by Michael E. C. GeryBy Michael E.C. Gery
You may recently have come across the term “cord cutting.” I’ve seen it in discussions about moving TV and Internet service into more of a free-range market. People are weary of paying maybe $100 a month for cable or satellite TV service that delivers dozens of useless and boring channels that no one in the household watches. Other people are weary of paying for Internet service that delivers as much of the “please wait” swirling ring or somersaulting hourglass as it delivers information and images. So there’s a movement toward cutting the cable and paying for some service or equipment that allows you to choose only the TV and Internet you want, when you want it.
“Cord cutting” can also refer to cutting the telephone line into your place and relying only on a cell phone that you can carry anywhere. And, I have cut and stacked many cords of firewood that heated the house all winter.
I also saw the term brandished on a power-charging station at an airport. But when I glanced at the cord cutting going on there I noticed that people had little cords connected to electric outlets. Maybe the idea is to power up, then cut the cord and move on.
Cutting the cord brings to mind detaching the umbilical cord, no longer useful, and allowing a newborn to function on its own. When it comes to TV, Internet and telephone, however, the electronic device at some point needs to be re-attached to a source of electric power, usually by means of a cord.
Now comes emerging technology that works on magnetic resonance whereby you place your phone or laptop on a table to be recharged wirelessly, like receiving a WiFi Internet signal without using a wire. But that power table, like your wireless modem, needs to get its electricity from somewhere, such as a cord coming from a wall outlet connected to electric wiring fed by the circuitry energized by the power line maintained outside by your electric cooperative.
The technology firm Intel, maker of semiconductor chips, reported recently on a survey that examined “pain points or frustrations people have when using their personal computing devices.” Respondents said “they have to carry so many different wires, cords and plugs when traveling or going from place to place because every device has its own cord, plus USB and even display cables. They don’t want to carry these around, and many want these wires out of their sight.” Of those surveyed, 76 percent said they were frustrated by how their devices won’t operate without using a specific wire for each device.
Wouldn’t it be nice if all our appliances and electronics worked like those little handheld calculators with their solar energy collectors? Wouldn’t it be nice if we could carry a soldering gun outside, flip its switch, and electric current in the thin air would find it and run it? Or if our cars could run on water alone?
I once met a guy named Baldwin towing a small travel trailer from place to place. He had bolted onto the trailer a little wind turbine to generate power for a compressor that ran his refrigerator. When he was preparing to give a public talk later, he went into the house to run a photocopier.