Saturday, February 12, 2011

Cover Your Camera?

While sitting at the airport, waiting for my rescheduled flight to board, I noticed a guy sitting in front of me using his MacBook. It is the generation as the one I use (not the most current, but one generation back). None of this is newsworthy, really.

But, he had a piece of masking tape over his built-in camera. I had never seen anyone do that before. It was as if he wanted to make sure that his camera would not see him should it spontaneously activate.

Is that common? Do MacBook webcams activate on their own? Maybe he had one of the laptops from that Pennsylvania school district. Speaking of that, how brilliant would that have been? If you knew your school or company was able to activate the camera at will, why not stick a piece of tape over the lens?

Take that a step further. What if you could get a tiny image that would show up to the other end when they activated the camera? I would go for something like a postcard that said, "wish you were here" or maybe "peek a boo!" Better still? A tiny image of the user sticking his/her tongue out at the voyeur.

Seeing the tape did make me wonder how paranoid does one have to be to go to such lengths to cover the lens? Or, how likely is it that one's camera would come on by itself to some remote viewer? Maybe it is an ichat or skype issue. If so, wouldnt it just be easier to set the program not to automatically engage the camera? Maybe not... sticking a piece of tape over the lens is probably easier than navigating the preferences of most applications...

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Random thoughts while flying through the air from Little Rock to Chicago.

Random thoughts while flying through the air from Little Rock to Chicago.

When the company that employs you sends you to a training, the key to remember is that the training is not really about you. This is especially true when the company is footing the bill for hotel, airfare, meals, etc. Even if the training is local, the fact remains that you are on company time. Instead of making widgets or running board rooms or making sure the servers are alive and kicking, your salary for the day (week, whatever) comes from your paying attention to whatever training or seminar you're asked to attend.

If you are chosen to represent the company, it usually means your employer sees you as being one of the most (if not THE most) qualified for attendance of the event. Though you would hope to gain from the program personally and professionally, the key to any such endeavor is to find at least one (though I try to shoot for three) "A-HA!" moments and keep those first and foremost in your mind (and your notes) when you return to debrief.

Yes, I said debrief. Remember, your organization sent you (expenses paid) to this shindig and your duty should be to report back your "A-HA!" moment(s). You have to show that it was worth the cost to send you, and you want to show that you are a prime choice for future such events.

I had to stop for gas (and a drive-thru breakfast) on the way to the airport this morning. This put me behind by a little. Not a lot, but enough that I didn't have time to mess with off-site parking. I also didn't have time to figure out how to get into the stupid parking garage at the Little Rock airport. If there are 'parking deck this way" signs anywhere, they are not clearly marked as you enter the airport's facilities. So, I ended up parking long-term surface.

Oh, normally that's not a big deal. But with impending bad weather for Wednesday, I foresee my car being buried in snow with a plowed mound behind it. I may be stuck at the airport due to entrapment more than anything.

I'll just have to wait and see on that one.

Flying during the summer (or let's say non-winter times) makes for beautiful scenery from the plane - purple mountains, colorful plains, roads and tree lines cutting the nation into sections. But, I have to say, seeing the snow-covered ground from high above is gorgeous.

As I type this, we are getting jostled about a bit with the turbulence. Evidently, that beautiful view comes with a price.

Turbulence never really bothered me when flying (well, except when we drop several hundred or so feet at a swoop). To me, flying has always been akin to riding along in a bus or car. You have bumps on the road... you have bumps in the air. I know some folks see it completely differently, though. The main argument being that with roads, you're on the ground and the bumps are from actual holes. In the air, there's nothing under you to visibly account for the bumping, tossing and swaying. I'll give them that one. We're going through a bit of a spell (as I write this at 8:11am) that reminds me of driving down I-30 before all the road work... Who am I trying to kid? I-30 is still just as rough even AFTER the road work.

I realize it is below freezing outside (above the ground or not), but the heat inside this tube of an airplane is a bit much. I'm sure some people get sick because there is cold air coming from the vents above and heat from the floors.

We land. The airplane can't stop as quickly as it would like because the runway has patches of slush, snow, and what I guess is ice. The pilot throws everything to stop the plane and while we are still rolling, the plane makes a sharp right turn. We have just about missed our turn. Everyone hangs on for the near u-turn as we get back on track.

Frankly, I'd rather have the turbulence.

We are in an ExpressJet, which means debarking on the tarmac. It's cold. Bitter cold. Airport employees are bundled in thick, heavy coats. They have scarves, hats, and gloves. Piles of snow are everywhere. It's been a long time since I've seen that much snow. Since I did not check my bag, I head for Ground Transport, not sure where to go. I call the limo company we were told to use (the hosting group told us what to use), and the guy on the line tells me to stay put and watch for the car. "It's too cold to be standing out there for too long. Just wait until you see our car come for you." I did. The driver was very friendly. He was born and raised in Europe (Italy, I believe he said). He moved here when he was about 13 years old. He's been driving around Chicago for about 13 years. He's a much older gentleman, talking about his kids and grandkids. He works part time in real estate. His thick accent forces me to ask him to repeat himself often, and he is happy to oblige. We talk weather, family, city life, and Florida. He has family that lives down south and it's winter seasons like the one they've had (like we've all had) that makes him seriously consider moving.

The trip to the hotel ends as we part ways. Perhaps he will be my driver again tomorrow. Probably not, though, since there will likely be several of the participants will head to the airport together.

Tonight, we are being treated to supper and a "pre-meeting." It's Italian food, so I'm game no matter what we talk about!