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Maintaining and Troubleshooting Your Laptop Battery

The actual life of a laptop battery will vary with computer usage habits. For most users, it is not uncommon to experience differences in battery life, of anywhere from just under one hour to over two hours in each sitting. If you are experiencing shorter battery life cycles, say 10 to 15 minutes, it may not yet be time to order that new battery.

There are several factors to take into consideration when determining if the time has come to replace your battery. This information may also apply to that new battery that you have recently purchased, that has been giving you fits. The two primary things to consider when troubleshooting battery problems is Usage Habits and Battery Memory. We will cover both in their complexities in just a moment, but first, let us take a look at what you should expect from your battery’s life cycle.

NiMH batteries usually last 1.5 to 2.5 hours. LiION batteries usually last 2.0 to 3.0 hours.

These are average results and the results will vary greatly depending on your system’s conservation settings, the temperature of the room and the climate that you are operating your computer in. As a general rule, your Lithium Ion battery will last much longer than your standard Nickel Metal Hydride battery.

Now let’s take a look at the various usage habits to consider when troubleshooting your laptop’s battery. These processes are very similar to the way that your portable stereo uses batteries.. just think how much faster your stereo eats batteries when you are playing the CD or the tape deck, as opposed to when you are just playing the radio.

The more you use physical devices — which require more electricity to operate — the more of the battery’s power you can expect to consume. The devices that create a larger power drain are the hard drive, the floppy drive and the CD-ROM.

When the computer is able to use its physical memory resources to store information, the computer will use less of the battery’s power, since the process is mostly electrical in nature. However, when the processes you are using exhaust the physical memory resources available to your system, the system will turn to virtual memory to continue the process at hand. Virtual Memory is designed to extend system memory resources by building a memory swap file on the hard drive, and then transfer needed information between the hard drive and the physical memory as required. Since the hard drive is a electricity hog, the use of virtual memory becomes an electricity hog by proxy.

Two other processes that engage virtual memory on your computer are computational programs and the calculation processes used by spreadsheet applications and database programs. Both of these items engage the processor to a greater degree as well, which in itself is a consumer of electricity. Because they both compute and calculate large quantities of information, they will also increase the amount of electricity that your laptop will consume.

Other physical devices that cannot be left out of this discussion are audio and display devices. As far as audio devices are concerned, speakers require electricity to run and the software that is responsible for producing the sound does so by processing information. The display panel consumes electricity as well. In fact, the brighter the screen appears, the more electricity that it is consuming. You may turn down the brightness on the screen, thereby conserving more electricity than you may have considered possible. And when considering the battery drain caused by video devices, don’t forget the effect that graphics programs will have on your system. Video applications can have an intense effect on your electrical needs, due to its usage of computation, calculations and virtual memory.

Battery Memory is an odd little creature. The concept of battery memory is reminiscent of Pavlovian Conditioning. Do you remember the story about Pavlov and his dogs? Pavlov would serve his dogs food and when they realized it was dinner time, he would ring a bell. After some time of conditioning his dogs, all he would have to do to get the dogs to salivate, was to ring the bell. Battery Memory is a lot like that.

Battery memory is where the battery becomes conditioned to run for less time than it is designed to run. Say for example, you run your computer on battery for an hour and then you plug it back in to let it recharge. The battery will become conditioned to run only an hour before it runs out of juice.

To correct Battery Memory problems, you must completely drain the battery and recharge it. To completely drain your battery, you must go into your Windows Control Panel and select Power. Then you must turn Power Management Off. Next, you must go into your BIOS and make sure that if there is a power management setting there, that you turn it off as well. In most cases, once you are inside the BIOS, you will highlight Power Management and press Enter. Then locate the item Hibernation at Critical Battery, and by using the Minus sign, change the setting to Off. Once these steps have been completed, then use your Escape key to return to the top level menu, and select Save Settings and Exit.

Once you have completed turning off the power management in both the BIOS and the Operating System, you must unplug the computer, turn the computer on and let it run until it completely runs out of electricity. Then you should charge the battery for 12 hours. At the end of the charging cycle, then run the computer again until the battery is dead, and then charge the battery for 12 more hours. You should repeat this process four times, before returning the computer to its original power management settings.

