Techno Life

Lis Astall, the UK managing director of Accenture, commutes from her Derbyshire home to her office in London and reckons she would find it almost impossible to do her job without a Blackberry and 3G-enabled laptop to turn railway carriages and hotel rooms into travelling offices. And she keeps up to speed in meetings by means of a versatile digital pen.

Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010


With this and my Blackberry, I can get a lot done on the 1hr 50m train journey to and from London. I have a Vodafone 3G datacard, and I swap between the laptop and my Blackberry, depending on where I am. I find the 3G reception works best in hotel rooms; on the train it switches between 3G and GPRS, depending on the coverage, so the connection can slow down a bit. I'm not a lover of technology, but I do like what it does. I couldn't do my job without it - I'd have to do an extra 20 to 30 hours a week in the office.


I know this is a bit clunky and old, but it is tri-band, so it works in most places and it has great battery life. It's on all the time, but I need to charge it only once a week. I am a texter - it's good for messages from the office if I'm in a meeting, and for communicating with my family. But I don't like text language - try sending it to a Frenchman and see what he says back.


This is hanging on the wall of my London flat. The picture quality is great and it really saves space compared to a normal TV in what is a pretty small flat. And I think it looks really smart. I've also got a Sony digital camera; it's very small and it does video clips, too. I sometimes use it to practise what I look like on screen.


I live in Derbyshire and work mostly in London, so I travel a lot. With this I can do my e-mails wherever I am - on the train, on the bus, even in the office if I don't have time to switch on my desktop computer. But I can go for days without using it; it depends where I am. I nearly didn't get one, because I wasn't sure I wanted people constantly sending me stuff, but now I've convinced myself that I need it. I never read the manual; if I can't get on after five minutes of button-pressing, I lose interest.


I go to a lot of client meetings, and this is by far the quickest way of taking minutes. Using a special type of paper, it records everything you write, which you can then download to your PC and print off as hard copy, or even e-mail it. You can either keep the notes in your own handwriting or convert them to type; it will even convert the pictures you draw into PowerPoint. I saw it at the Accenture technology research lab in Cannes - I go there every few months to see what's new.

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