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10 Tips to get Extra Juice out of your Laptop’s Battery

Spending hours and hours in University everyday, time and again I find myself craving a plug to charge my laptop from near-death.

It’s a terribly frustrating thing to see you computer lose power in front of your very eyes, forced to return to the arcane method of taking notes, pen and paper. It’s all very much last century.

Over time I’ve developed a few tactics to help me limp through a full day on a single charge. They may help you too (note: I’m using Windows Vista, which has a couple of power-saving features over XP).

Switch Profile to Power Saver
Perhaps the most obvious switch would be to switch the power profile. To do this, click once on the button in the system tray and select Power Saver from the list that appears.

Lower Display Brightness
Another obvious one. A bright LCD, while nice-looking, costs dearly in terms of power drain. Most laptops have keyboard commands to reduce the brightness.

Sleep Instead of Shutdown (Vista-only)
This is an important one. Whatever you do, don’t shutdown your computer. The time it takes to start up, and the power it needs to do so means that you typically lose around 5-8% charge just from a single restart. Sleeping is much more efficient. You can get back to work instantly. Sure, you lose a tiny amount of charge over time, but it’s more worth it. This is a Vista-only feature. XP users can try standby to see how that works.

Turn Off Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and Other Wireless Connections
Unless you absolutely need it, I found that turning off the Wi-Fi receiver increased battery life considerably. I got an extra half hour just by turning it off. The same holds true for other wireless connections, like Bluetooth, just to a lesser extent. Once again, most laptops have switches somewhere on the casing to turn on/off the wireless receivers.

Remove USB Devices
USB devices, like pen-drives, and mice draw power. Remove them, simple as.

Lighten the Processor’s Workload
The processor takes up the most power, and so you’d want to ensure it isn’t working too hard. There are 2 ways to ensure you’re not straining your CPU too much and the benefits are huge.

Firstly, the obvious stuff. Avoid graphics-intensive programs like games, and keep as few apps open as possible. I typically keep just a word processor open in class.

Secondly, there is actually a software switch to restrict your CPU’s power usage. To access it, click on the battery indicator in the taskbar, and click More power options. Then, under Power Saver, click to Change plan settings. Finally, click to change the advanced options. Find Processor Power Management to alter the minimum and maximum processor states.

I typically keep it at a minimum of 40% and a max of 75%, but I’ve successfully taken the levels even lower. Be careful though, because setting it too low will cause the laptop to crash. Either way, prepare for a major slowdown in general computer use. Files will take longer to save, and applications will run sluggishly. It will also take longer to go to sleep and wake it back up. However, the benefits are worth it. I can squeeze an extra 50 minutes with this method.

Mute the Speakers
For some reason, I always seem to be able to get an extra 10 minutes by simply muting the speakers.

Look for Power Sockets
A tip that can never be under-estimated. Look around for power sockets so you can feed your laptop, even if it’s for just 10 minutes or so – it’s worth it.

I hope you enjoyed these tips. If you have any more to share, just leave it in the comments below.

photo credits: power cable and wifi switch
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iPod Touch 2.0 Upgrade: Worth it?

In July 2008, Apple released the software version 2.0 for the iPhone and iPod Touch. For first-generation iPod Touch users (like myself – the one without the loudspeaker), this upgrade is available at a cost of $10.

Hell yes

The simple answer is that yes, it’s definitely worth the cost. But before you go, here’s a quick look at what the 2.0 upgrade brings to the table.

All the iPhone software (like Mail, Maps, Notes, Stocks, and Weather)

This isn't a big deal to people who already bought these in the January software update (for $20, mind you). But for everyone else, this goes a long way towards bringing the Touch up to speed with the iPhone.

Updates to all apps

The update also brings to the table extra features and improvements to all the apps. Improvements include: support for Microsoft Exchange, searchable contacts, a scientific calculator, better email controls, and more supported email attachment formats.

App Store

In the biggest change of all , this little icon is a portal to a whole world of fun, useful, crazy applications for you to discover.


The applications that you get by default, as well as the thousands of apps available mean that you can now really transform the iPod into a do-it-all device (except phone, that is). For me, it completely changes the original rating I gave it.

Final Ratings
Before 2.0 software upgrade: 9.5/10
After 2.0 software upgrade: 10/10
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iPod Touch 1st-gen: Detailed Review

After recently purchasing a 16GB first-generation iPod Touch, I finally got round to publishing a detailed review (and screenshot tour).

The iPod Touch is widely regarded as being the “little brother” to the iPhone. Indeed, it’s similar in many ways to the iPhone. For one thing, they look almost identical – bar a few small (yet important) differences. AppleInsider has some great comparison photos between the iPod Touch and the iPhone.

Out of the box

After the first sync, the Touch was reporting firmware version 1.1.4. Version 2.0 was a paid ($9.95) upgrade. After connecting to iTunes, the first sync, charge, software update (to v1.1.5) took around 3 hours.

With v1.1.5, the iPod Touch comes with only a few of the default iPhone applications, including: Safari, the YouTube app, Calendar, a separate Contacts app, Clock, Calculator, the iTunes mini-store, and of course the iPod part (separated into music, videos, and photos).

Physically speaking

The iPod Touch has slightly different proportions to the iPhone. First off, at just 8mm, it’s considerably thinner than the iPhone (at 11.5mm). It also has a sharper matte black edge. The black rim actually makes the iPod better for viewing media on than the chromed iPhone. The back covers the battery, and you will need to get the battery replaced by Apple. It is of the typical iPod stainless steel that scratches up j so easily you’ll be cursing within a few hours at how the first wave of scratches got there.

