The Corruptibles- Entertainment Industry Supervillians

I came across this link in the Microsuck forums:

I found it very entertaining. On another level, it’s sort of scary. The old guard entertainment industry and the new media of the internet are a sharp contrast in paradigms. Under the old paradigm, information could be produced and controlled. In the 1950s, for instance, movies were made and shown in theaters. The studios had complete control over who saw the movies and how much they paid. The average home user did not have the equipment to copy the old vinyl records, so those could be controlled as well.

Today with the internet, information is thought of as something to be shared. Thanks to the Open Source movement, even software is thought of as something that people can share amongst each other. I almost balk at the price of Microsoft Office considering that Open Office does not have a cost up front. Linux is free, which makes me wonder what the point is to paying for Windows Vista when it comes out next year. Actually, when you buy software, what you’re mostly paying for is support. If you buy a copy of Red Hat Linux, you are paying for the privilege of making a phone call when something goes wrong. Of course you’re also paying for the man hours to develop and maintain the software in most cases, but this is a discussion for another entry.

A problem seems to have arisen now that the two paradigms have clashed. We often think of information as something to be shared, and they think of it as something to be controlled. Most blogs these days have a Creative Commons license stating what way the information contained on that blog can be shared legally but may have limited restrictions. Many people create their own music and videos and humor and software and have no problem with sharing them under certain limits. The Old Guard does not like that. They have been very slow to adopt the new ways and when they do it is often under draconian measures such as DRM (dark arts if I have ever heard of any).

DRM adds a dimension of asininity (is that a word?) to the purchase of information. In the old days, I could buy a book and read it, then give it to my wife. I could give it to you and tell you that you should read it. With DRM, I may buy an ebook and the only way I can read it is on my laptop or Pocket PC. I can’t share it with my wife. Music is working the same way. You can’t buy a song and share it with your friends.

I’ve heard some very silly things about the "legal" music sharing networks. Some colleges will pay for them so that students can use them for free, yet the students choose not to use them. The songs that they download are only good until they graduate. What is the point of that? Music hasn’t been that big a part of my life in several years, and the greedier the RIAA and MPAA get, the less I care for their products. Why should I go out of my way to buy a movie or CD if it’s going to install a rootkit on my laptop, or if I can use it on my laptop but not on my desktop computer? What if I can’t download a song to my Pocket PC? I’m sorry, but I can’t think of a single artist who is worth all of that hassle.

So where do we go from here? Well, there are plenty of public domain and independent sites. If you like the classics, manybooks is a good place. There are some good independent song artists out there, and some bands are starting to embrace the new paradigm.

Now, I’m a free market kind of guy. Don’t think I am disparaging ANYBODY from making a profit from their labor. I am not. However, if you can’t play to the market, then you obviously don’t deserve to make that profit, do you? Markets change, and you have to stay on top of them. I really don’t buy movies anymore, except for some of my favorites, thanks to my wife’s Netflix subscription. I don’t even deal with Blockbuster anymore. If I want a movie, I put it in the que, when it comes I watch it, then stick the movie back in the mailbox. The hardest part of this process is finding time to watch the movie. If I really have to listen to music, there are plenty of internet radio sites. I don’t understand paying for these things. I haven’t even tried to figure out what they mean with how many downloads per month you get.

As for ebooks, I actually haven’t embraced this yet. I don’t mind book length material off the web. I’ve read several of these. I don’t read many ebooks because they often require Adobe Craprobat, I mean, Acrobat, which I don’t like to use any more than I have to. There are some decent free .pdf viewers out there, but some features work best in Adobe. Sometimes they require a proprietary reader, and I am not very fond of proprietary software. Sometimes it is required, but often it’s more painful than it’s worth. I have no idea what happened to Microsoft Reader. I thought it used to come pre-installed with Windows, but it doesn’t seem to anymore. Now it must be downloaded and it keeps reminding you to activate, and it’s been years since I’ve seen content for it anyway.

We’ll have to sit back and see if this new paradigm will be market driven, or shoved down our throats by the "old guard". I do hope that the free exchange of information is honored.

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What Exactly Is So Bad About Windows?

This past Saturday, I finished up yet another excursion into the Linux world. I took my older laptop and loaded SuSE Linux on it again. For some reason, I just can’t get Ubuntu to load on this laptop, but SuSE 10.1 will. Let’s just say I’m happy to be back to Windows for the time being. The SuSE Linux 10.1 desktop is beautiful, but some tasks that I’m used to on Windows don’t always translate well to Linux. I could spend the time reading forums and newsgroups to find the pertinent information, but sometimes that just takes more time than you have. While I was messing around with Linux Saturday, I was also watching my kids.

