E L S U A ~ A KM Blog by Luis Suarez

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TLE-2007 Lowlights: Innovation? What Innovation?

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Over the last couple of days you have probably been reading some of the highlights from the recent trip I did to Paris to attend IBM‘s Technical Leadership Exchange conference event. Well, there is just one other weblog entry that I have got drafted already to be shared over the next few hours on some other highlights of what I went through during the course of that wonderful week. However, to give you also a little bit of a taste of some lowlights from the event itself, every one of them has got something, I tell you, I thought I would go ahead and create this particular post to share with you two different items that I was not very happy with. They may sound like two very small things, but from what I can tell they have impacted my overall experience of the event itself, so, in a way, they are worth while mentioning them over here as well.

The first one of them is that when we got to the Euro Disney hotel complex where the event was going to be held, 2,200 IBMers were kindly told that there would be free wireless broadband connection available to everyone by making use of a specific code. Beep. Wrong announcement! Everyone, of course, had brought their own ThinkPads and within the first few hours of the event every single one of us tried to get connected. And what happened? When you are not well prepared to have 2,200 folks login in to a free wireless connection the system goes down and it never comes up! For the entire remaining time of the conference! Ouch!

Talking about relying on network connectivity to enjoy the rest of the event! Ha! Not during the course of last week. You may be wondering why I would want to have a live Internet connection for such event, right? For the same reason that most single events out there do have them already. To enjoy the experience ever so much more! For instance, this failure to get the wireless connection working didn’t allow me to do live con-blogging, something I would have loved being able to do as it would have not slowed down my blogging activities this week sharing with you all some of the experiences I went through. It also didn’t allow me to connect to Twitter and share some further thoughts over there, apart from being able to connect with some fellow IBMers who I know are using Twitter as well.

We could have connected way far many more times than we actually did. Exchange messages about the different sessions we were doing. Figure out where to go and mingle amongst the 2,200 of us who were there. Check out the presentation materials ourselves while being walked through them listening to different pitches. Share those same materials with our colleagues from the office so that we could recommend those sessions we found interesting and whose replay would be worth while listening to. And the list goes on and on and on. Yet, the wireless connection was broken and throughout the conference I felt like something was missing. Like I was crippled or something, like I needed to be connected to the wires and the tubes to get the most out of the whole experience. Either way, next time around, whenever I go to another conference event I am going to think about it twice based on the availability and reliability of the network connection. To me, it is part of the whole thing around The Power of Networking, whether that happens face to face or virtually!

The second lowlight actually impacted me more than what I expected, and it surely got me thinking about the whole topic around innovation. It mainly impacted my own blogging capabilities, i.e. offline capabilities. I knew that I was going to go to an event where the days would be rather long of attending keynote and elective sessions so I decided to bring with me a second extra battery for the notebook I am currently using.

I thought I would be able to make use of them both during the course of the day and extend my independence from the electric current. I thought, well, since there isn’t any network connection available, I should still be ok and continue to use Qumana (My default offline blogging client for the last few months) and draft those weblog entries for when I am connected to the network be able to send them across.

Well, that is what I thought and what never happened. Both batteries give me an independence of about 5 hours, but obviously it was not enough, because in no time, after several keynote and breakout sessions, I found out that twice I would run out of battery consistently. And did you think you could just plug it in back again that easily? No, not while there, I am afraid. So basically I could make good use of my Lenovo 3000 N100 notebook for the first five hours of the event and then forget it till I would rather go back to my room or find a free plug anywhere outside the rooms we had booked. Not very nice!

And here is the lowlight hitting me hard back then. We may be doing lots and lots of innovation at the moment around the software space, but I am afraid that unless we bring some of that innovation spirit into the hardware environment we are not going to go very far! I wish I would be able to have a battery that would last for 8 or 9 hours a day consistently with just a single charge. I wish we would be innovating a whole lot more in this area, so that when being mobile we can truly say that we are mobile and not attached to a bunch of cables and a plug stuck into the wall!

I know that we may be doing something along these lines already, but then again, how long before it reaches the masses, i.e. us, for general consumption at a reasonable price? And compatible with most computers? I mean, if we would ever want to make IT and its many many gadgets pervasive enough wouldn’t this kind of innovation be one with the highest priorities? Wouldn’t we want to stay away from bending, or sitting on our knees, or on the floor, charging the batteries while plugged into the wall? Innovation? What innovation? As far as I can see, unless we see some of that innovation in the hardware space, we would always be back to square one: disconnected mode! And believe me, you wouldn’t want to be there. It is not just as nice! So while I am thinking I have got a couple of trips more for the remaining of the year I am contemplating the idea of purchasing another battery that will give me that independence and, as least, give me the chance of becoming as mobile as I would have wanted it to be in the first place.

So, there you have it. Two different lowlights on stuff that I think we should have improved over time for future events, but something that I am not so sure it would happen any time soon. We shall see. For the time being wondering how serious we may all be around the subject of innovation if then some of the very very basic needs, i.e. power, are not there any longer! That is just going to hurt. Again. I better get a third battery then …

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