Changing and charging

First up, an interesting compliance issue. Reader David Andrews (Dallas/For Worth, Texas) posed the following: "It is my understanding that [Sarbanes-Oxley] does not specifically define password policies, but merely suggests you have a 'suitable' policy in place. At meetings I have colleagues who insist SOX defines policy; at a recent meeting we discussed changing our 90-day password expiration policy to 120 days but someone claimed that SOX defined the policy as 90 days maximum and anything else would mean we were out of compliance."

Not knowing the answer I did what David had already done and Googled the intertubes. After much poking around I concluded, as David had, that this issue isn't easily answered, so I asked my favorite list.

One of my list friends (there really should be a word for this … listends? Liends?) discovered a blog posting, which opined:

"Back when I had to go through making a company SOX-compliant, I was never able to find anything like this. Because there's nothing in the Act itself about IT, a small cottage industry has sprung up around telling companies what they need to do to become compliant and then auditing them so their partners know they're 'SOX Certified'."

The posting continues with a checklist and says "if you meet the bullets on this checklist you're most likely going to pass. I had to figure these out the hard way, that is, by paying consultants boku bucks to tell me what they were … anyone who has access to the production database should be required to change their password at least every 90 days."

Another list friend pointed to and said he "got the distinct impression these folks had their heads screwed on pretty well", and added, "I learned more, faster, here … than anywhere else: and and

Despite all of that input and all those big brains searching, it seems that SOX doesn't actually specifically address this issue and it's up to you and your auditors to figure out what is acceptable in the context of your organization. If you, dear reader, know better, please let me know.

With that out of the way, let’s turn to my daily rant: Of all the many irritations that handheld devices provide for our enragement and frustration, none is more enduring and annoying than dealing with their insatiable need for power. If it's not the annoyance of trying to locate the end of the charger cable (which is usually found sulking under your desk), it's forgetting the battery in your smartphone or iPod has aged and you need to charge it more often.

I have a cool solution to these problems: The Duracell myGrid (currently $69 at Walmart). This cunning device consists of a pad covered with parallel shiny metal strips that is powered by a wall adapter. You simply place your cell phone or iPod on the pad and it charges.

To work with myGrid, devices have to either be encased in a myGrid "sleeve" (a custom wraparound bumper) or have an "adapter" added. These items have four contacts on their back side arranged in a "Y" pattern such there's one in the center of the "Y" with the other three at 120 degrees from each other.

Because of the geometry of the strips and the contacts on the sleeves and adapters, the number of contacts touching the same strip will range from one to three and two adjacent strips will always be touched by at least one contact. In other words, at least two contacts will always bridge two strips.

When you place a device on the pad the pad detects the connection and provides enough power for the number of devices being charged. Most Duracell product literature say a maximum of four devices can be charged at the same time but the more detailed specifications on Duracell's site claim five devices for a maximum of 50W.

MyGrid works with most micro- and mini-USB powered devices and comes in two versions: One with an adapter and several different "tips" (Duracell calls this a "Power Clip") that can be used with devices from RIM, LG, Motorola and Nokia, while the other version comes with a "Power Sleeve" for iPhones. Power Sleeves are also available for the iPod Touch, iPhone, Blackberry Curve, and Blackberry Pearl for around $35 each (see the Duracell site for a list of compatible devices).

Wireless power: How WiTricity transfers energy using resonance 

Note that all of the adapters and sleeves have embedded magnets to provide a more positive connection to the pad. This could be a problem as there are lots of devices (not to mention credit cards) that should be kept away from magnets.

What's really cool about myGrid is that when no devices are charging the pad consumes zero current (at least none I could measure) and when devices are connected, the pad scales its output for the current demand. This is far smarter than all of those wall warts that bleed a few milliwatts continuously when they are plugged in but not actually charging something.

There are two downsides to the myGrid: The first is that if you want to sync, say, your iPhone or iPod Touch to iTunes or plug you device into some sort of docking station, you'll have to remove the sleeve or adapter (of course, if you are really "au fait" you will not have a problem with synchronization as you'll be using a wireless sync system such as the predictably named Wi-Fi Sync, which I hope to review in the near future).

The other downside is aesthetic. I put the myGrid on my bedside table and my wife said that it had to go as it was ugly and conflicted with the décor. Let's be clear, it's not that ugly as long as you don't mind the look of bright, shiny computer gear … which my wife does. My son, however, has no such reservations, and immediately snagged the myGrid for his own use.

I'll give the myGrid a rating of 5 out of 5. I love it. I now need to go and buy another one for my office. Kids today …

Gibbs is charged in Ventura, Calif. Power up at

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This story, "Changing and charging" was originally published by Network World.

Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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