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How to Re-Install Firmware on your iPod

If you are a frustrated iPod owner, this article is for you.  iPods are great devices, but sometimes they start acting up.  If your iPod is behaving strangely and you have tried everything possible to repair it; then re-installing the firmware can’t hurt.

Re-installation of firmware is a last resort measure you should only do if everything else you have tried has failed.  You will have to erase your entire iPod to do this; therefore backup all of your data and music before you start.

Step 1: Erase your iPod

Erasing your iPod is simple, it just varies slightly depending on your operating system.

1. MAC OS X. Proceed to the Disk Utility (DU). DU can be accessed via — Macintosh HD> Applications> Utilities.  Once you have the Disk Utility window open, look for your iPod in the list.  Select it and then click repair.  Then just select “Erase” to erase your iPod’s memory.

2. Windows.  If you are running Windows, open “My Computer” and find your iPod.  Right click on the iPod icon, and select “Format”.  Under formatting options, select “FAT 32”, and then click on “Format.”  Formatting in this fashion automatically erases all data on your iPod.  Once formatting is completed, you may be prompted to reboot your computer – this is purely an optional step.

Step 2: Restore your iPod

Your iPod should now be as good as new.  Open iTunes – iTunes should automatically find the iPod and connect.  If it does, you will then be prompted with how to re-install the firmware on your iPod – simply follow the on screen instructions.

If iTunes does not prompt you, look for the “Source” column in the left half of the iTunes window.  Choose your iPod from this column, and then select “Summary”.  “Summary” is located at the top of the iTunes window alongside “Music”, “Contacts”, and “Photos.”  Then click on “Restore” in the “Summary” window.  If you are prompted for your username and password, type them, then acknowledge the restore process.  Your iPod’s factory settings will now be restored.  After the restoration process is complete, remove the cable connecting your iPod to your computer.  Upon disconnection, your iPod will immediately prompt you to reconnect it.  After reconnecting, your iPod will now update and restart.  After your iPod has restarted, you should see a “Do not disconnect” message on its screen.

iTunes will then prompt you to name your iPod.  Once you type in a name and select “Done”, iTunes’ main window will be displayed.  Wait until you get an “Update Completed” confirmation, and then you may quit the program.  Remove the cable from your iPod, and a few seconds later your iPod will display “Language” options.  Simply select your language, and then you’re done.  If your iPod does not power on, it may just need to charge for 24 hours.  After it has fully charged, try it again.  If you are still having difficulty at this point, it may be time to have your iPod looked at.  If the iPod’s warranty is still valid, you can contact Apple via their support page.  If the warranty is expired, there are a number of places that will work on your iPod for a fair price, just perform a local search for iPod Repair.  Hopefully this will help you solve your iPod woes.

How to Save Hundreds on a New Computer

Computer technology is always improving, and a few years from now, your new computer you bought yesterday will be obsolete.  Obsolesce; however is not necessarily a terrible thing.

If you have been thinking about replacing your older computer and buying a new one, you have a large number of options at your disposal.  Nowadays people want the latest and greatest, so as long as you don’t need the newest tablet, you can usually save a bunch of money on a new computer; here’s how:

Keep in mind, most people when they buy a new computer, get something really expensive that they didn’t need in the first place.  We won’t be doing that; we’re going to only buy exactly what we need, shop around, and we won’t be buying any extended warranties.

Search Online

The best deals are usually online.  Not always, but when it comes to technology, the most competitive retailers are usually online.  When you walk into your local computer store, you are paying more for service.  This is ok usually, as I am a normally a big fan of paying people what they are worth; however we’re on a strict budget.

No Additional Software

When you buy a new computer, sometimes there is additional productivity and security software bundled with it.  We won’t need any of that.  You can save hundreds on your new computer if you just make sure that you aren’t paying for any additional software you don’t need.  You can always add these later if the need arises.  My personal favorite is to use the free security application; Microsoft Security Essentials, instead of paying for anti-virus programs.  If you have a legal copy of windows, you are eligible to download this great security program for free.

No Extended Warranty

Extended warranties usually seem like a good idea.  However; when you actually take a look at what the factory warranty covers and how long it lasts, you will realize that by the time it runs out, you will probably want a new computer anyway.

