Batteries own me


Icon from the Tango Desktop ProjectIcon from the Tango Desktop Project

Each morning I get out of bed, check batteries, have a shower, check batteries, brush my teeth, check batteries. While going through this morning's ritual I stopped dead in my tracks, not because I had run out of battery power, but because of a realisation: I don't own these batteries, these batteries own me.

I always forget to plug them in

I'm one of these obsessive people who has to have his computers doing things while he's asleep, generally either compiling huge FreeBSD ports or doing some heavy file compression. I can't really do these tasks during the day because I need my machine so I can follow along with the lecturer's dull university PowerPoint presentations with three hundred words crammed into each slide, amongst other production needs.

Blu-Ray anime needs a heck of a lot of processing power to play. Wait, you didn't read that.

What I try my best to do is charge batteries while I sleep for the same reason, but I nearly always forget to charge something, which entails a frantic mad dash in the mornings to plug them in so I can get at least a 20% charge before I have to run out the door. I'm notorious for doing this with my iTelephone which is even worse given I use it as an alarm clock.

Service Battery error in Mac OS X

Then there are batteries I have that are so shot as to be useless in any practical sense. As I blogged back in January, despite being the forth one I've bought since 2006 the battery in my MacBook Pro barely holds enough charge to keep the machine running if I unplug it to take it to another room. It has single-handedly justified the existence of my tiny ThinkPad X40 which I take to all my classes. Ironically I bought this machine with it's original battery second hand for peanuts and I can still get a solid three hours out of it!

Where are my jetpacks and ultracapacitors?

I'm doing computer science and information technology not computer engineering so I'm ill equipped to discuss this topic, but I was under the impression even as late as last year that ultracapacitors were going to take over the world and give us lightweight super high capacity energy that could charge so fast you'd blow every fuse and circuit within a few hundred kilometres. Alas here I am still with heavy, bulky batteries.

Do you have a regime for recharging your batteries? Do you do the recommended full discharge once a week? Why did I think of that episode of Futurama where Honest Bender disposes of the toxic waste into the mutant's underground world when I asked that previous question?

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Ruben Schade is a technical writer and infrastructure architect in Sydney, Australia who refers to himself in the third person. Hi!

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