As far as battery usage goes, it is recommended that you should use the battery once every two weeks, and keep the battery in the system so that the AC adapter can keep the battery charged at all times. It is also recommended that if you don’t use the battery for more than two weeks, you should completely discharge the battery and store it at room temperature.

Do Computers Get Tired?

A Silver Bullet?

Until recently, I would have dismissed the notion that electronic gunk can accumulate in a machine and cause it to act erratically. But a few months ago my high-speed Internet connection, which is normally rock solid, started getting flaky. I unplugged my cable modem, plugged it back in and voila… things were back to normal.

And since then I’ve repeated the procedure a few times with good results, whenever I noticed a slowdown in my Internet speed. So I started thinking… maybe electronic devices and appliances really do get tired, clogged with electrons, or whatever. It turns out that there is some good science to support this layman’s observation.

Jerrold Foutz is a Scientist with a capital S. There aren’t many people alive who know more about how electronic gadgets (especially power supplies) are supposed to work. So you might be surprised to hear that when your computer, microwave, VCR or high-tech coffee pot isn’t behaving, his best advice is “just unplug it.”

Totally Cosmic, Dude.In a fascinating article on electronics trouble shooting, Foutz talks about something called a Single Event Upset (SEU) that can cause electronic circuitry to malfunction. An SEU can be caused by a power glitch, or a cosmic ray passing through a integrated circuit, and can actually flip the logic state (from 1 to 0 or vice versa) of a circuit. A cascading effect may trigger a hardware lockup or an infinite loop in software.

For lots more technical details, and even some suggestions on how better design can help to prevent this problem, see the full article on Trouble Shooting Electronics.

Of course in the case of computers running complex operating system and application software, other factors may come into play. Sloppy coding practices can result in ‘memory leaks’ which over time will cause performance to degrade. But from the end user perspective, the problem looks no different than a hardware error caused by cosmic rays.

Fortunately, the solution is the same in both cases: shut it down, turn it back on, and things will be good again… for a while.

How To Find Tech Support For Your Computer Printers

Computers are becoming commonplace in homes and offices around the world. The problem is that most people know so very little about their computers, that when something goes wrong, they do not know how to begin the troubleshooting process.

The ugly truth is that we could opt to call the technical support phone number that came with the computer, but you never really know what you are going to get at the other end of the phone. You could literally spend several hours just waiting to get to a technician, and then once you have the human on the line, there is just as good of a chance that they will not have a clue, as there is that they will find your solution.

I know this because I used to work in a computer technical support call center. You would be amazed who can pass as a technician! For most new hires, the only pre-qualifying knowledge that is necessary is being able to navigate the current Windows Operating System.

Management feels that if you can navigate Windows, then you can navigate the database to dig up a solution. The problem with this kind of thinking is that the person at the call center is often lost to find a solution that is not yet in the database.

Of course, all front line technicians have a help desk to call, but in my own experience, help desk posts were assigned based on politics and not technical knowledge. We ended up with some real idiots at our help desk. Call those people once or twice, and you will eventually decide that you stand a stronger chance to succeed on your own, than you would be able to accomplish going upstream in the support systems.

The Business of Printing Support

Fortunately, computer printers do not break that often. But when they do, troubleshooting can be a painful process.

There are some basics that you can cover to streamline the troubleshooting process.

Be forewarned that if you ever crack the case of your printer, you should make darn sure to disconnect the power source before you do so. Printers that are connected to a power supply can actually charge you up with enough current to kill you. Don’t take chances with your life.

Long before you get to the point of trying to crack the case to reach the internals, there are several troubleshooting steps you can take.

* Always check your power supply to see that you have a good, solid connection. I know that it seems the most logical step to take, but you might be surprised how often a powerless machine is discovered to be an unplugged machine.

* If the printer has power going to it, then turn off the machine and then turn it back on. Each printer has an internal brain in it. Removing power temporarily from the machine will force the computer chip inside of the printer to reset. Often times, this will solve any issues.

* Make sure that your printer cartridge is properly seated. Make sure the cartridge is in the printer the way that the manufacturer intended.

* Use the printer’s “self-test” feature. The manufacturer has included this to help you to eliminate common printing problems.

These four steps will help you to overcome the problems most commonly associated with printers.

