Sunday, March 9, 2008

iPhone frozen out in Minneapolis

IT executives who arrived at the Computerworld Premier 100 conference in Orlando Sunday evening found themselves huddled under portable space heaters at an open air reception as winds kicked up and temperatures dropped into the low '50s. Given the conditions it's not surprising that the conversation turned to cold weather and IT - in that order. Here's some of the more interesting gossip.

iPhone gets iced

According to an IT executive from Minneapolis, the iPhone doesn't fare too well during the city's frigid winters. When temperatures there plummet - sometimes well below zero - the touch screen won't dial anymore, much to the consternation of at least one user. The IT exec doesn't support iPhones internally, but notes with a chuckle that the mechanical keys on his company-issued Blackberrys seem to work just fine in the cold weather.

Troubled tablets get rabbit ears

Speaking of malfunctioning mobile computing products, an IT exec reports that six months after arriving, the displays on about one third of a fleet of Dell tablet PCs began to separate. To keep the display panels from falling apart, staffers have reportedly resorted to raiding the office supply cabinets and using spring clips to hold the cases together. He says it looks quite funny to see people walking around the office with spring clips attached to each corner of the display.

Free laptop? No thanks.

IT exec at a northeastern university is giving away Lenovo laptops. There's just one problem: The students don't want them - and no, they don't want Apple laptops either. Their complaint: those laptops are way too big and sooo yesterday, says the exec. What they want, he says, is something small, like an iPhone, that they can carry around with them.

The problem is that the technology isn't ready yet: You can't type a term paper on an iPhone - or even on a Blackberry. But if vendors get it right, the next generation is ready to bid adeiu to the laptop. Students, he says, are much more comfortable relying on hosted services in which their data and application services live in the Internet cloud. What they need is a way to jack into a bigger screen and keyboard to get the work done - and then slide the soap-bar-sized device back into their pocket when done.

This could happen in one of two ways, he predicts. 1. The handheld smart phone could connect wirelessly to a full size keyboard and monitor that sits on a desk, or 2. The device could be accessorized to project a virtual full sized keyboard and display. The full-size keyboard could be projected onto a desktop surface with sensors that read virtual keystrokes as the user types on the image. A magnified display image would then be projected onto a wall or other surface for wide-screen viewing as needed.


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