Re: [NTLK] eMate battery problems

From: Frank Gruendel <>
Date: Sun Feb 11 2007 - 11:45:55 EST

> Are you using some sort of battery monitoring software?

Yes. I'm using NewtTest, available in the software section of
the site in the signature.

> Well, that is a design decision. They had a real time
> clock and date calculation subroutine set available. If
> someone was dumb enough to change the clock under them
> they will get odd results.

Allow me to disagree politely. As a matter of fact I think
that charging the battery will be the first thing every new
Newton owner does after unpacking his new friend. Getting
aquainted with his new toy, setting time and date, owner
info etc. will almost always come afterwards and while the
battery is still being charged. Decent OS design should
take this use case (I think that's what they call it these
days...), and many many other use cases, into account.

Moreover, setting the time and date is regularely done in
the Welcome setup routine that every brainwiped Newton will
lead the user through. How on earth should said user know he
should better skip this because the battery is currently
being charged?

Apart from that, there is nothing like a dumb user. How
should the average new user possibly know that he isn't
supposed to change the date and time if it took the whole
NewtonTalk community more than ten years to publish this
particular little weirdness? When I write a user interface
and I do not want the user to do certain things in a
particular context, I either hide or disable the UI elements
that would trigger such a thing. NewtTest is a good
example. Its menus adapt to the hardware the program runs
on. You won't e. g. find a greyscale test option on a 1x0
Newton, since these Newtons do only support black and white.

Good user interface design doesn't leave the user a choice
of whether he makes a mistake or not, it prevents his
making mistakes in the first place.

A user interface designer who allows this battery issue
to happen has not
done his homework. Reliability and safety of electronic
devices may NEVER be compromised by a user's using what
the OS offers, regardless of how "dumb" this action
appears from a developer's point of view.
There would have been easy ways around this problem.
NewtonScript allows this as it is. And even a soft reset
wouldn't necessarily have to mess a charge cycle up if the
elapsed charge time was stored in some hardware register.

> I suspect that it determines "Charged" based on the rapid
> temperature rise that NiMH batteries give when they are
> full, but 12% based on an ADC voltage with a nominal full
> charge voltage as a reference. It sounds like that pack
> needs a good whack.

No. It's the user interface programmer who would have needed
a good whack. Maybe I did not express myself clearly enough.
I put a newly rebuilt pack in a 2100. It showed 12% capacity,
which was perfectly OK since the pack was almost discharged.
I plugged the AC adapter in, and the Newton started charging,
just as expected. The battery gauge showed 12% and the text
below said "Charging", again just as expected. Then I advanced
the date from 2006 to 2007, and the very moment I did this,
the Newton stopped charging the battery, the battery gauge
remained at 12% and the text below it said "Charged".

People who simply check the text below the gauge to find out
if the battery is full would start their next business trip
with about one tenth of the capacity they rightfully expect.

No, we can not consider this user dumb simply because he
doesn't notice or ignores the battery gauge. He has every
right to believe the OS if it tells him that the battery is

> (it's -18C and snowing again, I'm getting sick of this)

I'm feeling with you. So am I, although it's almost ten
degrees warmer here :-)


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Received on Sun Feb 11 11:48:02 2007

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