Geekspeak: January 21, 2001

By Peter Coffee  |  Posted 2002-01-21 Print this article Print

A plug for good connectors.

These three power connectors for AC adapter/rechargers reveal rather different ideas of good design. Apples connector (left) looks a little too much like an audio or video plug—although the diameter is actually slightly smaller, and that scary-looking exposed center pin doesnt carry above-ground potential. The translucent ring glows green or orange to indicate charger activity. (Please, does everything need to make a fashion statement? And whats the point, when the open screen hides this expensive indicator?)

Hewlett-Packards plug for its Jornada 560 Pocket PCs (right) breaks all the rules: Its a custom design that exposes the live voltage contact. Ugly, fragile and dangerous, all in one.

In the middle is a standard plug, with a recessed contact and polarity markings molded into the shell. This model citizen connects to a laptop computer from Sony. Perhaps other vendors will become equally restrained in their attempts to electrify their users?

Peter Coffee is Director of Platform Research at, where he serves as a liaison with the developer community to define the opportunity and clarify developers' technical requirements on the company's evolving Apex Platform. Peter previously spent 18 years with eWEEK (formerly PC Week), the national news magazine of enterprise technology practice, where he reviewed software development tools and methods and wrote regular columns on emerging technologies and professional community issues.Before he began writing full-time in 1989, Peter spent eleven years in technical and management positions at Exxon and The Aerospace Corporation, including management of the latter company's first desktop computing planning team and applied research in applications of artificial intelligence techniques. He holds an engineering degree from MIT and an MBA from Pepperdine University, he has held teaching appointments in computer science, business analytics and information systems management at Pepperdine, UCLA, and Chapman College.

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