The factory warranty timeframe is usually around 24 or 36 months; so instead of getting an extended warranty, just save the money for a new pc in a couple of years.

Following the tips above can easily save you hundreds on your new computer without sacrificing performance.

Android Devices Predicted to Out Number Windows PCs by 2016

The analysts over at IDC (International Data Corporation) have made some bold predictions recently.  Most prominent is the prediction that sales of ‘smart devices’ (smart phones and tablet PCs) will more than double between now and the end of 2016.

According to official sales figures for 2011; 916 million ‘smart devices’ were shipped last year.  That’s just the tip of the iceberg it seems.  If you analyze computing technology trends over the past decade, you will see there has been a paradigm shift away from desktop computers, and towards mobile devices.  This shift has and will continue to put pressure on the sales of new desktop and laptop computers.

The IDC also predicts that in 2016, over 1.84 billion smartphones will be shipped (compared with 1.1 billion predicted for 2012), which is more than double the number shipped in 2011.  This trend represents a quite a flock to a device that didn’t even exist a decade ago.

Rise of Android

The IDC has also predicted that the Android OS will overtake Windows© as the software of choice for running mobile devices and computers.

Currently the market-share allocation for operating systems is Windows – 35.9% (based on x86 compatible CPUs), Android- 29.4% (based on the ARM CPU) and 14.9% – Apple’s iOS.

Whilst Apple may be getting headlines for pioneering technology, Android has gobbled up large market share over the last few years – and the IDC sees no reason for that to change anytime soon.

Current IDC predictions for market share in 2016 stand at Android – 31.1%, Windows – 25.1% and iOS – 17.3%.  If these figures come to fruition, this would be the first time in history that Windows © is overtaken by another operating system.

This shift is mostly attributed to the rapidly growing smartphone and tablet PC segments, however Google has also been recently making a splash with its ‘Chromebook’ ©.  Time will tell who will stay on top in the mobile market.



Nearly 1 Billion Smart Connected Devices Shipped in 2011 with Shipments Expected to Double by 2016, According to IDC.  (2012, March 28).  Retrieved from http://www.idc.com/getdoc.jsp?containerId=prUS23398412

How to Bypass an Internet Firewall Using a Web Proxy

Employers and educational establishments prefer employees and students to spend their time productively—this includes using internet access for work-related research.  The ever-growing popularity of social networking (i.e. Facebook) has led to many people preferring to spend their days keeping in touch with friends, or playing the latest apps, on social networking sites — often using company resources.

To combat this growing trend of work-time online socializing, many businesses and institutions have attempted to restrict access to any, or all, social networking sites and forums.  For any establishment using an Intranet-based system, this can be as simple as instructing a server to block access to these sites – and for the more-advanced systems, a record can be kept of the individual terminals attempting to logon to any restricted URL addresses.

How to bypass any Intranet System that blocks Facebook Using a Proxy Address

This technique will work for any of the social networking sites but for this example we will use Facebook.  What you will need is a ‘Facebook proxy’.  This is a website that allows you to access Facebook via that website.  This means that any Intranet system will only see the user as visiting the proxy website (which is unrestricted) and due to the way that the website redirects a user to Facebook, the blocked URL address is hidden from the Intranet server.

Here is an example using a proxy website called UnblockF.com.  This site can be used to access many of the social networking sites and is 100% free to use.  By following the simple instructions on the site for accessing Facebook, a user can be taken directly to Facebook’s log-in page.  Whereas a normal URL address for this page would be “http://facebook.com”, accessing Facebook via UnblockF.com will give a URL address like “unblockf.com/index.php?q=aHRocDovL3d3dy5rnYWNlYm9vay5jl”.  As you can see, this URL address has no mention of the specific Facebook URL and will be completely invisible to any Intranet server that has instructions to block access to the Facebook website.

Even after logging in and accessing further Facebook pages the Facebook URL will still be completely hidden, using the same UnblockF.com URL format. (Note: Facebook may ask a user to answer a few simple questions when they first logon to the site via a new proxy address.  This is because Facebook doesn’t recognize the address and wants authentication from the user).

