This is my last column as LPM Section Chair. I know this because Joy White, the indefatigable editor for me and the other columnists, sent me an e-mail reminder—which I received and then read on my omnipresent laptop. Citing one of this issue's themes, Joy also asked what my favorite tech gadget was. I had fun remembering some of the toys I had come across over the years and finally realized that laptops—without specifying which one—were my choice.
A decent number of other devices were contenders, but they all fell short for some reason. Take my BlackBerry—please. I acknowledge that my BlackBerry recently allowed me to vacation and still get my e-mail without taking a laptop along—this was big for family peace. I have a tendency to … how shall I put it? … FOCUS when that screen is open. My wife is blunter—she calls it “tuning out.” So I was given a BlackBerry ration and left the laptop home. But I cannot comfortably read attachments on the tiny screen. I have never liked the calendar setup and display. The Web browser on mine is a poor joke. And trying to thumb a response to any complicated question reminds me of the Samuel Johnson quote: “It is not done well; but you are surprised to find it done at all.”
Then there are thumb drives. My first promised freedom from the space limitations of floppies. I was overjoyed. I promptly loaded several JPG photos onto my new toy, put it securely in my pocket, and trotted over to the local camera store, only to be told the store's equipment had not been upgraded to take thumb drives. POP! Then I discovered how easily I could fill a thumb drive. Those little devices did not eliminate the space limitation; they just moved it farther off. Still, they have their uses. For instance, leveling LCD projectors when the built-in feet do not work.
A few years back, Hewlett-Packard came out with a handheld copier called the CapShare 920. It was only 4 or 5 inches wide, but HP had given it software that would stitch parallel columns together. I used it to scan large architectural drawings for construction cases. Alas, the product was not a commercial hit, the software was not upgraded for newer operating systems, and I misplaced the battery charger while moving to a new house. Definitely a contender, but not a finalist.
So, laptops it is. There have been many. Each has had its own character, different from the others. Each one served me well and did its job—until it was time to move on.
Which brings me full circle to this column being my final one. I have enjoyed my time with you, and I hope that the feeling has been mutual. The incoming 2006-2007 Section Chair, Tom Grella, will shortly bring his own substantial gifts and energy to the position. And so it goes.
I wish all of you well and ask only that you get involved and give back to others some of what this Section and this profession have given to you.