This page includes the monthly columns of the Batteries Digest Communications Director, Toby Georgi. He is an AKC registered, non-neutered Yellow Laborador who first appeared in the staff photo on the front page of BD's first issue in April of 1996. He has the primary responsibility of facilitating understanding for the staff and readers.
He is freindly, upbeat, opinionated and does not value political correctness.
(April 2004) Battery Replacements
Those of you who could not find my column last month have Shirley and Don to blame for all the WORDY copy which they had in the issue which preempted space for me. Well, I’m back and have a very appropriate battery story to tell you.
Those of you who have been with us since the first issue of BD in April of ‘96, remember seeing my picture on the front page as a young pup only because I was wearing my battery powered shock collar. Since I roam great distances both in my Minnesota and California hangouts, the collar is the ideal way to keep me focused on staying with the crowd without long leashes which would get caught in the brush.
I wear a Tri-Tronics model TM 200 Lite which has an effective range of about one-half mile. The range is good because I never get out of sight, which in the brush is usually less than 300 yards. Those of you who do not know the purpose of a Yellow Lab’s tail have never been with me in the longer grasses. When we are out there, and I am searching, my tail is pointed straight up so that although I am not seen, the tip of the tail shows my people where I am. The collar is only used to remind me that I have to listen to commands, and not run down animals, since I am not allowed to catch them. In the Midwest, I am allowed to chase deer, but they get away before I can get too close, and the collar reminds me to return. On the desert, it reminds me to stay away from the rattlers, despite having had a few really good coyote and rabbit chases there.
So where is the battery connection? The collar uses one Nickel-cadmium and the transmitter uses another. Remember now, I have been using it almost daily for 8 years, and through judicious recharge regimens have kept it in operational form. About a month ago, the run time became noticably shorter, so I figured the batteries were reachng the end of their lives. The batteries were housed in welded cases, which if replaceable would require special repair techniques. We contacted Tri Tronics to see if we could get the batteries replaced. The model was obsolete, but they told us of another company called the ‘Collar Clinic’ (www.collarclinic.com) which might repair the TM 200. In a quick correspondence by email, we found that the Collar Clinic would do the job for 20% of the cost of a new collar, so we sent it in. They promptly replaced the batteries, checked out the entire system, and I now have complete connectivity in the field again. The point is that, one should use the web and all contacts to find battery replacements.
When you want to solve differential equations in you head, I find the best thing to do is to find a comfortable spot in a warm, sunny and sandy area, with no noise and at a time when all the squirrels and rabbits are taking a siesta.+
In a similar fashion, Shirley was going to have her cell phone trashed while under a service contract with Best Buy because they could not get a replacement Lithium-ion battery. She found a web supplier of the battery and has so far extended the use of the phone by a year to date and still operates properly.
For those of you who have shied away from Palm and Sony based PDAs because the factory does not provide replacements, there is more good news on the web. Companies like Laptops for Less (www.LaptopsForLess.com) sell not only the replacement batteries for many Palm, Handspring and Sony PDAs, but they also provide replacement instructions and the small tools required to get the case open.
The bottom line is - don’t accept manufacturers edicts to trash the product because of a dead battery.
(June, 2003) Nine Lives
Somewhere along the way cats got the image of having nine lives. From my point of view they need them because other than rabbits deer and cyotes, I can’t think of any better guy to chase. When I go to my vet’s office, he has a resident cat sitting on the desktop, and I have been informed in no uncertain terms that if I even try to get that cat, I will be neutered without novocaine. Despite having all kinds of shivers ovetake my body when I see that cat, I am of reasonable enough composure to realize that, having any part of me surgically impaired with a rusty pair of pliers or other questionable tool, far outweighs that captivating desire.
Dogs, too, seem to have some life extensions as I have had with three leg surgeries. I am finally coming around to seeing life without constant pain. But when the physical pain goes, we get further reasons to call on one of those lives to eliminate psychological pains. This past month we decided to completely redo our website with a new web development tool called Cutesite. The benefits included new ways of making it easier to navigate and better presentation for the reader. It simultaneously meant that all our materials had to be converted from our old (Pagemill) tool to Cutesite, one page and one graphic at a time. We decided that rather than drag out the transition, that we would bite the bullet on May first and get it done on line by the first of June. With the help of a trashed hard drive, we missed it by a couple of days, although there are a bunch of details yet to tune up. At least the site is converted and the search engines can begin their laborious task of redefining our information for subject-searchers. We are also restructuring our site statistics to begin with the base of experience starting in June. By September, we will have a good handle on what the growth and preferences are. All this has taken one of my nine or so lives and I hope to have a quieter summer.
I extend happy, peaceful thoughts as wishes for you.
Tail wags...\ / \ / \ / \ /
*(May 2003) The tail of two cities
It has been a terrible month for me. Starting with my exuberance over recovering from the surgical repair of my leg, I tore the cross bands and had to have a much more complex and expensive ‘TPLO’ surgery done at the U of M Veterinary Hospital which is located at the boundary between Minneapolis and St. Paul, hence my new title of The ‘tail’ of two cities.
While there recovering, a fellow brought into his limp dog to be evaluated by a Vet. The Vet placed his stethoscope on the dog’s chest at a number of places and after a few contemplative moments said to the owner “I’m sorry sir, your dog is dead.” than the heart broken the owner went into a dramatic state of disbelief and cried for a second opinion. The vet left the examining room in and a few minutes later a Yellow Labrador with a white smock over his upper back and front legs walked in.Now this dog was not as good looking as I ma, but he was a pretty handsome hound. He approached the comatose dog and began his sniffing first his nose, then ears, eyes and continued over the rest of the body, paying special attention to those areas all dogs like to sniff. The Lab then closed his eyes, made a soft growl, then followed with a mournful but discreet howl. He trotted from the room and after another two minutes a cat with big a horn-rimmed glasses came in. She studied the dog from a afar then at very close quarters from top to bottom. Leaning back she made an unsavory ‘Nrown’ and also left the room.