Accessing any site via a proxy address will add a small time-delay to any function performed.  Usually a few extra seconds to load a new page and is usually not a huge negative.

Here are a few more Facebook proxy websites: facebookproxy.net, icanaccess.com, faceoxy.com. You can find many other similar (and fresh) sites by doing a simple search for “Facebook proxy”.

Some clever Intranet administrators may notice that a lot of people are suddenly visiting certain random websites (the proxy sites) and may start to block access to these.  It is a good idea to vary which Facebook proxy sites you use and to keep this technique to yourself — don’t be tempted to broadcast it to all your other friends, or colleagues, suffering social network withdrawal.  This may seem cruel, but so is losing your own access due to sloppy track-covering by colleagues.

Now you know how you can access Facebook anywhere, anytime, using an extremely simple technique!

How to Share Files Between Two Computers, and Share an Internet Connection Using a Crossover Cable

Nowadays it is common for an average household to have more than one computer.  Transferring large files between multiple computers securely doesn’t have to be a daunting task; it can actually be quite easy. Since most everyone nowadays has a USB drive, or flash drive for transferring small files quickly; connecting two computers via a crossover cable would be mainly for larger files.  A crossover cable is also useful in situations where you need additional security and can’t risk your data with a USB drive.

The first thing you need to do is determine if both computers have an Ethernet port.  Almost every computer made in the last 10 years has an Ethernet port, so this shouldn’t be a problem. If both of the computers have Ethernet ports, then you are already halfway there.

A Crossover Cable is a type of Ethernet cable, usually the same size and shape as an ordinary cat-5 or cat-6 cable, however usually different in color, and different in wiring.  Crossover cables have wiring that “crosses over”; thereby bypassing the need for a hub, or other medium in between the computers.  The computers each see each other as part of a network, enabling sharing of internet connections, as well as easy transfer of files.  A normal or straight Ethernet cable will not work for this purpose; those cables are designed to connect devices through a medium, or a hub, not directly.  The computers will not see each other is a regular or “straight” Ethernet cable is used.

You can use an Ethernet crossover cable or a crossover adapter with a normal Ethernet cord.  If you don’t have one already, crossover cables can be bought from most local computer and retail electronic stores.  You can get away with a networking hub if you do not have a crossover cable and don’t wish to buy one.  Using a hub is akin to setting up a LAN, or local area network.  You would simply connect two regular network cables to separate computers, and then join them with an Ethernet hub, if you have one.  This is also simple, and quite secure.  Much more secure than an “ad hoc” wireless network since every computer in the network must be physically connected; not just in close proximity.

The speed of the physical transfer depends on the type of the cable you are using, as well as the networking capability of both computers.  The speed of file transfer via a crossover or network cable can be very high, as high as a USB cable in most cases.  Using a crossover cable is one of the fastest ways to transfer and share files between different computers as crossover cables can reach speeds of over 100mb/s.

What you will need-

An Ethernet or crossover cable.  Regular Ethernet cables are downright cheap; crossover cables are slightly more expensive.  If you have an older computer without a network port, then you most likely do not have a network card.  In this case you can use a USB to Ethernet cable, or a USB to Ethernet adapter.

Both computers will also need network cards.  Once again, this is not really a problem with any modern computer; however some older computers may not have the necessary network card, or necessary drivers to run these cards properly.  If this is the case, and you have valuable data you need to get off the computer, you can purchase and install one.  Usually this is easy enough to accomplish with the correct driver, which is usually found by referencing computer manufacturers’ website.

Once both computers have been connected via a crossover cable, a network hub, or a regular Ethernet cable with a crossover adapter, the computers are joined in a network.  All that is left to do is to run the network wizard on both computers, configuring the network.

Steps -

1. Connect Cable- First of all you will have to connect each end of the Crossover cable to both computers. You can use either end on either computer while connecting the cable.

2. After booting up both computers, you may need to set up the connection manually under network settings.  This is usually as simple as running the “network wizard” on both computers.

3. After a connection has been established, it is actually possible to share an internet connection between both computers.

How to Configure a Shared Internet Connection-

Setting up the Host Computer

The host computer is the computer which has the internet connection.  To configure the host, go to the Start button on the Task bar. Now go to the Control Panel and you will see several options. Now find the Network Connection icon and click on it.

