BOFH and the hydrogen-based explosive device
More power to your laptop
Episode 10 "...and so I need another battery for my laptop," the PR geek whines, thus ending a 15-minute monologue on how important his work is, what he does, where he goes, who he talks to, what his presentation is like, how it's delivered, how long it take TO deliver, how he processes customer's queries, what he does on his holidays, where he GOES on his holidays, how he packs his laptop to take with him on holidays, how important his work is (again), why he really needs a battery with the capacity of a small geothermal power station, and what he could cope with in the meantime.
"Ah well," the PFY responds, not so much playing the empathy card as putting it into the shredder.
"Well you have to get me one. I need it!"
"But even with a new battery you'll only get.. maybe eight hours tops out of both batteries - IF they're at full charge?" I say reasonably.
"Not necessarily," the geek responds smugly - which can only mean I've stepping into his well laid trap. "Not if I get the 1600QV battery!"
"The 1600QV?" I ask.
"Yes!" he chirps happily. "It's a Swiss-made battery which fits inside the same space as a normal battery and has three times the capacity."
"And 10 times the cost?" the PFY asks.
"I.. " he says, fumbling with a brochure. "Well, it's in US dollars, not pounds."
"The only way that figure would look good is in Turkish lire!"
"It's been okayed!" he said.
"Who the hell would okay an extravaga..." I start, penny dropping. "The Head of IT, yes?"
"Yes, he thought it was a good idea. He said you have a miscellaneous items budget for this sort of thing."
"That, copper bracelets for arthritis, earthing straps for underwear to reduce static damage and rubbing cabbage leaves on your head to cure baldness."
"It's a good battery!"
"And it probably weighs about twice as much as your laptop!"
"But I need to be able to be on the move!"
Despite our sage advice the deal is done and the order is placed. An hour or two after receiving it our user gives us a call.
"My new battery won't work!" he blurts.
"The support website says I probably need to buy a special high capacity charger…"
"Well I think that you should probably consider..." I respond.
"..and it's been approved, so can you organise that, ASAP?"
I find the charger costs about twice as much as the battery which pretty much means that a single laptop has accounted for a month's worth of my miscellaneous budget - so I'm not at all happy.
Less happy a day later when the geek calls back again.
"The thing weighs a ton!!" he snaps.
"We told you that before you bought it!"
"No, not the battery - although that's heavy too - the charger. It's heavier than my carry-on allowance! And it doesn't use US power - and I'm going there next week!!!!"
"WE TOLD YOU IT WAS GOING TO BE HEAVY!"
"Yes but it's too heavy. What about a fuel cell?"
"A FUEL CELL!?"
"Yes, I've been reading about them, they're small, easily rechargeable and reasonably light."
"Where the hell would we get money for a fuel cell battery?"
"Your boss says that you have money for R&D. This is an ideal R&D project - you could make an existing fuel cell fit in the battery compartment for me."
. . .
There's no point in arguing any further so the PFY and I put our minds to work and three days later have a working prototype.
"Is that it?" our geek asks. "What's all the strange writing all over it?"
"One bit's Arabic and the other bit Greek. It's a fuel cell from a GPS system we paid an extortionate amount for on eBay."
"And it'll work?"
"Only one way to find out!" the PFY replies, suppressing his pride.
He plugs it in with a due sense of trepidation and pushes the power button while the Boss braces himself for the inevitable explosion.
..which doesn't happen...
"It works!" he cries.
"Of course it does! And there was some space left over in the cell so we slapped a small NiCad pack in there so that you can get about 15 mins of runtime when the fuel cell's expended," the PFY adds.
. . .
10 minutes later when they're gone.
"So when do you think that he'll learn that it's just a NiMh battery?" the PFY asks.
"Oh, probably when he's landed in the States and going through customs."
"I think US customs will let him know once that anonymous phone call about the guy carrying an unlicensed hydrogen-based explosive device has been received."
"I hardly think that..."
"And after the Arabic translator picks out the words 'Death to Yankee Warmongers' from the side of the battery I'm guessing things will go downhill quite fast…"
"Oh..." the PFY says, the sheckle dropping. "If only our powers were used for good."
If only... ®
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