Laptop man

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    I was somewhat surprised to see this guy leaning against a bicycle stand, propping up his laptop in the bright afternoon sunlight. What could he be doing here, on the east side of Broadway between 80th and 81st Street?

    I suppose I could have asked him, but he looked pretty focused on what he was doing ... so I looked around for an explanation. Aha, yes, there it was, right behind me: one of the many Starbucks coffeeshops in the neighborhood. Starbucks has a publicly-accessible Wifi network, which most people use indoors (that's the whole point, obviously: you go inside, buy yourself a ridiculously expensive latte, and then sit there and sip it while you surf the Web). But this guy had figured out that he could access the signal from outside, and was probably too cheap to go indoors and pay for a cup of coffee.

    I'm sad to report that his laptop was a Dell computer, rather than a classy Mac Powerbook that I would have preferred to see ...


    Note: this photo was published in a Jan 22, 2009 blog article entitled "All About Assets." It was also published in an undated blog titled "How Does Spilling Liquid on a Laptop Damage It?", and a May 25, 2009 blog titled "Smartere med Laptop på reisen." More recently, it was published in a Jun 19, 2009 blog titled "Yescalate Brings You Business Information and Customer Reviews." And it was published in a May 19, 2009 blog titled "Competition: Send us your mobile working snaps!." It was also published in an undated (Oct 2009) blog titled "‘Spin-tronics’ Technology May Cool The Laptop." And it was published in an Aug 6, 2009 blog titled "New York Coffee Shops Hate on Laptops." It was also published in a Dec 14, 2009 blog titled "Why Schedule Appointments Online?"

    A couple days later, it was published in a Dec 17, 2009 blog titled "Top 10 Ways to Answer the Question 'What Do You Do?'" It also showed up, on the same day, in the an article with the same title, in the "Technology" section of the December 17th issue of The New York Times. Not quite as good as getting published on the front page of the newspaper, but I'll take what I can get... And if that wasn't enough, it also showed up, on the same day, and with the same title, in a Dec 17th blog posting on Salon's website. It was also published in an undated (Dec 2009) Squidoo blog titled "How to Do Just About Everything."

    Moving into 2010, the photo was published in a Jan 12, 2010 blog titled "Hiding behind the anonymity of the net." And it was published in a Mar 3, 2010 blog titled "Gables Park 17’s Green Tip of the Week!" It was also published in an Apr 4, 2010 "Amazon Store" blog and an Apr 15, 2010 Tech and Gadget blog, with the same title as the caption that I used on this Flickr page. A horizontally "flipped" version of the photo was also published in an Apr 22, 2010 blog titled "Strona internetowa na temat konsultacji społecznych." It was also published in a May 14, 2010 blog titled "30 Tips for Successful Communication as a Remote Worker." It was also published in a Jul 2, 2010 blog titled "Article Spinning And Article Distribution Services: How To Create 100 Articles From Only One Using Jetspinner ? The Best Article Spinning Tool? Article Spinning, Part 1: What is Article Spinning?." And it was published in an undated (Aug 2010) blog titled "Laptop." It was also published in an Oct 8, 2010 blog titled "Mercado de PCs aumenta en un 56% por fuerte demanda de equipos portátiles." And it was published in an Oct 10, 2010 blog titled "Journalist: Do you list your suitcase?" It was also published in an Oct 30, 2010 blog titled "BUY CHEAP OLYMPUS CAMERAS ONLINE," as well as an Oct 30, 2010 blog titled "Nice Best Tech Gadgets 2009." Seems to me the last blog is about a year behind the times, but I just report what I see... Meanwhile, it was published again in a Nov 2, 2010 blog titled "Thing 11: My Flickr Experience." And it was published in an undated (late Nov 2010) blog titled "Internet porn vacation," as well as a Nov 22, 2010 blog titled "Business travelers want mobile, Expedia picks up Mobiata." It was also published in a Dec 3, 2010 blog with the odd title "Precarious, yes, but he's protecting his sperm count." And it was published in a Dec 16, 2010 Gawker blog titled Welcome to the Boom Time, Rocket-to-the-Moon Time."

