Segments: Slices from the Macintosh Life
The Apple Store SOHO—My Small Office/Home Office Away From Home in Manhattan
Apple has officially opened one hundred and two retail stores across the United States and the world. The one in New York City’s SOHO district, is arguably its largest and best equipped. The store includes a phalanx of fully workable computers, printers, and a wireless network, along with a host of preconfigured, ready-to-use peripherals. Moreover, the Genius Bar exists as a safety valve if anything unfortunate were to happen to my trusty PowerBook.
Armed with these resources, my PowerBook, mobile phone/headset, and few choice pieces of software, I am well on my way to making the Apple Store my very own personal office. The seminar area affords me comfortable seating, strategically-placed electric outlets, and a clear path to the restrooms. I can easily schedule business meetings with clients and colleagues around the seminars, and if need be take them to one of the benches in a quieter section of the store for a more focused one-on-one.
And it is not just the store in Manhattan; I could very well set up shop across the country and in a few select international sites. The store itself is conveniently located to some fine shopping and dining establishments, and if proper attire is an issue, I have all the fashion stores on Broadway between Houston and Canal Streets from which to choose.
Still, some pieces are missing to make this work. I shall need software that will allow me to work and communicate over someone else’s servers, increase my desktop screen area, and most importantly save me money. The applications described below are a starting point, and their number should increase with each subsequent visit to the office/store.
- Postfix Enabler 1.0 is a graphical front-end to the Postfix e-mail server application. When configured properly, it can make your computer act as its own outgoing SMTP mail server if the Apple Store servers are not set up to relay mail. The linked site contains not only the application but also a step-by-step tutorial on how to set up and configure every facet of it.
- Adium X is an instant messaging application based on the public domain GAIM program, which supports almost every IM platform and protocol imaginable. Acquire Adium X and save yourself and your computer a good deal of brain and processor cycles. A very thorough help and support engine walk users through the configuration of the program and preference settings. I like my contact list to lay transparent over my desktop, but that’s me.
Skype is free Internet telephony software. It works on your Mac, and it works on your friends’ and colleagues’ PCs, Linux computers, and PDAs. Did I mention it costs you nothing? With Skype you can call one person, or conference in an entire meeting of people over the Internet and hold a multi-site meeting right from your desktop. The folks at Skype have a service called Skype-Out, which for the equivalent of two cents a minute, on average, lets you to dial landline phone numbers throughout the world. You will have to visit the Web site to make the exact country specific cost determinations.
Once these are installed, I can be up and running in no time, and be able to send and receive e-mails, take part in instant messages and group chats, and make and receive Internet-based phone calls to and from my colleagues. Hence, costs stay down and productivity goes way up.
I planted myself down one rainy Monday and spent the day in to the evening working from the store. Surprisingly, the only people who came up to me were individuals having problems with their hardware who could not deal with the interminable lines at the Genius Bar. Other than that, the day sailed by with me writing up reports, virtually collaborating on a project, remotely connecting to servers on-site, and making a phone call via the Internet to smooth over rough spots in the project.
What did take me back was something I remembered from my days hanging out at CompUSA stores when they first opened. People will say and do the darndest things in public, and in a computer store you are a bound to learn more about what drives a consumer, and what particular aspect of targeted marketing they pick up on.
The Mac mini comments were eye-openers. I heard phrases from “It’s so small” to “That’s not a computer, it’s a media center.” Perhaps the most intriguing statement, mentioned by more than a few, and I shall paraphrase, was “Now we don’t need to purchase one of those G5 desktop computers, rather leave the mini plugged in at home and take a twelve-inch notebook on the road.”
The concept of the carpetbagger office is not for everyone. It takes a certain personality to not only pull this off, but also attempt it in the first place.
While, I am not ready to have business cards printed up with the Apple’s SOHO store street address, I am curious whether some adventurous soul has taken the plunge. Starbucks had better watch out. There is no reason Apple’s retail stores could not draw java-crazed e-nomads away with an iCafé in concert with their in-store Genius Bars. I can see the job posting now: “Looking for an experienced Coffee Barista and Apple Genius, equal parts aptitude and attitude.” Well, maybe not equal.
My 10:30 AM appointment just came in. Stop by the office later and we can chat in person.
Also in This Series
- About My Particular Macintoshes · May 2012
- From the Darkest Hour · May 2012
- Shrinking Into an Expanding World · May 2012
- Growing Up With Apple · May 2012
- Recollections of ATPM by the Plucky Comic Relief · May 2012
- Making the Leap · March 2012
- Digital > Analog > Digital · February 2012
- An Achievable Dream · February 2012
- Smart Move? · February 2012
- Complete Archive