If the Energizer Bunny had decided to be a spokesman for portable computer batteries, he wouldn't have lasted long -- that stupid drum would have fallen silent.Anyone who travels with a laptop knows what I am talking about. A single battery will not last through a transcontinental flight. Carrying two -- carrying an additional ounce that you don't have to -- is not fun.

So we prowl airports like thirsty animals in search of a watering hole, necks angled down as well scour baseboards, walls, floors, and columns, looking for three-pronged outputs. We visualize cord length versus distance to a seat, and pray for an active outlet. Sometimes, we position ourselves, seated on the floor, like high-tech Buddhas to reach the nearest one.

Then we pounce, connecting before someone else can tap into electrical sustenance. On pauses between flights, we plug the system in and calculate what percentage of the battery can be recharged for each minute of connection.

These oases are welcomed. But the search is not.

No matter what those adaptors in the computer store say, you can't plug into to the airplane electrical system because most don't have lighters anymore. Battery life has improved, but not enough and with the rash of battery problems, it's clear that battery technology has a lot of room for improvement.

Outside or rewiring the airports, one of the possible solutions would be to have the ability to tap into an airplane's (or a bus's) power supply, although I don't pretend to understand any technical implications. Perhaps another solution is less reliance on laptop computers and more on handhelds, since a major reason people use computers is to receive and send email messages, and handhelds tend to be used less intensively.

These may all be off the track in terms of the solution. But there is a problem that needs something.

Otherwise, we keep have to keep craning our necks at the electronic watering hole.

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