For a complete breakdown of generic troubleshooting steps, the following URL points to the most comprehensive and easy-to-follow checklist I have seen: http://www.5starsupport.com/info/printer.htm

Drivers Are the Software Applications That Power Printers

A driver is the software package that enables your printer to communicate with your computer’s operating system, and vise versa.

The manufacturer of your printer sent out a software disc with the printer. On this disk, you can find the default driver for that printer.

As computing evolves, printer manufacturers upgrade their drivers to either improve the printer’s performance or to keep up with changing Operating Systems.

How to Install a CPU and Heatsink

The most critical part of building your own computer is knowing how to install a CPU and how to install a heatsink. The CPU is the brain of your computer and is the most delicate part. It’s easy to damage, although most CPUs are designed so that they’re nearly impossible to install incorrectly.

Installing a CPU is one of the most important steps in building a PC

The heatsink cools the CPU and keeps it from frying. Heatsinks are fastened to the top of the CPU and sometimes come with an additional substance called “thermal paste.” This is a thin gel that adds an additional layer of cooling. Let’s look at the basic steps for installing the CPU and heatsink.

1. Locate the Processor Socket

Before you can install a CPU you should find the processor socket on the motherboard. This is the square socket with numerous pinholes in it. Lift the lever to the side of this socket so that you can install a CPU into it.

Look closely at the pin pattern on your CPU socket. Notice that there is a diagonal corner where it appears some pinholes are missing. It might appear as a triangular pattern. This is there to help you properly align the CPU to the CPU socket. Carefully grab the CPU by the sides and turn it over to examine the pins at the bottom.

Compare the alignment of your pins with the pattern on your socket and you’ll see that there is only one correct pattern for alignment. Again, it’s virtually impossible to install the CPU incorrectly unless you force it. Make sure that you have the CPU and socket aligned correctly before proceeding onto the next step.

2. Mount the CPU

Once you are sure that the CPU pins and socket pins holes are matched up correctly, you can insert the CPU into the socket. Again, be sure to use that diagonal pin pattern as your guide.

You might meet some resistance as you are pressing down. This is a delicate procedure – and if you’ve never before learned how to install a CPU, you might think you are doing it incorrectly. However, learning how to install computer components takes practice. The resistance is normal. Again, the socket design and CPU pin patterns are designed to match perfectly.

Press down past the resistance point and then the CPU will slide smoothly into the socket. The CPU may make a snapping sound as it slips into the socket. When you’re sure it’s complete, lower the lever at the side of the socket to lock the CPU into the socket.

Check to see if your particular brand of CPU or cooling solution came with a protection plate. If it did, place it above the CPU as explained in your documentation.

3. Apply the Thermal Compound

Next comes the thermal compound. Some people choose to avoid this step altogether, while others who teach on how to install a heatsink swear by it.

Generally a properly designed heatsink will ensure that you may not need a thermal compound. However it doesn’t hurt to be too safe, especially with CPU processor speeds increasing and generating more and more heat. Thermal paste can usually shave off a few extra degrees of hot temperature off of your CPU.

Apply the thermal paste to the areas of the CPU that will make contact with the CPU. Begin by applying a little bit of the gel to the center of the CPU and then gently spreading outward. Don’t apply too much of thermal compound. A little dab will do you. Be sure to spread an even, thin layer of the gel to ensure that there is complete coverage over your CPU.

4. Install the Heatsink

Now we learn how to install a heatsink. This is a very crucial step. If the heatsink is not installed properly it might come loose. Your CPU will overheat and be toast in no time.

Before we explain how to install a heatsink, check to see if your heatsink has a fan separate from the unit. If it does, you’ll need to attach the fan to the heatsink first before attaching the heatsink to the CPU.

When you’re ready, mount the heatsink over your CPU according to the specifications for your manufacturer. The directions will vary. Some heatsinks are installed by requiring you to clamp down on them with levers and attaching them to metal hooks on the motherboard. With other heatsinks you may have to screw the whole unit into the motherboard.

Whatever the procedure, follow it closely and be very careful. If you need to use a screwdriver to install the heatsink you could very easily slip and damage your system components.

