Monday, March 9, 2009

20 Ways To Increase Laptop’s Battery Life

Mobile computing has got better with lighter components, better chips and faster processors. But the Achilles heel of a laptop has remained its battery. So here are we are going to look at ways to increase laptop battery life.

Modern graphic intensive operating systems and resource hungry applications are cutting down the life of your laptop’s battery every day. The average battery life per continuous use still stands at a maximum of three to four hours. So, a fast depleting battery could very swiftly put the crutches on your ‘mobile’ road trip.

Falling just short of carrying an extra pack of batteries in the back-pack, are several ways to keep the juice flowing through the batteries.

1. Ship shape with a defrag

Regular defragmentation helps to arrange data more efficiently thus making the hard drive work less to access the data. The quicker the moving hard drive works lesser is the load placed on the battery. Thus, your batter can last longer. The effect is minimal, but this efficiency goes hand in glove with hard drive maintenance.

2. Kill the resource gobblers

End the background processes that are not vital. Monitor the resource usage through a ‘Ctrl-Alt-Del’ which brings up the Windows Task Manager (in Windows). If you’re not on the internet, it is safe to shut down the immediate non-essential programs running in the taskbar like the antivirus and the firewall. Weed out unnecessary programs running as start-ups by launching the System Configuration Utility from Run – Msconfig – Tab: Startup. Uncheck the programs which you don’t want to launch and reboot the computer once.

3. Pause the scheduled tasks

It may be a defrag or a virus scan, but make sure it is scheduled for a time when you are near a power outlet. If not then nix them for the moment.

4. Unplug external devices

USB devices are the biggest drainers of battery power. Unplug all external devices like an external mouse, PC cards, Wi-Fi, external speakers, Bluetooth and even an attached iPod.

5. Empty the CD/DVD Drives

Even if you don’t intend to use it, don’t leave any CD/DVDs as leftovers in the drives. A spinning drive sucks battery power like a sponge.

6. Go local

Desist using the DVD/external drives while running on batteries. Shift the content to the hard drive or run using (free) virtual drives like Pismo File Mount or even Microsoft’s Virtual CD ROM Control Panel.

7. Lower the lights

The LCD screen of a laptop is another huge power sink. Calibrate the brightness to the lowest level you can tolerate using the Function key toggles or using the Display Settings applet in the Control Panel.

8. Kill the sounds

Mute the speakers and try avoiding the use of multimedia software to maximize the battery life. Installed sound schemes also drain a battery perceptibly.

9. Rid the screensaver

To maximize battery life by a little, switch off the screensaver.

10. Visit Power Options

Get familiar with power management through the ‘Power Options’ applet in the Control Panel. Both XP and Vista come with advanced power management features which shut off components like the monitor and/or the hard drive after specified intervals. This again depends on the chosen ‘Power Schemes’ (for XP) in the same applet. For instance in XP, ‘Max Battery’ under Power Schemes can be selected for maximum battery optimization.

11. Turn off the looks

Today’s OS’s like Windows Vista come with features like ‘Aero Glass’ which are resource guzzlers. One can turn it off and go for the ‘Classic’ appearance which consumes less power. In Vista, click on Desktop - Preferences - View Colour - Appearance - Classic Appearance and Windows Basic graphical interface. In XP it’s - Display Properties - Theme - Windows Classic.

Linux and even Macintosh are better optimized for longer battery life.

12. Hibernate is better than Sleep

In the Stand By mode (or sleep mode), the computer turns of the hard drive and the display but memory remains active while the CPU slows down. This draws on the battery. In contrast, hibernation mode is better because the computer saves the current state and shuts itself down completely thus saving power.

13. Get the most…work on the least

Working on too many programs while on the battery is a sure fire power drainer. Keep use of graphic intensive applications to a minimum. Working on a spreadsheet consumes much less than playing your favourite game. To increase the life of the battery open just one or two programs concurrently.

14. Ram in more RAM

Adequate RAM reduces the load on Virtual memory which by default resides on the hard drive. Though every extra bit of RAM uses up more power, it increases overall savings by short cutting access to the power hungry hard drive.

15. Keep it clean

A laptop with blocked air vents will generate more heat thus reducing the life of the battery. Clean the air vents regularly to keep operating temperatures low. Allow for open space around the vents for air to circulate freely. Keep the area around the laptop clean to avoid entry of dust.

