Editor's note: This is the third part of our Batterygate Analysis, we recommend that you also read the first two parts:
Part I: The nits picking begins
Part II: Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics
Analogies are like a box of chocolate - A mismatched array of ideas someone has tried to package as a whole by sugar-coating them with the same truth, which usually turns out a bit too dark and bitter to make it palatable, and usually more suited to the taste of the one giving it than the one it is given to.
If you've been reading about the computing world long enough, chances are you've been run over by a car analogy a few hundred times. Many people hate this tendency to constantly draw a parallel between PCs and automobiles, and there are several theories of why it is so common. Some say it's "a guy thing", and that since computers and cars are traditionally seen as male-oriented pastimes, it's an inevitable association. But few PC geeks are also motorheads. In some cases this is likely the order of magnitude difference in cost between the two, but cheap [and usually barely functional] cars are everywhere, much like computers in the average Linux user's basement apartment.
The reality of the situation is that if you have to pick two expensive and overly complex machines that most people hate yet regard as a necessary evil and use daily with barely any understanding of their function, you're probably only going to come up with a car, and a computer. Virtually no other objects in everyday use for the majority of people combine the same sense of awe, power, fear, frustration, and dependence in modern life.
And so, the inevitable car analogy barrels down on us like a runaway express train down the deck of a four stack steamship sailing towards an iceberg on a doomsday asteroid rendered with 64bit VLIW processors for the crappier of the two disaster movies of the exact same theme that seem to appear like clockwork every few summers. Analogy Ho!
In the automobile industry, energy efficiency is not given as a simple abstract number based on flawed tests under conditions that are impossible for consumers to duplicate in the real world.
They use two
Ok let's be fair. The city/highway MPG numbers aren't so bad really. Well, not for the last year or two. Gone are a number of tricks like disabling features [no air conditioner], unrealistic environment controls [no wind, temperature control], special hand-built ringer models for testing, and using pure fuel without additives that consumers can't buy [most gas in the US is E85, which means it has ethanol added] which were responsible for a pretty serious discrepancy between sticker and real world values in the past. After a bit of an outrage when Consumer Reports found over 90% of all cars underperformed their ratings
, the tests were revised a bit
. So yeah they're better now. All it took was about four years of public shame of an entire industry by consumer advocate groups doing rigorous real-world testing.
Where were we? Oh yes, the analogy with laptops and batteries disabling features [like wireless], using controlled conditions [current rate, temperature], cherry picked review units, unrealistic benchmark simulations…
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