TITLE: Requiem for a Power Adapter AUTHOR: Eugene Wallingford DATE: October 28, 2004 1:26 PM DESC: When a man learns just how dependent he is on his laptop. Fortunately, the laptop is okay. But not the stylish power adapter. ----- BODY: So, why didn't I post my last blog entry when written? I broke my G3 Powerbook's power adapter. As I was putting the laptop away after the OOPSLA 2005 planning BoF, I stretched the adapter end of the cord a bit too far, and the internal wire cable snapped. Were I living in the 21st century and using any of the more recent PowerBook or iBook models, I would only have had to worry about charging up for the flight home. There are 1436 people at OOPSLA this year, and there must be 1000 Mac laptops here. With the maturity of Mac OS X, Apple has really made inroads into the technical community, at least some of the more advanced technical folks. If you can have a fully-featured Unix OS, a wonderful Apple interface on top, and out-of-the-box wireless, why not pay a few extra bucks and get the Mac? But no, I am still using my 1999-era PowerBook, and its power adapter is incompatible with all more recent models. And I've only seen two other people using one here. Many folks I know prefer the stylish and sexy little silver disk of the older PowerBooks, with its compact cord winding. That is no consolation when a man has a single battery holding only a 40% charge, facing a day of conference and day of travel, and with a suddenly apparent reliance on his laptop, felt deeply within his bones. So I retired to my room last night fretting about the future. In order to preserve the remaining juice in my PowerBook, I resorted to an ancient technology -- the phonebook -- in hope of finding an authorized Apple dealer within walking distance of my hotel, in a secondary hope that the dealer will have in stock a power adapter for my dinosaur. The gods smiled on me. Perhaps it was a birthday gift for me. I found an entry for the Mac Station, a mile or so from the hotel. So I planned my morning around a jaunt in that direction. After several days of beautiful sunshine, I awoke to a day of rain. I put in an 8.5-mile jog around Stanley Park, grabbed some breakfast, threw on a jacket, and headed out into the mist. The walk was worth twenty minutes, as I saw the edge of Vancouver's Chinese district, some of its banking district, and its impressive six-story public library. I arrived at 9:02 AM -- and found that the store opens at 10:00 AM. The gods may be friendly, but they have a sense of humor, too. So I headed back to the library to fill the time reading Jutta Eckstein's new book. But the library opens at 10:00 AM, too, so I bought a soda and sat in a small cafe for a while. Back to the Mac Station. I arrive right at 10:00 to find them opening the front gate. Inside -- and joy. They don't carry an OEM power adapter for my model, but they do have a third-party product in stock. The price is a bit steep for my tastes ($130 Canadian), but an addict will pay the price for his next fix. We tried it out in the store -- I'm overly cautious sometimes -- and it worked just fine. Relief. I'm back at OOPSLA now, in an Onward! session of outlandish wishes. I'm on wireless. All is right with the world, at least for a few minutes. My new power adapter isn't as pretty as my old one, and I'll miss that. I know that Windows and Linux folks are used to pedestrian, merely functional, boring at best and ugly at worst components, but I'll miss my silver disk. -----