Because this laptop is a little bit older (Pentium III, approx 188 Megs RAM), SuSE Linux runs a little slower on it. The fresh install of XP actually feels faster compared to it. I was trying to do tasks with Linux that should have been simple, like system updates and configuring user preferences. I just could not for the life of me get the Xen updater to work at all. I did get it to connect to a server, but I kept getting an error message about some other program using something or other. It was almost like Windows. Every task took hours, which could be because this laptop is older, but even XP can do most things in a reasonable amount of time.

Having recently been influenced by Mac and Linux users, and playing around with both platforms (although not so much with OSX; my iMac is OS 9.2.2), I have come to a few conclusions that I would like to recount here. For one, it is very easy to hate Windows. I’ve been using it for 10 years or more. Of course before the Windows 95 family there was Windows 3.1 (there were several versions before that which I don’t remember actually seeing), and DOS. I do remember DOS 6.2.2 being a wonderfully stable and powerful operating system. Windows 95 was a nightmare of instability, reboots, failures, and sudden problems for which the only apparent solution was to reload the operating system. Windows 98 had some graphical improvements but really wasn’t more stable. Windows 98 Second Edition was by far the favorite of the pre-XP class for home users. Windows ME (Malfunction Edition) simply cannot be explained in terms of logic. What were they thinking? Load us up with this buggy implementation of an OS written around Windows Media Player and get us so ticked off that we can’t help but buy XP the second it hits the shelves?

Of course, I’m not going to spend much time on the business class of Windows, although I have used many of them as well, including Windows for Workgroups, Windows NT 4.0 (various service Packs), Windows 2000, and Windows XP Professional. We have a Windows 2003 server here which I do the backups on when our IT guy is out of the office.

It is so easy to hate Windows and Microsoft in general. Their business practices are reminiscent of Ghengis Khan’s conquests. Most people buy a computer, bring it home, it has Windows, it has a problem, and a cynical guy like me shows up to fix it all the while complaining and influencing them that Microsoft sucks and Windows is horrible but what can you do? A lot of people who buy a new computer don’t know what they’re getting into. I don’t know many people who accidentally bought a Mac. Most Mac users buy their systems deliberately. Many Linux users buy a new system and wipe out the OEM installed Windows to replace it with Linux (or BSD, or Solaris, etc). And so, we all hate Windows.

Something else that happens when a user begins to hate Windows is the influence of the other systems’ users. A Windows user runs into a Mac user who says "Gee, I don’t have those problems on MY system. I never have to reboot. My system is beautiful and runs perfectly" (I hang out on some Mac forums so I know you people are full of it). Linux users speak of the reliability and simplicity and power of their system, as do BSD, Solaris, etc.

I’ve found it’s all a shell game. As I said in parenthesis in the previous paragraph, I hang out on some Mac forums thanks to GTD. A lot of GTD users have Macs, and they complain about a lot of the same things we do, like poor design, unstable programs, system crashes, etc. I’ve personally tried to use Linux, and guess what? It locks up, stops responding, performs sluggishly at times. Here’s what happens though. You install, say, SuSE Linux. You go to a forum looking for help because you have a problem with this operating system for which a virtual utopia has been painted. You mention your problem and you get told "Oh, well you should try Ubuntu. Ubuntu never has that problem." So you burn an ISO of Ubuntu and install it. You then encounter a problem, return to the forum, and get told "Oh, you should try Fedora Core. Fedora Core never has that problem." Next you’re told to try Gentoo, Yellow Dog, Damn Small Linux, etc, depending on the favorite distribution of the day of the attendees of whatever forum you choose. It’s all a giant shell game.

When my friend gave me my iMac last year, it came with Mac OS 8.6. I completely crashed it within 24 hours, requiring a complete reinstall of the operating system. I went to one of my Mac using friends to ask why they can claim that Macs are so much more stable, and guess what I was told? You bet: "Oh, you need OSX. OSX never has those problems." And yet on most of the Mac forums I frequent, people lament for the good old days of Mac OS 8 and 9. Once again, it’s a giant shell game.

