Monday, June 22, 2015

Problem solving

My Father's Day gift this year was a new cell phone. Well, that was one of the gifts. Another gift was that I got to sleep in until the positively decadent hour of 8:04 a.m. Granted, I woke up with two out of three children in bed with me, the little guy and the bino, and what actually roused me was the voice of the little guy urging me to get up. But as I was about to inform my beloved scion that it was Father's Day and I should be permitted to sleep a bit past whatever time it was, and I looked at the clock to see what time it in fact was, I became aware that I had already gotten basically two extra hours of shut-eye, which was more than enough. So we all got up, and I went downstairs to find my wife, who had been up since about 5:45 through no one's fault but her own insomnia. But the good news there was that she had made good use of the quiet time to herself, doing some yoga and prepping for the class she's teaching and so forth. We had some coffee together, and then a little later I worked out, and on my way to the shower after that I wondered aloud to whom I needed to speak in order to make that kind of morning a regular thing. My wife helpfully suggested the lottery commission.

Anyway, sleeping in is a rare and precious gift and can't even particularly be controlled because you never know when some dependent creature is going to wake up yowlingly sick just before dawn, so it was pure luck but appreciated all the same (if not all the more). But the more deliberate gift from my wife was the new phone. I'm the type of person who pays no mind to the annual upgrade milestones on the wireless contract, and basically keeps the same phone out of habit and inertia until its last electronic gasps. Which basically describes last week, as my phone's screen would stay dark unless I jiggled it, or unless I smacked it, or unless I hard rebooted the phone, and then finally stayed dark all the time. So off I went on Sunday as soon as the store opened to get a new phone. Basically I got this year's model of the phone I had, because I liked it just fine except for the part where it crapped out well past its planned obsolescence date.

I've been a loyal company of my provider (ok, it's Verizon) for over a decade so I usually get a pretty good deal with every infrequent upgrade, and this time that included a bunch of free accessories. One of those accessories was a self-contained portable charger, and I was extremely excited about that.

I reckon it's been a while since I focused on any of the goings-on at work around here, so let me back up a bit and explain the ever-changing cell phone policy here in my office. My office is, as I have mentioned in the past, part of the DoD and there is some classified work that gets done here which requires me to have a security clearance and so on. We also have various rules about maintaining a secure environment. For a while, the only official rule about cell phones was that you couldn't plug them directly into a USB port of any government standard equipment (i.e. your desktop computer). Fair enough. It was also considered somewhat bad form to sit at your cubicle making personal calls on your cell phone, so for the most part people didn't do that, though every once in a while someone might. Then it was explicitly forbidden to use your cell phone inside the office. Then it was explicitly forbidden for your cell phone to even be turned on at work, whether or not it ever was being actively used. So I would use my phone on the train, get to work, turn it off, go to my desk, plug my phone into an outlet to recharge, and turn it on again when I left in the evening. That was all fine by me.

Recently, like within the past two or three weeks, they instituted a new policy, because apparently too many people "forgot" the rules about cell phones. They installed cubbyhole lockers at the front of the office and issued everyone keys, and now it is required to lock up all electronics upon arrival. Cell phones, Kindles, &c. Violators to receive disciplinary measures blah blah blah. So that's what I've been contending with, right at the end of my cell phone's life span, when even powering it down does nothing to conserve the dwindling battery strength. So even if I left the house with 100% charge, after riding the train, walking to the office, and leaving the turned off phone in a locker for 8 hours, it would be down to about 10% when I headed home. This was supremely annoying, but I didn't see any way around it.

But I hadn't considered the portable power source! So now, I will be able to charge my cell phone if it needs it by plugging it into the portable and placing both phone and power brick into the locker (they are small but there should be just enough room for them side by side). Of course, the brand new phone is super-buff and doesn't desperately need to be recharged again an hour and a half after I hit the road in the morning. So there's no urgent rush to start implementing this protocol. A couple-few years from now, though, when the phone is decrepit, I'll be glad to be able to take advantage of the new gadget. Assuming it still works then. Also assuming I still work here.

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