Stuck in the office? Here’s how to sneak in your March Madness fix
Bosses around the country are bracing for the inevitable plummet in productivity from all employees that are interested in shifting brackets, office pools and their hometown team competing in this year’s NCAA national championship tournament. According to this annual survey conducted by staffing firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc., 50 million Americans are expected to participate in March Madness pools this year and $1.2 billion will be spent on lost productivity hours during the first week of the tournament.
If you are part of that 50 million and you’ve got a boss that’s keeping an extra close eye on you over the next couple weeks, there are a number of ways to feed your March Madness addiction without tipping off the higher ups to your insatiable thirst for checking score updates every 30 seconds.
Mobile + Privacy Filter + Wireless Audio for the win
If not obvious already, streaming video or checking on your brackets using your work PC can be risky business. In addition, any company that tracks your online usage will be able to see what sites you are visiting. You would be much better off isolating all your March Madness needs to a mobile device like a smartphone or tablet. Of course, that’s assuming you have a stable, anonymous Wi-Fi connection to use or you have a heck of a data plan that can handle a bit of video streaming.
If you don’t have a tablet yet, you are fairly safe going with any recent iOS, Android or Windows tablet. The NCAA has released an app for all of these tablets (iOS, Android, Windows Phone) and you can stream games directly to them. Even the Kindle Fire HD line of tablets has access to the NCAA app for live streaming, despite the platform’s reputation to slowly add third party applications. Be aware that streaming non-CBS games will require authentication with your premium cable or satellite TV provider.
In order to keep prying eyes off your mobile device, 3M makes a screen protector for tablets, smartphones and laptops that’s specifically designed to protect your privacy. Basically, it restricts the field of vision for anyone that’s looking at the device from a different angle than you. For example, you can keep a March Madness video stream open on your tablet and everyone that passes by your desk will just see a black screen, basically as if the tablet was turned off.
But what about the audio? If you have already invested in a Bluetooth headset for calls, consider popping that onto your ear and streaming the audio from the video stream over Bluetooth. If anything, you will look like you could be talking a call and your office mates will leave you alone. Assuming you are allowed to listen to music in the office, you could also use a pair of regular wireless headphones. If you use a wired pair, the cord is something of an obvious tell when it’s connected directly to your tablet or smartphone.
Of course, if your office is limiting bandwidth in order curtail video streaming, it’s time to switch to audio. Westwood One is audio streaming coverage of all games on their site and you can also find those streams on the TuneIn Radio app for iOS, Android and Windows phones. Also, if you pay for premium radio, SiriusXM is streaming all the games as well as ESPN Radio coverage / commentary during the tournament.
If You Must Use Your PC, You Can Never Be Too Careful
For all the people stuck with their work PC, here’s a collection of other privacy tools that will help you hide your incurable need to watch your bracket slowly devolve into a mess of terrible choices. Seriously, why didn’t you just listen to Nate Silver this year?!
Rearview Monitor Mirror
Ideal for spotting anyone sneaking up behind your cubicle, this concave mirror allows you to spot anyone spying on your work. So, if you need to Alt+Tab away from your brackets, this early warning system will help. Oh and what does the acronym stand for? “Chimp Has Invincible Monkey Powers”
The Big Red Panic Button
While the NCAA has include a “Boss Button” of sorts within the NCAA Web application, this is a physical version of that concept that allows you to customize the action that happens on your computer over the USB connection. Want to launch a spreadsheet? No problem. Want to fire up your Web browser with the company site? Easy.
Pro Level: Build Your Own Laser Tripwire that Tweets Photos
Do you have a bit more technical knowledge than the average cubicle drone? Check out this detailed guide at Instructables to learn how to build your own laser tripwire system that both tweets and triggers webcam photos. Setup this little device discretely near your cubicle and receive a tweet alert each time someone breaks the field. Sneaky, Sneaky.