    In 2011, the photo was published in a Jan 1, 2011 blog titled "Cheap Computers-Online Stores are a good option." It was also published in a Jan 9, 2011 blog titled "Desktop vs. Laptop." And it was published in a Jan 27, 2011 blog titled "Can I connect my old lap top to my new one to transfer files?" It was also published in a Feb 3, 2011 blog titled "Varför är mobilt bloggande bättre?" And it was published in a Mar 14, 2011 blog titled "Extra, extra! Read all about it!" It was also published in a Mar 21, 2011 blog titled "IBM To Offer Nanotechnology Assuring Long Battery Life." And it was published in an Apr 2, 2011 blog titled "Benefits of online car insurance » Benefits of online car insurance." It was also published in an Apr 13, 2011 blog titled "Soluciones de movilidad: En proceso de adopción en América Latina." And it was published in a Jun 3, 2011 blog titled "So bezahlst du keinen Cent für das teure Internet im Hotel." It was also published in a Jun 17, 2011 Technology Review blog titled "The Risks of Telecommuting." It was also published in a Jul 13, 2011 Knewton blog titled "MBA Admissions Tip: School-Hosted Blogs." It was also published in an Oct 3, 2011 blog titled "Very Cheap Car Insurance." And it was published in a Nov 9, 2011 blog titled "Developing your Own Side Hustle." It was also published in a Dec 26, 2011 blog titled "Cómo actuar si nos roban el portátil."

    Moving into 2012, the photo was published in an undated (early Jan 2012) blog titled "Going to be going on vacation and thought about using expedia for discounted hotel rates - are they reliable?" And it was published in a Jan 8, 2012 blog titled "Best auto insurance rates? Mean for men?" It was also published in a Mar 14, 2012 blog titled "How To Promote a Blog." And it was published in an Apr 12, 2012 blog titled "How To Build Your Own VPN." It was also published in a Jul 30, 2012 blog titled "How To Choose The Best Netbook." And it was published in an Aug 27, 2012 blog titled "Hiding Behind Email? The Four Times You Should NEVER Use Email," as well as an undated (late Sep 2012) blog titled "Episode 13 - Free Agency." It was also published in an Oct 16, 2012 blog titled "Mobile First, Web Firster," as well as an Oct 29, 2012 blog titled "4 Ways to Enable Your Employees to Work Remotely." And it was published in a Dec 3, 2012 blog titled "Do I Really Need to Worry About Security When I’m Using Public Wi-Fi?"

    Moving into 2013, the photo was published in a Jan 23, 2013 blog titled "다시 돌아온 비즈니스 영어 메일, 실전예시로 배워보자!." It was also published in a Feb 19, 2013 blog titled "THE MOOC PHENOMENON: FREE UNIVERSITY EDUCATION FOR EVERYONE?" And a heavily cropped version of the photo was also published in a Feb 20, 2013 blog titled "Don’t Over-Crowd The Plate! 4 Ways To Simplify Your Designs" at It was also published in a Feb 28, 2013 blog titled "Build Your Own VPN to Pimp Out Your Gaming, Streaming, Remote Access, and Oh Yeah, Security." And it was published in a Mar 6, 2013 blog titled "MOOCs and Mobile." It was also published in a Mar 25, 2013 blog titled "Q&A: How do you become a faster and/or more efficient reader?", and a Mar 26, 2013 blog titled "Ontario Liberals must Tackle Skills Gap: Oakville Chamber," as well as another Mar 26, 2013 blog titled "How to boost your job search through personal projects." And it was published in an Apr 12, 2013 blog titled "It’s Not Business – It’s Personal: Blurring the BYOD Divide."

    Moving into 2014, the photo was published in a Mar 21, 2014 blog titled "Dell-icious — Are Dell Laptops the Computer For You?"


    This is part of an evolving photo-project, which will probably continue throughout the summer of 2008, and perhaps beyond: a random collection of "interesting" people in a broad stretch of the Upper West Side of Manhattan -- between 72nd Street and 104th Street, especially along Broadway and Amsterdam Avenue.

    I don't like to intrude on people's privacy, so I normally use a telephoto lens in order to photograph them while they're still 50-100 feet away from me; but that means I have to continue focusing my attention on the people and activities half a block away, rather than on what's right in front of me.

