Writing with a pen and paper at 37,000 feet instead of on the array of digital gadgetry that surrounds me is quite liberating.
By the wonders of modern man I am writing these words on board a plane – BA794 to Helsinki for all you plane spotters – using a pen and a page in my work diary (the pen is PaperMate and the page is for the 4th April and, yes, I know it’s not 4th). I will, I imagine, be transcribing it later this evening in a hotel in Helsinki.
Amusingly, here at 37,00 feet on an Airbus A320, I have an array of digital equipment sat under the seat in front of me. A laptop: too big to open and anyway the battery is nearly dead as I used it with a wifi hotspot in the terminal. My ‘phone/PDA: it really doesn’t look good opening a ‘phone on a plane as there’s a tendency for other passengers to think you’re switching it on. Besides, the built-in keyboard is useless for this kind of lengthy writing. I also have my MP3 player and a camera but neither of them are much use for writing on. So I sit, with a trusty old pen, scribbling something I will later type. I assume, if you’re reading this, that I have actually typed it up.
I also have a small jungle of cables with me. Chargers and connectors to allow all the various devices to communicate. In fact, I think they are taking a disproportionate amount of luggage space. Everything has to be charged: the ‘phone, the mp3 and the camera. Nothing seems to work on a trusty pair of AAs anymore. I am not sure why this is but it’s as frustrating as hell.
So, I have to ask myself why I bother with all this gadgetry? Is any of it going to make my life any easier? Sadly, I don’t think it will and – to be honest – it’s not much fun anymore. I just want items that make travelling easier and I don’t have the money for a private jet. Has anybody solved this conundrum?
I do have a love of this kind of technology: I know that I am one of the people who believe it has the power to liberate but, frankly, right now all the competing vendors are not getting it correct and I am not sure why. Somewhere, someday, somebody will get it right. I only hope that I have a hand in it – somehow.
If you don’t like Jack Welch’s approach I believe there are interesting lessons about the capabilities of people and what they can bring to business for anybody regardless of the size of company or position you hold within it.
Jack Welch was Chairman and CEO of General Electric for twenty years and this is a book about his time from joining to leaving the company that became his life. Apparently Jack was seen as the ‘toughest boss in America’ and I suspect the book is trying to soften the historical edges a little. What comes across clearly is a commitment to a company and a desire to grow it. Many businesses could do better with a firmer management and a realistic look at the way things are done. Jack Welch doesn’t seem to be the kind of CEO to run scared of the change no matter how painful that be. Throughout the book he stresses the importance that good people be allowed to excel and that poor performers are probably better elsewhere. It seems a ruthless approach but it appears to have worked for GE and, I think Jack would argue, it worked better for the people involved. Don’t expect a management handbook as ‘Straight From The Gut’ is too human (and full of golf stories) to be seen as a Director’s guide but it is an extremely readable insight into big business. If you don’t like his approach I believe there are interesting lessons about the capabilities of people and what they can bring to business for anybody regardless of the size of company or position you hold within it.
So I decided that my Treo 600 was a pain. I mentioned before that it’s OK at many things but it isn’t great at any of them. As a regular Palm it’s good but as a ‘phone it’s just OK (by which I mean poor). As a camera it is very poor. So I started to become obsessed by finding a solution to my problem/desire to get it all in one. Then, because I vacillate so much, I decided that my Treo 600 on Orange is actually pretty good and I want to keep it. A few hours later a whole Nokia fetish kicked in before I decided that, yet again, Treo wins. I don’t like the idea of not having my contact and diary synchronised properly. I thought, for a moment, that WAP could be a solution but it’s not the same. Then I saw the new Palm Tungsten E2 and thought well …
Now, please tell me why I become so engrossed in this subject. Why can’t I, just like a normal person, have a ‘phone that is a ‘phone?