Let me tell you something I’ve learned from experience: there is no software utopia. No operating system runs perfectly no matter what it’s proponents tell you. I am very happy that people can be so enthusiastic about their systems. Believe me, I am happy. As a 10 year plus Windows user, I will admit that we don’t have Windows evangelists trolling forums seeking to share the Microsoft Gospel with a world lost in unstable operating systems. It just doesn’t happen, except for some MVPs, who as best I can tell are brainwashed drones (I only say this because I haven’t been invited to join the program as of yet. Imagine, leaving ME off this list).

I have to admit that out of the Windows 95 family, XP is certainly my favorite. I have gotten uptimes measured in weeks with Windows XP. I have gone more than 6 months without having to reinstall the OS. In the Win 95 and 98 (especially ME) days, I sometimes had to do a complete reinstall once a week or more. Windows XP is pretty decent for the time being, and I’m just going to be happy to use it. I do look toward Windows Vista with fear and trepidation. Since they finally got XP to work, it’s time to release a non-functional piece of trash again and start the cycle over like they did with Windows 95. Don’t let people tell you that the new computer that you bought is trash because it runs Windows. Just use Windows and enjoy it while it lasts.

Maybe when the next round of Linux releases comes out I’ll try again. SuSE Linux 10.2 might be interesting. Until then, maybe I can stick to Windows long enough to get some work done. 

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What Not To Use An iMac For

The other day, I was installing XP Home on my new desktop hardware and SuSE Linux 10.1 on my older laptop. I kept going upstairs to check on them, and at one point to give my wife a break, I took my 23 month old, Joshua, up with me. My computer room is far from childproofed, but I’ve had both kids in there for short periods of time and as long as I’m watching them I figure they’ll be fine.

Joshua quickly lost amusement with the various toys I’ve collected for my computer desk over the years and wanted to pound a keyboard or two. I didn’t want him on one of my other systems, so I figured I’d let him use the iMac.  It’s a G3 333Mhz (Blueberry, Rev. D) that a friend gave me last year.  I positioned my computer chair in front of it and quickly found out  one reason why an iMac is NOT a toddler toy:

  • The power button is located right on the front. 

He found it, and it became a source of non-stop amusement for him, much to the anguish of his electronics and IT background daddy. You just don’t slam a power supply or CRT like that… The iMac will do an orderly shutdown when the button is pressed, but still, it’s not meant to do 20 of them in a minute.

I took him back downstairs and put off my installs for another time while I played with the kids and their toys.

Children are awesome. I love my boys.

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Genuine Advantage Has Gone Too Far

This entry is not about the spyware tendencies of the beta program, Windows Genuine Advantage, that Microsoft is FORCING Windows XP users to download as a "critical update". It is about the schizophrenic way that they are going about validating Windows XP installations.

When the WGA first came out, I avoided downloading it once I heard that it would "phone home" each day and was also still in beta state. However, I soon wanted to download something or other from Microsoft’s website, and I was not permitted to do it without this stupid WGA spyware installed. Fine, I downloaded it. This morning, I decided to give IE 7 beta 3 a shot. When I went to Microsoft’s website, somehow the WGA that I was required to install was not enough. I still had to validate my copy of Windows. I had to download an executable called "WGAPluginInstall". Once that was done, I next had to download ANOTHER program called GenuineCheck. Huh? I have WGA installed. Then after GenuineCheck ran, I had to enter the number it gave me into the web page to download IE 7 beta 3. Think this is enough? When I tried to install, I was told that I had to manually remove IE7 beta 2. What, you can’t write an installer that will just overwrite it? OK, fine. I did that too. What really got me though, was when I rebooted and finally got to run IE 7 beta 3, it had to validate my copy of Windows to. That’s 4 times that I can count of having to validate one copy of Windows XP. I had to validate to download, then again to install.

What’s up with this?


PC vs. Mac- My Thoughts

There is an interesting article on MacWorld about the new Mac advertisements that compare a fairly young, active actor playing a Mac with a middle-age looking nerd playing a PC. The ads really make you want to buy a Mac. They make the point that Macs don’t get viruses and can build web pages and edit home movies. I won’t comment much on the article itself as I believe that the author did a great job of sorting out fact and fiction on both platforms.

If you’re like me, you may have used a PC for a long time. I’ve been using PCs for better than 10 years. Even before that, I’ve used several but it’s been the last decade that I’ve owned and heavily used a PC both at home and at work. I was discipled in the mentality that Macs are made for idiots and smart people use PCs. I was told that "Macs are great when they work, but when they break it’s all over". I honestly don’t have enough background to refute or debate these claims, although the last year has put events before me that have made me want to pay serious attention to the Macintosh platform.

