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How to Improve Your Laptop Battery Life

If you own a laptop, you know that after a while, the battery is shot.  Unplug it from the wall and you will be scrambling for an outlet in no time flat.  Question is, how do you prevent this from happening – how do you make your battery last longer?

Modern laptop batteries are known as “Lithium-Ion”.  Lithium Ion is known as the “modern laptop battery”, and has many significant improvements over older batteries.  However, one major downside remains; they still wear out after 2-3 years.  There is no way to prevent the battery wearing out in this timeframe; however there are some tricks you can use that will help your laptop last longer.  After all, they are portable computers, and aren’t much fun tethered to the wall all the time.

The advice of, “let it die completely, then recharge it all the way to retrain it” is no longer applicable.  The “memory effect” or the need to “cycle” a battery by discharging it before recharging it again, is a hangover from the age of NiCad and NiMH batteries. Lithium-ion batteries don’t have a “memory”.  Time to try something else.

There is also no need to charge it, and then let it slowly drain completely as you use your laptop.  This is known as “cycling”, which also doesn’t apply to modern batteries.  In fact, it is actually recommended you leave the laptop plugged in all the time when you don’t need the battery.  This actually preserves the battery as modern laptops can determine the battery level.  If the battery is full, modern laptops will ignore the battery and run off of AC power, preserving the life of the battery.

Evolution of the “Smart Battery”

Modern batteries are smart.  They implement energy saving features, and precise reserve indicators.  The modern battery is quite a feat of engineering indeed; however they are still designed to wear out; like a car tire.  The best advice when it comes to modern batteries is to get smart about battery conservation.

There are some little things you can do that will make a big difference in your battery run time; here are a few examples:

Dim your screen. Screens consume the most power by far.  Every laptop will allow you to micromanage the brightness, so do so.  Taking your laptop somewhere well lit also helps, so you can work at a lower brightness level.

No man is an island, but a long lasting laptop is.  Turn off all antennas and external connections when not in use – Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, 3G, and especially 4G LTE.  If your laptop is constantly searching for an outside connection, it will not last as long.  I have found temporarily disabling the adapters on the road works nicely.  It is very easy to turn them back on when you need them.

Keep your laptop cool: hot batteries don’t perform well.  If you can keep your laptop cool by not setting it down on a thick or soft surface, your laptop will stay cooler.  If your laptop stays cool, your battery will too.  Cool batteries hold a charge longer.

Remove all unused programs, and make sure there are no background programs sucking up power.  Any program running that you do not need is shortening the life of your battery.

No USB, DVD’s or CD’s.  Get in the habit of copying any program or file directly to your hard drive before working on it.  Accessing external media will reduce your run time, especially if it draws any power from your laptop; i.e. an external CD drive.

Also, don’t forget to reboot once a week at a minimum.  Deleting the temporary files that accrue in a session, and refreshing the registry will help your run time as well.

Use your laptop.  When not being used, or in storage, the battery will lose capacity.  Now, while granted capacity diminishes with age it also diminishes quicker without use.  “Self-Discharge” for Lithium Ion is around 2% a month of remaining capacity.

Avoid standby.  In reality, if your laptop is “hibernating” or in standby mode, the battery is being used.  If you aren’t going to use your laptop for a few hours, power it down, don’t just close the lid.

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.

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 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.

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