MadMod Computing The MadMod Computing Newsletter

December, 2010 - Vol. 2010d

Welcome to this edition of The MadMod Computing Newsletter.   We hope that you enjoy the features of each issue and learn some computing skills along the way. For more topics on other newsletters, check out MadMod Computing Newsletters.

First, a reminder to make backups of your important files, and to keep your anti-virus software up-to-date.   Second use a software firewall and/or a router if using broadband.   Last, obtain all the critical Windows updates.

Featured in This Issue
1.     Crazy Start Up Problems on Windows Computers
2.     Laptop Battery Aging
3.     J-Walk Blog (website)

1.    Crazy Start Up Problems on Windows Computers
The problem seems to have existed ever since external hard drive units--with spinning disks--have been plugged into USB slots of computers.  It seems that when Windows tries to start, it goes looking for the USB with a boot device before it finds the internal hard disk that contains Windows.  If not found, it should revert to looking for the boot device on the internal hard drive, but sometimes it doesn't get there probably because the USB drive didn't respond by saying "I don't have a boot system on my drive." and thus BIOS never got the message to try anther drive.

Perhaps the easiest fix is to disconnect the USB drive before starting the computer.  Another fix would be to change the boot order in BIOS--not for the average user to do. (BIOS: Basic Input-Output System -- this starts first so that Windows start and can find its hardware resources.) I don't recommend messing with BIOS unless you really know what you're doing.

2.    Laptop Battery Aging
Most new laptop computers come with the main battery good for about 2-1/2 hours of steady use without the power cord and with Bluetooth, Wireless and USB devices connected.  (Turning off Bluetooth, Wireless and disconnecting USB devices when not needed can help extend the time somewhat as will turning down the screen brightness.)  On fairly new computers, it's probably best to recharge the battery when down to about 10% with older computers needing shutdown sooner.  After about 3 years, the battery life is usually awful though sometimes completely discharging it and then giving a full recharge cycle before using the computer can help to bring an old battery back to life.  On really old batteries, this trick doesn't work.

If the computer starts having strange shutdowns, the battery could have weakened cells or the charging isn't lasting well at all.  You've then got two choices:

1. turn off the computer, unplug it, turn it up-side-down and remove the battery completely.  Then turn it back right-side-up, plug in the power cord and use the computer with its cord always plugged in.

2. purchase a new matching battery (about $150) from the computer manufacturer or from the site I prefer that's a bit cheaper:  When the new battery arrives, unplug the power cord from the computer, turn the computer over and insert the new battery making sure it clips in tight, turn the computer back over again, and finally plug in the power cord for a full charge of about 8 hours.  At that point the computer should give the normal 2-1/2 hours or so of use without the power cord.

3.    J-Walk Blog (website)  J-Walk Blog is an information adventure of John Walwalkenbach provides the vistor on almost any topic imaginable. As he indicates: "Stuff that may or may not interest you."  I go there for the crazy pictures, banjo music and snippets found on the web.  Be prepared to be vicariously offended or complimented.  John has an uncanny ability to find stuff I'd probably never find on my own--even searching for it.  He also writes books on Microsoft Excel.

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