Thursday, November 17, 2011

A Spare is the Best Defense

This is really just a chance for me to whine a litte bit. One of the most frustrating things to deal with when you are someone who gets into a routine is when something breaks that routine, whether its inadvertantly or because you decide to try something a little different. Case in point, today I was toying around with the idea of using a couple of small tote bags to put my two laptops in (I carry a Macbook Pro and a Toshiba Sattelite with me, well, almost everywhere. Since my accident, that's meant inside of a snowboarding day-pack backpack. Great for size, but lousy for scuff-ups on both systems.

Today I picked up a small tote bag I use for other things and realized it was the perfect size for my PC laptop. I grabbed it, threw the power supply into it, and got on the train. At my stop, I picked up my backback, put in my PC next to my Mac, got up to get off the train... you all know where this is going, right?

Well, when I got to work, and unpacked my systems, the sickening realization dawned on me... no tote bag. Laptop yes, but tote-bag is back on the train, and with it, the AC adapter for the laptop (smacks head!). A couple of calls into both the San Francisco and San Jose office, and now the wait begins. Will someone turn it in? Will they contact me? Will I see the adapter again, or is it just... gone?

Here at work, we have, well, dozens of spare power supplies for the Macbooks, and I've taken advantage of that by rooting one at my desk, one at home, and I carry an adapter in my backpack (and it usually never leaves it). I'd toyed with the idea of having a spare for the PC laptop but never got around to it. Now I'm regretting that. The bigger challenge with the PC market is the large assortment of competing adapters and the lack of a way to get a replacement easily (at least with a Mac, I can go to an Apple store in several locations and know I could pick up a replacement fairly quickly). Again, I'm just whining, I know there's little I can do about this at the immediate moment.

There is something I can do for the longer term, though, and I just did it today... I bought a replacement battery (which I needed anyway, as the original battery is now only lasting me about 25 minutes per charge) and a back up AC adapter. In the mean time, I will have to adapt a few things, and stuff I was doing on my PC I will either have to do on the Mac instead (not entirely practical for some stuff) or just wait it out until the replacement items get here. This way, I have two bases covered. In the best scenario, I get my charger back today or tomorrow, and I have a back-up charger to plug in at home or work and just leave there. Worst case scenario, I am sans my PC for a few days until a new Adapter and battery arrives via UPS. Either way, I'll just have to deal until one or the other happens.

In my daily testing walk, I've also often found myself in situations where "having a spare" would save me a lot of time and hassle. Whether it be a virtual machine image (or two or three), or a couple of backup drives, or an old laptop that in a drawer and doesn't get much use, but it's there just in case, having a judicious "spare few items" around can be the difference between being productive or being totally blocked. If the cost of having a spare seems high, think of what you would do if you were to lose something vital to your efforts, whatever they might be. Is the price still to high?


Anonymous said...

Nice story and a lesson that I've learned years ago. Whenever I buy a new laptop, I always purchase an extra power supply at the same time.

Rebecca Fiedler said...

I did this once with my PC and once with my Mac. Apparently, I am a slow learner. Now you can put me down for two spares right out of the gate: home, office and the laptop bag.