5. Install the Heatsink Fan Header and Configure BIOS

The final step in learning how to install a heatsink involves connecting the power leads from the heatsink to their proper headers on the motherboard.

Locate the header for the CPU fan on the motherboard. Then plug the power cable from the heatsink into the fan header on the motherboard. There will be more than one header on the motherboard, so be sure that you pick the right one. Choose the wrong one and your computer might get a power surge that will fry the processor.

Check the documentation that came with your motherboard to properly locate the correct header. Once installed, be sure that it is securely in place.

Afterwards, assuming that the rest of your computer has been installed properly, you can configure the BIOS. The BIOS will need to detect the type and speed of the computer processor that has been installed. Again, the exact procedure will vary depending on the manufacturer; check the documentation that came with your motherboard.

Conclusion

Learning how to install computer components like a CPU and heatsink might seem like a daunting task to someone who’s never done it. However, it’s not as hard as you think. CPUs and heatsinks being made today were designed to fitly snug together with a minimum of fuss.

You don’t need much in the way of mechanical skill and about the only tool you will need is a screwdriver. Yet this is by far the most delicate operation you will perform on your computer. Once you pass this hurdle, everything else will be a breeze.

How to Install a Primary Hard Drive

How to Install a Primary Hard DriveIn this tutorial we learn how to install a primary hard drive. The primary drive is your main drive, not a secondary drive. Installing a secondary drive is similar but you will have to configure your drive differently. Be sure to have your documentation handy at all times.

Learning how to install computer components like a hard drive is not hard, but proper preparation is the key to making it a smooth experience.

Before beginning you should completely shut down your computer. Also be sure to switch the power supply switch into the off position and pull the AC cord from the wall outlet.

1. Remove the Case and Set Your Drive Jumper

The first order of business is to open your computer case so that you can install the hard drive. The method of doing this varies, but most modern cases use a mini-tower design and have side panels that are screwed onto the chassis.

You will need to find the panel that sits above the motherboard and remove the screws in the back to slide the panel out. If you have an older computer design, you may have to remove all of the screws in the back and then slide the chassis out.

Next you must configure your hard drive. To install hard drive components properly you will need to set your drive jumpers. On the back of your drive you will notice pairs of metal pins pointing to various positions. There will be a jumper over the pins in one of these settings.

Consult your documentation. Basically, if you are installing the first and only drive you will set the jumper to “Cable Select.” (If you were installing more than one drive, you would choose “Master” for the main drive.)

2. Insert the Drive into Case

Once the drive is configured you are ready to insert it into the case. Examine the design of your case to see what your options are here.

Inside your case there is what is known as a drive bay. Some of the new-fangled case designs offer a removable version of this drive bay or cage. If you have that, consider yourself lucky. It’s much easier to know how to install computer components when you don’t have to poke around in the case the whole time.

If you have a removable bay, then remove it now. Align the mounting holes on the drive bay with the mounting holes on your hard drive, and then screw them together. When you are done, insert the drive bay back into the case and screw it back on.

If, however, you don’t have a removable bay, then all is not lost. Just insert the hard drive into the drive bay, align the mounting holes together, and screw it on. It’s not that difficult; it’s just a bit of hand and eye coordination.

3. Attach All Cables

Of course to install hard drive components, or any other components for that matter, you will need to attach cables somewhere. In the case of the hard drive you will need to attach an IDE cable from the motherboard to the motherboard, and then attach the power cable.

First, install the IDE cable to the motherboard. For your added convenience the IDE cable is color-coded for you. It is usually blue at the bottom and also has a red stripe on the side. This cable is to be inserted into the motherboard at the IDE0 (Primary) or IDE1 (Secondary) connector.

As an added check, make sure that the side of the cable with the red stripe lines up with the back of the motherboard labeled “Pin 1.” Once you’re done, connect the other end of this IDE cable to the hard drive. Connect the black controller and be sure that the red stripe is aligned with “Pin 1” on your hard drive.

Finally, plug the four-pin connector from your power supply into the back of your hard drive, and you’re done!

4. Close Up and Power Up

Now it’s time to close up and power up. Restore the case panel you removed earlier or slide the computer chassis back into the computer case.

Screw it back on, flip the power switch to the on position and attach the AC cord. Turn the computer back on.
At this point your system BIOS is going to detect that a new hard drive has been attached.

