How To

Tips around tech

27Aug 2014
Apple Macbook Pro

These tips will help you get the best possible battery life on a MacBook Air or MacBook Pro.


Thanks to more efficient chips and improvements to software, the battery life on Apple’s computers continue to improve with each new model year. The company also includes various energy saving settings in its OS X operating system. These can be tweaked by going to the System Preferences and clicking on Energy Saver, but there is also more that you can do. These tips will help you squeeze the most juice out of the battery on your MacBook Pro or MacBook Air.

Show battery percentage

A feature that you should enable (if it isn’t already) is the battery percentage indicator. While this won’t actually increase your battery life, it will make it easier to monitor it.

To enable the percentage indicator, click on the battery icon at the top right-hand corner of the menu bar and select the “Show percentage” option.


Check battery condition

The next thing you will want to do is check the condition of your battery. To do this, hold the option key on the keyboard and click on the battery icon at the top of the menu bar. A “Normal” battery rating is what you will hopefully see and not a “Replace soon” warning. If your battery is in bad shape you will most likely be required to purchase a new computer or contact Apple about fixing it, unless you have an older MacBook with a removable battery.

Install software updates

As I mentioned, having the latest software installed on your computer will help you get the best possible battery life. To check to see if an update is available for your computer, click on the Apple logo in the menu bar and select the “Software Update” option, or open the App Store and click on the “Updates” tab.

Dim the display

Just like on a mobile device, the display on your computer uses a ton of energy. When you disconnect the power cord, it’s best to dim the brightness down below half or to a suitable level for your eyes. To do this, press the F1 button on the keyboard, or use the F1 and FN button if that doesn’t work. It’s also best to disable the MacBook’s auto brightness feature. To do this, go to the System Preferences, select display, and uncheck the “Automatically adjust brightness” box.


Disable the backlit keyboard

All of Apple’s aluminum MacBooks include a backlit keyboard. This is great for when you are typing in the dark, although it can also drain your battery. The backlight can be disabled by pressing and holding the F5 key, or the FN key and F5 key if it doesn’t work. You can use the F6 (or FN+F6) key to turn the keyboard backlight back on.

Turn off Bluetooth

There is a good chance you won’t be carrying around a Bluetooth mouse or speaker when you leave your desk. With nothing to connect to, there is no point to have Bluetooth enabled. I recommend disabling the radio to conserve battery.

To turn off Bluetooth, enter the System Preferences, select Bluetooth, and click the off button. Alternatively, you can turn it off by clicking on the Bluetooth icon in the top menu bar.


Disconnect unused dongles

As is the case with Bluetooth, if you aren’t actively using a USB-connected device (such as a flash drive), you should unplug it to prevent battery drain. If the power cord isn’t connected, charging your smartphone or tablet via the MacBook’s USB port will also drain your battery.

Quit applications you are no longer using

It’s best to close programs out completely when you are done using them. This can be done by clicking the Command key and Q key at the same time, or clicking on the program in the top menu bar and selecting the “Quit” option.

If a program is frozen, click on the Apple icon in the top menu bar, select Force Quit, and click on the program that won’t close.

25Aug 2014

Ready to exercise your supreme Chrome skills? Learn how to set your location, easily view cached pages, and more!


Pick your Geolocation

Not interested in sharing your current location with the websites you’re visiting? Or maybe you want to see if you can get a better price on travel when booking from another state? Try this tip.

  1. Open Developer tools (F12, or Ctrl + Shift + I)
  2. Click the phone icon in the top left-hand corner of the developer tools area
  3. Click the Emulation tab in the lower half of the tools window
  4. Pick Sensors on the left, then tick the check box next to Emulate geolocation coordinates
  5. Enter values for latitude and longitude

Delete autocomplete entries from the omnibox

When you’re typing out a URL and you see a few embarrassing entries in the omnibox suggestion list, you can delete them by pressing Shift + Delete while they are highlighted.

Easily view cached websites

Want to see the cached version of a website? Just add “cache:” in front of the URL. Now you can skip searching for it and click the tiny arrow to select Cached on the Google homepage.

Install Chrome extensions manually

If the location you’re seeking isn’t available on the Chrome Web Store, you can download the CRX file and drag and drop it on your Extensions page. For detailed steps, check out this how to post.

View mobile versions of websites

When your Internet connection is slow, the last thing you want to do is load a huge image-heavy website. This is especially true when you are trying to stay within a bandwidth limit, whether you are traveling or just trying to be conservative with your own plan.

