When it comes to getting work done, the desktop computer, with a big screen (or screens) and a nice keyboard can’t be beat. But what about when you’re traveling? Gabe Goldberg, a freelance technology writer, says lightweight, portable tablets are more useful than ever for getting work done on the go.

Goldberg will speak Tuesday, May 24, at 7 p.m. at the next meeting of the Princeton PC Users Group at the Lawrence Public Library. Admission is free. For more information, visit www.ppcug-nj.org, E-mail ppcug.nj@gmail.com, or call 609-423-6537.

Goldberg, who is based in Virginia, travels frequently for work, and wherever he goes, he takes his trusty iPad. It turns out the device can do a lot more than just browse social media on the couch. There are numerous apps to help tablet users get around, and Goldberg has about 10 of them installed. Waze, a real-time navigation program, is more than just a GPS. If you are using Waze to navigate and a traffic jam pops up three miles down the road, Waze will automatically change the route to prevent you from getting stuck. It also warns of speed traps, red light cameras, and other hazards. “When Waze and my car’s built-in GPS disagree, I always follow instructions from Waze,” Goldberg says. Other useful travel apps include FlightAware, which tracks airline flights, and the NYC Subway app, which lets users plan routes on public transit.

Tablets also save travelers from carrying stacks of literature around wherever they go. Goldberg, who has to keep up with the news for his job, has the apps of 11 different publications including the Washington Post, Consumer Reports, and others. “I used to travel with a backbreaking pile of magazines,” he said. “I had a fear of being someplace and being bored. Now all I need is my iPad.”

If you do leaf through a pile of random magazines, chances are you will see Goldberg’s byline somewhere. He has written more than 100 articles for the Washington Post plus a number of trade magazines, and has also co-edited several books on technology. Although he was a programmer and technology executive for about two decades after graduating from college, Goldberg has been a freelance writer since 1991. “I could see from an early age I was headed in that direction,” Goldberg said. “There’s something about writing.”

The writing bug runs in Goldberg’s family, but not the interest in technology. His father, Hyman Goldberg, wrote for the New Yorker, Cosmopolitan, and had his own syndicated column. “When I was in high school, it was clear that I was interested in technology and physics,” Goldberg recalls. His mother, a housewife, had an artistic streak. “I was not following a path that either of them had been on. The only advice I ever remember my father giving me was that whatever my career was, if I could tell a story, if I could explain why it mattered in clear English, then I would be ahead of the people in the same industry who might be just as good as me but couldn’t tell a story.”

Goldberg graduated with a bachelor’s in math from the Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn and then went to work as a programmer at IBM. He later worked for Mitre and several other technology companies. By the time he switched over to freelance writing, he was vice president of business development for VM Systems Group. All the while, he was applying his father’s advice about storytelling. Goldberg says he wishes his parents had lived to see how their literary influence eventually became his career.

As a writer, Goldberg has found many uses for the iPad even though it lacks a keyboard. The device is perfect for e-mail, messaging, and teleconferencing through various apps.

Much of the usefulness of the iPad comes from the fact that is connected to “the cloud,” or remote servers. This reliance on connectivity introduces a vulnerability to hacking that Goldberg says everyone should be aware of. If an iPad with important business data on it were to be stolen, the results could be catastrophic — unless the user has taken precautions.

“It needs to be locked and it needs to have a security code,” Goldberg said. Both the iPad and the iPhone come with thumbprint scanners for security. Although security researchers have demonstrated that it’s possible to create fake thumbprints, common thieves don’t have that capability. “You would have to have something really intriguing and really valuable to go to that length,” Goldberg said. “If some bozo thief finds my iPad, they’re not going to be able to do anything with it.”

As with any online service, Goldberg recommends using good passwords (not easy to guess ones) and if possible using a password managing program. While news programs like to hype individual viruses, Goldberg said most users should be fine as long as they follow common sense.

“Focus on best practices, focus on the gold standards, and don’t get excited about individual threats,” he said.

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