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Android on the Desktop - If the plug fits

One thing I didn’t expect when I deployed a bunch of Android based boxes in a call centre was that operators would start plugging their iPhones etc in. Apparently, if the plug fits …
Another truism about ducks apparently also fits …

If it looks like a duck,
walks like a duck,
and quacks like a duck

then it is a PC. Apparently, users take the “personal” bit of PC to mean “theirs” and any ports on it are perfectly good for plugging in random devices - after all if the plug fits it must be safe1,2! Unfortunately, some devices and Android don’t seem to play together perfectly i.e. iPhones at least some of the time confuse some Android devices.

Fortunately past experience in protecting PCs from random user fiddling with hardware has a couple of time worn solutions:
  1. Stickers across the ports - preferably official looking “Warranty void if removed” ones; and,
  2. If we really need to escalate, out with the hot glue gun - you can get the hot glue out with a hot air gun or hairdryer if you really have to

We seem to have come a long way from the days of acolytes in white coats tending machines and mere users tip toe around them fearful of disturbing their operation - but then again computers don’t have fragile valves in them now either.

1. When RS232 was defined a great deal of care was taken to ensure that it was very hard to break a port - wide voltage ranges and tolerance of short circuits were written in to the standard. Unfortunately, this seems to have fallen by the way side as USB ports frequently use chassis earth as signal earth and at least some implementations don’t have very good over current protection.

It seems amazing to me that people can actually believe that if the plug fits, it is compatible, in the era of poor system design we have had since the PC became ubiquitous - but it is a common belief.

Perhaps I should not be as surprised as I have had explain very basic electronics concepts to people with fair computing backgrounds i.e. you can use that plug pack if the voltage is equal, the plug pack can supply more amps than the device consumes and DC devices need a DC plug pack.

2. The be careful of viruses on USB sticks and other USB devices message also appears to be not getting through