Right click on the network you are currently using to access the internet.  Then right click, and then left click on properties. Under properties, click advanced, check the check box relating to allowing another computer to use the host’s internet connection.  Now the network status of the host computer should change to shared.

Configure the second computer-

To configure the second computer you will have to also access the networks, you should see a network with “limited or no connectivity”.  Right click on it and go to properties.  In the properties section you will have to double click on the Internet Protocol. Now you will find a new window. In this window check the icon that says automatically obtain IP address. Also check the option to Automatically Obtain DNS server.

All that is left to do at this point is to find your local network icon on your task bar with the yellow icon saying, “limited or no connectivity”.  Right click on this icon and select repair, refreshing the IP address.  Rebooting also will refresh the IP address.

Any browser on the second computer will use the internet connection of the host computer.

Voilà! You can now share files, and internet connections between computers.

How to Choose an eBook Reader

March 28th, 2012 | Posted by admin in Portability - (4 Comments)

How to Choose an eBook Reader

Dedicated ebook readers are hot sellers these days; prices are dropping and ebook files are readily available, so more and more consumers are taking advantage of dedicated readers.  People like ebooks because they don’t require physical storage space, are instantly available when you make the purchase, and are portable with an ebook reader or a smartphone.  Which reader should you buy?  There are lots of manufacturers offering devices these days and each reader has its own pros and cons.

Before you invest your money in any of these offerings, consider these factors:

Screens.  Not all manufacturers use the same technology. How important is the screen quality to you? Do you want the ability to read outside, possibly in direct sunlight?  Do you find that screen glare from “traditional” materials and technology strains your eyes?  Also, screen size can matter.  If you’re used to reading on a smartphone, getting a paragraph or two of text on the screen at onetime is standard. However, what if you want more text at once?

Battery life.  If you plan on recharging your reader on a regular basis, this probably isn’t as important as other factors.  However, long battery life can be great if you’re going on vacation or simply forget to recharge your device.  Speaking of batteries, remember that some devices use internal batteries while others use plain, disposable types you can easily find and replace on your own.

Storage space. Some ebook vendors, like Amazon, will archive your ebooks; you can grab them whenever you want assuming you can connect to the service.  Storage space isn’t a priority in this case, but what if you want to keep your collection on hand?  What if you’re not planning on syncing your device in the near future?  Some readers have external, removable storage, which might be important.

File compatibility.  If you do most of your ebook shopping at Barnes & Noble’s website, you probably don’t want a Kindle, and will most probably get the Nook.  Before you buy a reader, make sure you know which files will work on it so that you don’t have to buy another version of the same book or do without.

Extra features.  Do you want a full keyboard for making notes? Does a color screen appeal to you? Do you like the idea of being able to walk into Barnes & Noble with your device and get coupons and other bonuses?  Do you want to temporarily loan ebooks to friends and family?  Read company information about each device you’re considering and decide which additional features are important to you.

Price.  Even though prices are falling, an e-reader is still an investment. Finding a device that fits your budget and is expected to give you quality service for years is one way to make your dollars work hard for you.

Ultimately, the final decision depends on your budget, preferences, and needs. There are lots of devices on the market, just like there are lots of people reading ebooks, so you’re bound to find one that’s nearly perfect for you.

How to Share Your Photos and Images on Forums

No matter what subject your favorite online forum discusses, you’ll probably want to share a photo or two with the rest of the members.  If you’re a group of cat lovers, you’ll want to post pictures of your fur baby. If you’re all into cars, you’ll want to show off your classic Mustang.  The only problem is that you don’t know a fast, easy way to share your favorite photos with the other forum members. That’s about to change.

Uploading and sharing your pictures takes just a couple of minutes—and won’t cost you anything.  One of the most important things to know is that particular forum’s protocol for sharing photos.  Every forum moderator has his or her own preferences.  You need to follow these rules so that you’ll continue to be a welcome part of the online community.  Pay attention to things like size requirements, appropriate subject matter and what means of posting the forum owner prefers (some want you to embed the photo in your post; others prefer an external link).

