Elgan: I'm a digital nomad (and so are you)

New technology enables almost everyone reading this to live and work with more freedom and flexibility. Are you missing the boat?

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Google+ is also very international, so it's a great way to meet people abroad and get advice about living in foreign countries.

Language translation. In the past few years, a number of instant language translation services, such as Google Translate (also available as a mobile app), have come online. There are multiple audio apps that let you carry on a conversation with someone who speaks another language: You press a button, say something, press another button and the app repeats what you said in a language you preselected. Then the other person does the same and the app repeats what he said in English. My current favorite is an iOS app called SayHi.

Cloud computing. Everyone was talking about cloud computing four years ago, but consumer-friendly, all-purpose cloud services were hard to come by. Today, we have Dropbox, iCloud, Google Drive and many cloud-based backup options like Carbonite.

Cloud computing is great because the risk of damage or loss of your main PC increases by an order of magnitude when you're abroad. It's great to have your data safe online and to be able to access your stuff from random computers.

Touch tablets. Devices like the Apple iPad and the Google Nexus 7 are dream gadgets for digital nomads. They're small, their batteries last a long time, and they have plentiful apps -- making everything better while working abroad.

Internet-based telephony. Skype existed in 2008, but Google Voice didn't. Google Voice is a great service for digital nomads because when you're in another country, you can't connect it to a phone in that country, but you can place and receive voicemails and texts via the service. You can also associate your Google Voice number with your Skype account.

The benefit is that your phone number stays the same no matter where you go. So while you're in the U.S., your phone number can ring your landline and cellphones. Abroad, that same number lets you keep getting voicemail and texts.

Noise-cancellation headsets. One of the challenges of working abroad is that Wi-Fi is often found in crowded, noisy locations like coffeehouses and cybercafes. You might even have to deal with street noise, like yelling, honking and sirens, outside of the rooms you're living in.

That's why a new generation of noise-canceling headsets is so welcome. The very best I've found is a product called theBoom E headset from theBoom. (Here's my demo.) The noise cancellation is so good, you can be in a nightclub or any room full of shouting people, and it sounds like you're in a quiet office to others on the line. It works with laptops, tablets and phones.

These are the tools we digital nomads can use to make our lives better, whether we choose to live abroad or not.

So whether you're working from a local Starbucks or a cafe in Spain, tools designed for digital nomads give you unprecedented freedom and flexibility to remain connected and productive no matter where you choose to live and work.

Yeah, you're a digital nomad. But are you taking advantage of all your options?

Mike Elgan writes about technology and tech culture. You can contact Mike and learn more about him at Elgan.com, or subscribe to his free email newsletter, Mike's List. You can also see more articles by Mike Elgan on Computerworld.com.

Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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