What's the future of laptop PCs versus tablets?
I received the following question from a reader and it started me thinking....
With the recent popularity of tablets, do you think in the near future tablets will replace netbooks or stay as a substitute? If you think tablets and netbooks are going to continue competing against one another, do you think the demand for netbooks will decline but not perish? Thanks!
He raises an interesting question, but I'm going to expand it just a bit to ask an even bigger question: Are tablet computers going to eclipse and ultimately replace laptop computers in the marketplace?
I have the most popular devices -- two laptops (one Mac, one PC) and two tablets (an iPad 2 and an Android-powered Kindle Fire) -- so I can start by discussing my own experience. With both a Mac and PC, I definitely spend more time on the Macintosh side. Less viruses and a more aesthetically pleasing user experience works for me.
On the tablet side, it's a bit more complicated because I'm more of an information producer than consumer, and I believe that in their current instantiation, tablets are optimal for consuming data, not creating it. As a result, I find that I use my iPad for reading ebooks (though I just got the new Umberto Eco novel, so I'll be switching to paper for a while to enjoy the full kinesthetic experience) and for entertainment, especially on airplane flights.
The Kindle Fire is still so new that I'm trying to figure out what it offers over and above a great form factor with its crystal-clear 7-inch screen and low price tag. Kindles are still optimal for digital books and magazines, and I'm working out how to get my own movies, music, and reference PDFs onto the device.
When I watch people coming out of the Apple Store, there are at least as many MacBook Air buyers as iPad buyers, another data point.
Television and radio are all about consumption. The Internet and our always-on world is just as much about publishing and production, however, and that plays a major part in this discussion.
Facebook reports over 250 million photos are uploaded each day. Tapping in a sentence or two is no problem, but anything longer and you're moving into the gray area of adding a wireless keyboard to your tablet or mobile device. Isn't it then essentially a laptop?
I believe that we're heading towards a hybrid world where the average user will have a tablet computer, either running iOS or Android, that will neatly slip into a case that includes more storage, additional ports and a keyboard. We'll have a second 'travel' case that's slim and offers additional battery power. Between the two we'll have a tablet that's also a laptop, the best of both worlds.
Data security and the CLEAR airport security card
As regular readers know, I wrote a blog post a week or so ago about applying for a CLEAR card [see Biometrics and my application for the CLEAR card] and in that writeup I had one big question: with all the biometric data collected, how does the company ensure that it's safe and secure?
I just got an update from CLEAR Vice President Mark Neirick addressing my security concerns. Here's what he says:
CLEAR recognizes that with the information provided by its members comes the expectation and trust that CLEAR will appropriately protect it. A key difference between the current system and that of the previous Verified Identity Pass system is that personal data is not distributed to remote systems such as kiosks or mobile systems.
CLEAR encrypts all data in transmission to ensure security in transit. CLEAR uses a variety of security protocols and procedures to secure the data collected including: AES 256, virtual private networks, SFTP, SSL, and TLS. In many cases these protocols and procedures are combined for even higher levels of protection.
Our secure data center uses extensive physical and logical security protections including access control, personnel screening, video surveillance, intrusion detection, and others. The data stored on the CLEARcard is encrypted with 2 separate security keys. The fingerprints and iris images collected are converted to templates prior to being stored on the CLEARcard. These templates can be used for positive matching against the original biometric but cannot be used to reverse engineer the source biometric.
Other than our technical security standards, tools, and procedures, the CLEAR privacy and security policies help ensure the integrity of the information we collect and protect. These policies include screening requirements for key employees and contractors, data management policies, and mandatory training all focused on ensuring the highest levels of protection for our member's data.
Is it sufficient? I will say that it's something that the company needs to address head on. Responses to my previous article about CLEAR demonstrate clearly that people are leery of trading their personal data - particularly biometric data -- against the convenience of passing through airport security more rapidly.
What do you think? Is this response from Mark sufficient to alleviate your anxieties in this regard?
