Dex Powers My Law Firm and International Business Travels
Wanted to share some of my thoughts and experience with DEX over the past 6 months. I purchased a used Fold4 in September and have been transitioning to only using DEX in my law firm. I travel far and often so reducing the weight and complexity of my computing is a great benefit to me. This has culminated in me completely leaving the laptop behind on my month-long business trip to several countries in Africa and Middle East. I have remained productive and have not needed to have the office grab my laptop for anything while away. I did remote in to my server once or twice for some desktop specific functions but using DEX has been a resounding success for me and my firm.
A little more about my computing background and needs: I am an attorney and have to be careful about my data security and the services I use personally and professionally. I use Manjaro Linux at the office and on my home/office server. I also selfhost my own cloud and business services on several VPSs. I do not use any Google, Microsoft, Facebook, or Apple apps or services. I used to root all of my previous phones but to take advantage of DEX I have not done so with my Fold4, though I do disable Google Services and have NetGuard, Tracker Control to filter and firewall any app internet use if I feel is is necessary.
I am also a big believe in FOSS and actively support development of several applications. In my entire business ecosystem I use less than a handful of proprietary applications and will choose FOSS over convenience always.
My daily usage ranges from answering emails, reviewing case law or statutes, drafting/redlining/revising legal docs, counseling clients by phone or video calls, and writing/posting business content and information. The apps I use most frequently to achieve this include: FairEmail, Verizon OneTalk, NextCloud, Firefox, Samsung My Files, Logseq, WordPress, Foxit, Microsoft Office, AVNC, Webex, Element. Some less frequently used apps that I also feel are important include: LinkedIn, Shells (for a VPS hosted desktop in case my home/office server is slow or unreachable), Joplin, ProtonVPN, KeepassXC, Syncthing (for syncing my Logseq files to my home/office server to be synced to a cloud folder), and USB Video (for recording videos and content with my USB webcam).
I have some general thoughts below on app usage but generally I am able to accomplish everything that I do with my laptop sometimes with slightly different workflows which would be expected when changing computing platforms. I can also remote in to my home/office server or my Manjaro Shell if the need arises. By and large I remain highly productive wherever I am in the world and have backups and a secure platform which is everything I need. Will be great to see the DEX platform improve in the next few years and take mobile computing even further.
- PDF editors suck. Foxit and PDFElement seems most functional but UI still is not DEX oriented. Adobe doesn’t even open without google services, deal breaker for me as I do not use Google services often and have it disabled most of the time. Right PDF does not have an action for extract that I can find. Foxit is very finicky with extracting pages from a pdf as well as it thinks many pdfs are protected when they are not. I generally use Foxit for reading and PDFElement for extracting pages when needed.
- Note that the Uperfect portable monitor touchscreen will not work with miniHDMI which isn’t the biggest problem for me but important to note.
- Noticed that AVNC to my home server from Africa is a little slow, maybe 2-4 second lag on some applications but still useable. Media streaming (using Jellyfin)is actually quite good from my homeserver as long as there is decent internet (cities have been fine, in the bush is not feasible).
- Document editing I use a combination of Collabora Office app (for offline docs), NextCloud app with a Collabora server (for online doc), Softmaker Textmaker (for complex document editing and formatting (it’s quite amazing in Dex but suffers major incompatibility with many documents or potentially with NextCloud as I have never gotten it to successfully open a document from NextCloud), and the stock Microsoft Office app that came pre-installed, I was hoping to just use this as a backup but the bugs and inconsistent user experience for Collabora and Textmaker keep me coming back to it.
- Both Collabora Office and TextMaker do have weird errors at times where documents will open blank which is frustrating but I haven’t yet found a cause to these other than the apps not handling some kind of codec in the doc. Or the most likely result of this is incompatibility with NextCloud or grabbing docs from a remote server as opposed to local files.
- One struggle has been video calling as my current desktop setup I prefer to use an external webcam. Nearly all of the video calling apps in Android have not implemented the functionality to use an external webcam, it’s there in Android but they don’t use it. Webex is the one exception and has actually been a great fit for my company as they have reasonable rates for live translated captions which are great for my international partners. Zoom has been a pain, I refuse to use their huge bloated spyware app but I did discover the chrome book PWA app actually works great on Android and DEX and is only something like 3mb in total. Using zoom from the browser has been a no-go in all of my attempts, it will not connect the camera and mic.
Current Office Setup:
My current office setup includes:
- a Dell 27” monitor,
- a Logitech Streamcam webcam (usb-c),
- a Minisopuru usb-c hub (I need more usb-c ports which is not as simple to add as usb 3.0 and rare to have more then 1 on any dongles these days),
- an Anker 06-in-1 usb-c hub (includes HDMI, 2xUSB 3.0, USB-C power, USB-C, and an ethernet port, I have two of these and one stays in my travel back and one stays connected at my desk, the ethernet is great for fast reliable internet overseas).
- a Byeasy tablet stand,
- a Elecom Relecon ergonomic trackball mouse (fantastic and easy to use on airplanes, at the desk, etc.),
- a Lenovo Thinkpad Trackpoint II Keyboard (This keyboard also travels with me since I can use it easily on a plane or anywhere and use the built in trackpoint for a mouse. Super lightweight and great keyboard.
My Current Travel Setup:
My travel setup includes:
- a Uperfect S 15.6 touchscreen portable monitor,
- the Byeasy tablet stand,
- Thinkpad Trackpoint II keyboard,
- Elecom mouse,
- another Anker 6-in-1 hub,
- a UGreen tablet stand (I like this because I can raise the portable monitor almost 2 feet in case I need extra height from a coffee table or similar desk, it is also very sturdy, reliable, and fits my portable monitor. The only change is I had to add a little bracket and pad at the back to keep the monitor from being angled downward from gravity, easy fix.).
- Nreal Air which are my portable monitor for long haul flights and anytime I don’t feel like sitting at a desk. The Air has been fantastic and have boosted my productivity on the various 15+ hour flights I have had this year. When I am running the Air a long time while flying I have
- an Anker Powercore III wireless portable battery (that charges my Fold while I work. I haven’t had any issues with losing power even when in the bush or dealing with load shedding in Africa.
In case these might be interesting I am also including some articles I wrote about computing and the FOSS apps I have supported.
Apps I use and support:
I hope this encourages other to try DEX or improve their mobile computing setup. Please feel to post any questions or comments and I’ll answer them when I can.