Friday, April 14, 2017

Walk Thoughts #29: battery life

My cell phone, which is three years old, is a crucial component of the upcoming walk, especially now that I know how powerful Naver Map is. I have a Naver Map app on my phone; it has about 95% of the functions I see on the desktop version of Map. I'll be relying on this app as I walk, mainly to avoid taking a wrong turn at any of the myriad forks along the trail. I'll also be using the phone to check the local weather (mountainous countries have mercurial meteorology); I'll also be using it to send emails and text messages, to take photos and make videos (some of which I may upload to YouTube if/when I have a Wi-Fi connection), to refer to stored maps whenever necessary, and of course, to blog updates when I can.

So I can't have my phone running out of battery power while I'm on the trail. To that end, I bought two new, fresh batteries that will both begin the trip fully charged. I also have a portable battery charger that will also begin the trip fully charged. I've monitored its behavior ever since I bought it, and I've noticed that the portable charger begins losing its stored power right away, but that it needs only a few minutes of plug-in time to be brought back up to 100%. The guy from whom I bought the batteries and charger said that the charger can be used to recharge the phone three times. This means I can slap Battery A into my phone, run it to empty one day, recharge the phone's battery overnight, and repeat the process two more times before the portable charger is itself completely out of power. In other words: if I keep using and recharging Battery A until the portable charger is out, I have—in theory—four days' worth of charge. On the fifth day, when both Battery A and the portable charger are out, I can switch over to Battery B, which won't have a 100% charge when I slap it in, but which will still have enough charge to carry me through one more day.

So that's five days' worth of battery life. Lucky for me, as we've seen from all the previous posts in which I've plotted out various aspects of my route, there will never be a time when I'm camping for five days straight, so battery life will never be an issue on the trail.

There are, alas, other things that can go wrong with the phone. As I mentioned earlier, my poor Samsung Galaxy S4 is over three years old, and it's beginning to show its age. Now, nearing the end of its days, it's about to face its toughest test yet. This sounds like the plot of 1981's "Dragonslayer," in which an old, once-powerful wizard, living in obscurity and enjoying retirement, is suddenly tasked with fighting the last mighty dragon in the realm. Silly cinematic comparisons aside, this is a real and practical issue: will my phone stand up to the beating it's about to take? In 2008, I began my Pacific Northwest walk with a fresh-from-the-box Blackberry, and that little bastard died on me by the time I got down to Portland. Here's hoping that my Samsung, which has fewer moving parts, will last the entire 540-kilometer trek down to the sea. If the phone dies during the walk, you won't get any more updates, and I'll have to go old-school in how I navigate the trail which, thankfully, is well-marked. Upshot: if my phone dies, the walk will continue.

But battery life, at least, won't be a problem, thank Cthulhu. For most of the trip, I'll always be near an electric outlet, which means I'll always be charged and ready to go.

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