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Macintosh, Mac Apps, iPhone, Steve Jobs, Apple

Power corrupts

by Adel on January 28th, 2006

Having really not much to do stuck in morning rush hour traffic, I recently had a vigorous discussion with my brother, a Windows user (but the distinction is irrelevant for the subject we were discussing in this case, so I don’t know why I’m even mentioning it at all) and mobile warrior like me, about the concept of power.

Specifically, we were discussing the age-old question of plugging in, and when and when not to. My brother believes that one should charge the laptop, and once it’s topped up, unplug and use at will until such time charging is once again required.

On the other hand, I am of a mind to keep the laptop always plugged in if there is a socket handy, whether or not the laptop needs it (and in these days of trickle charging lithium-ion batteries, it isn’t the problem it used to be). I will only be unwired if the situation will make it necessary.

Both reasonable points of view, right? Here are the more detailed arguments:

I do my thing because it keeps me prepared for whatever working environment will pop up in the day. In the event I need to work, say, in the park, or in the car, or at a cafe where some parsimonious manager says I cannot plug in, I can maximize my power usage and work for as long as possible.

My brother argues that laptops, by their very nature and reason for existence, are meant to be used without wires, at all times, and be plugged into a socket only when it needs to. That is why they are called mobiles. If you’ll be plugged in almost all the time, they why even use a mobile computer? Get a desktop.

Being just the only two siblings in the family, of course we draw the line in the sand and argue our points to death, a time-honored tradition that dates back to when we were arguing as toddlers who gets the bigger slice of birthday cake, regardless of whose birthday it was.

Working unplugged all the time bothers me greatly. Being forced to makes me antsy, and the first thing I do at Starbucks is head for the tables closest to the power outlets, and if they are already occupied I become royally pissed. (I think I am obsessive-compulsive about this whole thing. That’s why I got the extended battery I wrote about in a previous post, even if I could survive on the older one.)

Just the idea of unnecessarily increasing the charge cycle count and eventually shortening the useful life of an expensive battery disturbs me. Working in a place where there is a perfectly useful outlet handy and not using it is an idea alien to me. And the idea of my Powerbook going dead at Starbucks for no good reason while I’m trying to beat a deadline is something I cannot stand. It doesn’t just make sense to me.

Despite all these logical arguments, amazingly, a considerable number of people I know still have not gone past the novelty of working unwired, or simply don’t care what their battery status will be later on in the day. Even my co-blogger here at The AfterMac, Jayvee, often works at our magazine office - amidst a sea of ready-and-waiting power outlets - on his single iBook battery. I wouldn’t be too concerned if he had an extra one in his Crumpler, but he doesn’t. (Then again it might be because he’s afraid to use that funky duckhead he posted about earlier.)

In the end, as a positive sign of how mature we’ve become since those birthday cake days, my brother and I just agreed to disagree, and just continued to wordlessly stare out at the sea of cars, thinking about how we both needed a life.

What do you guys think? Comments are welcome.

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POSTED IN: Adel's Posts, Commentaries, Powerbook, iBook

1 opinion for Power corrupts

  • mineral
    Feb 5, 2006 at 12:43 am

    Wow, amazing stuff you got here! My mom was just looking for this kind of information. I hope you don’t mind me copying it for her? Anyways, thanks and good luck with your blog!

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