Biometrics and my application for the CLEAR card
It's not often a company goes bankrupt and comes back from the dead as a better, smarter firm. Seems like companies are more often built on the rubble of previous ventures instead. The airport express security program CLEAR is a notable counterexample, with its database of Transportation Security Administration-approved biometrics that let them whisk you through the airport security lines. With over 200,000 paying members, the first generation of CLEAR just up and declared bankruptcy one day and shut down, leaving a lot of frustrated, disappointed users: no-one got a dime back.
Fast forward a few years and the company has been relaunched under a new management team and the first thing that they did was to extend every previous CLEAR subscriber membership in the new program for the time they had left originally. Without charge. Nice. Smart way to build instant customer loyalty.
When they approached me a few weeks ago and offered a one-year membership in the CLEAR program, I read about the program and decided to sign up. I don't fly that often by myself -- if you travel with others and they don't have CLEAR, well, they'll end up in the slow lane while you zip through. Not a way to keep friends and definitely not an option with children involved -- but still, I love the idea so I signed up!
Data. Lots of Data
I knew in advance that I had to bring my passport, current drivers license, and be ready to have my fingerprints and eyes scanned. They collect all the data digitally, so the CLEAR enrollment kiosk is really a wonder of compact tech, with an iris scanner, camera, fingerprint scanner and document scanner, along with a mag card reader, keyboard and big display screen. Quite the gizmo!
That took me a bit by surprise too. I thought that my passport would be used to verify my ID, not actually scanned and parsed. To give you a sense of how sophisticated their system is, the first time we went through the application process, I signed up as "Dave" Taylor and when my passport was scanned, it failed to verify because it lists me as "David" Taylor. Right. We backed up, revised it to "David" and it worked properly. Cool.
Then it was time for my fingerprints to be collected...
I had to then enter my social security number, which they used to immediately pull my credit report and quiz me on background data only I'd know, like previous street addresses. Creepy to suddenly have my street address from twelve years ago pop up on their screen, but I've seen this sort of credit history quiz verification system before and passed the test, fortunately. If you have a bad memory, you could have a problem with this, I suppose.
The Great Iris Scan
The last step of the process was to scan my irises (iri?) and that was surprisingly easy: a glass panel at (adult) eye level on the kiosk, about 8" wide had the eye imaging device and all I had to do was slowly move forward and backward until a small green dot appeared in my face's reflection on the glass. Moments later we were looking at my irises:
Apparently, there are more personally identifying points on your iris than there are on your fingers, so an iris scan is actually a better way to establish identity. After seeing the film Minority Report, however, I worry about unexpected workarounds. :-)
That was it. Data collected. I'll get my CLEAR card in the mail, with all my biometrics encrypted in the chip buried within the card.
How is it encoded? "It's all ones and zeroes" the gal working at the kiosk explained. Uh, yeah, so's everything else. Still, as I pointed out to them, CLEAR now has an extraordinary wealth of data on me, more than just about anyone else, including the US Government, between my birthday, SSN, fingerprints, iris scans, and travel history. That's slightly alarming from a Big Brother perspective, but understanding how they secure and keep this data safe is a separate discussion, one that I'll have with their security team, and report back.
Meanwhile, I can't wait to get my card and try it, preferably on a day when the airport's crazy busy.
Curious about CLEAR? If you sign up using my referrer code, you'll get an additional month of membership free. Why not give it a shot, particularly if you're a frequent traveller? Here's the link: Sign up for CLEAR today.
Note: at this moment in time, CLEAR is only available at the Denver International and Orlando airports. There are a lot more airports that they're in negotiations with, and the buzz online is that next up are (hopefully) Washington DC, Los Angeles and San Francisco. Don't quote me on that, though.
Top Tips for Coping With Fear of Public Speaking
A friend of mine who is scheduled to give the opening talk at a major conference later this week posted on Facebook that she's both excited and nervous about her talk. Nothing unusual, of course, and her anxiety is certainly understandable: fear of public speaking is the #1 anxiety in the general population.
In that regard, I've been lucky in that I've been speaking from podiums and stages for decades now and when I first realized how much I enjoyed the limelight, I studied top professional public speakers to learn what made them tick, what made them engaging, fun and interesting. The two main people I watched, over and over again, in case you're curious, were Tom Peters and Tony Robbins. Both are just dynamite on stage. But why? That's what I figured out...
