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.
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.
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