  1. Open Developer tools (F12, or Ctrl + Shift + I)
  2. Click the phone icon in the top left-hand corner of the developer tools area
  3. Click the Emulation tab in the lower half of the tools window
  4. Pick Device on the left, then choose a device from the Model drop-down box.

Have any other power user tips? Share them in the comments!

02Jun 2014

Microsoft released an update to its Windows Phone operating system last month. The Windows Phone 8.1 update is currently available for developers and will roll out to current Windows Phone 8 users over the next few months, although there is a way to manually update your device now. These tips will help you navigate the revamped operating system and access all of the new features it has to offer.

Customize your device

Windows Phone users could previously add a custom background image to their lock screen, however they were stuck with a rather boring home screen. In Windows Phone 8.1, Microsoft has given users the ability to now set a background on the live tile Start screen. This can be done by going to the settings menu, selecting the “start+theme” option, and choosing a Start background. From here you can also add an extra row of live tiles, select a new accent color, and change the phone’s overall color motif from light to dark.


Access the new voice assistant

The most anticipated feature in Windows Phone 8.1 is the inclusion of Microsoft’s Cortana voice assistant. The feature, which is comparable to Apple’s Siri voice assistant and Google Now, can be accessed by pressing the phone’s search button. There is also a Cortana shortcut in your app drawer, which can be pinned to your Start screen for faster access.


Cortana can search the Web, answer questions, set reminders, tell you the weather, and more. Pressing the music symbol in the top-right corner of the screen will open Cortana’s Shazam-like music recognition feature. Simply open this menu, let the phone listen for music, and it will tell you which song is playing. Additional features and settings can be found in Cortana’s Notebook. This can be accessed by pressing the three-line icon located next to the music symbol.

Force-close apps

Building upon the multitasking feature found in Windows Phone 8, the latest update now allows you to close apps with a swipe of the finger. The feature is similar to those found on iOS and Android, and previously WebOS. The Windows Phone multitasking menu can be accessed with a long press on the back button. Once inside it, you can quickly jump to a previously opened app, or close it either by pressing the “X” icon or with a downward swipe.

Take a screenshot

If you wanted to take a screenshot on a Windows Phone 8 device you would be required to press the power button and Windows button simultaneously. In version 8.1, however, the action has been changed to the power button and volume up key.

View notifications

One of my favorite additions to the Windows Phone operating system is the new Action Center. The feature is similar to the notification pulldowns found in both Android and iOS. A simple swipe down from the top of the screen will give you quick access to Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Airplane mode, and Rotation Lock toggles, along with a link to the full settings menu. Notifications that appear in the Action Center can be dismissed with a swipe from left to right.


Share your Wi-Fi networks

Another new feature in Windows Phone 8.1 can be used to automatically connect you to local, open Wi-Fi networks. The feature, known as Wi-Fi Sense, also gives you the ability to share the Wi-Fi credentials of your trusted networks with your Outlook, Skype, and Facebook friends who own a Windows Phone 8.1 device. While your friends will have access to your network, they won’t be able to see the actual Wi-Fi password.


Wi-Fi sense can be enabled or disabled by going to Settings, clicking Wi-Fi, and scrolling down to Wi-Fi Sense.

Avoid going over your data limit

A majority of users are on some sort of shared or limited data plan. Going over your data limit could cost you big bucks, but a new feature in Windows Phone 8.1 looks to help you prevent that. The Data Sense feature shows you how much data you use on both cellular and Wi-Fi connections, and which apps are using the most data.

There is also an option to set data limits. This feature can be programmed to prevent background data from downloading over cellular connections when you are nearing your limit. The Data Sense feature can be found in the phone’s app drawer.

Keep your phone’s storage in check

Microsoft has included a new Storage Sense feature in Windows Phone 8.1 to ensure you never run out of space again. For phones with expandable storage, Storage Sense provides an easy way to move apps, music, and pictures to your SD card. It can also be used to see which apps or content are taking up the most space on your device, and it gives you the option to delete or uninstall large and unwanted files.

Storage Sense is located in the phone’s app drawer.

09May 2014
clean laptop

Admit it, your laptop is filthy. It’s time to clean it, from the screen to the keyboard to the vents.

If you are like me, then you are sitting in front of a laptop that has seen cleaner days. No matter the make or model, it doesn’t take long for a laptop to start looking tired, from a smudged screen and a filthy keyboard to dirty, dusty vents and ports.