You may have to configure the BIOS to properly detect the hard drive or at least supply some specific settings. As we always say, consult your documentation and follow their instructions. Much of our tutorials on how to install computer components apply across the board, but you still need to tweak some settings depending on your manufacturer.

Conclusion

Learning to install hard drive units is not hard from a mechanical standpoint. It can be done very easily.

However, it’s more than an installation. The drive unit needs to be properly configured. Jumper settings need to be set properly, and then afterwards the BIOS must detect your new drive. Afterwards, you will then need to format your drive and install your operating system.

How Does the CPU Cache Work?

The cache on your CPU has become a very important part of today’s computing. The cache is a very high speed and very expensive piece of memory, which is used to speed up the memory retrieval process. Due to its expensive CPU’s come with a relatively small amount of cache compared with the main system memory. Budget CPU’s have even less cache, this is the main way that the top processor manufacturers take the cost out of their budget CPU’s.

How does the CPU Cache work?

Without the cache memory every time the CPU requested data it would send a request to the main memory which would then be sent back across the memory bus to the CPU. This is a slow process in computing terms. The idea of the cache is that this extremely fast memory would store and data that is frequently accessed and also if possible the data that is around it. This is to achieve the quickest possible response time to the CPU. Its based on playing the percentages. If a certain piece of data has been requested 5 times before, its likely that this specific piece of data will be required again and so is stored in the cache memory.

Lets take a library as an example o how caching works. Imagine a large library but with only one librarian (the standard one CPU setup). The first person comes into the library and asks for Lord of the Rings. The librarian goes off follows the path to the bookshelves (Memory Bus) retrieves the book and gives it to the person. The book is returned to the library once its finished with. Now without cache the book would be returned to the shelf. When the next person arrives and asks for Lord of the Rings, the same process happens and takes the same amount of time.

If this library had a cache system then once the book was returned it would have been put on a shelf at the librarians desk. This way once the second person comes in and asks for Lord of the Rings, the librarian only has to reach down to the shelf and retrieve the book. This significantly reduces the time it takes to retrieve the book. Back to computing this is the same idea, the data in the cache is retrieved much quicker. The computer uses its logic to determine which data is the most frequently accessed and keeps them books on the shelf so to speak.

That is a one level cache system which is used in most hard drives and other components. CPU’s however use a 2 level cache system. The principles are the same. The level 1 cache is the fastest and smallest memory, level 2 cache is larger and slightly slower but still smaller and faster than the main memory. Going back to the library, when Lord of the Rings is returned this time it will be stored on the shelf. This time the library gets busy and lots of other books are returned and the shelf soon fills up. Lord of the Rings hasn’t been taken out for a while and so gets taken off the shelf and put into a bookcase behind the desk. The bookcase is still closer than the rest of the library and still quick to get to. Now when the next person come in asking for Lord of the Rings, the librarian will firstly look on the shelf and see that the book isn’t there. They will then proceed to the bookcase to see if the book is in there. This is the same for CPU’s. They check the L1 cache first and then check the L2 cache for the data they require.

Is more Cache always better?

The answer is mostly yes but certainly not always. The main problem with having too much cache memory is that the CPU will always check the cache memory before the main system memory. Looking at our library again as an example. If 20 different people come into the library all after different books that haven’t been taken out in quite a while but the library has been busy before and so the shelf and the bookcase are both full we have a problem. Each time a person asks for a book the librarian will check the shelf and then check the bookcase before realising that the book has to be in the main library. The librarian each time then trots off to get the book from the library. If this library had a non cache system it would actually be quicker in this instance because the librarian would go straight to the book in the main library instead of checking the shelf and the bookcase.

As the fact that non cache systems only work in certain circumstances and so in certain applications CPU’s are definitely better with a decent amount of cache. Applications such as MPEG encoders are not good cache users because they have a constant stream of completely different data.

Does cache only store frequently accessed data?

If the cache memory has space it will store data that is close to that of the frequently accessed data. Looking back again to our library. If the first person of the day comes into the library and takes out Lord of the Rings, the intelligent librarian may well place Lord of the Rings part II on the shelf. In this case when the person brings back the book, there is a good chance that they will ask for Lord of the Rings part II. As this will happen more times than not. It was well worth the Librarian going to fetch the second part of the book in case it was required.

