Thinking BobVan
I can confirm that the Retina MacBook Pro worked for me on American Airlines MD-80 and 777-200 aircraft seat power with the MagSafe Converter (MD504) and the Apple MagSafe Airline Adapter (pictured). As with my old MBP, it doesn’t charge, but does supply power to run. I’m intending this post as “GoogleBait” just for those who were wondering. Fly on!

I can confirm that the Retina MacBook Pro worked for me on American Airlines MD-80 and 777-200 aircraft seat power with the MagSafe Converter (MD504) and the Apple MagSafe Airline Adapter (pictured). As with my old MBP, it doesn’t charge, but does supply power to run. I’m intending this post as “GoogleBait” just for those who were wondering. Fly on!

The new iPhone bumpers that came out with the iPhone 4S are a huge improvement over the original iPhone 4 bumpers. One significant improvement is that the maximum size allowed for the 30-pin connector has been significantly increased. Of course, the standard charger has always fit (see right side of photo above). But with the new number, now my Wahoo Fitness ANT dongle also fits.
Unfortunately, the new bumper is still too small for Apple’s own VGA adapter for the 30-pin connector. I like using this with Keynote running on my iPhone 4S to drive a projector so that I can do presentations with nothing but my iPhone. The width is enough, but the connector on the VGA adapter is too thick. So I filed it down a bit on the top and bottom as you can see in the middle of the photo above. Now it fits perfectly without me having to take the bumper off.

The new iPhone bumpers that came out with the iPhone 4S are a huge improvement over the original iPhone 4 bumpers. One significant improvement is that the maximum size allowed for the 30-pin connector has been significantly increased. Of course, the standard charger has always fit (see right side of photo above). But with the new number, now my Wahoo Fitness ANT dongle also fits.

Unfortunately, the new bumper is still too small for Apple’s own VGA adapter for the 30-pin connector. I like using this with Keynote running on my iPhone 4S to drive a projector so that I can do presentations with nothing but my iPhone. The width is enough, but the connector on the VGA adapter is too thick. So I filed it down a bit on the top and bottom as you can see in the middle of the photo above. Now it fits perfectly without me having to take the bumper off.

Android Tablets, Limit 1 Per Customer: Will We Ever See It?

I was reading this morning’s Fry’s ad. I see an Android 7” tablet for $77. Sounds like a pretty good price.

Then I notice it is surrounded by seven other items with limits of one or two per customer. These are PC accessories like wireless mice, memory card readers, and laptop power adapters ranging in price from free after rebate to $44. These also sound like pretty good prices.

I note that six of the seven accessories carry brand names: Microsoft, Targus, Antec, Maxell, IOGear. The Android tablet is unbranded.

I look back at the tablet ad and notice there’s no limit of one or two per customer. My instinct is to draw conclusions about relative supply and demand, but is that fair? The accessories could be priced at or below cost as loss leaders.

I don’t see iPads on sale at limit one per customer prices and I don’t know if I should ever expect to see it. It’s also interesting to think about what it would mean if we did see Android tablets as loss leaders.

I guess the only conclusion at this point is that Apple, Fry’s, and the tablet manufacturer have picked prices where they think they can meet demand and hopefully make a profit. Well, in Apple’s case, we know they’re making a profit!

Dubstep, Headphones, Bass, and Hiccoughs

I’ve been listening to a lot of dubstep recently, ever since both my kids turned me on to the genre. I’ve been listening mostly at the office and while working at home.

I find that the best music for working is predictable. The more random an unpredictable the music, the worse for working because the music interferes with the concentration needed for work.

In the mid-70’s, I took lessons in Transcendental Meditation. Now 35 years later, I don’t meditate regularly. I only meditate when when I have the hiccoughs.

An odd thing I noticed back then is that the regularity of breathing that  is induced by meditative states promptly cured the hiccoughs. It’s been an amazingly reliable cure for the last 35 years. Literally only 30 or maybe 60 seconds of meditation and the hiccoughs are gone. I’ve learned to meditate anywhere.