Entertain, then Teach
The first thing I realized is that as someone on stage, I need to be interesting. No, more than interesting, I need to be an entertainer, a performer. I mean, I'm on stage, I'm performing. Not in the monkey and organ grinder sense (hopefully!) but still, the best speakers are people who keep your attention and find that marvelous mix of fun, entertaining and informative.
There are some speakers who have the opposite problem too, of course. They're all entertainment, often the "bad boy" persona on stage, but afterwards you realize that they didn't actually have anything of value to share. Not uncommon for keynote and paid speakers, unfortunately, so it's really a mix that you need to try and attain. But to assume that you're speaking at a professional conference or event and therefore you don't need to do anything other than share your research data or case studies in a dry monotone. Well. It already sounds boring, doesn't it?
I once spoke at the Modern Language Association Convention and was the odd man out. I didn't stand in front of the room and read a prepared paper, word for word, without looking up or even taking a breath. I actually engaged my audience and made eye contact, shared humorous asides, and had a bit of fun with my session. They didn't know what to to make of it. Me? I never went back. Yikes.
Prepare. And Relax
Two of the best things you can do to get ready for a speech or other presentation are to spend the time preparing your material. It's a very, very rare person who can give an extemporaneous talk and not fall flat. Those people you see doing it on TV and at major events? Yeah, they have speeches they've studied, often for weeks, prior to stepping onto the stage.
In that same vein, don't over-prepare. Practice your talk for a few colleagues or in front of a mirror? Could be a good idea, especially if you're not good at pacing yourself. But doing that a dozen times or more? You'll just get paranoid and more anxious, not less. Ditto slides. Revise them once or twice, but if you're spending hours and hours on your deck, you're putting your attention into the wrong thing.
Once you've gotten to a good spot, take a deep breath. Go for a walk. Exercise. Have sex. Whatever. Just breath out and relax. You're going to do fine.
Everyone Loves You
I don't speak at political rallies, so this next part might be skewed, but in my experience, it's always true that every single person in the audience wants you to be awesome. They don't want to nit-pick, they don't want to be critical, they want to find your talk fascinating, thought-provoking and entertaining.
That's reassuring, isn't it?
I think the fear of public speaking is closely tied to a fear of looking stupid or being embarrassed, but if you envision that everyone wants you to succeed, not fail, then you realize that you're going to be speaking to a supportive audience that will forgive just about anything -- including speech impediments, coughing fits, stumbling when you're walking on stage, accidentally smacking the microphone, or even -- in one notable experience I witnessed -- walking on stage with a glass of wine and then promptly spilling it all over yourself. Really, as long as you keep calm and have a sense of humor, it's just about impossible to alienate an audience if you actually have something worth saying.
You're Already Entertaining and Informative
You wouldn't be invited to speak at a conference or trade show if you weren't already considered someone smart, savvy and blessed with good communication skills. Really. Walking on stage doesn't take that away from you, and I know, I've run all-day workshops for 500+ people.
Here's an exercise that'll convince you that you're ready: think about the last time you were hanging out with your buddies, your mates, your colleagues and everyone was paying attention to you, smiling and nodding as you talked. Got that? Now capture that relaxed sensation and stick it in your pocket. Then pull it out just before you walk on stage.
Big Stage, Little Person
One more thought about how to do well speaking on stage: be bigger than life. Whether it's a small room with thirty people or a large stage and seating for a thousand, you need to be bigger, bolder and more enthused than you'd be if we were sitting across from each other at the local Starbucks and chatting.
Imagine you're in the back of the room. Hold up your fingers and measure. The speaker's no bigger than your thumb or smartphone screen. Yeah, it's called perspective, I know. But it's important, because if you want to really hold your audience and have them listen to every word you utter, you need to capture and keep their attention.
It's like when movies first started, because there was no sound and the projection systems were crummy, actors had very exaggerated movements and gestures. Turns out that works really well on stage. Even with sound.
Relax and Have Fun
Most of all, my key advice to any public speaker is always the same: relax, relax, relax and have fun on stage. Really. It's fun to be on stage.
You'll do GREAT!
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