TechTalk: 5 things your laptop wishes you knew

Written by Amanda Loch on . Posted in Writing

Everywhere on campus, students with notebook computers surf the web, e-mail professors and colleagues and work on research and papers. If those computers could talk, here’s what they would be telling you:


  1. Don’t plug me in all the time! Notebook machines have a battery, and for a good reason! The whole point of being mobile is being unattached and free to move around. Most notebooks have lithium ion batteries, which don’t have a “memory” – meaning it doesn’t matter how full it is when you plug it in, it will charge to 100% every time. However, if you keep your computer plugged in all the time, it still sends a power current through the battery, heating it, and eventually wearing down on its life. When you do need to use it without the cord, you’ll notice your three-hour life-span has been shortened to two. It’s always best to run your battery down, then charge it up again. Leaving it plugged in all the time will only wear out your battery faster than normal.


  1. You don’t need to shut me down after you’re done using me! Closing the lid and putting the machine to sleep is just as good, if not better. In this mode, the computer uses a fraction of the power it normally needs to run, and shuts down all but the most essential functions. But unlike a shut down, the computer will immediately snap out of sleep or hibernation and be ready to use again. If you’re traveling for long distances, going through airport security, or don’t plan on using your computer for extended periods of time, shut it down. Otherwise, putting it to sleep is the better way to go.


  1. Software updates are important! This is true for all computers; software companies wouldn’t put out updates if you didn’t need them! Sure, they always seem to come at inconvenient times, or take too long to install, but they may contain important bug fixes, patches or even essential new features that you need to keep your machine running smoothly. Software updates are free. You have no excuse not to.


  1. I don’t need to run at 100% all the time, and your battery will last longer too! If you’re just typing a paper or surfing the net, turn down the brightness on your monitor. If you don’t need your wireless card, turn it off. Same goes for Bluetooth. Not using all of the programs you have open? Close them. Turn the volume down on your speakers. You’ll be surprised how all of these things can extend your battery life, especially when you forget your power cord at home.


  1. Turn my wireless features off when you’re not using them! Bluetooth and WiFi are incredible technologies, but you may not be the only one using them. Concerns have been raised recently about the vulnerability of wireless signals and their ability to make your computer do things or reveal things you may not want it to. When you’re not using Bluetooth or WiFi, it’s better to disable them.

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Amanda Loch

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