Cache Hit and Cache Miss

Cache hit and cache miss are just simple terms for the accuracy of what goes into the CPU’s cache. If the CPU accesses its cache looking for data it will either find it or it wont. If the CPU finds what’s its after that’s called a cache hit. If it has to go to main memory to find it then that is called a cache miss. The percentage of hits from the overall cache requests is called the hit rate. You will be wanting to get this as high as possible for best performance.

Important Facts To Know About Computer Maintenance

Read on and find out more about computer maintenance and support. We list down 5 facts to know so that you won’t be at a loss the next time you call for support.

Computer breakdowns are pretty much unavoidable

1. The Original Manufacturer

One of the first things to do when you get a computer breakdown is to call the original manufacturer of your hardware. They will offer service and support through a phone line. Some of them are notoriously difficult to deal with – so be prepared to weather some bad service sometimes.

2. Repair It Yourself

If you’re feeling adventurous and you have the know-how, you can try repairing the PC yourself. In fact, many vendors now give you a choice to repair yourself according to their instructions.

If you really want to learn how to upgrade, maintain or troubleshoot computers, then click here to learn about a great resource.

3. Outsourcing

This point is more relevant to companies. If you own a business, you can consider outsourcing your computer repairs to a vendor or third-party company. Just be careful in dealing with them – make sure that you write up proper contracts and scrutinize their terms and conditions.

4. Look for Your Friends

If you have a friend with good computer background and experience, then you can ask them to upgrade or repair your PC for you. I personally help out with many of the PC problems my friends and relatives have.

5. Remember to Get Names

Oh, one last point. Always remember write down the name of customer support officer speaking to you in a support phone call. You need to reach that same person again if you check some technical fault and need to get back to the company.

Conclusion

Computer breakdowns are irritating and frustrating. What’s important in such situations is to know how to call for support and maintenance. Remember the above points the next time you’re reaching out for computer assistance and hopefully your ordeal will be less painful.

Basics Of A Router

A router is a computer device that receives or forwards data packets to and from the Internet towards a destination in the process called routing. A router is the essential component of the computer networking that enables any sent data to arrive at the right destination.

As an illustration, imagine that the Internet is the world and one computer is one household. Other computers connected through the Internet are households around the world. Say one household will send a letter to another household in any part of the world. The letter has an address right? And that address would determine the destination of the letter. But without one reading the address, the letter would not arrive to the right receiver. The letter also would not be able to reach the intended receiver if there is not medium. This medium would be the courier. And the courier of the computer data is the router.

A router (broadband router) is also a device that enables two or more computer to receive data packets from the Internet under one IP address at the same time.

Remember that to be able to connect to the Internet, a computer must have an IP address unique from the rest of the computers. Therefore, every computer connected to the Internet has it own IP address. It is like having a fingerprint or ID as an access pass to be able to enter the web. With the presence of the router, this “fingerprint” or “ID” could be shared by two or more computer at the same time.

In simplest form, a router makes two or more computer use the Internet at the same with one access pass.

One more thing: a computer with cable modem could also be considered as a router. In this, the computer would do the process of routing like normal routers do. Other computers are then connected to the computer with Internet connection that would give it with the Internet connection. The computer with cable modem has the direct contact with the Internet and the ones connected to it are sharing the connection.

Why would anyone need a router?

For households with two or more computers who would want to have Internet connection to every computers they have, taking subscription for each would be too much. The solution is to buy a router that would enable every computer in the house to have an Internet connection. In the definition above, the broadband router would act as a hub to the existing Internet connection.

If the router is comparable to a hub, would it affect the Internet speed?

It should be taken into consideration that once a single Internet connection is divided, the connection speed is affected. But there are some broadband routers that would bring minimal slowdown to the Internet speed and the effect might not even be big.

Internet speed would also depend on the type of application used in a router. While some would inflict little effect on the speed like online games, others would terribly slowdown your connection and even hinder you to use the Internet at all.

Usually, offices use a more sophisticated router to redirect Internet connections to the large number of computers. These routers would give better data packeting compared to a typical router used at home that results to faster Internet speed.

