Thursday, 14 January 2010

An expensive train journey from Geneva Airport

I learned a hard lesson on my way back from Geneva Airport. I had a six hour train journey ahead and plenty of work to do on my MacBook Pro. The battery was running low and I started looking around for a power point to charge the computer on the train while continuing with my work.

I changed seats when I found one just two seats away. It worked like a charm and I was back in action. Somehow I got the impression that the laptop was charging much faster than what I was used to. Anyway, at least it would buy me a little more time working.

I finished my work and arrived safe home after almost 24 hours of traveling. Two days later my computer battery exploded! The back plate kind of shot off and the battery popped open. In disbelieve I had to just watch what was happening and could do nothing to save it. Really,
if this meant a new laptop, it would be a terrible setback. I tested the MacBook without the battery and it worked fine. That was quite a relieve, but still the mystery of the exploding battery was an open end.

The next day we had some friends over for dinner and I told Stephan, a Swiss architect who also uses a Macs, the story about my exploding battery. He immediately asked me if I recently traveled by train and charged my computer via the power points. I was completely surprised
with his fast reaction. It turned out that the plug I was using for charging my MacBook is used for vacuum machines when the train is stationary. When it's moving, the voltage can change between 110V and 1000V. And I thought that it was cool that the battery was charging so fast.

It cost me CHF 200.- to change the battery. The machine works fine again. I hope that this blog entry will prevent that somebody else fall into the same vacuum trap.