The vet returned saying that his diagnosis had been doubly confirmed and he and presented the grieving owner a bill for $600. Not completely disoriented, the owner got even more frustrated and said “Six hundred dollars! You charge me $600 to tell me my dog is dead?” “Well,” said the vet, “my fee was only $65, but with the Lab work and the Cat Scan it brought the total to $600.”
Tail wags, \ / \ / \ / \ /
(April 2003) Welcome to the new (and yet old) version of Batteries Digest, exclusively in Web Site format.
All the stuff you have been reading about is now directly posted to this website and is free. The stories we have added for each month are listed in the 'What's New' page which you can select anywhere in the site from the navigation box like the one above.
The editorial staff is still made up of Shirley and Don with Tim doing all the web posting work. Me? I'm still the lead dog of this outfit. Every morning, I get to the office about an hour before Shirley does, check through the windows for rabbits and pheasants, and then settle down to figure out just what articles we should be writing. Many of you have thought that the material of BD was the creation of Shirley and Don, but they only fill in the fluff of a story after I have dug out the real de-tails for them to use. What gets my fur ruffled is that when stories are finished, Shirley gets out her red editing pen and marks up copy with merciless abandon, implying that we are literary Neanderthals. Well, I get back at her when somebody calls on the phone. She tries to be so business like, and just about the time the conversation is getting really important, I bark big time at some virtual animal outside the window. Then she has to explain why the conversation has been drowned out and why we have a dog in the office. Afterward, I slink off to a quiet spot and have a large chuckle over it. We dogs don't let humans see us chuckle as it would impair our perceived image as being stoic creatures.
You may have noticed in my initial comments that I said the access to the site was free to visitors. Friends, there is no free lunch! But it will stay that way if we can get organizations to advertise on the site as Indium Corporation now does. I will have a primary role in explaining how this works and begging important companies to support the site with an advertising account. I will even be throwing in extra bonuses such as special sniff walks with me to find rabbits, deer and coyotes. If your organization is interested in being one of our advertisers, start out with the information at the Advertising page of this website, then call us at 763-479-6190.
More than anything, though, I want to have you know that this Yellow Lab has a day full of tail wags for just you to enjoy. \ / \ / \ / \ / \ / \ / \ / \ / \ /.
Killer Ap’s Are Still There If You Want Them
(Sept, 02) Hello Subscribers,Before moving to the main subject, I have to take a moment to tell you a story.The other day I was hanging out at my favorite watering hole, the Pink Palace, with my buddy the bartender, Butch, who is a bulldog by birth. This penguin comes in, pulls up a barstool and Butch, wiping the bar, says his usual, “What will you have?” The penguin asks, “Was my father in earlier today?” to which Butch answers, “Dunno, what does he look like?”
Where was I? Oh yes, killer Aps! Every strategic planner and marketing manager is looking for the holy grail for his/her product which will sell billions each year, with a fantastic margin. Cell phones are no exception. Now marketeers are chasing 2.5 and 3G but the customers aren’t playing along. Worldcom accounting mentality has pounded telecom profits into pits so deep they don’t even include fire. While gross corporate accounting schemes abound, other legal schemes include obsolescence which is tailored to increase sales at the expense of frustrated customers.
Based on a personal experience, there appears to be a contrary untapped killer ap in cellphones. Here is the background: Three weeks ago, Shirley’s Sprint Touchpoint battery crashed. She has a service contract on it from the retailer which discontinued supplying the battery, apparently because it is in their most profitable interest to have the customer buy a new phone with an updated and more costly monthly contract. After taking it to the store, she found out that, although it was only two years after selling her the product, Best Buy was not going to get any, and the customer sales representativeoffered no recommendations to implement repair under the service contract. After holding their ‘feet to the fire,’ the retailer has agreed to pay for the battery if Shirley can buy one somewhere else. When checking with battery vendors such as Radio Shack, Batteries Plus and 1-800-Batteries, each stated that their company had never carried a replacement or had discontinued the battery.
According to sales people at popular cellular retailers, all cellular manufacturers want to quickly obsolete today’s phone and push the customer into a new phone and service contract. Key to the issue is a non-standard battery. Every cellular manufacturer drives manufacturing costs up by specifying a one-of-a kind battery, then shuts off the supply when the market year expires. Although the electronics continue to function, the limited battery life guarantees a re-supply of customers seen by the marketeers as herds of not-very-bright sheep.
Now, the killer-ap! Suppose that one renegade manufacturer sold a cellphone which included an off-the-shelf, standard battery, maybe even AAA Nickel-metal hydrides. Maybe the talk time is cut in half, but with three extra sets of batteries in my briefcase, I would have twice the total talk time of today’s Lithium-ion at a fraction of the price. I could easily get more. Perhaps this renegade would put a battery gas gauge in the cellphone so I would know when to swap cells. Will I pay a premium for this product? You bet! It will mean having a working cellphone while the other glitzy followers are waiting for their ‘obsolete’ phone to get replaced. I shall have to find out that this product exists, so if you make one, get this product differentiating message to me.
Some digital cameras already have this off-the-shelf replaceable battery product differentiation, but I was too slow to recognize it when I bought mine. However, I will be smart enough to make it the last time since the choice is offered. >Keep chugging!>