To clean your laptop, you will need:

  • Soft, lint-free cloths
  • Mild dish detergent such as Dawn
  • A can of compressed air
  • Isopropyl rubbing alcohol

Before you begin, power down your laptop and unplug it from the wall. Remove the battery, if your model allows such a maneuver.

Laptop cleaning supplies

First area to hit: the lid and bottom panel. Mix a couple drops of Dawn (or another, inferior dish soap) and a couple cups of warm water together, dip your lint-free cloth in the soapy mixture, wring out, and wipe down the surfaces. Rinse out the cloth with clean water and wipe down again. Lastly, to avoid water streaks, wipe down a third time with a dry cloth.

Next up: the keyboard. The key here is not to let any liquid drip down underneath your keyboard. Use your can of compressed air to remove any crumbs that are lying in the crevices in between the keys. After that, dab a lint-free cloth in isopropyl rubbing alcohol and gently rub your keys. You might be able to remove some stains with soap and water, but isopropyl rubbing alcohol is better for two reasons. For one, it evaporates almost immediately, which greatly reduces the risk of liquid getting inside your laptop. Secondly, it’s effective in removing the oily residue left behind by your fingertips.

If you lent your laptop to a friend who returned it while sneezing and coughing, you can disinfect your keyboard by using a disinfecting wipe containing up to 0.5 percent hydrogen peroxide.

Lastly, if your laptop has large side vents, you’ll likely find that they are a magnet for dust bunnies. (Same goes for expansion ports.) Use a can of compressed air to blow the dust bunnies out; this will not only make your laptop look better, but it can also improve performance by letting your laptop better control its temperature with a clean vent. If there is a dust bunny that you see is stuck behind the vent that you can’t dislodge by blasting it with compressed air, then consult your user manual on how to open the case. Be sure you remember which screws went where for the reassembly; snap a picture or two of your laptop before opening the case for a handy reference.

Cheers 🙂 🙂

Make sure to leave a comment below and recommend this post to your friends

29Apr 2014
You can’t stop Google from scanning your inbox or serving you ads, but you can opt out of receiving personalized ads in Gmail. And you can eliminate one prominent ad banner altogether.

Google updated its terms of service this week to clarify the manner in which software automatically scans and analyzes the content of your emails so the company can deliver what it calls “tailored advertising,” in addition to ferreting out spam and malware. When you signed up for your Gmail account, you consented to such things.

If you’ve been using Gmail for any length of time, however, then you’ve likely learned to ignore the ads it displays above, below, to the side, or directly inside your inbox. Perhaps with Google’s terms of service in the news this week, you’ve given new thought to the ads you see in Gmail. There is no way to stop some of the ads from appearing, but if you dig around in settings, you can opt out of targeted ads. And you can eliminate one ad that sits at the top of every message you read when using accessing Gmail via a desktop or laptop.

Perhaps you don’t like the targeted ads because they are a constant reminder of Google’s ever-vigilant scanning of your personal correspondence. Or perhaps you just find targeted ads harder to ignore than ads that aren’t tailored to you and your interests. Whatever your reason, you can opt out of what Google refers to as “interest-based ads” and receive contextual ads that may be based on the message you are currently reading but not on the content of your inbox on the whole as well as your Google search history and other account information.


To opt out, head to Google’s Ad Settings page. Scroll down to the “Opt-out settings” area and click the “Opt out” link for “Opt out of interest-based ads on Google.”

Next, let’s get rid of the narrow banner text ad that sits above every Gmail message you open. You’ve probably blocked it out, but there is an easy way to eliminate it altogether. Click on the gear icon in the upper-right corner and choose Settings. Then click on the Web Clips tab and uncheck the box for “Show my web clips above the Inbox.”


Now, as the informative post on WonderHowTo explains, you can also remove any ads that appear as messages in the Promotions tab of your Gmail inbox, but to do so, you have to delete the Promotions tab. In my case, I don’t see such ads in my Promotion tab, and deleting it would unleash a wave of messages to my primary inbox that I’d rather keep quarantined in the Promotions tab. If you’d like to get rid of the Promotions tab, go to the Inbox tab in settings and you’ll be able to uncheck a box for the Promotions tab.

Alternatively, Chrome users can use the Gmelius extension, which lets you customize what elements show up on Gmail and where.