Thursday, March 17, 2011

Plug it

Ahh electricity. The glorious and mysterious force behind all of the luxurious goods we take for granted, such as the electric razor, the electric horse and carriage, the electric lantern, and the electric slide. All things that never existed until electricity was discovered by Ben Franklin (it turns out it was under a rock the WHOLE time).

Another item that requires electricity; my computer. The electric computer was invented by Bruce Wayne in 1938 in response to Ronald Reagan's war on information. Non-electric computers were very popular at the time, but never really hit the tipping point because the humans who used them could never quite get them to work fast enough... requiring constant human intervention at every step of the way.

Well, I recently purchased an electric computation device and was excited to use it to strategically conquer civilizations in a fictionalized game paralleling actual history. The battery in my computer, if left unaided by incoming electricity, would last about 5 hours. But not whilst playing a game that uses up all of its precious components and resources. While playing Civilization 5, the computer's battery lasts about 1 hour.

Since we were flying back from California, we had a 4.5 hour flight to look forward to, and rather than sit and read a stupid book that provides very little entertainment, I decided that I wanted to play a computer game.

Fortunately, all P.S. (premium service) planes flown by United feature outlets between each seat, even in economy. I knew this, in fact, it was the whole reason I brought my damn computer with me in the first place. Luckily, United placed the plugs in an incredibly convenient location, or INCREDI-VIENT™ LOCALIZATION®. The plug is underneath each side the middle seat. So, you can stick your long glorious arm down there and feel around for it. If there is anybody in the middle seat that isn't your wife, or someone you feel comfortable manhandling, then you're S.O.L. Once you've located the outlet with your fingers, you then spend the next 20 minutes trying to figure out which way the plug goes in. This is actually impossible. I've plugged many things into many outlets, yet I still couldn't figure out, just by using my fingers, which way the plug goes in. That is because the outlet doesn't just have the three holes you're looking for, it has many, confusing, international holes, - NONE OF WHICH MAKE SENSE.

Here is what I did. I took my iPhone, put it down there and took a picture. I then looked at the picture and was able to determine the orientation of the outlet - upside down. So the grounding plug is up, and the two flat pins are down.

Good, got it plugged in. I checked the electricity indicator on my charging cord - light is green, the trap is clean (just like certain re-purposed fire stations in downtown Manhattan circa the 1980's). So I went along and played my game.

Ironically, right when I was discovering the technology ELECTRICITY in the game, I got an indication that my battery was about to die. I checked the indicator, BLANK. The outlet had failed me. I reached down again, unplugged the plug and tried to plug it back in, but for some reason I couldn't. At this weird angle of reaching down between the seats and trying to force something backwards, you get a little off with your fine motor functions. So I had to go through the whole shabang again of taking the picture (because I forgot the orientation in my brains and also had deleted the picture) and irritating my wife to no end, when I finally got it plugged back in. The light is green, the trap is clean... again... stupid ghosts.

But seconds later, it went off.

I discovered the problem. These outlet cannot support the full power and glory of a MacBook Pro when its fired up and ripping the concept of computer graphics a new hole. It can only support the minimal power a weak Windows laptop might require to do its mediocre computing.

GREAT. Why is it so hard to provide ELECTRICITY? Just... do it United! Just figure it out and do it. You owe us.

I discovered that I could seriously reduce the power draw in my laptop by turning the resolution of the game down to its minimum. So, I solved the problem FOR United.

Keep this in mind when you see outlets on a plane. They may not have completely conquered the concept of electricity.


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