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Posts Tagged ‘battery

Yesterday I shared some wifi-related tips for the road warrior. Today I focus on hardware peripherals.
 

 
If wifi is like the air, then electrical power is the food and water of your devices. Since you cannot guarantee yourself a power point when you are on the move, an external battery that can charge a phone, slate, or even a laptop is a must.

I do not recommend skimping on quality when buying a battery and the cables that feed your devices. You do not want to risk damage to either the battery or your devices.

A good (but expensive) brand is Anker. (Disclosure: I am not paid to promote the brand.) If you choose to buy external battery packs and charging cables from Anker, I recommend you buy them online from the supplier instead of a store. A SGD24 cable online can cost between SGD5 to 10 more in store.

If, like me, you need to conduct seminars or facilitate workshops, you need a laptop charger and a dongle to connect to a projector. I recommend buying a spare charger from the maker of your laptop or go for a reputable brand.

If you have a Macbook Pro, you might only have USB-C ports and need to get a multi-purpose dongle that provides power, one or more USB-A ports, VGA and/or HDMI output, and a LAN (cabled Internet) connection.

If you can afford to, get one dongle and a set of cables for home and one for the travel bag. This avoids the inconvenience of disconnecting and reconnecting cables at home while ensuring you are prepared for whatever a new room throws at you.

My last tip is an expensive one: Noise-cancelling headphones. These drown the world out while allowing you to make clear phone or video calls. While some might baulk at the cost, noise-cancelling headphones are an investment for your sanity.

Oh, and get the over-the-ear headphones and not the stick-in-your-ear earphones. The headphones send others a visual signal that you are not to be disturbed.

I never found the companion that was so companionable as solitude. -- Thoreau

 
I had only one major issue in iOS 11.4 and that was that the Continuity feature was inconsistent. I thought that the 11.4.1 update would help, but it only created more problems.

Continuity allowed me to share browser instances and clipboards between all iOS and Mac devices. This let me start doing one thing on one device and continue on another.

The system broke when I upgraded to iOS 11.4 because the browser instances would not sync between iOS devices even though the clipboards would.

I found out that I could try signing out of my Apple ID and signing back in to troubleshoot. I decided to wait for yesterday’s iOS 11.4.1 update, but that did not solve the problem.

So I signed out of my Apple ID and signed in again, and that solved the Continuity problem.

However, these actions created new problems: Now I have a heavier battery drain and my credit card in Apple Pay stopped working.

I added the same credit card to Apple Pay with the help of the iPhone camera. I was pleasantly surprised to see how iOS 11.4.1 intercepted the 2FA SMS and added the code for me.

Now I have to rely on an external battery pack even as I draft this reflection in iOS Notes. There is no solving the battery drain until the next update.

Three steps forward, two steps back. That seems to be the unofficial mantra of Apple updates.

I was one of many owners affected by the iPhone slowdown due to drained batteries. I wondered how to get a new battery with the minimum of fuss.

I could have visited a reputable phone repair shop and the battery alone would cost about SGD65. The price was accurate as of Nov 2017 and I know this because I replaced my son’s iPhone battery then.

However, Apple now offers a SGD38 battery replacement. I took advantage of this official but cheaper option and I share my experience below.

made an appointment online using my iCloud credentials. The batteries are limited so the appointments are critical to avoid disappointment. Once online, I got to select the date, time, and battery service provider. Note:

  • As there was a high demand for replacement batteries, I was only able to fix an appointment a week later.
  • The appointment calendar only spans a week. If there are no slots left that week, you will have to try the next day for another day’s slots to open up.
  • It is probably best to select a battery service provider closest to your home or work place. This will cut down on travel time and cost.

After I booked the appointment online, I received an onscreen and email confirmation. Both contained the Case ID number.

iPhone battery service reservation.

To prepare my phone for servicing, I had to:

  1. Deactivate Find My iPhone.
  2. Sign out of iCloud services completely.
  3. Reset the iPhone completely (Settings -> General -> Reset All Settings).
  4. Remove any and all non-out-of-the-box Apple add-ons, e.g., phone case.

Addendum: Remove the phone’s SIM card before you hand it over. I did not have to do this as the phone I serviced was a spare one and did not have its own SIM card.

I brought the iPhone to the service provider at the appointment time. My provider had a self-service queue system which required me to type in the last six digits of my Case ID number.

I had a morning appointment on a week day, so there were very few people about. I waited for about a minute and was called to the counter.

The service representative did a diagnosis of the phone to confirm the almost dead battery. I did this previously with the help of this app (the iPhone’s battery had dropped to 17% of its original charging capacity).

Battery capacity.

There was the usual form filling on an iPad, and in the case of my provider, the unusual signing of the form three times — one for personal information, one for the service, and one for terms and conditions.

The diagnosis and administrative work took just under 15 minutes.

