Productivity Juice for Getting Things Done

Wednesday, March 29th, 2006
One of the challenges of using digital productivity tools for extended periods of time is endurance. Last week, I found a solution to this challenge.

Many new increases in portable computing power require equally significant increases in battery power. I'm not complaining. My Tecra M4 is not nearly as heavy as my first computer. Still, it's hard to boast about the utility of Tablet PCs and mind mapping software when I can barely get more than 2 hours of use out of my system. Again, I'm not complaining [much] but I want a solution I can use for 8-10 hours at a stretch, even when I don't have access to AC power. I considered travelling with a small super-quiet Honda generator, however, I decided against this approach in pursuit of a better solution.

James Kendrick once mentioned that he uses an extended-run-time battery pack, from BatteryGeek. I had resolved to buy a BatteryGeek power pack to use at the GTD RoadMap seminar in Santa Monica. Unfortunately, I did not receive a response to my email inquiry in time to place my order.
Time was running out; I had to get creative ...

While packing for a business trip to The David Allen Company, I raided my robotics supply closet for batteries, wires, transformers, connectors, and test equipment. I loaded these into a spare briefcase so that I could work on a solution at the hotel.

20050323 - Eric's Productivity Juice for M4.JPG

Once in Ojai, I checked into the hotel and unpacked my gear. I then got to work. What I ended up with was Productivity Juice 1.0 - a super extended-run-time battery pack for my Tablet PC. The next thing to do was to charge it up and see if it would ignite - I mean, hold a charge without igniting. To might delight, it worked. No sparks. I tested the juice the next day, at David's office. 5.5 hours. Good, but not good enough. I needed more power. The next night at the hotel, I improved upon my productivity juice recipe. This time I doubled the size of the battery pack and charged it up using a high-current charger from an electric wheelchair. I decided to assemble the batteries in a configuration about the same size of a laptop so that I could slide it into the laptop compartment of my wheeled briefcase.

No sparks. A good sign

With my productivity juice forumla in my car, I drove down to LAX to pick up Marc Orchant for our meeting with David Allen that evening. As I drove through the airport, I wondered if airport security would randomly select my vehicle for inspection. I made it through security, so I still don't know if there are WiFi hot Spots in Jail. Our dinner meeting went well. No sparks.

The next day, Marc and I attended David's GTD RoadMap seminar. My wife, Kathy, joined us, too. This was the real test for my productivity juice. (The seminar was 8 hours and there were no AC outlets accessible to the participants.)  I set up my Tablet PC at the table and ran the power cord down to my briefcase and switched on the productivity juice.

It worked!

20060324 - Eric & Kathy at GTD Roadmap.jpg

By mid-day, when most folks were switching off their laptops for lack of power, my energizer tablet continued to run. In fact, I was able to use my Tablet PC with MindManager for 9.5 hours at full power and full brightness. It worked well. By my calculations I estimate that  my SuperBattery will provide at least 14 hours of continuous run-time - sufficient productivity juice for a full day of mobile computing. This is probably the closest I'll get to extended portable power until portable fuel cells become practical. It certainly was a lot less noisy than a small generator under table at the seminar. David didn't even notice.

The seminar was great, too. Even though I've had the opportunity to attend many of these, it's always a great way to recharge my systems. ;-)

Be sure to visit Marc Orchant's Blog, Office Evolution, over on ZDNET for his detailed report.

Discussion/Comments (7):

Productivity Juice for Getting Things Done

Photos, we want photos of the behemoth, I mean the Juicer. :)

Posted at 03/30/2006 9:48:51 by James Kendrick

re: Productivity Juice for Getting Things Done

James, I just sent you a full-size photo. You're welcome to share it as an exclusive. Have fun.

Posted at 03/30/2006 13:09:04 by Eric Mack

Productivity Juice for Getting Things Done

You might be able to run the tablet longer if you use RM Clock to manage your laptop power consumption by undervolting the cpu

Posted at 03/30/2006 15:30:55 by steve

Size (Thickness), Weight, Cost?

Hey there!

Nothing beats a home-made batt pack! ;) Very nice!

Say, how about some details on the size (thickness), the weight and cost for rigging up something like that?


Posted at 03/30/2006 19:41:04 by Snappy!

Productivity Juice for Getting Things Done

Hey there!

Nothing beats a home-made batt pack! ;) Very nice!

Say, how about some details on the size (thickness), the weight and cost for rigging up something like that?


Posted at 03/30/2006 19:41:32 by Snappy!

re: Productivity Juice for Getting Things Done

Snappy, here are the battery specs

Size: 12" x 2" x 8"

Weight about 2x (at least) my Tecra M4. No scale here. It's nothing you would carry - best for a mobile briefcase.

Power: 4 6VDC 12AH/20hr. power rating. Sufficient to do small arc welding with.

Cost: about $60 in parts

Gotta run. FedEx is down the street.

Posted at 03/31/2006 14:10:53 by Eric Mack

Productivity Juice for Getting Things Done

Nice.... certainly looks productive.

My productivity "juice" is some black coffee and "nodoze"...

Posted at 11/07/2008 7:46:44 by Jeff

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