Ex Die in Diem


Batteries Not Included

As I write this, my iPad, which is called Pantalaimon, is languishing in the doldrums that gadgets encounter when looking for a network connection that isn’t there. Ordinarily, said network connection is provided via Wifi by my trusty iPhone (Lyra), but unfortunately this evening my trusty iPhone has sadly pummelled the electrons in its Lithium ion battery to the point where said battery has shut down.

In all honesty, this is not a common state of affairs for me. While Pan will more or less always outlast Lyra, Lyra will normally outlast the day. I blame excessive tethering for ripping through the battery reserves: it can’t be easy to bridge between a cellular modem and a wifi network, and the convenience means that I use it an extraordinary proportion of the time.

The lack of input and response from my phone on my walk to the bus stop gave me time to think about how this aspect of our technological lives has changed over time. First there were mobile gadgets that were brand new, and poorly optimised: they would struggle to last a day on a charge. Then came many long years of iterative improvement to mattery saving technology, and batteries that could creep up in volume as the space inside phones and music players grew with miniaturisation. Eventually, in the heyday of dumbphones, batteries could routinely last a week, and be pushed to two if need be.

Then came smartphones. The battery saving technology was still there, the batteries were still big (and still growing), but we actually use these devices much more often. For more than a year, Lyra was my main computing device, and even with the amount of use that implies still lasted a busy day on a charge. That kind of battery life is something to be impressed by, a wonder of modern technology.

I think what I’m trying to say is that I’m not sore that my battery has died, I’m impressed that it normally lives. Maybe I should try spending more time with people, and less with technology.

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