Once you’re familiar with these rules, pick the pictures that you’re most interested in sharing.  Make sure that you have backup copies of these images before you do anything.  That way, you won’t lose anything if something goes wrong.  A routine backup every few weeks or so is a good idea even if you don’t modify your photos, as a computer crash will take out your files.

Not many forums let you upload to their site directly from your computer.

Uploading directly to a forum stores the image files on the forum’s server.  That will take up a lot of valuable space that’s better used on other things — like archiving past forum posts.  Instead, you can upload your pictures to an online photo service.  Photobucket and Image Shack are two popular examples of these sites, TinyPic is another.  After you sign up, you can create a virtual photo album.  In many cases other users can view these images if you send them the URL.  This is a quick, easy way to share your photos with everybody on the forum.  All you have to do is create a clickable link directly to the photos or albums that you wish to share. The other readers will take care of the rest (clicking, mostly).

An even better way to share your pictures is to embed them in your forum posts.  This is easy to do.  Go to the message composition (or message reply) page. You should see a button on the control panel that lets you create an “img” link.  Click on this once to open that code.  Now copy the URL of the photo that you want to share and paste that into the message window.  Close the tag and preview your post.  If all has gone well, you should see your image right there in the forum.

One courteous thing to do is to resize your photos at some point before you share them with other forum members.  You can resize the files with an image editing program like Paint Shop Pro.  If you don’t want to spend any money on software, GIMP is a good program – as well as free alternative.  Just resize your image, upload to the online storage site and share as usual.

Many people, however, aren’t familiar with image editing programs.  Others just don’t want to put that much effort into editing their digital images.  If you’re one of those people, look for a storage site that lets you resize images after you have uploaded them.  Some sites even give you labeled defaults so that you don’t have to put much work into figuring out the right sizes for your forum-bound photos.  Just click on the appropriate size and let the site do the rest of the work.

Another thing to remember is that some people are still using dial-up Internet access.  Believe it or not, it doesn’t really take that much bandwidth to load text, and check your email.  Remember we all used to use dial-up at one time.  You should keep your photo posting to a reasonable level — say, two or three resized images at the most per thread — to make sure that these users will be able to enjoy the forum as much as you do.  If you still aren’t sure of what you’re doing, you should search the forum for answers.  Typically, somebody before you has had the same problem.  He or she probably created a thread about the issue, and received help.  If you use the forum’s “search” feature to find this thread and follow the advice, you’ll save yourself the time and trouble of creating a new thread and then waiting for replies.

Sharing your favorite images and photos with other people on online forums and sites is easier than you might think, especially nowadays.  Just follow the above tips to get started.

How to Double Your Smartphone’s Battery Life

What is the most frustrating thing about your brand new Smartphone?  It might be the 10 percent battery drain per hour, or less if you phone is constantly searching for Wi-Fi networks or GPS satellites.    Smartphones are becoming increasingly complex and at are requiring more and more power to operate.  All across the internet users are complaining about the poor battery life of their new smartphones, much like they did when they got their first laptop.  The battery never seems to last quite as long as you need it to.  We all know it’s not reasonable to expect the phone to run 10 hours a day if you are on the phone even half of that time, but it would be nice to make it home with a little extra left in the reserve.  A simple solution to battery woes, and this is what I have personally adopted, it to buy an extra battery, and keep it with you or in your bag.  You can find these extra batteries online for sometimes under 10 dollars.  Then, simply charge the extra battery at night only if you used it that day.  If you can’t find an extra battery on the cheap, or simply don’t want the hassle of juggling two batteries, then you will need to be proactive in preventing unnecessary battery drain on your phone while you aren’t using it. New WiFi seeking technology is helping in this respect, using less power when finding networks, however for some users maximizing their smartphone battery is still mission critical.  This article is for them.

For all of their features and versatility, smartphones–even the best of them–are still cursed with abysmal battery life.  Unless you use your phone very sparingly (and who does that?), you’re lucky to make it home at the end of the day with enough juice left in the battery for one more call.  But with the right apps and a little insight, you can double your smartphone’s battery life–and work (and play) longer than ever before.

