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Commentary

Steal This Notebook

I was sitting in a Chinese buffet restaurant the other day, dividing my attention between the potsickers on my plate and the activities of the businessman at a table across the room. We were the only two customers, although he was far from alone. Bluetooth-budded and Wi-Fi connected, he was carrying on conversations and speedtyping dat
I was sitting in a Chinese buffet restaurant the other day, dividing my attention between the potsickers on my plate and the activities of the businessman at a table across the room. We were the only two customers, although he was far from alone. Bluetooth-budded and Wi-Fi connected, he was carrying on conversations and speedtyping data while I wielded my chopsticks.A couple of times he caught me looking at him, but didn't miss a beat of either conversation or clicking.

More power to him -- this, after all, was the promise of IT revolution incarnate. Guy on the road -- salesman, maybe, or consultant -- and all the information and access he needed was right there in a small Chinese restaurant in a small Virginia town. He could work his way through work while he worked his way through moo shu and kung pao.

In fact, he was doing a good job at both, taking occasional breaks from his notebook to fetch a fresh plate and load it down while the waitress removed his empty plate and cleaned around his notebook.

When he was finished he de-budded himself, left the set on the table beside the notebook (screen still up, machine still on) and availed himself of the restaurant's facilities.

Came back after a couple of minutes, gathered up his tools, paid the check and left.

I took a glance out the window as he pulled away, headset back on, conversation flowing as he drove off, Tennessee license plates on his Lexus glinting in the sun.

A couple of hundred miles -- at least --from home or home office, disciplined and diligent about not wasting a minute of the workday, probably the kind of guy who filed every sales order on time, produced model reports and memos, wrapped each year with all of that year's work done, no catch-up or scramble needed.

And yet I'd seen him leave his notebook on a restaurant table for several minutes while he was in the Men's room, not to mention the potential for spill-disaster each time the waitress bussed the table.

Got mobile employees with mobile equipment and a per diem for meals? Then you've got security matters to talk about with them.

Over lunch, maybe.

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