16. Temperature is a silent killer

Undue heat kills off a battery slowly but surely. Avoid leaving the laptop under direct sunlight or inside a closed car.

17. Avoid the memory effect

A problem more for the older Ni-MH batteries than for Li-Ion batteries on which most modern laptops run. Memory effect relates to the loss of battery charge when they are repeatedly recharged after being only partially discharged. It can be prevented by discharging the battery fully and then completely recharging it. Li-Ion batteries on the other hand have no problems with partial discharges and re-charges and complete discharge is never recommended for this type.

18. Update software and drivers

This sounds a bit incongruous but then newer drivers and software are often designed to be more efficient (and hopefully less resource hungry).

19. Use the right adapter

Ensure that the adapter you use to charge the laptop battery is an original one or one with the correct specifications. A mismatch in the wattage could cause an overload thus damaging the laptop and the battery.

20. Pack it up

If you don’t plan to use the laptop on batteries for quite some time, ensure that the charge is nearly 40 percent - remove the batteries and store it in a cool place.

A typical lithium ion battery has an overall average life of 2-3 years. With some care and caution, its mortality can be delayed.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

10 Useful USB Gadgets That Don’t Suck-Part 2

11.USB Chess Board:

This awesome flexible chessboard is great for playing with a friend, by yourself versus the computer, or with online competitors. It’s great because you can roll it up and go. This gadget is compatible with Windows 2000 or Windows XP operating systems and you will need a 1.5 Ghz processor or faster.

12. Mini Humidifier:

This “cool” humidifier works for a full 45 minutes in its continuous mode or you can use it in its intermittent mode and it will run for 90 minutes. You can also pour scented oils in it for aromatherapy. This is a great device especially during those dry winter months.

13. Digital Microscope:

Okay, all you scientists. Here’s one that you’ll love. This innovative microscope can magnify up to 200 times without even changing lenses. It can attain images up at 1,024 x 768 pixels and also records video. It’s pricey, but worth it.

14. USB Basketball Game:

This awesome little basketball game is great to kill boredom at your work desk or great to play at home too. It’s only about 6 1/2 inches

tall, so it’s practical for almost anywhere, despite what your boss might think.

15. USB Refrigerator:

Don’t worry. Your PC’s USB port isn’t going to be powering a 6-foot

tall, bulky unit. This is a mini-fridge that will hold only one can of soda so that you can keep a soda cold and ready for you without even leaving your computer. The best part about this mini-fridge is that it only takes about 5 minutes to cool a soda down to 47 degrees Fahrenheit.

16. Wireless PowerPoint Presenter:

Do you prepare a lot of PowerPoint presentations at work? Are you tired of being tethered by a corded remote? Here’s your answer. This wireless presenter works from up to 10 meters away from the source and includes buttons for page up, page down, escape, and F5 (Presentation). It supports Windows 98SE, ME, 2000, XP, and Vista operating systems.

17. Heated Gloves:

This gadget is terrific if you share an office with others who insist on keeping the air conditioning cranked way up beyond your comfort level. These gloves with the holes in the fingers keep your hands warm and still allow you to work.

18. Roll-up Musical Keyboard:

I doubt you’ve seen anything like this. This 49-key flexible piano keyboard contains six different tones and 100 prerecorded rhythms. The keyboard rolls out to be a little less than 30 inches long, but rolls up into a convenient small package. This keyboard and software is compatible with Windows 2000, XP, and Vista operating systems.

19. Memory Watch:

Now you can carry all of your important data and files right on your wrist with this USB memory watch. This great gadget comes in a 2GB version and a 4GB version and it’s compatible with Windows 98, ME, 2000, XP, Linux 2.4 or higher, and Mac 8.6 or higher operating systems.

20. Digital Photo Frames:

These frames come in sizes that range from 2×2 to 8×10 and hold tons of pictures. They’re awesome for setting in your living room or on your desk at work. It’s something you can enjoy and other people will marvel. Though you’ll pay quite a bit, these frames are worth it.