Though some phones live a little longer than others on a single charge, all smartphones suffer from the same basic problem: They do too much.  Any 3.7-volt battery small enough to fit into your phone’s tiny chassis stands no chance of lasting multiple days under a steady workload of running apps, browsing the Web, sending e-mail, and doing whatever else phones are expected to do. (Oh yeah, and actually making phone calls.)

The author’s HTC Thunderbolt is lucky to survive an entire business day on one charge. But with the tricks in this article, he manages to get home at night with a little juice left in the battery.

Most smartphone batteries today are rated at around 5 watt-hours, meaning that they can deliver a constant charge of 1 watt to the device over a period of 5 hours. If your phone actually uses 1 watt per hour, and you pull it off the charger at 7:00 a.m., you can expect it to be dead by lunchtime.  Luckily most phones use a fraction of a watt an hour in standby mode, so they are more likely to last 10 hours or so; but most do use about a watt per hour when making calls.  The key to increasing your phone’s battery life is to reduce the amount of power the handset uses per hour.

One obvious way to reduce your phone’s energy draw is to use it less (yeah, right).  A more practical approach is to manage the phone’s power consumption by turning off unneeded features and turning down adjustable features.  Turning off your phone’s radios when you’re not using them, reducing the screen’s brightness, and killing apps that run in the background are among the tricks that can help your phone’s battery last longer.  Turn off Bluetooth, WiFi, GPS, and all unnecessary programs.   The more power drain you can prevent ahead of time, the more power your phone will have when you go to use it.   Simple physics right?  The other thing to keep in mind is your smartphone battery health.   Proper care and feeding of a modern smartphone lithium ion battery is simple;  charge your phone when it is dead, let it charge all the way, and don’t leave it on the charger for several hours after it is actually done charging.  Leaving your smartphone constantly plugged in after it is done charging is training the battery to actually reduce the charge it maintains over time.  This principle is true of laptops as well, since most of the time we leave the plugged in.  Over time the battery life will detoriate in this fashion, until the point it no longer holds a reasonable charge, and this type of use isn’t covered b most warranties, as they refer to it as “battery abuse”.

First step in liberating your phone from the outlet is to uninstall all bloatware.  There are a lot of applications that came pre-installed on your phone when it was brand new, some of these programs you will never use so uninstall them.  The less applications you have installed on your phone, the better performance you will receive from it, both processing wise and battery life wise.

1. Dim the Screen

You love your smartphone’s large, colorful display, but it’s the battery’s mortal enemy. More than any other component of your phone, the display consumes battery life at a devastating pace.  Most phones include an auto-brightness feature that automatically adjusts the screen’s brightness to suit ambient lighting levels and system activity.  This mode uses less power than constantly running your screen at full brightness would, of course, but you’ll get even better results by turning your screen’s brightness down to the lowest setting that you can tolerate and leaving it there.  Even if you do nothing else suggested in this guide, following this one tip will extend the life of your battery dramatically.

2. Keep the Screen Timeout Short

Under your phone’s display settings menu, you should find an option labeled ‘Screen Timeout’ or something similar. This setting controls how long your phone’s screen stays lit after receiving input, such as a tap.  Every second counts here, so set your timeout to the shortest available time.  On most Android phones, the minimum is 15 seconds. If your screen timeout is currently set to 2 minutes, consider reducing that figure to 30 seconds or less.

3. Turn off Bluetooth

Disable Bluetooth when you’re not using it, and your phone’s battery will last longer.

No matter how much you love using Bluetooth in the car or with your hands-free headset, the Bluetooth radio is constantly searching for signals from the outside world.  When you aren’t in your car, or when you aren’t expecting a call that you’ll want to take via a headset, turn off the Bluetooth radio. (Besides, walking around with a Bluetooth headset in your ear when you’re not actually on a call doesn’t do anything positive for your street cred anyway.) By turning off Bluetooth when you’re not using it, you can add an hour or more to your phone’s battery life each day.

4. Turn off Wi-Fi When Not In Use

As with Bluetooth, your phone’s Wi-Fi radio is a serious battery killer.  While you almost certainly should prefer the improved speed of your home or office Wi-Fi connection to your mobile carrier’s wireless broadband for data services, there’s no point in leaving the Wi-Fi radio on when you’re out and about.  Toggle it off when you go out the door, and turn it back on only when you plan to use data services within range of your Wi-Fi network.  Android users can add the Wi-Fi toggle widget to their home screen to make this a one-tap process.

