Something You Should Know About Batteries

Bat­ter­ies can swell and deform with time. This is a les­son I learned by chance just yes­ter­day, when tak­ing my lap­top in for a repair.

I had been hav­ing prob­lems with my Mac­book Pro for the past week or so. The touch­pad would be click­ing on just about every­thing, even as I was typ­ing; caus­ing the text cur­sor to jump to wher­ev­er the mouse was and while mov­ing the mouse/touchpad it would click on every­thing in its path. As you might imag­ine, this made vir­tu­al­ly every­thing impos­si­ble to get done, with­out becom­ing quite frustrated.

I took it to the Apple store for diag­nos­tics and the first thing the tech­ni­cian checked was the bat­tery. He first noticed that the bat­tery door was not tight­ly closed. He pulled the bat­tery out and set it on the counter, dis­cov­er­ing that it was­n’t flat, as it should be; there was actu­al­ly a bulge in it. 

The deformed bat­tery put pres­sure on the touch­pad caus­ing it to mis­fire clicks almost con­stant­ly. 90% of the mac­book pros he sees with touch­pad prob­lems are due to bat­tery deformation.

Replac­ing the bat­tery fixed the prob­lem com­plete­ly. This can hap­pen on any­thing with a bat­tery. It has even hap­pened to larg­er bat­tery back­up sys­tems, caus­ing bat­ter­ies to become stuck in racks.

The tech­ni­cian told me a sto­ry about a 911 emer­gency cen­ter with a bat­tery back­up array on a rack. Over time these bat­ter­ies enlarged; when it came time to replace them, they real­ized that they could­n’t even get them out of the racks any­more! They had to pay some pro­fes­sion­als high dol­lars to safe­ly remove the batteries.

So the les­son from this, is be aware that not only do bat­ter­ies have a lim­it­ed lifes­pan and even­tu­al­ly fail to hold a good charge; but they may also become dis­fig­ured and dam­age or dis­able equip­ment. Who knows, if left unchecked for long enough, they might even break open and leak out chemicals.

Looking Towards Calmer Seas Ahead

For the first time in a long time, as far as soft­ware work is con­cerned at least, I’ve felt more and more like the May­tag Repair­man. After many weeks up to my ears in cus­tomer issues; these hec­tic times may be draw­ing to a close, with more peace­ful waters ahead.

I remem­ber when one of the Com­put­er Sci­ence pro­fes­sors at UAHuntsville once told me that soft­ware real­ly is a machine, though most peo­ple don’t think of it as such. There real­ly are mov­ing parts, and though they are micro­scop­ic; their design makes a huge dif­fer­ence when you start to use some­thing heav­i­ly in a busi­ness crit­i­cal envi­ron­ment. These are the lessons I have been learn­ing first-hand over the past cou­ple of years.

I start­ed out at the job I am work­ing now as a novice, who knew a lit­tle about every­thing; work­ing on a soft­ware project that, while gen­er­al­ly well designed, had some scalability/stability issues in cer­tain areas; as well as some user expe­ri­ence issues which need­ed addressing.

Now I’ve been through some major storms, in a man­ner of speak­ing, and I feel like I can real­ly do some­thing sig­nif­i­cant now. I’ve seen pesky issues arise as our cus­tomers grow; some­times spend­ing weeks track­ing them down and fix­ing them.

In the process of mov­ing through these issues, I’ve learned a great deal about tun­ing up MySQL and HQL (Hiber­nate Query Lan­guage); as well as tun­ing the appli­ca­tion itself. I’ve learned that the most impor­tant place to start opti­miz­ing is the appli­ca­tion itself; because oth­er­wise you are just wast­ing your avail­able resources.

I’ve got­ten into this rou­tine where I hunger for more wis­dom and hands-on expe­ri­ence. Often, when I get a free evening, I’ll go to the soft­ware sec­tion of the book­store, drink cof­fee and absorb as much infor­ma­tion as I can. I real­ly love keep­ing up with the lat­est inno­va­tions. When the oppor­tu­ni­ty aris­es, I like to employ what I learn in the projects I’m work­ing on.
Con­tin­ue read­ing “Look­ing Towards Calmer Seas Ahead”