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I sat down at a long bank of workstations at LaGuardia airport last weekend and plugged in my iPad and phone.

“Doesn’t work,” said the guy next to me.

Sure enough, none of the outlets at any of the workstations had any power. Every person in sight was using an electronic device.

Lately, I’ve been running out of juice more and more. Finding an outlet is not always easy.

My iPad lasts for 10 hours. But using my phone as a wireless hotspot drains the battery within a couple hours.  Anyone who says there’s lots of free Wi-Fi available doesn’t travel around the county much. I’m never in a car very long to charge up the phone sufficiently. There are some days I’m not at my desk at all.

I knew I had a problem when I was at a crime scene a few weeks ago. I asked a nearby homeowner for his Wi-Fi password. I almost asked to use the outlet next to his garden hose, but asking to use the bathroom would have felt more natural. Scoping out houses for outdoor power outlets feels like rock-bottom.

More and more places are recognizing people need a place to plug in. Rush Rhees Library at the University of Rochester added 225 outlets for student use. Bryant Park in New York City added 42 electrical outlets. Even Occupy Rochester had access to an outlet at Washington Square Park.

Some companies are seeing a business opportunity and developing systems that could charge you for using coffee shop power outlets.

Of course, other solutions include making mobile devices capable of heavy use for long periods of time. Until then, anyone have a place I can plug in?

14 Responses to Power to the People

  1. April 16, 2012 at 10:05 pm Lynn E responds:

    I think I can identify with that. With an Apple, I’ve been in hotels where the wifi is bad and they want me to use an ethernet cord. My Air doesn’t have an outlet for that, so now I carry an ethernet adapter just in case. Seems I have to buy more and more peripheral devices to make sure my “stuff” works. Only some trains have wifi and then they refuse to allow video streaming so I carry a portable DVD player another device!

  2. For iPhones, I recommend the Mophie Case. Has a built in battery that doubles the available time. I use it when I travel and never run out any given day.

  3. April 17, 2012 at 7:24 am Jim Webster responds:

    Sorry, but too much time is wasted on all these electronic gizmo’s.
    Try turning them off for a day, and see what your life is really like.

    • April 17, 2012 at 7:45 am Peter O'Brien responds:

      Sorry but technology is more important that your self righteous “I don’t need modern conveniences” attitude.

      I use my tablet for taking notes in class and my smart phone for communicating with my wife and coordinating our schedules.

      I’m sorry that your life is so simple that you see this is gizmos and devices that make life easier and more rewarding.

      • April 17, 2012 at 8:23 am Jim Webster responds:

        Got along without them for years. Are you that dependant? Too lazy to write class notes? Too self-important you need 24 hour communication?
        Try going without for a day. See what your life is like. Give it a try. What can you lose, and how much money can you save?

        • I totally agree, Jim!! And penicillin, too. Who needs that?

        • April 17, 2012 at 8:30 am Peter O'Brien responds:

          Too lazy? It takes longer to use a stylus then a pen and paper. But I can now sync my notes with those of my classmates and have them available on whatever platform I want.

          Dependent? About as dependent as you are on paper and pen.

          I have gone without them. My life was basically the same except that if I wanted to review something or get in contact with my wife, I had drive there or carry around a large binder with every thing I need instead of a small tablet.

          Its not about saving money its about convenience. I am able to get more things done in my tight schedule because I use modern devices, why don’t you spend a day getting around town with a horse and let me know how much you miss your car. Its the same thing. You choose a life as snooty technophob. I’ll take my life of being able to share my experiences with those around me when I like and not have to wait years at times to hear from my friends through out the country.

  4. Not sure where they are in production/development, but the last I’d heard, Samsung was working on a battery that is about the thickness of a piece of paper that is capable of four times the power of a conventional battery. The industry knows its weak point, in this case. Help is on the way!

    • April 17, 2012 at 9:17 am Jim Webster responds:

      OK Pete, enough.
      Rachels point was not having power access. My point is how dependent we’ve become on this stuff.
      Yep, I get paranoid when my wife forgets her cell phone and I can’t get in touch with her, so all my concerns kick in. We got along pretty well without this stuff before.
      Yeah, I can see where sharing class notes could lead to some good discussions. Or could it also lead to collusion?|
      All I’m thinking is that this stuff is too prevalent in our world, and it’s stifling independent thought, and at the same time stimulating great research.

  5. April 17, 2012 at 9:05 am Jim Webster responds:

    Hey Pete, you ever hear of “Stop and smell the roses”?
    Any and all of that crap you refer to can wait. What’s more important in life?
    BTW, I don’t like horses. They hurt my butt.
    And if you really feel the need to share your experiences, whether I care about them or not, send them to me. I do have email!
    Me………a snooty technophob? haha

  6. April 18, 2012 at 8:41 am John Christensen responds:

    I’ve actually had the same problem, wireless hotspot drains power like I never believed and my cell phone battery just isn’t big enough. What I’ve done is purchase an external battery (this one, to be specific, though there are smaller ones – http://www.thinkgeek.com/gadgets/travelpower/eb7b/?srp=25) and use that when I need to. It actually works out really well.

  7. April 18, 2012 at 1:56 pm David Kassnoff responds:

    LaGuardia’s a dinosaur of an airport. Other hubs have better access to a/c outlets.

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