Recycled Computing

The AC Power Adapter Blues

- 2009.05.11

Yep, the G4 is still down for the count, even with the power switch connector resoldered to the main board (see The iBook Can't Replace the Hard Drive Blues). Soooo, I guess it's teardown time again and a trip back to the main board to see if the speaker connector has to be soldered to the board for the G4 to power up. Future developments will follow.

Cell Phone Power Adapter Hell

And now it's time for my rant of the day. I recently watched the charming Pixar production "Wall-E" (I'm not exacting culturally current). A brief recap - an old recycling robot is stuck on an Earth that has been left as a vast junkyard. Humanity has left for the stars, intending to return once the mountains of trash are cleaned up.

I have a bone to pick with the movie. In all this vast area of junk, there should be mountains of cell phone power adapters. Yes, one of the banes of the 21st century, that old cell phone power adapter that came with your first, second, third, and even fourth cell phone.

No cell phone manufacturer can resist changing the power plug with each new line of cell phones it introduces. Of course, you end up buying car adapters for each car you own and, of course, an adapter for your office. No two cell phone manufacturers can use the same adapter, so if you switch brands, you have to buy another set of adapters.

And so it goes, from generation to generation to the point were poor Wall-E does nothing but compact and crush old cell phone power adapters.

Not as Bad with 'Books

Things are not so dire in the old laptop arena. No matter what, someone has packed away an old adapter for that PowerBook 100 you got at a yard sale and is just dying to sell it to you. And with laptops, you have to have the power brick. As they say - you must, you must, you must.

Still, it is my constant concern that someday, I will run into that "Paris" G3 Clamshell without a power brick at a yard sale or an aluminum PowerBook or a PowerBook 5300. That's why my spare parts box has a collection of power bricks. It's not like I'm obsessive or anything.

But what can I do with all these cell phone power adapters? No secondary market exists for such orphans. Nobody is going to want old Nokia, LP, or Motorola adapters. I'm going to have to do something my parents (depression era pack rats, the both of them) warned me about. I'm going to have to throw them out.

I suppose I'm just ensuring that Wall-E has something to do. LEM

Editor's note: The good news is that the GSMA (Groupe Speciale Mobile Association), an international organization for mobile phone makers and mobile service providers, announced on February 17, 2009 its intention to adopt a universal mobile phone charger. The group has set a target date of 2012 to make Micro-USB the standard for all new mobile phones.

Micro-USB is even smaller than the Mini-USB port found on many contemporary cell phones, digital cameras, and similar devices. Of course, this won't do anything for all those cell phone chargers we already have. Wall-E has a secure future. dk

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