However, I have quite a few PC systems, including the laptop that I just got for Christmas last year. I use it very heavily and have spent quite a bit of time configuring it to be just right. With my recent interest in registry hacks, I’m tweaking it even more. My only real experience with Mac is the iMac that my friend gave me. It’s a Blueberry (Rev D., 333Mhz G3 PPC). I use it as a toy mostly, but I’m slowly learning. Someday I hope to upgrade the RAM and put Panther on it. Until then, it’s running Mac OS 9.2.2.

As for the debate over Macs and PCs: the claim is made that PCs get viruses. Well, to add a little reason to this debate, simply owning a PC that runs Windows does not give you viruses, anymore than stepping off a ship in Thailand gives you AIDS. For the 10 years that I’ve used PCs, I’ve often run without a virus scanner or firewall. It’s only been the last few years that I’ve decided to use either and I admit mostly it has to do with the paranoia that everybody else is under. I’ve been tempted to uninstall my virus scanner on several occasions as it adds a lot of time to startup and really bogs my system down at times. Norton was the worst; I won’t use Norton again. McAfee does a decent job but still can slow me down, especially when I reboot because my computer got unstable while I was trying to get a lot done and when I came back up McAfee wanted to download 48 Gigs of definitions… OK, a little exaggeration, but still annoying.

What typically gives you a virus is executing a program. Virus writers are getting better, but for the most part your system won’t get infected if you don’t take the final step to execute the virus or worm. If you receive a strange email from someone with an attachment, don’t open it. Even if the email is from a person that you know well, if it’s out of character, don’t touch it until you contact them and verify that the email is valid. Don’t visit web pages that are likely to infect you. I’ve heard that porn sites are known to do this at some times. You can sometimes be redirected to some very strange places. A friend of mine lost the key to a game of his, so to help him out I went to some key code sites to see if I could find it. He legally purchased the game, so I had no problem with this. Man, was I ever redirected to some non-family friendly sites! For the most part though, if you stay away from the "red light district" of the internet, you shouldn’t have to worry.

It can’t be said that Macs and Linux machines are immune to viruses. Better designed would be appropriate, more secure yes, but not immune. There are some Mac viruses out there. What helps both systems is the fact that the user does not have full admin access. In Windows, admin is assumed, in Mac and Linux, admin is granted. No user should ever have full administrative access to a system for casual use, yet in Windows you really can’t function without it. Microsoft has not developed a good user scheme after all of these years. In XP Home, you either get full access or User access, and User can’t really do ANYTHING. The problem is that the viruses, malware, spyware, rootkits, etc run at the access level of the user, so if you’re logged in with root privileges, the programs you execute have that root privilege. I wish MS would come up with a decent user scheme. On my machine at work, I was set up as a Power User, which is still very limited. Our IT guy got tired of me tracking him down every time I wanted to update iTunes (you think MS releases too many updates? Apple is much worse), so he gave me the local admin access to the machine. That worked for a while, until I tried to install a program that would only work for the user who installed it. If I logged off myself, logged in as admin and installed it, I couldn’t use it under my access. I set myself up with admin privileges, installed it, and haven’t really downgraded myself yet.

Rest assured as Macs become more popular, virus writers and script kiddies will begin writing more viruses and assorted malware for them.

One of the commercials that really amused me was the one where the Mac and PC were in the box. The Mac said he was going to create some web pages, edit some home movies, etc. The PC said that he has to download more drivers, read some tech manuals, uninstall some trial software… This was funny. Which tech manuals? I’ve been told that Macs have about as little documentation as PCs. I thought it was funny when I bought Microsoft Flight Simulator 95 and got a box full of books. One book was about the mechanics of flight, one was about using the program, and a few more were about scenery. When I bought MS Flight Sim 98, it came with no books and some promotional literature. Flight Sim 2002 Professional came with even less. My laptop came with 2 Zip-lock bags with promotional material and 2 CDs with XP SP2 and a Driver disk. So what documentation did this PC have to read?

