Tuesday, March 8, 2011


Increasingly, I am tethered to my home office due to inadequate battery technology.  When Dr Desert Flower and I moved to Arizona in 2007, and I set up my home office, I thought the "Plantronics C550 Wireless Office Headset System" was awesome.  I could walk around my house and yard during conference calls, take out the garbage, clean the litter box, cook a simple meal, fold laundry, load the dishwasher, answer the door if someone was a-knockin'.. I even did some gardening once, and in awesome weather I've been known to take an afternoon conference call while getting a daily dose of vitamin D from the sun.  The convenient mute button and noise canceling microphone, combined with a comfortable head set and ear cushion made this an ideal office aid.

Then, last Fall, 3 years into its service life, the battery life started to FADE Away.  I'd charge it all night, and it would last at most 90 minutes.   That's since dropped to less than 60 minutes, on a FULL charge.  I contacted my ever helpful Office Administrator at the Headquarters facility back East if they have any "replacement batteries".  She promptly responded that it was now corporate policy to no longer purchase wireless head sets due to the fact that nearly everyone who has used them have had similar results, and the replacement batteries are more expensive than a new corded head set, the "S11 Telephone Headset System".  The S11 has a 3 foot cord, so if I drop a pen on the floor and it rolls away, I cannot reach it without taking the head set off.  The S11 is also subject to electromagnetic feedback from the router and cable modem that are both within a few feet - less shielding.

So I am tethered to my office.  If I need to get up to get a drink of water or step away from the key board for some reason, I now carry an ancient AT&T portable 2.4GHz hand set, put on MUTE and SPEAKER so I can hear the conference call. 

And if you look at NiCad rechargeable batteries, laptop batteries, hybrid car batteries, anything that is rechargeable (like my Plantronics wireless head set) there's a finite life to the number of times it can be fully recharged and a degradation curve on the maximum amount of energy that the diminished recharges can handle.  Humans haven't found a battery combination yet that does not have a finite recharging life.  Once they do, it'll be a multi-billion dollar business... perhaps multi-trillion dollar, as we near peak oil. 

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