5. Go Easy on the GPS

Another big battery sucker is your phone’s GPS unit, which is a little radio that sends and receives signals to and from satellites to triangulate your phone’s location on the Earth’s surface.  Various apps access your phone’s GPS to provide services ranging from finding nearby restaurants to checking you in on social networks.  As a user, you can revoke these apps’ access to your phone’s GPS. When you install them, many apps will ask you for permission to use your location.  When in doubt, say no. (And if a game, screensaver, or wallpaper app asks for your location, you should be suspicious about why it wants that data in the first place.)

6. Kill Extraneous Apps

Multitasking–the ability to run more than one app at a time–is a powerful smartphone feature. It also burns a lot of energy, because every app you run uses a share of your phone’s processor cycles.  By killing apps that you aren’t actually using, you can drastically reduce your CPU’s workload and cut down on its power consumption.  For Android phones–which are notorious battery hogs due to their wide-open multitasking capabilities–we like an app called Advanced Task Killer, which has an auto-kill feature that polices your apps throughout the day. In iOS, double-tap the Home button until the multitasking tray appears, hold an icon until an X appears, and tap the X to close the app.

7. Don’t Use Vibrate

Prefer to have your phone alert you to incoming calls by vibrating rather than playing a ringtone?  We understand the inclination; unfortunately, vibrating uses more power than playing a ringtone does.  After all, a ringtone only has to make a tiny membrane in your phone’s speaker vibrate enough to produce sound.  For vibrate alert, the vibration motor swings a small weight around to make your whole phone shake–and that process consumes a lot more juice.  If you don’t want to be disturbed audibly, consider turning off all notifications and leave the phone in view so you can see when a new call is coming in.  This approach is as courteous to your battery as it is to your friends and neighbors.

8. Turn off Nonessential Notifications

It seems as though almost every app in the world now trolls the Internet in search of updates, news, messages, and other information.  When it finds something, the app may chime, light up your screen and display a message, make your LED blink, or do all of the above.  These things consume energy.  Admittedly you likely don’t want to turn off notifications about new text messages or missed calls, but you don’t need to be instantly alerted that radboy84 has just bested your score at Booty Blast.  Turning off superfluous notifications will help your battery last a little longer, and it will eliminate pointless distractions throughout your day.

9. Power Saver Mode for Android

*Note JuiceDefender automatically adjusts your phone’s settings throughout the day to keep battery consumption in check.

Newer Android phones include a Power Saver mode that helps manage the phone’s various power-sapping features for you.  Power Saver mode automatically prevents your apps from updating in the background, dims your screen, reduces the screen timeout setting, disables on-screen animations, and turns off vibration.  By default, this mode usually turns on when your battery level drops below 20 percent, but you can set it to kick in at 30 percent instead.  The sooner the phone switches to Power Saver mode, the longer its battery will last overall.

10. JuiceDefender for Android

By manually adjusting all of your phone’s settings over the course of a day, you may be able to squeeze a few extra usable hours out of your battery; however if the effort sounds too cumbersome to you, consider downloading an app that manages your battery for you.  On Android phones, we’ve seen great results from JuiceDefender, which automatically toggles your radios on and off and manages your phone’s CPU usage to optimize your battery life moment-to-moment.  One drawback to this application is that it will turn off data when you are not using the phone, so any downloads will be automatically paused when you aren’t actively using the phone.  This will also disable automatic updates, which may not be ideal for some users; however on the whole, it’s not a bad app for doing what it’s supposed to do.

Following the tips and tricks in this article, you will see your battery life improve.  Who knows, it might just make the difference between having a dead phone when you need it most; or having just enough battery life to make it through the day.

How to Connect Two Computers with a USB Cable

Did you know you can connect two computers, for sharing files, using a USB cable?  Not a normal USB cable like you would to connect a peripheral to a computer with, but a special USB cable called a Bridged USB, or USB networking cable.  Don’t try to connect two computers using a normal USB cable, as this can cause system damage.

