Tag: battery

Batteries are technology’s weak link. While tech like processor clock speed, hard drive capacity and graphics cards has accelerated rapidly over the last few years, battery capacity and total usage time has remained relatively constant. Sure, the newest lithium ion power packs can give your computer a solid 2 – 3 hours of charge, but we’re still a few years away from being able to work untethered for a good 6 – 8 hours.

I bring all this up because my MacBook has a problem with the battery that I’ve seen on others. As the above screen capture shows — from the iStat nano widget — the battery suddenly has 4% health after I used it for 10 minutes. The health is different from the actual charge because it represents the maximum possible charge the battery can take, which means how long the computer can run. What seems to happen on my computer is that it appears normal for a while, but then suddenly drops to less than 10% without warning. My friend had a MacBook with a similar problem — it would shut down when it had (supposedly) 30 minutes of power remaining.

Apple states that a battery is considered defective if it holds less than 80% of its original capacity and has fewer than 300 charge cycles. A charge cycle is the the time between a full discharge and charge — from full power to shut down. If the battery meets this criteria, it may be eligible for replacement. Since I have AppleCare, it seems that I will be taking the computer to the local Apple Store to see if a Genius can get me a new one.

Has anyone else seen a problem like this?

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I really like finding little applications that do a single specialized task really well. In this case, it is a Dashboard widget called Deep Sleep that puts your computer into hibernation. I discovered it on MacOSXHints and have been using it regularly for a few weeks.

Mac laptops use three sleep mechanisms: Safe sleep, deep sleep and quick sleep. The primary difference between them is how the computer reacts when all power is removed. Safe sleep is the default behaviour and will resume normally even after the power source is completely disconnected (that means you can change batteries without fully shutting the computer down). Deep sleep also wakes normally (albeit more slowly) and draws no power at all. Quick sleep will not remember any data when started after a power loss.

The nice part about this widget is that it enables you to use the deep sleep method once, then have it revert back to the standard form afterwards. It is especially convenient for when you know the computer won’t be needed for a few hours, but you’ll need the full battery afterwards. This ability is also useful for when the battery has aged and no longer holds the original power (like mine).

So if you need to put your computer away for a while, but still want power when you wake it again, give Deep Sleep a try.

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