Mac: Going without power

My daughter is home from college for the weekend to celebrate Easter. I always love when she comes home - she really is a fantastic kid. She arrived a little early yesterday and filled me in on what was happening at school. Then she said:


When my daughter addresses me as Daddy that means there's a problem. Usually I'm Dad, Dude or "Yo!".  Daddy = not good.

"Daddy, the check engine light on the car came on right before I left campus. My cell phone died and I need to get it fixed. Oh, and I forgot to bring the power supply for my MacBook so I'll need to borrow yours."

I absorbed and slowly processed each of these statements, giving her a vacant look while my brain worked overtime. A check engine light is not good but the car is still under warranty so I'll figure that one out. That damn cell phone is not quite a year old and we had to sign a two year contract when we got the thing since she had to have the built in MP3 player on it. "It's so cool Daddy, please?". Now I have to yell at some poor Sprint store clerk in order to get this stupid issue resolved. This is not going to help me get an iPhone.

A little red light went off in my head. Power Supply? Did she say she needed my MacBook power supply? What the deuce??

How the hell am I going to use my MacBook for more than a couple of hours without a power supply? Sure, it's got great battery life and all but it ain't gonna last an entire weekend. I like to leave my machine on at all times - on the rare occasion I'm not actively using it I like to know it's there when I need to, say, write a quick blog post. Like this one.

So now we have to share a single power supply, like a couple of scuba divers sharing a bloody air tank when one of them fails. Shortly I'll have to enter her room and find the power supply in the debris field that happens when she returns home. How a little weekend travel bag like hers can disgorge enough crap to fill a room is beyond me, yet somehow a power supply couldn't find it's way in there.

When did I turn into a grouchy old man? Oh yeah, three teenage kids. Nevermind.

Well, we have to go out and run a lot of errands today so my Mac won't be used a lot. And I was looking for an excuse to visit the Apple store while we are out; maybe I'll pick up a spare power supply.

I'm pretty confident this is going to happen again.


Joel Esler said…
It's not that bad, my wife and I share one when I come home, so I don't have to take my supply out of my briefcase every night. You figure, one is always plugged in at a time, so, the battery on one is either fully charged or on it's way.

The rest of the time, the other machine is plugged in. Turn the brightness down on your macbook, it'll save some battery life.
Mike D. said…
You could also set a hot corner to put the display to sleep, and set the power savings to put the computer to sleep after whatever time is right for you.

I'm enjoying the blog, I'm a new Mac owner also (Time Machine was the final selling point), and learning a few good tricks along the way.

David Alison said…
@mike d.: glad you're enjoying the blog! I'd write a longer comment but I'm down to 73% battery life :-)
Unknown said…
Yeah, That might be true joel, but after you have a laptop that you do that with for quite a while and the battery no longer holds a charge. You will sing a different tune.

Unless your handy with a soldering iron that can be costly. After paying 125 bucks for a new battery from a online store. (260 local) I swore I would never use it on battery power. If their was a plug within distance no matter what.

Well after my gf used her laptop battery up doing the exact same thing. I bought batterys from a online store that matched the spec'd batterys in the case and soldered them in and voila 43 bucks and a new battery that held a higher charge then before.

Also on a side note. I would hold off on spending the 80 bucks or so that I am sure apple will glady charge you for that power adapter. I am sure you can find one online used or new for a considerable amount less.
Unknown said…
Mike D. Wait till you buy a new mac and you connect your old mac to copy over the account. After a short time and a reboot everything including your software is their, hell even your bookmarks... I find this impressive cause I have yet to EVER get that to work on any Windows OS that wasn't a ghost image.
David Alison said…
@mikez101: $80 for a power supply? Hmm. May have to rethink that. BestBuy carries them and I have a discount card there. (71% battery)
Unknown said…
David, I've been reading your blog regularly and really enjoy it, especially since I have the same development environment (VS on a Mac through Fusion). Anyway, I work for Sprint as well so if you have an issue getting that phone repaired, let me know and I'll submit a ticket to have it looked into.
David Alison said…
@josiah: Just got back from the Sprint store - had to visit one that had a tech department. They determined that the phone was dead, likely from a drop that broke the antenna connection. The manager there was about as nice as can be and offered to give my daughter a refurbished Fusic replacement for $35 - and we didn't have to extend the contract to do it.

She's happy, I'm happy. I think she went through 30 or so text messages in the last 45 minutes. Amazing how a good customer service attitude can make a big difference. Kudos to Sprint on that one.
tzs said…
You might want to consider a third-party power supply. Kensington makes one that is very thin. It is longer and wider than an Apple power supply, but overall fits much nicer in a bag or backpack, because of the thinness.

But the best part is that it has removable tips on the end of the cable. You can get tips for the various Mac laptops, and for iPods (and I think for various cellphones).
Unknown said…
So I went and looked it up my guess was 1 buck off. Its 79 bucks. What a rip-off.
David Alison said…
@Mikez101: I saw that today at the Apple store. $79 - ridiculous for a simply power supply. I'll check out the Kensington - thanks for the tip Tzs.

My turn with the power supply so I'm recharging and nearly up to 100% again.

On the other hand while I was at the Apple store I got a chance to play with what I really want next: a Mac Pro. A spare power supply is looking pretty cheap right now.
Chris Howard said…
Dave, I reckon you'd be better off spending money on a spare battery than spare power supply. You'll prob get a lot more use from it than the power supply.
Anonymous said…
David .. I just started following your blog recently. Good stuff.

I have only 1 child, a daughter recently out of college but my heart is in sympathy with you! ("oh, Daddy ...")
I've been in the same multi-catastrophe situations with mine.

You'll get past them, my friend .. just in time for the next set ..
David Alison said…
@ravhowie: Thanks for the laugh man. Girls just have a way of turning fathers into irrational idiots. As soon as she whips out the "Daddy..." I know I'm in trouble. The best part is that my youngest daughter watches and learns from my oldest - they know how to get what they want from me. Somehow I'm okay with it though ;-)
Dylan said…
I always buy a second AC adapter for my laptops. One stays plugged in where I usually use the laptop and the other stays in my travel bag. Then when I want to take the laptop and go I don't have to crawl under the desk or behind the couch or whatever.

BTW, if you haven't bought the adapter yet, get the one for the MacBook Pro. It's overkill for the regular MacBook but it costs the same, will charge the battery a little faster and be usable when (not if, heh) you upgrde to a Pro.
David Alison said…
@Dylan: I came within a couple of heartbeats of buying a Mac Pro while at the Apple store today. Sooooo close - decided to order it online in a week or two.

I've been to the Apple store so much lately they must think I'm stalking the place.

No MacBook Pro for me anytime soon. I'll keep the MacBook as my portable device and use the Mac Pro to replace my Windows machine.
Anonymous said…
I have one Mac Book Pro, and three power supplies. In the places I don't leave a power supply (work) I leave the extension cord thingy. In other words, I feel your pain.
Bowen said…
Hi, David, I am very enjoy your blog, Each article in your blogger contains valuable informations, I will pay attention to your blogger for a long time.

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