2007-12-01

Charging laptops

Two weeks ago I was stuck in Athens hotel without a laptop charger. More than 20 stores couldn't sell me one for a ThinkPad x60. VZ told me on the phone, "Try to find one, or maybe make one. Shouldn't be too difficult for you to build a buck converter." He was surely joking, as an electronics engineer he should have known that laptop charger needs as well a rectifier. I didn't find any charger in 3 days, but this reminded me of another short but yet heroic laptop charging story from a few years ago. Now it can be used a a DIY guide if you are stuck in a similar situation, but please be careful.

It was late night in a hotel in Prague, and I didn't have an appropriate plug - but the charger was okay with an Israeli plug. All stores were closed and I desperately wanted to use my laptop, which ran out of battery. It took 2 hours to search the area for something suitable, and a couple more for thinking, after which the following was done: I went to the nearest pizza bar, and asked them for a tiny piece of tinfoil. That seemed to amuse them a little bit, but they gave me. From that, I twisted two electrical wires to stuck into the socket. [NOTE: please don't do it, this is a very dangerous practice. If you do not know how to take electricity precautions, don't blame me for burning your house down].

The mission was a success. Another charger horror story is from a friend of mine codenamed EK. He flied to Washington DC to make an important presentation. To his horror, he forgot the charger for his laptop. After 12 hours flight, he found himself in the conference room, and started it with "questions at the end, please" and was talking very fast. At some point the battery ran out - "Do you have any questions?" he said. He said that the public was amazed, like they didn't know such stupidity is at all possible.

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