The official battery replacement time was two hours. I left my contact number to be notified when the phone was ready for collection.

I received email notification that my phone was ready for collection about 1h 15min after I left the service centre. Strangely enough, the SMS notification arrived almost 15 minutes after the email.

I returned to the service centre, collected the phone, and made payment of SGD38 with my credit card. There was no extra service fee for my out-of-warranty iPhone because of Apple’s provision.

According to the terms and conditions, I have 90 days to see if the new battery works properly. So far so good.

One final recommendation: Do not make a fuss with a service representative if you do not do your homework. One older gent at the service centre raised his voice. He was at another counter before me and still there after I left. No amount of shouting and complaining is going to make repair faster.

The process getting my iPhone battery replaced was quite painless because I did my homework: Make an appointment online and prepare the phone. I also said good day and thank you.

 
When I was a boy, I had to wind my wristwatch and use a key to coil a spring in household clocks. Today it seems like the only way to get wound up by a watch is when its battery runs flat.

You can either bring the watch to a shop to get the battery changed, or you can attempt it yourself. When I first watched how someone else did it and how much the battery and service cost, I decided that I would do it myself in future.

Back then it looked like a specialised or skilled task. It is not any more. There are numerous websites and YouTube videos that show you how to open up the watch yourself and swop the battery. Many of these resources are brand or model specific.

I change my wife’s and my watch batteries once a year or every two years, so I sometimes forget my self-taught lessons.
 

 
A recent reminder was how rare some batteries are.

I had to find an equivalent for a battery for a dress watch because the exact brand and type was not available in hardware stores here. So I searched online, found the equivalent types, and made price comparisons. I saved anywhere between five to ten times the cost by DIY compared to going to a shop.

The result of this exercise was a renewed appreciation for how easy it is to be a self-directed learner nowadays. All this is because we have accessible platforms and creators who share openly.

The timely reminders are that we need to create conditions for this sort of learning and nurture learners who not only know how to consume helpful content, but also how to give back by creating and sharing.

In a previous reflection, I noted how there seemed to be a phantom power draw by my Toshiba 2 Chromebook when I used it in presentation and facilitation mode.

The lowered battery life seemed to be due to my use of an HDMI-to-VGA dongle to project my screen during workshops. This was odd given how the Chromebook was a relatively passive device.

Recently I used my Chromebook for 6.5 hours straight in active use. I was grading learner performance with Google Forms and fact-checking in Chrome. I did this over a day in one morning and one afternoon session. I still had a little over two hours of battery life left when I responded to email at a cafe later.
 

 
All this seems is counterintuitive: Use the device passively to project the screen and the battery runs out, but use it actively and it is an all-workday device.

The difference is the HDMI dongle which seems to sap battery life. I estimate it reduces battery life in my Chromebook Toshiba 2 by about half.

It might be an understatement to say that I have put my Toshiba Chromebook 2 through the wringer over the last few weeks. I have tested its ability to:

In further testing the Chromebook for facilitating events, I have discovered that its battery life suffers.

When I facilitated workshops in August, I tested my Chromebook’s ability to use a USB LAN dongle and an HDMI-to-VGA dongle.

The Chromebook detected the LAN dongle automatically and switched away from wifi, but I kept getting “page not found” error messages in Chrome. This did not happen to me at home, so I guessed there might have been something wrong with the cable or LAN point at the venue I was at.

I could not test the battery drain of the LAN dongle as I went back to using wifi for the sessions. I suspect that it will take a toll on battery life as the dongle is also a travel router that creates an ad hoc wireless network. The dongle felt warm to the touch just after a minute of being plugged in, but that was the extent to my investigation.

Chromebook HDMI-to-VGA dongle.

However, I was able to test the HDMI-to-VGA dongle to project what was on my screen.

Each workshop I conduct is three hours long. A full work day is seven hours with a lunch break in between. I reset my online resources during lunch, so there is hardly a break for my Chromebook.

With the HDMI-to-VGA adapter plugged in, my Chromebook is no longer an all-day device. It will last the morning workshop and lunch, but it cannot make it through the afternoon one. The Chromebook battery is almost exhausted by the first afternoon hour.

From the start, I bring the brightness level of the screen to just one above dark, the wifi is constantly on, and the Chromebook is largely a passive device for showing resources (e.g., Google Sites, online timer) and collating contributions (e.g., Padlets, Google Docs).

I have used the Chromebook for hours at libraries, cafes, and other wifi spots where I can get work done. At home I use it for streaming YouTube videos or Netflix shows. In both cases, the battery rarely goes down past the 50% charge mark. This puzzled me because such uses seem more active than relatively passive workshop use.

The main difference was whether or not I was projecting my screen. At the moment, this seems to be the battery guzzling factor. Unfortunately, I have no idea how to mitigate this issue.


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