Love Your Battery

Love your battery. Love it. I really mean that.

This is not a posting about how to better care for the battery in your notebook (or in your phone). It is, rather, an appreciation. I’ve been sitting here for about three hours, typing, browsing the web, watching Mr. Drumpf, and things like that. I still have three hours of juice left in my battery. I love that.

Back in 1984, I bought my very first computer, a Kaypro 2/84, a big sheet metal box with a 9” glass CRT in it. I also bought a surge protector for it, since I lived in an old building with a rickety elevator. Most of the time, everything worked fine, but once or twice I was heavily into a paper or a chapter of my dissertation when the lights blinked. When that happened (or when the power went out entirely) my computer didn’t just die. It convulsed—which might mean garbage written to the (floppy) disk, and then died.

Years passed and I went to work doing software development for a small company in upstate New York. About a week after I got hired, the town was hit with a combination of massive rain and high temperatures, flooding everything. The old town’s systems were not up to it, and one of our buildings (we were on both sides of a street, joined by a bridge)—the old one, where the server room was, lost power. A bunch of us grabbed all the extension cords we could and rigged a setup from the new building to the old to resurrect (briefly) the server, but then the power went out again. Joy. In the end, it didn’t matter, because all of the developers’ machines were plugged into the wall, and there was nothing there anymore.

A few more years and I was working in the Midwest. Power outages were rarer (this was in a town that had the good sense to bury a lot of its power cables), but our desktop machines were, for the most part, plugged into UPS (“uninterruptible” power supply) boxes, each holding a small circuit a huge lead-acid battery. When the power went out, each UPS would fire off an alarm, and the room sounded like an air raid was in progress. Of course, there were always a few with bad batteries, or that didn’t cut in fast enough, and the folks with those machines. Lost. Work.

On occasion, I would take a few vacation days and travel with my family. On those trips, I was usually given a laptop so I could do some work at a distance. Generally, this involved lugging a ThinkPad with a heavy battery and power supply (because most of the batteries were good for no more than half an hour after a little use) and looking for an internet café.

Late in my tenure in the Midwest, I decided to go to law school, and based on that decision, spent about $800 on an Acer laptop with a very nice keyboard and 14” screen (it came with Windows Vista). My spouse started teaching (anticipating money tightness) and was given a Dell laptop by her university.

One summer evening, we were both typing away at the kitchen table when there was a terrific flash and boom outside. It was only after about ten minutes or so that both of us realized that the house was dark and silent—all power was gone. But our computers hadn’t noticed a thing.

That’s why I love my battery. The machine I use now is incredibly powerful compared to those I’ve used before, has greater storage, a better screen, the works. It also weighs very little and will easily run six hours on a charge.

Similarly, phones. I won’t even go into my first couple of cell phones, but I recently replaced a two-year-old Lumia (820) with a much cheaper Lumia 635. The latter has more power and the battery, though smaller, lasts twice as long.

There are applications for which I do not love batteries (check out my bicycle lighting stuff, starting here). But when it comes to computers and phones? Love them. Love, love, love, love, love.



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