Be wary of the PowerBook battery

I bought my laptop about three years ago. It’s a PowerBook G4 12“. There have been things wrong with it since day one, including an odd tendency to crash at random intervals, no matter what operating system I’m using, if I happen to have moved it recently – obviously a useful feature in a laptop.

However, it’s been getting worse. The ”7“ key keeps falling off; there’s some great big black marks on the wrist-rests, either caused by fused toner cartridge or by the G4 superheating its outer coating to the point where it starts to carbonise. The battery life has also dropped off, and until a couple of days had dropped to about an hour and half during normal usage and less than 40 minutes if I’m playing a DivX. I had bought an extra battery at the same time as the laptop, but about a year ago it started to refuse charge.

Miraculously, though, I tried charging it again yesterday and it works just fine. I’ve now gone from under 40 minutes of battery life to over three hours. The moral of this story, then, is always to buy a spare battery, but to avoid using it until your main battery has gone pear-shaped. And also, never trust Apple to produce a battery that has any kind of longevity in everyday use.

UPDATE: Incidentally, finally having battery power again meant I was able to test the Notebook feature of Word 2004, which allows you to type notes as Word records via your Mac’s microphone. It’s actually pretty good. The quality was fine, the file didn’t get too large and you’re able to play back the audio at (almost) the corresponding points to your typing. I’ll be using that feature again, I think.

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