The Joy of the New Old Thing

The Joy of the New Old Thing

A couple weeks ago I starting having battery charging issues with my PowerBook 12″. As it turned out, it was the adapter being faulty; it was providing enough power to run the laptop, but apparently not enough to charge the battery. Prior to diagnosing this, however, I had assumed the battery was just dying and it was time for a new one. The old battery was getting maybe 1.5 to 2.5 hours of use per charge, which I regarded as being pretty much par for a notebook computer.

With the new battery, I get over 5 hours if I keep the display dimmed, and I must say that it’s really made a big difference in the enjoyment I get out of the experience. I never would have thought that doubling the battery life would make this computer so much more enjoyable. I feel a lot less tethered. Originally, I was quite irritated that I had to buy a new battery, but now I am totally digging it. To preserve this enlightened state of existence, I’ve been much more careful about how I’m recharging it. For example, I charge it to 100% and letting it drain naturally instead of keeping it “topped off” all the time; this is apparently better for it, and helps maintain its capacity.

There are a few other things in the “replacement” category that I suspect would bring me joy. Surprisingly, getting a faster computer is not one of them.

  • New computer? Nope. It’s been a couple years since I’ve upgraded my computer systems, which for me is pretty unusual. I’m running an Athlon 2000+ for my basic PC rig, with email and on-site work handled by a Pentium III-M at 1.0GHz notebook. Pretty basic stuff, even low-end by today’s standard. I’ve found, though, that every time I upgrade my computer to the latest whizziest system, I just end up running the same software. It just runs faster, and frankly it’s kind of a letdown. Maybe the one time it mattered was when I was playing a lot of Quake 3, and I needed more framerate at higher resolution, but I haven’t been playing as many games since then and the urge to upgrade is pretty much gone. My next machine might be an Intel-based Mac…it’ll at least be shinier.

  • A new windshield? Yes! I was listening to the Car Talk radio show last week, and they were diagnosing some woman’s mystery water leaking problem with her $200 car. Ray suggested getting a new windshield and having it resealed: “It’s like getting a whole new car!” That was an interesting idea…back in 2000 I used to drive to Boston every other day during the week for work, along 30 miles of highway construction at fairly high speed. That year of commuting through clouds of sand and grit chewed up my windshield so it’s now slightly pitted and hazed. It bugs me every time I look through it. In the rain, it never wipes clear, no matter how new the wiper blades are. I bet a new windshield would be awesome. I should go test drive a new GTI today just to see if having a clear windshield would make a difference.


p>There are a few other things in the “replace with exact same item for improved experience” category of purchases that I can think of:

  • A toothbrush, after the bristles have poofed into a dandelion shape.
  • Socks, after the old ones have stretched out of shape.
  • Underwear, after the elastic has lost its stretch.
  • Non-stick frying pan, after all the teflon has worn off.
  • Grill top, after the bars have corroded into rusty meat-shredders.
  • Carpet, after it’s gone all nappy.
  • Screen doors, after the screening has been destroyed by cats.
  • Windows XP, installing it absolutely clean without all the crud that builds up over the years.

Guess I’m just in a Spring-cleaning kind of mood.


  1. Ben Jackson 18 years ago

    If you need to squeeze even more juice out of your PB, try hitting CTRL-OPT-CMD-8 to kick the screen into negative mode.

    Just seeing the effect is worth a try :D


  2. seuss 18 years ago

    Before you go out and replace your windshield, give one of the commercial window cleaners a try (Glass Plus and Paper Towels is for rookies). Stoners Invisible Glass is one ( Sprayaway Glass Cleaner is another ( is another. If you have tinted windows, make sure whichever you try is compatible.

    If you prefer the “home remedy” approach, use vinegar on a towel to get the tough stuff off. Then finish it off with some soapy water (dawn + H20) applied with a sponge or towel, then dry with crumpled up newspaper – preferably the good ‘ol fashion B&W variety.

  3. Dave Seah 18 years ago

    Ben, does inverting the screen actually save battery life? It seems to me that all the transistors in the display still get switched, and it’s really the backlight that’s the energy drain. It certainly looks cool though :-)

    Seuss: AWESOME! Thanks for the tips! I indeed was going the way of Glass Plus. Are any of these household-level cleaners good for anything? Sigh.