Thursday, August 18, 2011

My New Laptop Cord, and Marketers v. Lawyers

Maybe I told you how the day before I went to Siberia the power cord for my Toshiba laptop suddenly stopped working. I barely had enough juice to make a backup of files before abandoning the whole machine to the care of a clever friend. I finished my day's editing work on a computer at our local library, packed up, and went to the other side of the planet.

It turned out to be less a problem than I'd expected. Reduced to an iPod Touch and portable keyboard - gifts from a generous friend - I had little trouble keeping up with notes and correspondence while overseas. All I'd need to get my email, etc. was an internet connection, and that was not so hard to come by in a prosperous city. Even in Siberia. Remarkable how our tech needs have shifted from software and hardware to services and access, isn't it?

Meanwhile, back in Littleton, my tech friend discovered where my laptop cord was broken. He sliced off the end, soldered on a new piece from a machine in the junk pile, and carefully bound it up with duct tape.

This fix worked for almost five months. Then the connection, loosened by my usual degree of rough-ish handling, stopped working consistently. Sometimes it produced sparks! 

Chris noticed when he came to visit. This man of mine has a special relationship with technology - the way some people are great with kids or trusted by animals. It's a little eerie. I sense his equipment would never end up in such sorry shape. We shall see how patient he is with me and my ways. Or maybe he'll reform me.

"Fire danger," he declared. "We'll have to see about getting a new cord." I nursed it another month or so before I knew: It was time. The cord was getting too temperamental. I'd have to take action.

Monday I shopped around online and ordered my new cord. To my amusement the supplier was able to identify a great many features possessed by my new power cord, including a "Velcro cord management system." How's that for playing up a piece of plastic-coated fabric that sticks to itself? I said to myself: Marketers have been here!

Today the box came, and I saw that the lawyers had bested the marketers. Or at least they made sure they'd have their say. Three little booklets with a total of 75 pages of information and instructions, some in other languages. Also an extra piece of paper with this ominous threat:
WARNING: Handling the cord on this product will expose you to lead, a chemical known to the State of California to cause birth defects or other reproductive harm. Wash hands after handling.

1. Do you still use a laptop? Some? Less than you used to? Other devices serve you just as well?

2. Do you see the inclusion of a piece of Velcro as a "feature"?

3. Would you wash your hands after handling a computer cord that might expose you to lead? Do you think the State of California is onto something?

4. Do you pay more attention to marketers, or lawyers, or view both through a veil of skepticism?

5. Did you know that snake charmers play music because the instrument looks like a stick for hitting the snake, not because snakes can be charmed by music? No ears. Oh, wait, that has nothing to do with this blog post.



Paul Merrill said...

Snake handlers wash their hands out of fear of lead too. :)

Marti said...

From the snake charmer's service kit: "Countless victims in the city and hills around Calcutta have determined that this snake contains deadly toxin. Wash your hands after handling this snake."

Megan Noel said...

well.. i'd wash my hands after resoldering the cord...
i need to get someone to install a new fan in my macbook. i actually have one, in my old macbook, which could be installed. i kept the old one and have been slowly pillaging it for parts.

Lakendra Wiltse said...

I think I’ll go with snake charmer. Haha! But seriously, I believe my techie friend the most, and the reviews I read about the power cord as well. It’s so much better to trust someone you know and someone who’s had personal experience with the product.

Lakendra Wiltse