Why Infrared Still Matters For Mobile Devices

The other day at the office I was posed with a problem. It was a simple one that in 2007 still can't be solved as easily as it should. I had a 2 GB SD card with pictures on it that needed to be emailed to a secretary. Sounds simple enough. The workflow should be:

  • Insert SD card into laptop's SD slot
  • Window pops up displaying contents of slot
  • Select all files
  • Right click, Send To -> Email Recipient
  • Put secretary's name in TO: field and click Send button

    Alas, that's not how it works. Using my work laptop, this was the following workflow:

  • Insert SD card into laptop's SD slot
  • Wait for 2 to 5 message boxes to pop up indicating that I don't have the required admin rights
  • Close all the meaningless dialog boxes. The card usually gets mounted anyways just fine.
  • Not today. Card doesn't mount.
  • Insert card into SD slot of other coworkers' laptops
  • Same response. Card doesn't mount.
  • Try my own SD card from the Treo and see if it mounts or not. It doesn't.
  • Conclusion: IT gimped our ability to use the SD slot.
  • Do what I always do to bypass IT's hardware restrictions: boot off of a Kubuntu 6.10 Linux Live CD
  • After checking 'mount -l' and what existed in /dev, nothing worked. Couldn't mount the card in Linux either.
  • Conclusion: No clue. But it ain't working.
  • What always works? SD slot in the Treo.
  • Card mounts fine in Treo & Windows Mobile 5.
  • Send files via bluetooth to laptop.
  • Treo connects to laptop, but doesn't find any bluetooth services available on laptop.
  • Instead of sending from Treo, use laptop to connect to it and download that way.
  • No dice.
  • Conclusion: Bluetooth device compatibility is still inconsistent among devices. Worthless.
  • What always works? IR
  • On Treo, select files to transfer and send via Infrared to laptop.
  • One at a time, slowly but successfully the images all transfer. Success!
  • Email files to secretary.

    Critics blame IR for its slow throughput. This is correct, but there's in incorrect presumption in that criticism. You aren't always transferring large amounts of data, nor are you always pressed for time.

    Bluetooth still has issues that crop up from time to time. IR is a simple data transfer method that has always worked. Take your pick. I did, and it saved the day.