    I've also learned that, in many cases, the opportunities for an interesting picture are very fleeting -- literally a matter of a couple of seconds, before the person(s) in question move on, turn away, or stop doing whatever was interesting. So I've learned to keep the camera switched on (which contradicts my traditional urge to conserve battery power), and not worry so much about zooming in for a perfectly-framed picture ... after all, once the digital image is uploaded to my computer, it's pretty trivial to crop out the parts unrelated to the main subject.

    For the most part, I've deliberately avoided photographing bums, drunks, drunks, and crazy people. There are a few of them around, and they would certainly create some dramatic pictures; but they generally don't want to be photographed, and I don't want to feel like I'm taking advantage of them. I'm still looking for opportunities to take some "sympathetic" pictures of such people, which might inspire others to reach out and help them. We'll see how it goes ...

    The only other thing I've noticed, thus far, is that while there are lots of interesting people to photograph, there are far, far, *far* more people who are *not* so interesting. They're probably fine people, and they might even be more interesting than the ones I've photographed ... but there was just nothing memorable about them.

    Aniket S, aafromaa, Nikhil Kulkarni, and 20 other people added this photo to their favorites.

    1. srm_nj 53 months ago | reply

      Hi Ed. Do you get permission to use these images? It seems to me people would be freaked out to see themselves in the Times and other online media. Just curious what the protocol is....?

    2. Ed Yourdon 53 months ago | reply

      No, I don't get permission to use them -- because (a) all of the photos are taken in public situations, and (b) I don't use them for commercial purposes (i.e., I've never received any payment, commission, royalty, or other financial consideration for my photos), and (c) the Creative Commons license that I've attached to the photos prohibits anyone else using them for commercial purposes.

      But aside from the legality, I also try very hard not to take photos that would embarrass people, or present them in a "negative" fashion. And if someone does notice that I'm taking their photo, and if they ask me not to do so, or express any displeasure, then I delete the images from my camera right away...

    3. suitescollection 38 months ago | reply

      Thank you! This image will be used in a blog entry this week at , with a direct linkback to this page.

    4. used computers1 37 months ago | reply

      I really liked your blog quite informative and interesting facts and figures you have discussed on your blog even the comments are very fruitful and helpful in enhancing the knowledge regarding the topic.

    5. marjolein.visser 37 months ago | reply

      I would like to use the image for an educational book in The Netherlands. It is not my decision completely, it also depends on the publisher, but would you like that?

    6. Ed Yourdon 37 months ago | reply

      Yes, it's fine with me -- but I should emphasize that I do not have a written "model release" or any other formal permission from the subject in this photograph. I do not know who he is, and have no practical way to find him to get such a permission.

      It's my understanding that it's okay to use photos like this (taken in public) for non-commercial purposes. But I don't know if it's okay for an educational book, so you should ask your publisher for advice and information.

    7. hp155 32 months ago | reply

      I imagine that most of the people buying those are first time buyers just looking for the cheapest deal that they can get. With hardware being pretty generic and dependable these days,

    8. Ed Yourdon 32 months ago | reply

      It turns out that if you include iPads in the revenue figures, then Apple is the largest-selling PC vendor today. Yeah, you can certainly get inexpensive "generic" Windows PC's these days; but there seems to be a pretty healthy segment of the market that is willing to pay a premium for devices that are ultra-light and portable, and whose engineering and industrial design makes you gasp with delight...

    9. Berend Sikkenga 23 months ago | reply

      Hi Ed Yourdon, we would like to use this image for our educational book (of course with mentioning the source). I hope this is okay. Thank you in advance

    10. Ed Yourdon 23 months ago | reply

      Yes, as long as it's a non-profit/non-commercial publication, it's fine to use the image. Thanks for letting me know.

    11. gunnarwb 19 months ago | reply

      Ed, I'm confused the "Some Right Reserved" clearly states that the photo can be used for commercial purposes. I want to use this photo in a powerpoint presentation for work (to be used on a Webinar) so these are commercial purposes. The thing I don't understand is where is the line. The webinar is "free" but its still for work so in a since I'm being paid to give the webinar, so yea... i just don't understand the licensing and my company is very wary of licensing we don't understand.

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