Tech – for Everyone

Tech Tips and Tricks & Advice – written in plain English.

Travelers’ Tips for Maximum Laptop Battery Life

Tweak Your Laptop For Max Battery Life With The Windows Key

Travelers, the Windows Mobility Center gives you instant access to the most important “tweaks” you can make to your laptop to get the most amount of use from it before the battery dies (aka “between chargings”). Just hit the “Windows key” + X.

Here are my Top 5 Tips for Travelers and laptops:

1) Dim your screen – Laptops come with the ability to dim your screen.  Reducing the brightness down to the lowest level you can tolerate is the best way to maximize your laptop’s battery life.

Use the sliders and drop-down arrows

2) Turn off the WiFi – This and Tip #1 are the “two biggies”. You will save a lot of power (battery charge) by simply only turning PwrOpts_iconon the “radio” when you are using wireless to connect to the Internet. Off when you’re not.
Also, most laptops have a key combination, button, or slider switch to turn the wireless radio on/off.

3) Run off a hard drive, or thumb drive, rather than a CD/DVD – As power consuming as hard drives are, CD and DVD drives are worse. Wherever possible, try to “play” your movies from files saved to disk, or run them on virtual drives using programs like PowerISO, Daemon tools, and Virtual CD.
(See, Tech Tip for Travelers – Make Your Movies More Portable)

4) Cut down on external devices – USB devices, such as a mouse, also put a drain on your laptop battery.  Consider removing them or shutting them down when on battery power.  When maximum battery life is important, charging other devices with your laptop is a “no no”. Take the time to charge your devices before you leave as well.

5) Cut down on programs running in the background – “Always ready” programs, like your IM client, iTunes, Desktop Search, etc., add to the CPU load and cut down battery life.  Shut down everything that isn’t crucial when you’re on battery.
Typically, this is done by right-clicking their icons in the System Tray (by the clock) and choosing “Exit” (or “Close”, or “Quit”).) Also, open Task Manager (Ctrl+Alt+Del) and select the Processes tab — click on those you recognize and know you won’t be needing, and then click “End Process”. Repeat as necessary. (If you do not recognize it, and do not know – leave it be.)

6) Go easy on the PC demands – The more you demand from your PC, the quicker you will drain the battery.  Relatively passive activities like editing a Word .doc consumes much less power than graphics-intensive activities like 3D gaming or playing a DVD movie.

7) Encrypt your hard drive – Have you encrypted your My Documents folder yet? Especially on your laptop? If you have an address book, tax info, a resume, business docs? More than half of all identity theft victims resulted from the physical theft of unencrypted laptops and thumb drives… which contained personally identifying data.

Today’s free download: The easiest way to seamlessly encrypt your whole hard drive, folders, or just selected files, is to install the free TrueCrypt. Use this and even if your laptop is stolen, the thief won’t be able to read your files.
Be sure to set a good password!

[Note: alternatively, you can click Start > Control Panel > Power Options]

Okay, so that was seven tips. Consider it Tech Paul’s Holiday Bonus Gift.

Copyright 2007-9 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved.jaanix post to jaanix

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December 23, 2009 Posted by | advice, computers, how to, performance, Portable Computing, tweaks | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Tech Tip for Travelers

Make Your Movies More Portable

Tis the season for traveling to be with friends and family, and you (may) want to bring some entertainment with you (namely, movies) to help reduce the aggravation of the actual traveling. If you are going to be a “holiday traveler” this year, today’s quick tip is for you.

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Wall Street Journal Online | Getty Images

Tip of the day: The energy required to spin the disc, and power the laser beam inside your DVD (or Blu Ray) drive is hard on your laptop’s battery, and can drain the charge rather quickly… maybe before the movie you are watching ends.

The solution is to “rip” (geek-speak for “copy”) your movie DVD to a file, and keep that file on your hard drive, or on a thumb drive. Then later, when you are traveling, playing the file (watching the movie) this way is less work for your computer and your battery will last longer. Kind of a “must” for those long flights (and.. delays) when access to a power outlet is not convenient.

Today’s free download(s):
For simple, one-click “rips” of your DVD movies, bitRipper is hard to beat. It was a for-pay utility, and now is available for free.

And for those of you who want to watch your movies on an iDevice, HandBrake is a highly recommended Open Source tool to consider. It’s available for Windows, Mac, and Linux.

Copyright 2007-9 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved.jaanix post to jaanix

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December 4, 2009 Posted by | advice, computers, how to, Portable Computing | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

On the road

Today Tech–for Everyone is being broadcast to you from a remote location, as circumstances force me into being a “road warrior”. T4E Headquarters is temporarily down for maintenance.

In this day and age, that is not nearly as inconvenient as it used to be. Today I merely grab my laptop and head for the nearest “hotspot” or Internet cafe… though, if my thumbs were up to the task, I could also “text” in my article on my cellphone or PDA.

I have been using computers since this ability (mobility) was just someone’s fantasy. And so I have an appreciation for this that sometimes borders on awe. But then, as I mentioned in The New Generation Gap, when I was in my “formative years” there weren’t even ATM machines yet.. much less cellphones, and computers were giant machines owned by NASA.
The fact that I can get on the Internet (almost) anytime and anywhere still amazes me… and makes me giggle.

Tip of the day: If you are thinking of purchasing a notebook computer (or PDA), or already own one– having decent battery life can really be important (especially if your job or lifestyle has you always “on the go”) and yet it is usually not factored in at purchase time.
I highly recommend that you either buy a second battery, or spend more for the “extended” battery option. These “extended” (I think of them as “heavy duty”) batteries have more “cells” to generate and hold the charge, and thus allow you to operate your machine for a longer period. Well worth the prce of the upgrade.

Today’s free link: RealArcade, a free download, offers a huge selection of more than 500 download games–puzzle, word, action, arcade classics. RealArcade also has features that help you find, manage and play all your favorite games. RealArcade also includes Web-based games that run directly in your browser; and for those looking for some friendly competition, there’s an online community for matching players, sharing information, and enhancing the overall gaming experience. Version 1.27 may include unspecified updates, enhancements, or bug fixes.

Copyright 2007-8 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved.jaanix post to jaanix

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June 3, 2008 Posted by | advice, computers, hardware, Internet, PC, Portable Computing, shopping for, tech | , , , , , | 1 Comment