Friday, 15 May 2009
A Battery Life For Me
Lately I have noticed something that has increasingly taken control of my thoughts, something more annoying than the media's obsession with MPs expenses, and something more additively obsessive than Twitter (don't get me started on that alluring, genius web 2 concept that is the siren of social networking).
No, my life has been taken over by another kind of life. That of the humble battery. It's been there a while, tinkering away in the back of my subconscious...a running process in the system. I think it began when I purchased my first (and only so far, I am proud to say) iPod. This was in about 1789, when iPods were clockwork and you had to carve out your playlists in slate.
It wasn't long into my iPod ownership that I became rather intrigued by how long the battery would last with continuous useage.
It was important to me, I felt at the time, that I could last a whole day away from the sanctuary of a plug socket or USB port, to be able to listen to Rufus Wainwright, REM and Kate Bush for the entire duration. Yes, even whilst still in lectures, to block out that inconvenient noise of someone talking about something. Music was a big part of my day. It was an absolutely calamity if I couldn't listen to any. Even if I actually, well, couldn't listen to my iPod, I still had to have a full battery. I still had to have the peace of mind that I could, at any time, whip out the little magical white box of musical delights, and hear Bonnie Tyler rasping out her gravelly best. Or melt away in the melancholic beauty of Nick Drake as I trudged through dreary Trefforest. If the mood so took me.
I began doing what all good obsessives do. You Google.
Google is to us obsessives, what crack is to...er well crackheads. You Google battery life and discover 8634567890 begillion ipod users with 97766544 trillion different tales of either wondrous, or despicable battery experiences. This has the effect of both reassuring you, but also annoyingly showing what you could have: "BilboBaggins69 says 'I got 7,976 hours of battery life out of my iPod last week...and it made me dinner'", as well as filling your every pore with terror with tales of woe: "DottyComDotCom says 'My battery lasted 2 minutes before it was completely drained and the world imploded into apocalyptic meltdown. Even Beezlebub turned up and prodded me with pitchforks".
But mostly it makes you paranoid, so you do not reach any other conclusion than a state of sheer panic. Well, you do if you're tragically pathetic like me. You start using your ipod and monitoring the battery use/wear. I'd catch myself counting how many hours worth I had had, it was on my mind constantly. Was this normal? Was this defective? I think I even dreamt I was a battery hen.
When I went to Australia, I spent so long stressing over what I would do if my ipod battery ran out during the 12 hour flight (because obviously, there's nothing else to do on a plane. At all. Ever), that I didn't even get around to using the damn thing.
Slowly but surely, I soon got over this. Mostly because I realised these devices were there to be used, and mostly because I realised I was being a complete daftie.
But this obsession has returned with vengeance. It's leaner, it's meaner, it's fitter. It's the battery life obsession GTi with go-faster-stripes. In december I upgraded my mobile phone, and in a moment of sheer reckless lunacy, I plumped for a 3G phone. Probably due to my obsession with t'internet (but that fixation is an entirely different rambling essay for another day).
Battery life now rules my own existence more than ever. I use my phone for everything. It's my watch, it's my alarm clock, it's my music player, it's my communication to the outside world via text, via t'internet, via emails (I don't speak anymore, I only use the medium of mime or URLs). It's where I use twitter to tweet about what fascinating sandwich I am munching on, which thrills the world. It's where I take little comical photographs of whimsical daftness when I don't have my camera on me. It's where I can play games, and scan barcodes and find out my GPS position. It's even my flashlight in the dark. When someone rings me it plays a favourite tune, which I then will often sit back and enjoy so much, I'll forget to answer. Ok, put it this way, I bloody love this phone and can't cope without it (okay, I can. Just).
Alas. The battery is as weak as Wales' attempts to qualify for the football world cup. It makes a pocket calculator look like the NASA control computer. O the woe and disappointment! And yes, the frustration and annoyance that this causes means all day I am keeping an eye out for a plug socket, trying to ration my texting, planning my useage. I get stressed out. What if I am walking home, with no juice in the phone, (rhyme not intended this time honest) and I fall over and break my leg!? What if I am out in my car and I break down with only the Bates Motel nearby!? Even worse, what if I see something hilariously comical and can't share it!? This isn't right. How can the manufacturers do this to me, in this supposed technological-driven world we live in? Kraftwerk lied to me, we are not the Robots.
My spontaneous whimsical texts and tweets have to be...well...spontaneous! Otherwise I'll be turning into a manufactured communicator. For the world desperately needs to know that I am sat contemplating making a sculpture out of paperclips, that I like to chuckle at the chocolate-eating-whilst-exercising-woman in the gym, that I like my plums, or that I can see a man picking his nose in Starbucks.
Then again. I could just actually buy a watch and talk to people in person. And have some perspective. Now there's a notion.