Twitter revives a dead Flip camcorder

In today’s Macworld Podcast, Scholle Sawyer-McFarland, Lex Friedman, and I discuss Twitter as a new way of gathering like-minded folks into a physical—rather than virtual—space via Tweet-ups. While this is a terrific use for this popular 140 character social networking service, I find the ability to crowd source via Twitter even more helpful. Take my dead Flip camcorder, for example.

I’m in the process of cleaning my office—a job that’s taking quite some time as I’m a terrible packrat—and while doing that I unearthed a Flip Mino HD pocket camcorder that I hadn’t switched on for months. Hoping to use the thing to document this grand purge I flipped out its USB connector and plugged it into a nearby iPod power adapter. Several hours later, I glanced down at its display and spied a low-power symbol.

Figuring the camcorder was simply confused by its long nap, I unplugged it in an attempt to switch it on. Deprived of power it continued its impersonation of your typical door nail. I returned it to the charger and let it power up overnight. The next morning I unplugged it with the same result. Drat.

When things don’t work as planned, I do what millions of others do and twitch about it. Specifically, I tweeted:

Sad discovery: If you leave a Flip camcorder sitting around unused for many months, it won’t take a charge.

Within minutes I received not only a measure of commiseration from some followers, but also this helpful tidbit from one @JRBTempe (J.R. Bookwalter), who describes himself as an “Audio/visual widget broker, part-time tech journalist and onetime filmmaker.” He replied:

Can’t recall how long it took, but it charged faster in my 30” Dell monitor USB port than using AC, for some reason.

And right he was. I plugged the camera into my powered USB hub and after about half an hour I heard the Flip’s happy little chirp and the camera mounted on my Mac’s Desktop. I left it jacked into the hub for another couple of hours, unplugged it, and it was fully charged.

Why? Beats me. Seems that the Flip’s battery wouldn’t care one way or another where it was getting its power, but that’s clearly not the case. Perhaps there’s something in the Flip software that resets the battery’s deep sleep function when the camera finally mounts. Or not. Those familiar with these kinds of power schemes are invited to offer their insights in the comments area. As for me, I’m just happy that Twitter can provide this kind of help nearly instantly.

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