Technology has brought some challenges to travel. There is the bomb threat, of which I have no way to gauge how much of a potential problem this is on a daily basis. Certainly security at airports has changed over the years, and there is better scanning technology, but would anyone really be able to detect a bomb in a bag? Do we check all bags? I doubt anyone does, but perhaps I’m wrong. Either way, I hope this isn’t anything I need to worry about in my travels.

I do carry electronics, usually a laptop, though sometimes two, along with the various supporting plugs and wires for charging it and my mobile. There was a time when I thought about getting a BRIX for demos, but with the requirements that security might make me turn it on, I decided not to get one. These days, with all the cloud options, I’m less worried about carrying a large amount of hardware, but I still need a laptop. When I saw a story about laptops being banned from flights, I wondered what I’d do.

In this case, Macbooks are supposedly being banned if they have a certain battery issue. This came about quickly, and it’s likely that there were some business people in the middle of a trip when the ban was announced. That might have prevented them from flying, which would be quite a hassle. I remember when the Note was banned from some flights. I never met anyone that was inconvenienced, and likely plenty of people flew with their devices hidden in bags, so perhaps it wasn’t a big deal.

I wonder about two things here. One, are we building new devices and technology that aren’t designed well from a safety standpoint? Most of us don’t have large servers in our offices anymore, so we might not care, but our other devices, which we use to get work done, perhaps might not be robust. In that case, I hope that businesses might have programs to help employees quickly replace devices if there are issues. Being on call and not having a device would be a nightmare.

The other item is one I wonder about both for software and hardware. Do we make it easy enough to know what version of a device we have? I’ve owned Macbooks, and trying to determine what model you have is a chore. I can’t imagine that TSA or other security agencies could actually a) determine if you had a banned device, and b) know if you’ve had it repaired.

I’d hate to think that companies will just build devices without making it easy to understand which generation of a device you own. This can already be a problem in not only computers, but other products like autos, where changes might be implemented in the middle of a model year. With the move to cloud and other rented software, are we going to have issues here? Azure SQL Database hasn’t changed the version in some time, despite there being changes to the code.

Maybe it doesn’t matter, especially if old features don’t disappear. It does seem like something that we ought to do a better job of tracking, especially as it can be easy for us to have a model, but tag on a version number to easily allow a user to discern one from the other.

Steve Jones

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