shareware tools at sites such as Tucows or ZDNet.

Tip number 4
Remember unique network information.
One of my favorite uses for my Palm computer is to keep track of the multiple IP addresses I have to use within our test network. There are always plenty of numbers to keep track of, including:

  • Static IP addresses
  • DNS addresses
  • Gateway addresses
  • Subnet addresses

Keeping these numbers in your PDA device will help you keep your sanity and free you up from carrying around paper notes.

Tip number 3
Purchase a portable keyboard.
If you’re using a Palm, Handspring, or similar device, look into purchasing a portable keyboard for taking notes. Doing so will help save you tons of time, especially in situations where taking notes is a priority. It’s quicker than writing with the Graffiti.

Tip number 2
Get wired.
If your PDA supports it, look into getting a wireless Internet connection so you can send and receive e-mail instantaneously, no matter where you are. This can be especially helpful in an urgent situation, such as a power outage.

Tip number 1
Get your office connected.
Did you know there are servers devoted to administering devices such as the Palm and Blackberry? By adding a server such as the Palm HotSync Server to your network infrastructure and placing Ethernet network cradles in every office, you can centralize administration and gain control of employee Palm devices within your organization. You can update software, add and/or remove programs as necessary, and upload and download data directly to and from a central server instead of a workstation so that data can be backed up more effectively.
Do you have a useful tip for using PDAs? If so, we want to hear it! Feel free to post your suggestions below or send us a note with your thoughts.