Here’s how you do it:

Buy a Special USB cable- You will need a bridged USB cable or a USB networking cable, you can get this cable from your local computer store.  If you can’t remember which type when you get there, just ask them for the USB cable to connect two computers together.  Now, there are a couple different versions of USB cables out there, make sure the cable you buy is USB 2.0.  USB 2.0 means it has a maximum file transfer speed of 480 mb/s or Megabits per second.  If you buy a USB1.1 cable then you will be limited to a max transfer speed of 11mbp/s; Obviously not ideal when transferring large files,  as you will want the faster speed.  To fully utilize a USB 2.0 cable, each computer will need to have a USB 2.0 port.

Install Drivers- There should be a driver packaged with the cable when you buy it.  Run the driver install program from the attached CD, then follow the on screen prompts to complete the install of the driver.

Modes- You will be prompted to choose one of the following choices when installing the driver: Link Mode or Network Mode

Link Mode- Link Mode allows transfer of individual files between computers at the highest speed the cable and USB ports will support.

Network Mode- Network Mode is really the best option if security is not a concern.  Network mode allows all of the options in link mode (sharing files) as well as the ability to share folders, share an internet connection, and share printers.

After installing the driver go to the hardware manager, and check to see that the USB cable driver is correctly installed.  After the driver has been successfully installed on both computers, simply connect the USB cable to both computers.

If using network mode, make sure you enable sharing from within the Network Connections folder right click on the network which is connected to the Internet and select properties. Under the advanced tab, check the box to allow a shared internet connection. This will allow this computer to act as the internet host, and grant access to other computers in the network.

After restarting, both computers will be networked. You can now pool network resources; such as individual files, folders, printers, and internet connections.  Using this method you can link as many computers together as you wish and share resources.

How to Set Up an Ad Hoc Wireless Network

Setting up an “Ad Hoc” wireless network is an easy way to connect two wireless devices, without the need for a centrally based network acting as an intermediary.  Ad-hoc mode allows two or more devices to discover each other wirelessly and connect directly.  This is useful for the transfer of larger files, via peer to peer, in lieu of an actual network. Setting up one is easier than you may think, and usually takes less than five minutes:

What you will need:

Two or more laptops or wireless devices.

Wireless network adapter capability on all devices you wish to link (aka Wi-Fi); most laptops nowadays come with Wi-Fi standard.

Windows XP users-

Click on the Start button, and then go to Control Panel.  Under Network and Internet Connections, select the “set up a wireless network” option.

You will then be prompted to select a name for your new network (up to 32 characters). Populate this field with the network name of your choosing.  Note – you cannot change the network name once you have chosen it.  Uncheck the lower box titled “The key is provided for me automatically”.  Select “ad hoc computer to computer network” box. In the box labeled “Network key”; create a password for the network connection and then click ok.

Now you have an Ad Hoc network. You can connect two or more computers and devices to the ad hoc network. Under network connections, find the network, and populate the correct password.  The computer will then connect, and then you may share files wirelessly across your newly created network with any authorized laptop in the immediate area.

Vista users-

Under the Network and Sharing Center look for a link titled, “Setup a connection or network’, click on this link.

Choose “setup an ad hoc wireless network”, then click next and choose a name for your network.  Then select WEP and create a password.

All that’s left to do now is to connect to the network with any laptop in the vicinity, just populate the password.

Windows 7 users-

Click “Start” and type “Wireless” and click search. A few options will populate in the search results list; select the option” Manage Wireless Networks”.

Click on the “Add” button then click, “Create ad hoc network”.  The wireless setup wizard will then prompt you for a network name.  It will then prompt you to choose a security type; we recommend WEP, and then create a password.

To connect, simply choose the wireless network from any nearby laptop and populate the correct password.

Creating an “Ad Hoc” wireless network is quite simple, and similar on most windows operating systems.  If you find yourself in a position where you need to quickly exchange large files, or share network resources among laptops or devices, creating an Ad Hoc network on the fly is an easy solution.  You can delete the network after you are done using it for security reasons if you like.  Make sure you always specify a password for this type of network, because it is much less secure than a conventional network.

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