So, what do you think of these gadgets? I’m certain that you’ve seen some of these before. Which ones most impress you? If you think these are impressive, just think about what the next generation’s technology has in store!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

10 Useful USB Gadgets That Don’t Suck-Part 1

It seems that every day there are new USB devices. Some are cool and some are not. I think that anyone that even has a little bit of geek in them will appreciate any of these. Some have practical uses and some are just fun, but all twenty of these gadgets are awesome.

1. Digital Photo Keychain:

I’m sure you’ve seen these cool devices. They can hold up to 35 pictures and you can download them right from your PC. Now you can have pictures of your kids, dog, girlfriend, or wife with you all the time. Just make sure that you don’t have your wife and your girlfriend on the same key chain.

2. Phone Book Cell Phone/ PC Flash Drive:

This handy device is great for maintaining and backing up your phone numbers on your cell phone. You can edit the phone book on your PC and upload it into your phone. Conversely, you can download phone numbers from your phone to your PC so you can have a backup in case something ever happens to your phone. This device can hold up to 10,000 different phone numbers and is compatible with Windows 98SE, Windows ME, Windows 2000, and Windows XP.

3. USB Beverage Warmer/ Cooler:

Keep your drinks warm or cold with this awesome beverage device. In addition, it doesn’t just link up to your computer. It’s also compatible with video game systems such as Xbox and Playstation and is even compatible with your cable box. You can use this gadget for keeping your coffee warm while you’re working during the day, keeping your soda cool while you’re playing your favorite video games in the evenings, and keeping your beer cold while watching sports on TV on the weekends.

4. Oscillating Fan:

This fan is great for warm offices and can either be stationary or can oscillate to circulate some air. It’s only 7 inches, so it will fit anywhere and is perfect for a desktop in your office.

5. Wireless mouse:

There are numerous wireless mice to choose from on the market these days, but it’s an awesome PC item that I think everyone should have. You never have to worry about the restraints of a corded mouse again. You also don’t have to worry about the cord rubbing against a surface so much that it eventually loses wire connection, which is a common problem that can occur over an extended period of time. The wireless mouse is compatible with Windows 98, Windows ME, Windows 2000, and Windows XP.

6. Flexible Keyboard:

This cool keyboard is not only spill-proof, but also water-resistant. You can actually run it under water to clean it! This is a great sanitary solution to keyboards that may sit out for months with crumbs from several meals and the oils from the skin of several different people.

Also, it’s made of high quality silicone, so you can bend it or roll it and it won’t damage the keyboard at all. The keyboard also has a soft and silent touch so you won’t hear that “tap-tap-tap” when you’re typing as you do with traditional keyboards. This keyboard is compatible with Windows Vista, Windows XP, Windows ME, Windows 2000, and Windows 98.

7. Battery Charger:

The USB battery charger holds either 2 AA batteries or 3 AAA batteries. This device contains two LED status lights and has an automatic off feature.

8. Pencil Sharpener:

The USB pencil sharpener can be useful at work or at home. It’s a perfect size for a desk as its dimensions are about 3 inches all the way around.

9. Missile Launcher:

This little gadget has no practical use, but it’s a lot of fun. It’s equipped with three foam missiles, pre-recorded sound effects, and missile software in the form of a CD. The missiles can really soar through the air and can shoot up to 20 feet away. This means that you could have a lot of fun at home and drive your pets crazy, or you can have even more fun at work and drive your coworkers crazy.

10. Pen/ MP3Player:

I’ve never seen as awesome a USB gadget as the pen/ MP3 player. It contains a 1GB or 512 MB flash drive, FM radio, built in microphone for voice recordings, and earphones. You get 7 hours of playing time, so it would be perfect to take to work. It’s compatible with Windows XP, 2000, ME and 98 SE operating systems as well as Mac and included in the package is a driver CD and the user’s manual. It’s pretty reasonably priced as the 512 MB version is under $50 and the 1 GB version is under $70.

20 Useful USB Gadgets That Don’t Suck

It seems that every day there are new USB devices. Some are cool and some are not. I think that anyone that even has a little bit of geek in them will appreciate any of these. Some have practical uses and some are just fun, but all twenty of these gadgets are awesome.

1. Digital Photo Keychain:

I’m sure you’ve seen these cool devices. They can hold up to 35 pictures and you can download them right from your PC. Now you can have pictures of your kids, dog, girlfriend, or wife with you all the time. Just make sure that you don’t have your wife and your girlfriend on the same key chain.