The bottom holds the 30-pin connector slot and a standard 3.5mm stereo headphone jack. There are no volume buttons on the side, but you can use a quick double-tap of the home screen to change volume – from any mode, including sleep.

Build quality

Build quality is, typically excellent. There are no creaks when you squeeze the unit, and don't expect scratches on the front panel, which is made of glass and not plastic.

Music: perfect

The music side of the Touch is very good – delivering some really good quality and using the great panoramic screen to full effect. It’s all very easy to use, and with Coverflow just a rotation away, we all knew the music app is pretty much perfect.

The music player can be controlled from just about anywhere in the iPod’s interface. Just double-tap the home screen to bring up a small dialog box. So far, the only screen I found where this doesn’t work is in Coverflow. See an example here.

Seeing the huge album artwork is always a treat – provided you actually bother to add the artwork in iTunes.

Coverflow also looks absolutely splendid, again thanks to the amazing screen.

Photos, Videos, and Safari: as expected

The photos app works just like the iPhone’s, except for the sending capabilities. The stretching and pinching actions will zoom in and out respectively, while photos can be viewed in either portrait or landscape mode by simply rotating the iPod itself.

The videos app, on the other hand, is a lot more primitive. Videos are always played in landscape mode, no matter the orientation. Still, videos look great on the screen.

The iPod is the first iPod to connect to the internet via Wi-Fi. Safari is one of the true killer apps on the device. Apple have included a stripped-down version, called Mobile Safari, specifically for the Touch/iPhone. Very little seems to have been left out.

The Touch offers an amazing, almost desktop-like browsing experience. Pages are rendered intact and it actually looks exactly like the web we know, not some “mobile” version. Safari can be switched to landscape orientation too. The zooming works just like in the photos application. I did miss the favicons though.

Not perfect: stupid Safari caching

One thing that annoyed me was the fact that there was some stupid caching at work. Every time you quit Safari and then brought it back up, it would reload the page you were just on. So you’d see it as it was for a second, then the screen blanks out to reload the page. This sucks, because if you suddenly lose your Wi-Fi connection and bring up Safari to finish that article you were reading, you’re out of luck.

YouTube, Calendar, Contacts, Calculator, Clock and iTunes store

The YouTube app functions exactly like the iPhone’s: well. It also sports great integration with Safari. Clicking a YouTube link will take you out of Safari and load up the video in the YouTube app.

Calendar, Contacts, and Calculator all work in a predictable way – albeit with the Apple-flair, and multi-touch goodness that you’ll eventually grow accustomed to.

The  Clock is a good-looking, yet typical, iPod clock. It has support for multiple clocks at once and also has functions for a stopwatch, timer, and an alarm with simplistic ringtones (using the built-in piezoelectric speaker).

The iTunes Mini Store is actually a very good representation of the full-blown Store in iTunes proper. It offers a featured section, an extensive top-ten listing of many categories, a find-as-you-type search, and a downloads area. Purchases are later synced up with your iTunes proper. Apple have made it ridiculously easy to buy songs on the Mini Store – and they’re counting on it.

In conclusion

I bought the Touch mostly because I needed Mobile Safari – but also because I was tiring of the substandard mp3 players I had been buying. The iPhone wasn’t yet legally available either.

I’ve grown extremely fond of the iPod Touch. It’s almost perfect. What makes this iPod so special is that it’s not just an iPod – it can do so much more. Beware though, with version 1 it can’t do nearly as much as the iPhone can. Version 2.0 gives you most of the iPhone apps at a price ($9.95).

Mobile Safari works amazingly well, as does the YouTube client, as well as of course the Photos and Videos applications.

You have to congratulate Apple on including such an amazing technology in this device. The multi-touch user interface really is light years ahead of anything else out there right now. It is easily the most responsive, slick user interface I’ve ever seen. Credit also has be given to the excellent level of UI consistency around the device.

Of course, we can’t forget that first and foremost the iPod is meant to be a music player – and in that department it excels. Features such as Coverflow make the experience even better. Sound quality is excellent, and the supplied earphones are okay for non-discerning ears. Volume was never as issue – you can go as high as you’ll ever need. I was impressed by how much 16GB can hold, it easily fit my entire library. Also, the marriage with iTunes is as seamless as ever.

If the iPod could just do a little more of the iPhone’s tricks with software 1.1.5 and fixed some niggling, non-critical bugs, then it might just get a perfect score.

Final Rating: 9.5/10
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Google Chrome ads on YouTube?

Adverts for Google’s web browser, Chrome, are surfacing on YouTube – the popular video-sharing service.

The adverts seen so far are appearing at the bottom of some videos, in the form of banners.


That fact that Google is using YouTube to advertise shouldn't come as a surprise. After all, Google does own YouTube.

What is really surprising is that they’re advertising something that isn’t yet out of beta mode – it hasn’t even reached version 1.0 yet! However, Google is known keep its products in perpetual beta mode.

Confidence by Google

One thing’s for sure. Using YouTube to advertise its new browser is a sign of confidence in its own product. Google seem to be placing huge faith in their web browser to deliver a better browsing experience.

Reaching out to average users

YouTube is a primary place to distribute ads, since it has enormous reach; and is typically visited by all sorts of users – including average, non tech-savvy users who typically stick to Internet Explorer.

Good for the industry

It has to be said, this can only be a good thing for the industry of web development. Google Chrome is highly regarded in terms of standards compliance and online security. Migrating users from the potentially more vulnerable Internet Explorer is always a good thing.

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