Many years ago, my son's Boy Scout troop lost its collective mind. The boys decided it would be great fun to go rappelling. This involves stepping backwards off of a high cliff or tall building and then walking down the outside surface. Even though safety ropes are involved, I was concerned. Gravity is unrelenting.
Still, my son was really excited. I reluctantly tagged along with him to the base of the thirty-three-foot wooden tower. One of the other dads, trying to be thoughtful, suggested that I need not participate because I was blind. What? Now, I had no choice. I would have to rappel. But, if I went first, all the other dads would have to do it, too. Sweet.
I passed the leash of my guide dog to a more sensible fellow and moved to the head of the line. I stepped through the door. Discovering that I might just be a bit acrophobic, I shakily climbed the internal staircase to the top of the three story building. I ascended the gallows. I crawled onto the flat roof which had no fencing or handrails. I was told to stand up.
A gentleman I hardly knew began to wrap a piece of rope around my waist and between my legs. A couple of knots later, I was wearing a "Swiss Seat," an accessory that resembled a pair of tight white panties over my blue jeans. The safety ropes were attached to my new bikini bottoms. Okay, breathe. I felt much more secure. Kind of.
On command, I shuffled backwards until my heels were hanging off the edge. Balanced on my toes, I held the ropes taut and slowly leaned backwards until I was parallel to the ground. I stepped off and descended. Being attached by ropes was a very good thing. The experience was exhilarating, and addicting!
Although sitting in my office chair fails to evoke the same adrenalin rush enjoyed when hanging from a cliff, I used to feel safer at my desk when directly attached to my technology. During the early days of desktop computing, I knew my keyboard cable could serve as a bread crumb trail to my power switch and floppy drives. Tethered headphones meant that I would never leave a Talking Book machine on a bus seat without the wires tugging at my ears. And, power cords were useful as an equipment locator and as the occasional trip hazard that could yank items off a table and onto the floor. In truth, I just got used to being connected.
It took time to cut the cords. These days, I use my iPhone as my primary computing device. For many years, my safety ropes were the EarPod wires and power cables. I took my first leap without electronic apron strings when I bought a Bluetooth keyboard. I felt so grown-up, so independent. And, then along came AirPods. The experience was exquisite. I no longer had to look quite so dorky with tangled wires perpetually hanging from my head. I was nearly free. I wanted to sever the last umbilicus, but it still provided sustenance to my iPhone battery via a Lightning cable. Scissors would not do.
That last wire was tough to abandon. I kept power cables next to my comfy chair, adjacent to the bed upstairs, and in our minivan. Unfettered power to my iPhone was my next aspiration.
The price of liberty runs high. I went shopping last month and let my wallet bleed green. I was a bit tired of my old iPhone 6S Plus, mostly because it just weighed heavy in my shirt pocket and I really wanted something smaller and lighter. I also just love new toys. So, I bought a 256GB Space Gray iPhone 8. I opted not to wait for the iPhone X for a few reasons, but primarily because I like the tactile connection of a fingerprint reader rather than having my phone stare at my face.
My iPhone 8 has my favorite new feature, as do the other iPhones introduced this year. I can wirelessly charge this bad boy. When I visited my local AppleStore, I bought the Belkin Boost Up Wireless Charging Pad. Snip! I am now rappelling without ropes. I am totally spoiled and completely sold on the absolute utility of wireless charging. It even charges through my fancy leather iPhone folio case! I love being able to just lay my iPhone 8 on the charging pad, whip out my Bluetooth Keys-To-Go keyboard, pop the Apple AirPods into place and head out the door. Untethered computing is grand. Reading, writing and relaxing outside on my front porch is geek heaven!
I find the wireless charging speed quite acceptable. It feels as though the iPhone is juicing up as quickly as it did with the standard Lightning connector. Although the new iPhones also support fast charging through a special cable with a different adapter, I am content with the wireless approach. Going truly wireless is much more liberating. And, I have read that Apple will introduce even snappier wireless charging in a future iOS update. I am hopeful that my current Belkin wireless charging pad will deliver on this promise.
I love my iPhone 8 and my new unrestrained lifestyle. Even so, there are still times when I would prefer to stay connected. Occasionally, I just feel more secure with a rope tied to my waist.
Back in our Boy Scout days, my son and I went on a 12-day backpacking trip in the Colorado Weminuche Wilderness. Part of the trek had us traversing a very thin trail on the side of a mountain. There was a sheer rock wall to our right and an 800 foot drop to the left. At one part of this skinny footpath there was not enough room for me to walk next to my guide dog. I had to send my pup ahead with someone else. I was then forced to follow verbal commands so that I could independently guide myself through this most treacherous segment. There were no ropes.
One of the parents called out instructions, "Morgan, step out with your left foot!"
I had my doubts. I suggested that did not sound correct. I could hear a creek a long distance below me on the left. Stepping out with that foot seemed like a particularly bad idea.
He persisted, "Step out with your left foot!"
Again, I indicated that leading with my left might be a significant error. I demurred. However, I wondered, what if I was mistaken? Could the creek sounds I think I am hearing from the left actually be the reflection of sound from the right? Carefully, I started to lift my left foot as though I intended to follow his directions.
He nearly screamed. "Stop! No, I mean your right foot!"
I still think there are times when physical connectivity has its place. And, I really do hate long drops and sudden stops for me, or my technology.
G. Morgan Watkins spent thirty years at the University of Texas at Austin, most of it in information technology leadership, where he also co-authored a popular Graduate School textbook about a Macintosh programming environment, "The Educator's Guide to HyperCard and HyperTalk." He also served on the Guide Dogs for the Blind Board of Directors and later as their Acting President and CEO.
Morgan is now happily retired again, and playing with his new charging pad. Morgan has created 19 other blogs for AppleVis, including "Power Trip: Hurricane Harvey and My iPhone", "Down To Earth: My First Hundred Days With AirPods" and "Sounds In The Sofa: Learning To Love My AirPods". Morgan would love to hear about your own perspectives and experiences with wireless charging in the comments below.