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7 Tips for Working on a Computer Outside This Summer in Vermont

On warm, sunny days when I have to work on a computer, I suffer a form of melancholy familiar to many New Englanders.

Though perhaps it’s less “melancholy” than FOMO – fear of missing out. Fear of missing a single summer day before it’s again cold and grim outdoors.

Most of my work requires a computer. And so far every computer requires a screen. Not only that, most modern computers have glossy, shiny screens that reflect every bit of glare back at you.

That means “working outside” is really “unproductive squinting.”

Still, over the years I’ve experimented with different ways of working on a computer outside. Here’s what has worked for me:

My best investment for working outside was a low-cost Chromebook with a matte screen. I bought one a couple of years ago for $189.

The Chromebook is my field computer. It’s ugly but durable. I don’t worry about it getting dirty outside. The battery lasts nine hours. I use hotspot sharing from my iPhone to get online. This cheapo Chromebook can’t really edit images, though newer ones are capable of this. However, it allows me to perform my core tasks of editing Docs, doing web research, and posting updates.

If you consider a Chromebook for your fieldwork, make sure it has a matte screen – many now have shiny screens. Also make sure it has 4GB or RAM, or else it will be slow.

Check out the ASUS C202SA-YS02 Dark Blue Chromebook. Not only does it have a matte screen, but it’s also ruggedized and water resistant. Perfect for Vermont.  It’s $189 on Amazon.

Other suggestions:

  1. To cut screen glare on your existing computer, consider trying a matte screen protector. There are dozens available on Amazon. The Nushield products are recommended.
  2. Put it in a box.
  3. Sit in the shade (duh). Sometimes I work at a picnic table under a tree. Once a bird pooped on my keyboard. At least it didn’t go in my ice coffee.
  4. Wear a dark shirt, so it doesn’t reflect as much on the screen.
  5. Try wearing a pair of polarized sunglasses. It depends on the screen, but they often cut the glare.
  6. Invert text on your device to white-on-black
  7. Skip the typing. Write on a pad or in a notebook. And if you have a bunch of reading for work, save it to your Kindle or other e-ink reader. Most Kindles and similar devices can display PDFs, Word docs, HTML pages, and other digital text. And, of course, you can always print your pages and recycle them later.

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