I have to admit it, I’m fond of any real–world object that has multiple applications without even trying: a snooker table that doubles as a dancefloor, playgrounds pulling double shifts as landfill, a microwave–cum–kitty–euthanasia–clinic… that kind of thing.
Sure, computers are built to house multiple applications —imagine a world where you had one PC for instant messaging, another for email, and another for video editing— but for something outside the box to boast multiple functions in a single form… it gets me all wet. Like those vegemite jars that you can use as tumblers once they’re empty — genius.
My latest favorite would have to be the iCurve. Its primary function? To elevate your laptop when you’re sitting at your desk to improve ergonomics. Sure, it might be a little poorly endowed to do its job properly on my desk, but it has another function that suits me down to the ground. Are you ready? Its second function is…
Elevating your laptop when you’re not at your desk.
For instance, imagine you want to watch a DVD on your laptop. No problem when you’re at your desk, but what if you’re feeling frisky and want to watch it in bed? You pick up your user manual to see if that’s OK (don’t we all?), only to be confronted by this:
Warning: Do not place your PowerBook on a pillow or other soft material when it is on, as the material may block the airflow vents, in particular the rear vents, and cause the computer to overheat.
For prolonged use, place your PowerBook on a flat, stable surface. The bottom of the PowerBook case functions as a cooling surface that transfers heat from inside the computer to the cooler air outside. The bottom of the case is raised slightly to allow airflow that keeps the unit within normal operating temperatures. In addition, the computer vents warm air from the back of the case.
You might give up and go to bed in a huff, DVD–less and sad because the soft, squishy, insulating properties of your mattress and haberdashery are ill–equipped for the job of CPU cooling; but only if you didn’t have your trusty iCurve by your side. Now don’t get all pedantic on me and tell me that the primary and secondary functions of the iCurve are the same —merely performed in different environments— I think it’s great. Besides, the context has changed too; it is no longer striving to improve ergonomics, it’s stopping your computer from overheating in situations where it otherwise might.
It keeps the PowerBook off the doona and in the air; the vents aren’t blocked, the bottom is getting airflow, and you get to watch the DVD without having to get up and sit on the couch, like a beggar. And to think I used to go fetch an atlas to play the role of tabletop when I wanted to watch DVDs in bed. Oh, the shame.
On a sidenote: Vanilla Sky is an awesome movie, especially when you watch it in bed.