Brian Johnson's Startup Developer Blog

Steve Makofsky: How Many Gadgets Do You Carry?

Steve Makofsky: How Many Gadgets Do You Carry?

  • Comments 2

The other day, Steve asked, "How Many Gadgets Do You Carry?" Since I carry a few things and I use a lot of computers, I decided to put together a little Visio picture that shows the major computers that I use in my work and my personal life. (I'll let you draw in the connecting lines. I think that might have detracted from the overall picture.) In addition to these, I use about 5 or 10 other computers less frequently. Here's what I carry with approximate weights:

Sony TR3 Laptop 3.2 Lbs.

HP Ipaq 5 oz.

Qtek Smartphone 4 oz.

Suunto Spot Watch 3 oz.

The cool thing about all this is that these devices are connected wirelessly. I use Bluetooth between the laptop, the Pocket PC, and the smartphone. I'm using GPRS for the smartphone, wifi on the laptop and the Pocket PC, and the watch syncs through the MSN Direct network. I depend on three main servers at work, and I depend on MSN for all my personal information and preferences. I've sort of optimized my gadget carrying so that I can drop almost any of these items, and still get to important information. My typical usage scenario has me checking my phone for messages and then responding using the laptop or the Pocket PC. I could also respond using the phone in a pinch. (And I have to say, that the Smartphone really ties all this together.)

So what does all this stuff get me? I think it's giving me a lot of freedom and free time. It's working well enough that I can go to any building on the Microsoft campus, in my house, or even a Starbucks, and get things done. I don't spend a lot of time anymore looking for things. I don't need to go out of my way to check my mail. I remember a few years ago hearing some efficiency expert say that execs/information workers spend more than half their time looking for stuff, mostly notes, papers, and other information. This technology makes it easier for me to work with my information, and I really think it's saving me a lot of time.

  • I used to get that great feeling of independence with my handheld and cellphone and laptop, but over the past couple of years that's all gone away. Why? Our parent company is moving to Windows-based software, so instead of poking my nose in with a terminal and having a look through the command line, I have to actually transfer the files to my laptop, or use a remote desktop tool (RDP, VNC, etc). Even ssh or telnet into my Win2k desktop with a nice Interix-based environment doesn't help as much as I hoped, because there's still no command line tools to do things like browser a Word document.
  • To Mr. da Silva: Hi, interesting meeting you here. Anyway, there exist Linux tools that convert Word documents to plain text. Have you tried recompiling them under Interix?

    Regarding Mr. Johnson's base note: I would cringe at the thought of using wireless LANs. For a while I used packet-switched cellular modems with the assumption that their encryption is more reliable, though I'm not as sure about that as I wished. As for WLAN, recently for the first time I got a computer with a WLAN card built-in because a good deal was available on the overall computer even without counting the WLAN card. I investigated its configuration before disabling it. It showed a wide open connection to my ISP. I nearly had a heart attack. I re-checked my ADSL modem and saw no evidence of wireless capabilities having been included (which could have been possible even though I didn't order them). It turned out that a neighbour uses the same ISP as I use. If I enabled Bluetooth then I could probably get 0wned by their Bluetooth devices too. Or not likely by them themselves, but by whoever has taken 0wnership of their machine.
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