The Rules

I can’t start this project without setting some ground rules. It’s unfair and incorrect to say I’m only ever on a smart phone only when it’s clear I will be utilizing other devices. So here’s what I consider to be out of scope:

  1. Other people and their tools. I can only do this experiment on myself and therefore I can’t force employees, partners, vendors or customers to use any kind of smart phone as their primary method of doing business.
  2. The past. I can’t change anything that already existed that didn’t use an phone during it’s creation.
  3. Websites and infrastructure. You’re not going to be served www.smartphoneexec.com from my phone. Yes, I could root a  smart phone and install a webserver on it and jerry rig something to work, but no, I’m not going to do that. Time is money!
  4. Peripherals. Earphones, monitors, keyboards, printers, etc. we need these things and I’ll talk about them. But they are separate and aren’t in scope for phone only blog.
  5. Internet Access. This should go without saying but I’ll need Internet access and I’ll be discussing that a bit too. Being online is very important. But it’s not in scope.
  6. Power. Of course I’m going to need external power and that won’t be in scope, though I do have lots of thoughts about it and will certainly discuss it.
  7. Pictures and Video. If I can take pictures and video with the phone, I will. But if I can’t because they are of the phone itself, I won’t. I’ll use an external camera as needed. If I repost other people’s photos, those cannot be guaranteed to be from a phone either.
  8. Backups. I’ll need to use external equipment for backups. As much as I like the idea of the cloud, I’m a bit wary of it given some of my other projects. Backups will exist locally and are out of scope.
  9. Non-SmartPhone Exec stuff. This is a bit amorphic, but I do work on other projects and for those projects I may need other equipment. Those other projects are out of scope for this. So if you see me with some other tech, don’t tackle me and call the hypocrisy police!
  10. The Cloud. I’m not going to count anything in the cloud.  If I can access it through the smart phone, I’m not going to pretend like that should count.  Yes, this might feel a bit like cheating, if I VNC or SSH into a machine.  But in reality, this might be the best way to go truly mobile.
  11. Downtime. For my own sanity, I may chose other devices for rest and relaxation. We’ll see. But a man does need to binge watch some Netflix sometimes. The tiny screen and constant interruptions from the phone aren’t cutting it. So it’s out of scope.

But that should be it. As I discuss the steps to becoming a real road warrior, you should keep in mind that these rules are intended to be a guideline and I may come back and revisit them. But I’ll do what I can to make this work. If you have any questions or suggestions, don’t hesitate to shoot them over.

My Smartphone History

When I first saw the modern cell phone I thought it had a lot of promise.  It would take years before that dream could be realized.  The news and buzz around the first iPhone I thought might be interesting. For years I thought the concept of a device that integrated cellular, text, email, phone and GPS was inevitable and poof, one day Steve Jobs did it. But I wasn’t one of the first to rush out and wait in line to buy it. No, quite the contrary.

I deeply worried about the security implications of such a device. A friend of mine, HD Moore, (author of Metasploit) was eager to show me how he had rooted his device, and installed Python on it so that he could hack from the device. He was almost breathlessly excited to tell me he had found issues with the voicemail system and could listen to people’s voicemail as a result. In practically the same breath he was encouraging me to buy one.

I asked, “Why should I get an iPhone after you just told me that?”

He answered with a smirk, “So I can hack you.”

With that in mind I stayed clear of iPhones for the first several months, until I felt reasonably sure the phone had gotten most of the low hanging fruit fixed.  I finally broke down and bought one.

My first impressions weren’t good at all. It had bad battery life, no concept of multiple processes, it crashed regularly, didn’t have enough storage, it was slow and had no QUERTY keyboard. How did people live with this device? It felt like a giant step backwards to me and I’d regularly tell people it was the worst phone I had ever owned  – even worse than that Matrix slide phone that had loose microphone connectors so no one could hear you talk unless you held it just right.  Yes, the first iPhone really was that bad.

I had just left things like the Palm V and the latest Windows CE devices – all of which had nearly as many features, with way less annoying limitations around the app stores and better access to the device internals.

The next few iPhones came out and gradually my gripes decreased. With antenna-gate I went back to hating the phone. It was only slightly better than the 5 watt bag phone that I had in the car when I was younger… At least that thing had great cellular signal.  At this point the iPhone wasn’t impressing me very much.  Design failures, compounded with a locked ecosystem were a big drag.

But with the iPhone 6, nearly everything I disliked about the older versions has been rectified or I had gotten used to.  Even things like a screen that was too large to use single handedly seemed to vanish with multi-tap. In fact instead of being the worst phone I’ve ever had like the original iPhone it was suddenly the best!

Years ago I had a conversation with a friend of mine, Jeremiah Grossman about the iPhone. My major beef with it was that,

“it feels like a device for consumers of products, not builders of products.”

Of course you can update your Facebook status with photos and video. But you can’t make a company or create a product with an iPhone, I said. At least not then….

One of my dreams has always been to be truly mobile. Not just sort-of mobile where I still have a backpack full of gear when I travel. I mean really truly mobile where I can leave everything that doesn’t fit in my pocket behind and still get stuff done. No phone had never been close to that device for me. But maybe something had changed. Maybe the confluence of mobile app development, mobile responsive design with websites, better OS and superior hardware had made this possible while I hadn’t been paying attention.

So with that in mind I began thinking, perhaps it’s time to put this to the test. Can I operate my corporate life using only a cell phone?  Who knows? But we shall see.