I for one had not, until I came across the freakish photos at left of a Nano that looks as if it's about to give birth to a bunch of baby Shuffles. I found the images on a blog by Brit David Kerry.
Upon removing the Nano's cover, he wrote:
"What I was greeted with inside was rather shocking. It would appear as though my battery has swollen to around three times its original size. I'm going to attempt to bring this to Apple's attention, as I believe this has been caused by a s***ty in-car charger, however I think Apple should be told just in-case there's a small chance there's a dodgy batch of two year old Nanos out there about to start popping."
Kerry e-mailed me that he never got a satisfactory answer out of Apple, though I'd personally finger either improper charging or a malfunction of the device's internal charging circuits. There's a limit on how much current can be put through a lithium-ion cell and exceeding the threshold can produce a gassy chemical reaction that causes the battery to bloat up.
I came across Kerry's write-up while researching material for a blog I started up while I was on Electronics Weekly in the UK. Called Made by Monkeys, it reports on products that snuck by the Quality Control Cops.
In a lot of the cases, the makers seem to have had good intentions, but regrettably bungled the execution. So whenever possible, I try and discuss the specific failure mode, bad trade-offs made and what could have been done to avoid the defect.
While I often draw upon my research and personal experiences (lousy luck, I guess), some of the best and most entertaining blog posts have come from EW readers, like a photo taken of a solar-powered parking meter located under a leafy canopy and a Chinese-made stereo that had a spectacular meltdown.
The blog has been well received by EW's engineering readers. I think it's because it was you who gave me the idea for the blog. In survey after survey, I'd hear the same thing from design engineers: "Don't just tell us about what worked. Tell us about what didn't work and what could have been done to avoid the problem."
So we listened, first with the Calamities' column that appears in the back of every issue and now with a new, American-version of my Made by Monkeys blog. Of course we'll link to the best of the British content, but our version will feature original content highlighting our own cheesy products.
Check out our newest post, for example, on a kitchen appliance done in by the non-isotropic properties of onions. You can also read up on an American author's examination of whether or not Napoleon had a wardrobe failure due to tin pest. You can find these MBM candidates and more at Made by Monkeys.
And of course we welcome your submissions to Made by Monkeys. Photos with an amusing caption are appropriate fodder, with extra credit for a brief analysis of the suspected defect and proposed ways it could have been avoided. Email them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll feature the best of them in print, as well as online.