The dream is alive

Maybe by 2016, I really will be able to do the whole thing off an iPad while lounging on the patio at Cafe du Monde in New Orleans….”

-28 April 2010


It’s a fair thing to look back on, seven years later. Could I do the whole thing off an iPad? Probably not in the current environment. But with a MacBook Pro 13”…it’s starting to look that way. The administration for the JAMF server is all through a webpage. I can build packages locally and upload them from said laptop. There are test machines connected to an IP-based KVM solution which means that VPN, Firefox and a Java applet or two let me test actual reboot and external-thumb-drive imaging solutions from the balcony at Peet’s, or the couch at home, or…someplace else.

Nothing against New Orleans, but I’m rapidly running out of places in the United States to retreat to. The Pacific coast from Monterey north seems to be the last recourse now, whether it’s Santa Cruz or Princeton-by-the-Sea or the prospect of somewhere near Lincoln City, Oregon. The dream now isn’t a week at the beach house, relaxing in the blogging pit while staring out at the fog and idly updating a workflow – it’s Ireland. Or London. Or Switzerland. If you’re going to go for it, go big. Go somewhere that has coins instead of small bills and viable train transit and no NFL, someplace where the holy rollers are in check and they at least haven’t elected a sentient yam. Someplace with an outside shot at a fireplace pub that hasn’t been overrun by the kind of tech scum that think everyone goes to the Carousel at 40.

I took advantage of a sale last week and splashed out on a pair of BeatsX earbuds. They have basically the same pairing functionality as Apple’s much-debated AirPods, but in this case they were $99. (They also use Lightning rather than micro-USB as the charger, meaning one cable will do for phone and headset alike.) But one non-trivial consideration for me was that it’s the flick of a menu bar item to change the pairing from my phone to my work laptop so I can watch Twin Peaks instead of working…

And then Lyft announced a promotional pairing with Amtrak (enter code AMTRAKLYFT for $5 off your next four rides, through September 30), and although I’ve never had a Lyft account, I created one…because Lyft is now one of the services that integrate with Siri, and I can turn to my iPhone from across the room and yell “Hey Siri, order me a Lyft” and it’ll do it. Much like I’ve been known to idly ask of an evening “what’s the weather like tomorrow” and sigh at the news that I may have to wear shorts in the office again. Then there’s the Malibu, and its CarPlay integration which means that I can unplug the phone, have a pin mark where I parked the car, and when I forget whether I locked it, just touch something on the app and have it lock the car from…wherever. 

Don’t look now, but somewhere in there, we crossed a nodal point of some sort. You can now get all the crazy benefits of living in the future without having to live in Silly Con Valley to do it. We were always promised that the Internet’s magic would let you work from anywhere, that we’d need Swatch Beats as a unified time standard for our around-the-world friendships and lifestyle, that we’d be able to talk to our intelligent assistant to get a cab and schedule a meeting or that we could video-chat in the palm of a hand or call up movies and songs at random anytime. And it’s finally getting there. If you have enough money floating around, and line up the right services and the right devices, you can actually live in what 1993 thought of as “the future.”

And the nice bit is – you don’t even have to be in Silly Con Valley to make it happen. Sure, all the startups that do what your mother isn’t there to do start off in San Francisco first, but for a grown-ass adult, the devices and the cloud service are already in place. Amazon Prime will deliver to Nashville as readily as Palo Alto. WhatsApp and iCloud work in Scotland as handily as Mountain View, and the bar crowd is less irritating. Citymapper will guide you through London as effectively as the A to Z, if not more so, and tools like Slack and RSS and podcasts work most anywhere that doesn’t have a Great Firewall screwing with you. If you have wireless networking, VPN and a power outlet, the world is yours.

So I’m leaning into it. The phone is the main Internet access device. The AppleTV is the interface for the television, not the cable box. Pay through NFC at every opportunity. Ask Siri and at least give him the chance to fuck up. (In the UK, the default voice is male; I currently have Australian Male as the voice aka “Hemsworth mode”.) And start looking for the first opportunity to get out of bed, stretch, and look out the window at a different street and a different sky and a different country code before starting the workday.

2 Replies to “The dream is alive”

  1. I planted a seed in your head hoping it would germinate, and it did. Hell, I didn’t even have to fertilize it that much. Sweeeeeeeet.

  2. The most powerful thing about all of this – even what Arthur C Clarke promised way back in the day, standing in a room filled with *a* computer – is the decoupling of location and vocation.

    You don’t have to live where you work anymore.

    The potential endgames include:
    You can live wherever you want.
    You don’t have to live anywhere, at all. You can just… live.

    This is a future to which I will gladly run.

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