PowerBooks and Airline Power: A Mystery

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Date: Thursday, December 23rd, 2004, 23:05
Category: Archive

Why does my PowerBook freak out whenever it is plugged into the in-seat power outlet on a commercial flight? Read more…


I’m stuck on too may across the Pacific flights. The seats are small, the food is bad. www.seatguru.com helps but it’s as much fun as a 13-hour hangover. The only saving grace it the power port in the arm rest. It used to be called EmPower, but they changed the name. I am not sure what is is called now.
I plug my trusty PowerBook G4 into the EmPower outlet an I have power across the Pacific! I can get work done, play Wingnuts until my eyes water and watch three or four DVDs. At least that is how it is supposed to go. I have noticed that my PowerBook’s charge indicator is in a constant state of confusion. For the entire 13 hours it is ‘calculating’. (Not just this flight: but every time I use it)
Can anyone shed any light on how the seat power works? Something is out of whack. A call to Continental Airlines “Elite Priority” line left me with nothing even close to an answer. (“You mean you can plug in your computer on our planes?”) This time it really let me down.
The guy next to me was a military guy on his way to deployment either in Iraq or Afghanistan (he could not talk about it) I borrowed a DVD from him. In the middle of the movie, the power just died. It went from “calculating” for 10 hours to just flat dead. No warning. No “your PowerBook is running on reserve power. Nothing. This is the second time it has done this. To make matters worse: it had swallowed up his DVD and I had no way to get it out. Why did it do this?
In the end, I managed to find an electrical socket in the terminal and powered up the PowerBook and gave the DVD back to him before I cleared customs. A process that involved re-boarding the plane. Needless to say, the customs inspectors looked at me kind of strange.
Does anyone have any insight into these interesting little EmPower outlets?

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