2007/10/21

Mobile Computing: Road Warrior Wannabe

The cloud is not yet a cloud -- or at best, it's only partly cloudy.

The cloud to which I'm referring is the internet 'cloud.' The term 'cloud' has not yet reached total acceptance in terms of referring to omnipresent 24/7 access to the internet (often through a wireless connection), but an increasing number of people who go online away from their home or 'office' know what the internet cloud is. Alternate terms are the 'net, SkyNet or the matrix.

The term 'road warrior', for the purposes of this blog post, refers to people who connect to the internet frequently and in a variety of ways when away from their home or primary workplace. They might connect with a laptop, an iPhone or other smart phone, a wireless PDA or UMPC (ultra-mobile personal computer), a library computer, a hotel lobby computer, an internet cafe computer or some other mobile computing device. A road warrior will have figured out tricks of the trade and will know many ways of convincing reluctant hunks of hardware or balky internet service providers to conjure up a usable connection to the 'net. However, in spite of those tricks of the trade, road warriors are occasionally thwarted in their quest for Google-goodness.

Some problems are related to the warrior's equipment. The computing device might not be suitable -- if using someone else's hardware, it may not have enough RAM or cpu-power, it might not be able to connect to the available internet signal, they might not have adequate electrical juice or the correct power connectors, or the software might be set-up wrong, out-dated or compromised by malware. The internet connection might be the main issue -- the warrior may not have an account with the ISP (or might not want to pay high access costs), encryption on the signal may prevent a connection, the wireless router may need to be reset or might be a signal incompatible with the warrior's hardware (use of 802.11 b or g equipment should prevent this problem), the DNS (domain name system) connection being used might not be working properly or a number of other issues may be the problem.

People dedicated to mobile computing can figure out many of the roadblocks, but there are still all too many times when one has no choice but to give up on their preferred method of connecting and try to find an alternate way to access the net.

The closest thing to a ubiquitous cloud in the US at this time seems to be an iPhone. The iPhone has raised the bar for smart phone providers, and many hardware and cell service providers are coming out with 'iPhone killers.'

With a bit of luck, early 2008 will see the emergence of the Gphone. And with even more luck, the Gphone will provide low-cost widespread connections to the cloud in a device with an open full-fledged computing operating system, a GPS, a cell connection and an 802.11 wireless connection.

When that type of device appears, a new era of innovation will be launched.

And road warriors everywhere will smile.

*****

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