My thoughts, insights, and perspectives on software, information technology, consulting, and other topics that interest and inspire me.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

"Is your laptop even *on*?!"

One of the things that surprised me early on in my consulting career was just how much information you could pick up from observing business travelers working on airplanes, on trains and in airports. But even more surprising was how often I'd see people working on clearly sensitive documents and presentations with little regard for who was watching (a boss? a competitor? an investor? an identity thief?).

As I spent more time in the field, the need to maximize all of my available time grew stronger.  The trouble was, much of that time turned out to be in airports and on airplanes.  And because I wanted to protect the confidentiality of my clients and their work, I needed a way to do the work without having the world look on.

Enter the 3M laptop privacy filter.

Now available in gold, 3M's filter does a pretty good job at preventing casual glances at your screen from the sides.  Outside of its viewing angle, the screen appears either black (with the black filter) or golden-mirrored (gold filter).  This has prompted more than a few observers to ask whether my laptop was really on or if I was just getting in some touch-typing practice.

What I like about these screens, aside from the fact that having one virtually guarantees you'll have a conversation starter at the ready, is that the technology really works.  And is easy to install.  And transfer to your new laptop.  Larger screen you say?  They come in every popular size.

There are a couple of trade-offs of course -- mainly some loss of brightness and color intensity, but I've found that the sacrifice is well worth it.  Besides, these filters easily slide out of their mounts when you need to share a video or pair program.

Over the years, these filters have become an essential part of my kit.  And until I can move the display into my eye, out of view will just have to do.