On the value of communications

Staying in touch is very important, and it is hard to over-emphasize how much we rely upon the modern technology when working over these huge geographic areas. People need to know about the schedules, delays, arrivals and plans, forecasts and instrument issues, and all of this is being communicated via the internet and cell phones. We probably could operate without the mobile connectivity on the global project but it would be a lot more difficult and so many things would not get done (right) that it is better not to try to imagine.

Our phones work (for the most part) everywhere we go. It amazes me how far the technology has reached: you take your phone put of your pocket, push on the desired contact (in the U.S.) while you are in Tasmania and voilà, their phone just miraculously rings over there. Mind you, it can be well past midnight but the phone thinks you know what you are doing.

Our spouses and colleagues can chat with us while we are flying and send us updated weather and satellite maps. People can watch our Gulfstream “fly” on Google Earth and, by the way, these tools are free for all and you can get access to them here. Seeing your loved one as a moving dot on the other side of the Earth must give a bit of peace of mind to our significant others and can be either fun or an important work duty for many more people interested in the project.

Of course there is a flip side to this coin as well. This morning my phone rang at 5:30 am while I was sound asleep in my hotel room in Hobart. Since the phone was on my bedside table and had vibrate On, it made enough ruckus that I bolted upright and grabbed it and pushed everywhere just wishing for it to stop. Guess who it was? “I know you probably hate pre-recorded calls as much as I do but this one is different…”. It is different all right, it posted as if it was from the U.S. number 1-347-504-4345, probably cost the taxpayers $5 in connectivity charges and made me jump, but otherwise it deserves being hated as much as any other such call. It amazes me that a business would use such a practice hoping to attract a customer, it would seem that negativity would be the only result. Sometimes I wish I had the patience to listen to the end and make sure I never ever buy anything from a company advertising in this fashion…

As the upside I never went back to sleep and had extra time in the morning so you can enjoy this early bird and rather philosophical, posting.

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