Fueling Development

code better • have fun

Laptops need power. Fuel cells generate power. Fuel cells burn organic fuels. Many developers have excess body mass. Seems like a perfect fit…

Sometimes ideas come together so naturally, and in such a balanced way, that it’s clear that they were just meant to work together. Apparently unrelated concepts and problems fuse into a single tidy solution so perfect that, when looked at in hindsight, the only possible reaction is “well, of course, it’s obvious.” Two problems that share a single solution: a fusing technology. The technology that solves one of your problems serendipitously solves the other (apparently unrelated) issue.

Take the problems of developer health and laptop battery power.

Problem One: Spending all day, every day, in front of a keyboard is clearly bad for your health. Developers are typically not the most active of folk, and many have gained a number of extra pounds while cranking out code on a diet of pizza and cola.

Problem Two: Laptops need power, and the meatier the laptop, the more power it draws. Sit on a long flight, hacking Lisp into Emacs while a DVD plays in a Window, and you’ll know the frustration. The machine dies just as the last reel starts, and just as you finally work out the quoting rules for your latest monster macro.

The Fusing Technology: Fuel Cells.

Laptop manufacturers are starting to roll out models powered by fuel cells. Small catalytic reactors, powered by some kind of alcohol, convert chemical energy into electrical power. Low-grade combustion drives your laptop.

The current generation of fuel cell batteries use methanol: it’s a fairly high-grade source of power. But they could also be driven off lower-grade organic fuels: it just needs to be able to burn.

So here’s the synergy—the LipoBattery. Developers have excess fat: they should use it to feed the fuel cells in their laptops. When you sit down to code on a long plane trip, plumb a thin tube into an area of unwanted adipose tissue, and let the battery suck power from you while you lose weight. For home-based developers, special chairs could have small needles built into the seat: just sit down and your computer bursts into life. The longer you code, the more weight you lose. It’s a perfect feedback loop. It’s synergy.

Or is that thinergy?