I get the hiccoughs now mostly following meals. I was eating dinner on a flight from Chicago to Hong Kong and ended up with the hiccoughs recently. I was listening to dubstep while I ate and found that the dubstep seemed to interfere with meditation curing my hiccoughs. It probably took almost 5 minutes of meditation for the hiccoughs to go away. Maybe the rhythm of the dubstep interfered with reestablishing my normal breathing patterns?

Dubstep is very repetitious and predictable, and so good for working and concentration. But I’d mostly listened to it on speakers and at low volumes at work and at home. Even though I have Bose speakers with decent bass response at work and at home, it’s kind of anti-social to crank up the tunes with deep bass while others are working or sleeping.

I recently flew from Chicago to Hong Kong and put in my favorite headphones for sound isolation on the flight. These are $20 cheapie earbuds I bought at Fry’s long ago. I use these headphone pretty much only when I want to tune out the noise of an airplane. Air travel seems to be much less stressful when I tune out the noise of the airplane.

While eating dinner, I put on my dubstep playlist because the music was running through my mind anyway.

It probably shouldn’t surprise me, but improved sound isolation may be correlated with improved sub-bass response. I’d read that dubstep was heavy on the sub-bass, but I hadn’t really appreciated this until I used my favorite sound isolating headphones for listening to dubstep.

I thought only a few of my favorite dubstep tracks had significant sub-bass components when I was listening at low volumes through speakers. Now that I’m at 30,000 feet listening on these headphones with good sub-bass response, I can finally hear that all my favorite dubstep tracks have substantial sub-bass energy.

Listening to dubstep with good headphones completely changes the experience. If you haven’t tried it yet, I recommend it. Now I know why my kids seldom listen to their music on speakers and always listen on headphones. It’s not just a mechanism for tuning out the old fart generation.

Now that I’m well north of 50 years old and the high frequency response and sensitivity of my hearing is naturally diminishing, maybe sub-bass is the new frontier. It’s not a bad up here, if only I could hear what my kids are mumbling without having to ask them to repeat themselves.

Who Owns Your Cellphone? Who Owns Your iPad?

I was thinking back to the early days of cellphones the other day. And actually to pagers before that.

What struck me was memories of pagers that were given to you by your employer. An “electronic leash” so that they could reach you anywhere. If you changed employers, they kept the pager and gave it to somebody else.

I recall the early days of cell phones being similar. The company bought the phone and you used it as an employee. But I think that gradually changed over time as cell phone prices came down and as people understood their utility outside of work. Today I’d guess that the vast majority of cell phones are owned by individuals rather than their employers. Cellular number portability that arrived in the US in late 2003 probably helped with this transition.

People seem to want to own their phones because they perceive the phone as personal and something that stays with them regardless of their employer. They may get work calls on their phone, but it’s their phone that stays with them. They expect their new employer to be able call their phone if they need to be reached outside the office.

So that brings me to smart phones. I can’t imagine an employer where a new employee is given a new cell phone because the employer can’t call their existing phone. However, I see people all the time who have two smartphones because their employer’s infrastructure can’t work with their existing smartphone. This can’t be good for the employers or the employees.

Which brings me to tablets (iPads). Which ownership model will they follow? Employer or employee? Based on what I’ve seen, people buy their own tablets. Like smartphones, they show up for work on the first day and expect the company infrastructure to integrate with their tablet.

I think this has some IT people seriously flummoxed. They’re used to controlling the infrastructure and issuing personal technology (i.e. PCs) that work with it. New employees are showing up with their favorite personal technology and expecting to use it with the company’s infrastructure. It’s a real shift in the balance of power.

A shift for the better IMHO.

Who owns your phone? Your smartphone? Your tablet (iPad)?

Is there a techie in the house?