OK, now to tackle out of the box functionality. As for building web pages, let me ask you how many web pages have you built in the last week? The last year? I can’t say I’ve really done that much web page building myself, and while I was still in the Navy my friend and I worked on an internet advertising venture with a friend of ours. I will admit that to the best of my knowledge, Windows XP doesn’t come out of the box with many site building tools. If you like to write your own html, Notepad will get the job done just fine. I remember Microsoft used to include a "Frontpage Express", but I can’t say I ever used it and I never really gave it any thought until somewhere in the last 6 months when it would have come in handy and I realized that it was gone. As for home movies, Windows XP does come with Windows Movie Maker. I have mixed opinions about this. What it does, it does well enough. What it can’t do, you might as well get something that can do it. I guess Macs come bundled with a program that will allow you to do all of the work. I don’t believe that WMM will let you burn a DVD. You probably have to do your editing work and then open in another program. I’ve been using Ulead DVD Movie Factory 3 for all of my video editing needs. I only open up WMM long enough to realize that it can’t do what I want to do, so I close it.

Now for the "PCs do charts and graphs, Macs do fun stuff". I can’t say I’ve done many charts and graphs in my life. I’m honestly not sure how to do them in Office because the need honestly hasn’t arisen for me to learn how to do them. And so to characterize my platform as only a business platform is a little bit untrue. Actually, if you’ve seen HP’s latest commercial with the snowboarder, I honestly thought it was a Mac commercial at first. PCs can do a lot of "fun stuff". I would say that the most common argument I’ve heard as to why people won’t leave Windows for Mac or Linux is "Well, I’m a gamer, see, and I need to play my games". The PC is, for now, the best gaming platform short of a console. I can’t say I game much myself.

When it comes to advertising, stick to the facts. Ads want to sway you to one side or the other. Do Macs have a place? Yes, and I wouldn’t mind getting one but it will have to be a buying decision quite a bit into the future. Do PCs have a place? You bet. Take some time to think about your needs and choose the platform that will suit them best.

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Set Your Screen Resolution Too High for Your Monitor?

I found the attached link, but I’m going to post it here just in case I’m not the only bonehead to do this. I got my new P-4 2.6 Gig chip and motherboard at the computer show last weekend, and I was itching all week to put my system back together. I’ve been doing just fine on my laptops recently, but I would still like to have my desktop computer running for various reasons, one being my WinTV and the other being the hard drive space that my laptop doesn’t have.

I put my system together and started it up. I got a POST beep but nothing showed up on the monitor. I literally detached everything but the RAM, CPU and monitor and still got nowhere. I was very close to taking this hardware back to the store. I called two people and did everything I could. I swapped out chips and that didn’t work.

This afternoon, it finally came to me. I hooked my monitor up to my laptop to see if it was bad somehow, and discovered that it was set on the wrong mode somehow. I have no idea how or what any of the modes do. All I know is that there are 4 and one of them doesn’t seem to do anything.

Anyway, I booted up to find that Windows just wouldn’t run. That really isn’t a surprise. I guess the new hardware somehow made my existing install not want to work. This is actually the 4th box that hard drive has run in with this install. Actually, it was my wife’s drive that I put in my system then put back in her old system when mine died and now it’s in my new system. I had to repair the XP installation and booted up into a glorious 800×600 resolution. The first chance I got, I went into display settings and looked at what it could do. My last system couldn’t do any better than 1024×768, but this one supported well past 1200×1600, which is what I have my computer at work set at. Of course, somehow I forgot that this is an HP 17″ monitor that came with a Celeron 500 Mhz system that was given to me once, and at work I have dual 19″ monitors. Didn’t occur to me. I set it for 1200×1600, and the monitor said something like “Computer Display Correct?” before it cut off. Every time I rebooted into Windows, it cut off. I couldn’t even get it to come up in safe mode, which used to boot in 640×480 every time.

I finally went searching on the web for help, but all I got were screen resolution utilities and adivce for how to set the screen resoultion. I didn’t find much about how to fix a boneheaded problem that you created yourself, until finally this Google group yielded it. Haleluia! Somebody else has done this before. Apparently, 2 people have because one asked and one answered. And so, I am passing this wisdom along to any others who may need it.

Reboot computer. Press F8. When given the selection, highlight “Enable VGA Mode”. Then you can fix your display resolution by toning it back a little bit.

Hopefully I can at least get 1280×1024.

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Unified Communications

The latest installment of Microsoft’s Executive Email contains Bill Gates’ thoughts on unified communications as well as some hints on what Microsoft is going to do. I agree mostly with what he wrote, although I might not be as excited about Microsoft’s implementation. It will probably be costly and require a lot of power. I do think communications should be more unified. It is a pain to have to manage several different phone numbers and email accounts. For instance, my church seems to send all announcements to my work email account, which I can only access at work. I’m not “impotent” enough to have remote access to my email. Whenever an important announcement comes out, if my wife doesn’t let me know, I won’t find out until I get back to work. I’ve had quite a few weekends when something I might have wanted to participate in or help out with was going on, and I didn’t know because the email was sent out after I left work on Friday. I’ve asked to have my home address put on distribution a few times, but so far they haven’t gotten to it.