Tips on How to Build a Quiet PC

If you’re a computer enthusiast who’s ready to mod your current computer with the latest and greatest computer hardware, or if you’re someone who just can’t stand the noise your computer is constantly making, you’re in luck. Below are the top five tips on building a quiet pc.

1.) Power Supply – This is the device that produces the power for your computer. Unfortunately, this is almost always the noisiest part your computer includes. It usually contains one or two fans which are used to cool the device down. Fortunately, with today’s technology, you can now buy power supplies which only use their fans when the temperature reaches a set point. This will both reduce noise, and save energy.

2.) Case Fans – The reasons for having case fans are obvious, to create proper airflow. Unfortunately, for some computers, they’re only there to create obnoxious noise. If your computer is mainly used for documents, internet, and e-mail, chances are you don’t need more than one case fan. A system used for the latest computer games on the other hand, will need proper airflow to bring internal temperatures down to a safe operating level.

3.) Disk Drives – If this is your noise issue, there isn’t too much you can do, except invest in a CD or DVD drive known for being a quieter model, or insert acoustic padding around them. If you’re having issues with floppy drive noises, I’ll just tell you now, you’re way behind in technology. A memory card reader is far faster, and is completely silent.

4.) Hard Drives – Hard drive noises are often difficult to suppress as well. The common hard drive noises are heard when the device is in use, opening a program, installing software, etc. Often the noises are the vibrations between your hard drive, and your hard drives mount. Cushioning your device with padding like silica gel can often reduce some of the noise. If you’re hard drive is making unusual and highly noticeable noises while not in use, there’s a chance it could be failing. Please consult a service technician if this is the case.

5.) Computer Case – This is often forgotten about. There are many types of cases engineered in all sorts of ways. You can even purchase a case with sound padding materials included in it. Consider the material of the case itself. An aluminum case can by flimsy, and can increase noise levels from its vibrations. A steel case however, is more solid, and is less prone to creating vibrations. The down side of a steel case would be its weight. Whichever case you decide to use, adding acoustic sound padding, silica gel, and foam blocks, will significantly reduce vibrations.

Building a quiet pc isn’t for everyone. If you own a brand name computer, you’ll likely have a hard time following the tips shown above. Modifications to a brand name computer could potentially void a warranty. I would suggest researching this first before using my tips. You must also remember that your computer must run at safe operating temperature to avoid any device malfunctions, or even failure. Testing and research is always recommended.

Batteries Are Not Created Equal

Once in the air of a long flight, the attendant informs the passengers that the “use of electronic devices is no longer prohibited”. To pass the time, I decide to pull out my laptop to finish off some work. Normally, I like to use flights for catching up on some sleep, but today I wasn’t feeling very tired. Relying on my laptop battery, that was fully charged the night before, I proceed to catch up on some overdue business. In this midst of one of my many thoughts, something far more tragic than an oxygen mask falling down happens… or at least more tragic at that moment… my laptop battery dies.

My first reaction was to look around for the nearest outlet, only to remember that I am on an airplane and airplanes do not have outlets. I try to reboot, hoping that it was simply a glitch of some sort, but no such luck. Now what? I am left staring at a blank screen with a powerless laptop. As I browse about the cabin, I notice that there are many other businessmen continuing to work on their laptops. One man in particular is using a similar laptop — a model close to the powerless thing sitting in front of me. Why has his battery lasted longer than mine? Surely we have the same brand of battery, and I am pretty sure that mine is practically new. I sit there for a moment looking around with a baffled and confused look on my face. Now, I am left to endure the rest of this flight thinking of how I could have prevented this.

Of course I do realize that it was not the end of the world. My battery dying did not cause any serious damage. None the less, I was reminded of an important lesson. Always be prepared! One never knows what could happen next, so it is always good to have some types of back-up plan. When it comes to batteries, not all batteries are created equal. Some batteries will simply last longer than others. I have a few friends that like to store extra batteries in their refrigerator. I personally find this a bit extreme and silly, but they will swear that their batteries last longer. I don’t know if this type of storage truly aids in longer life for the batteries, but I do know this. Life is unexpected and so are electronics. Next time, whether is it having extra batteries or not, I am going to do my best to be better prepared.

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