I had a flight recently where they came on the PA system and asked if there was a doctor on the plane—just like on TV. Happy ending, passenger was fine, we made it to our destination and all the other passengers waited patiently for the medics who met the plane to board and take away the sick patient. Never thought I’d see it happen in real life, but that reminded me …

On the way here to Tokyo, I boarded early and immediately plugged my laptop into the plane’s power for the 13-hour flight from Chicago. A flight attendant saw my connection and asked how it worked since another passenger a few rows back was wondering. I explained that you need a special connection since the American Airlines 777 we were on only has 12 VDC power instead of the usual US 120 VAC outlets. I offered to share my connection with the other passenger if he happened to have a machine similar to mine.

The flight attendant came back and said he had a Sony Vaio so my Apple connection wouldn’t work. But she also said that American sells a laptop connection kit for $90. I thought this was a pretty clever addition to the usual list of perfume, cigarettes, and other stuff I’d never buy from the duty-free cart.

The trouble was that the other passenger couldn’t figure out how to use the connection kit to fire up his laptop. The flight attendant asked if I’d mind taking a look at it while we were still at the gate boarding other passengers. Of course, I was happy to help.

What made it tricky was that the connection kit was designed to work with AC or DC power and to work with any laptop on any airplane. The instructions weren’t that clear, but the passenger had his normal AC power brick with him so I could work out the correct setting for the voltage switch. The kit came with the correct plug for his Vaio and the correct DC plug for the AA 777 so I was able to lash it all up and get it working for him. There were far more parts unused than used because of the universality of the design. No wonder they were confused.

So they didn’t have to come on the PA system and ask “Is there a techie in the house,” but this is as close as I’ve come to hearing that question.

This story too has a happy ending beyond the passenger having laptop power for the flight. Once we were airborne, the flight attendant came by and profusely thanked me for helping the other passenger and asked if I’d like a complimentary bottle of wine! I said “Sure!”

I was only in Tokyo one night and I couldn’t take the wine with me on my next flight since you’re only allowed to bring 100 ml of liquid on board and this was a 750 ml bottle. I didn’t have a cork screw and was too tired to drink it anyway so I just gave the wine to the guys from our Tokyo office the next day and they were very happy to have it.

When you fly a lot on American, they give you a fist full of employee award slips every year. You’re supposed to give these to American employees who give great service. So I filled one out for the flight attendant. I think she was smart to ask for help since the other passenger would’ve been out $90 and still had no power if she hadn’t intervened. I hear that recipients of these slips are entered into a monthly drawing. They pick 100 employees who each get 25,000 miles. I wish her good luck!

The Rise of Self-Administered Computing and the Need for Partial Remote Wipe

We are well into the third phase of computing that I’ve seen, but I think the latest phase isn’t widely recognized yet.

Most probably think of the first phase of computing as the mainframe. Expensive machines that had to be shared by many users. Centrally located and centrally administered.

The second phase was clearly the PC. Still centrally administered, but the machines themselves were distributed and personal rather than shared.

I call the third phase self-administered computing to set it apart from its predecessors. It’s typified today by smart phones and iPads. These inherently mobile devices can be centrally administered, but I don’t think that’s the norm, except for maybe Blackberry.

These devices today support a remote wipe feature so that a company mobile device under centralized administration can have involuntary amnesia on demand. This makes perfect sense when the mobile device is owned by an employer and stays with the employer after an employee leaves.

I see a lot of people who want to keep their mobile devices (and indeed their mobile identities) even when their employer changes. I think we’ll see demand for a partial remote wipe feature for these people. They’d like to be able to use their personal mobile devices with their current employer, but don’t want to lose their devices or their identities when they change jobs.

There are enormous security threats that come with allowing employee-owned PCs onto a corporate LAN or even VPN. But I think a lot of those threats come because employee-owned PCs tend to be poorly administered and run fundamentally insecure operating systems.

I see us at the beginning of an era where mobile operating systems only run digitally-signed applications from a curated application store. This, coupled with a partial remote wipe feature would allow employees to use their favorite mobile devices and retain them when changing employers. It would also give the corporate IT, security, and maybe even compliance guys the peace they need to sleep at night.