I’m back in business using Outlook now, and yet after weeks of logging into gmail, I decided to run Outlook in offline mode and use it only as a calendar and task management program at home. Gmail is just too useable and too accessable through a web interface. Of course at work I have to use Outlook because we’re on an exchange server.

My wife and I ditched our land line last year and went strictly with cell phones. I’ve been happy with this. My phone is always with me and so far telemarketers aren’t using them. When we had Verizon, even though I was paying for the Call Intercept and all of the other “electronic warfare” features, my phone was still ringing about every 20 minutes all day. My blood pressure was through the roof. Maybe it’s just me, but cold contact marketing really ticks me off. It wasn’t enough to just ignore the phone. The fact that it rings was really annoying to me. I also worked in a support job at the time and my phone at work rang non-stop, so I didn’t want to go home and listen to another phone ringing. Before our second son was born last year, my wife wanted to reduce our monthly expenses and our cell contract was up, so we renewed and got new phones and canceled the land line. This is nice. The only problem is that most people aren’t used to this, so when people want to call my wife they usually call my cell and I have to give them her number.

I think that mobile computing has a long way to go. I have several devices, including 2 laptops and a Pocket PC as well as my cell phone. My wife wouldn’t let me get a PocketPC phone at the time. We have Sony Ericson z500a models, which is great for battery life. We don’t even have car adapters because these phones last quite a while. I do stick mine on the charger every night whether I used it during the day or not, but my wife will run hers until the battery starts whining. My Pocket PC is an HP 4700, which is a nice VGA screen. It has an amazing battery life as well. However, it’s still too limited for serious use. My new laptop is nice and powerful, but the battery only lasts about 2 hours or so. It will go to sleep, so I could carry it with me during the day but of course in this day and age without an internet connection it’s little more than a word processor and photo editor. I admire Apple laptops for their long battery life and built in cameras.

Here is what I would consider ideal for the time being, and this of course is subject to change on a moment’s notice. I would love to have a Pocket PC phone but rather than the limited Windows Mobile operating system, I’d like a more full featured OS. The Origami pads show that you can put a full version of Windows on a small device, although the implementation is screwy. There should be a Familiar Linux version for my device soon. I don’t have much use right now for a desktop computer. Laptops are nice. I would like to see a wireless broadband service that could be used by both laptop and Pocket PC phone but without having to pay $40 a month for each. A service should spring up that will work as one unified wireless internet and communication service for the entire family. Of course we should have competition here. Each service could put up towers and require encryption to access their network. I understand that security might be tough to implement but I believe this could happen.

I have not yet worked out a sucessful fantasy to combine work and home, especially my work. If we got rid of phone numbers and switched to email addresses you could tie your numbers into one identity and set your availablility on whichever device is best (cell, desk phone, IM, email, etc). When you get to work, say, you dock your cell on your work phone and so all calls to there, but if you leave you take your cell phone. This might work for me because my call volume is low. I’ve even left my cell number on my message while traveling or going on vacation and I still don’t get calls from work. It’s wonderful. My supervisor called me once while meeting with one of the groups who support us because he thought there was a problem with my timecard, but it was straightened out before I left the building and turned my phone back on. This leads to another problem with this kind of implementation: I visit buildings where cell phones are not allowed. Technically, I’m not supposed to have it in my building (I shouldn’t have my Pocket PC either) but I keep it in my pocket. Everybody else has cell phones so I guess we disregard that policy by consensus. I can’t figure out how best to integrate my work email into a single communications medium either because it’s possible that I might have to deal with sensitive material. I have considered forwarding work email to my gmail account, but I probably don’t want corporate messages indexed on Google’s servers. We’ve already been encouraged to not install Google’s desktop search for that very reason.

And of course, some of you might already be mad at me if your work life intrudes too much into your personal life. While I went back to Texas for my mom’s final days, I remember one man in Baltimore-Washington International taking out his crackberry, looking at it, and asking in an irritated voice “What does my boss want this time?” Granted it was still during normal work hours, but I would flip if I kept getting calls while away. Once in a while is fine. I don’t mind being called occasionally, but I’d go nuts being called by work constantly.

I think that unified communications is an interesting and needed concept, but there are many issues that must be resolved before we’ll truly have this concept.