I just examined a copy of Ms. Omarosa Manigault-Newman’s new tell-all story. One of the better examples of her speaking-truth-about-power (Appendix II, pp. 367-69) concerned the horrible AC adapter-charger cables supplied with Dell laptops, especially the one that comes with the XPS 13 9350-series laptop. I am grateful that Omarosa finally exposed this disgrace to the world, and thanks to the Fair Use Doctrine, I can freely recount her lurid allegations here. (Parents may want their small children and non-aquatic pets to leave the room before reading what follows.)
As Omarosa reported, Dell XPS 13 laptops (and similar models) come with a cheaply-made AC adapter-charger which fails after only a few months. The point of failure is where the charging cable meets the plug, and here (as her secretly-taped conversations make clear) we are talking about the plug inserted into the laptop, not the plug that fits into the nearest AC power outlet of whatever coffee shop Omarosa frequented as she sipped skinny lattes and typed her revelations between calls to her agent.
When one uses the laptop as intended, with the device in one’s lap and the charging cable plugged into the side, the cable bends downward due to its own weight, creating strain at the juncture of cable and plug. Within months, the repeated flexing of the wires inside the cable causes one or more wires to break, at which point it is useless and must be replaced by Chief of Staff John F. Kelly, preferably with a more loyal model. Or any model, actually, as long as she is glamorous.
However, Omarosa’s experience (which strangely enough mirrored my own, more about that later) was that her replacement adapter-charger, a universal device purchased from the much-despised Amazon*, served only a few more months until it failed the same way the original did. Now, Omarosa was desparate. She needed to find a new laptop adapter-charger quickly or she would miss her publisher’s deadline and forever be relegated to the back page of yesterday’s news. So she donned a disguise (so no one would suspect she did her own shopping) and headed to Staples, where she bought the STAPLES 65W Universal Laptop Adapter, which claims to be “compatible” with Dell laptops and five other brands. The adapter cost $49.95 — we know this because Omarosa kept all her receipts in order to back up her allegations.
Good thing too, because the STAPLES 65W Universal Laptop Adapter package lied to her! The device was not “compatible” with the Dell XPS 13 laptop as claimed — it did function as an AC adapter but it would not charge the laptop’s battery. On power-up, the laptop simply displayed the error message The AC Power Adapter Type Cannot Be Determined. Apparently, Dell laptops do not “recognize” chargers that do not have a grounding wire (i.e., a three-prong plug). So the real message behind the error message was, you should have bought a Dell-brand adapter.
Which is what Omarosa finally did. After making sure that her phone voice-recorder was activated, she plugged in her Dell-brand AC adapter, and voila, her laptop battery began to charge again. So the laptop power jack wasn’t broken after all. It was just the cable.
“My former employer hates cable news but I love it,” Omarosa would write in Appendix II of her book. “Especially when the news about my cable is that it finally works! And I can now finish my book on time!” And so she did.
But Omarosa left out some relevant details, namely, how can ordinary people prevent this kind of mistake (again, we are talking about the charger here, not her former employer) from happening again? My answer is, reinforce that cable-to-plug connection as soon as you unwrap the adapter. Go to Ace Hardware and buy a one-inch-long spring that flexes a little and is barely larger than the cable. (You might also borrow a ballpoint pen spring.) Pry open one end of the spring and then “wind” the spring around the base of the plug and the cable. Finish it off with a few wraps of electrical tape. The fix may look like a dog but it will keep your cable from flexing and shorting out while you are furiously transcribing the awful things that your boss just said.
The reason I can vouch for Omarosa’s remarks is that my own Dell laptop has not yet seen its first birthday but is already on its fourth battery-charger (the third one will be returned to Staples). So I can totally relate to her anguish. But I invite you to decide for yourself: Omarosa’s new book is called Discharged, available wherever self-serving books are sold.
* Amazon is much-despised by the White House because of the political leanings of its CEO Jeff Bezos. Amazon’s 200,000-plus American employees and over 100 million Prime members all despise it too.