Busy Web Product Manager Creates Time for Home Life

(Author’s note: This article is based on a conversation I had with Christian Zambrano, Project Manager of the JACI Group, Inc.)

PalringoChristian Zambrano’s work is never done! He works for a company that has a Midwest office and programming staff in India. Because of time differences, he gets urgent questions sent to him at all hours of the day. His iPhone lets him take the office with him. He can be anywhere and check his two work-related accounts and one personal e-mail account.

Christian also uses Palringo because it lets him access all the popular IM messaging services used by his India contract programmers. It covers Google Talk, Yahoo!, Microsoft Messenger, SkypeWindows Live, AOL’s AIM, and the lesser known Gadu Gadu, ICQ, and Jabber. Sometimes Christian skips the iPhone typing challenge and sends a voice message via IM.

Palringo lets you access a variety of IM services.

Christian uses Skype whenever possible for local or international calls. If he has to call a landline or cell phone number, he uses his low-cost SkypeOut account. He also likes Skype’s open chat feature because he can encourage his India contacts to answer the phone by typing a specific question as he calls. He uses IM more with his family and Skype with his India team. Skype supports his India phone calls to anyone at anytime. Recently, he got a call at 3:30 a.m. Instead of getting up and going online, he stayed in bed, handled the problem using Skype, and went back to sleep 10 minutes later.

Christian uses Skype when he 
needs to talk to someone.

LastFMAutomated music selection

Christian admits to being an automation nut—he uses Last.fm on his iPhone to listen to Internet radio. He likes the way it keeps track of the type of music you request and selects new but similar music for you to listen to.

Last.fm keeps track of your music preferences 
and plays new, similar music for you.

wikipanionScrumChristian also uses Wikipanion to answer questions and look up the meaning of words and expressions. The interface is customized for the iPhone, displaying larger, more readable text. And the buttons along the bottom of the screen make it easy to navigate through the app and access follow-up readings. Most recently, Christian looked up “Scrum development” to read about this more recent approach to managing software development.

Wikipanion’s settings let you change the font size to enhance readability.

The long arm 
of the administrator

TouchTermChristian must periodically check on the progress of a number of work projects. He uses iPhone’s Safari Web browser to make sure his company’s Web sites are working properly. He also uses TouchTerm to log onto remote machines across his network and to update them and administer programs running on them.

TouchTerm is an SSH terminal app that lets you administer programs on remote machines.

MochaVNCChristian also uses a graphical terminal server app called Mocha VNC to access his Web site servers. It lets him connect to machines on his network as well as access files, programs, and other resources. He particularly appreciates Mocha VNC’s speed, even when it’s accessing machines on the other side of the world.

Mocha VNC is a graphical terminal server app for the iPhone.


MintChristian also uses an app called Mint to avoid trips to the bank. Mint lets him check his checking, savings, and credit card accounts. He can also use it to check his investments, but with the economy the way it is, he avoids that as much as possible. Here’s a stock photo of Mint.

Mint lets you do your banking from the iPhone.

Time at home 
with Mrs. Zambrano

One of the main reasons Christian likes the iPhone is because it lets him spend more time with his wife. Given his business responsibilities, if he didn’t have an iPhone, he’d be at the office 10-14 hours a day. It’s true that he does have to put up with occasional interruptions at home. But he can still spend quality time with his wife, and use any leftover spare time to balance his checkbook, catch up on the news, and chat with friends—all from his iPhone.

Summer 2009
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