Care and feeding of your Lithium-Ion batteries

Yes, I am exceedingly happy with my laptop. More about this later. In the meanwhile, read this for the low-down on the care and feeding of your Lithium-Ion batteries (in most modern laptops). In short: partial charging is better than fully discharging and recharging, although a full discharge-recharge cycle every once in a while is good for calibrating the digital fuel gauge. Lithium-Ion batteries hate high temperature, especially the temperature in your laptop.

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Laptop No. 2

Once again, I’ve succumbed to my inner laptop-fanboy and ordered a new laptop. The previous one is now two years old and thoroughly out of date. Add to that its 3.7kg weight (on a good day) and its battery life which is somewhere between 1 and 1.5 hours (on that same good day), and it’s obvious that it’s time for a new one. Or so I rationalise, at least. After months of searching and researching, I settled on the HP NC6000.

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Setting OpenOffice default to A4

This is how you can configure your OpenOffice installation to use A4 size (or any other size) by default for your page format and print paper size: http://www.jca.umbc.edu/FAQ_Computing.html#1.3. In short, edit /path/to/OpenOffice/share/psprint/psprint.conf and change the value of PPD_PageSize.

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DeVIDE routing

Because I am supposed to be writing my thesis, the WAB-side has been calling very insistently. Well, every so often, it’s just too much and I have to WAB for an hour or two. A great place to WAB is my baby^H^H^H^Hsoftware, called DeVIDE, which is a kind of a thingy with which you can do visualisation and image processing thingies easily. That is, if it doesn’t crash. Oh wait, it never crashes.

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My laptop does not exist yet

I’ve determined exactly what I want in a laptop (he he he). It shouldd weigh 2kg or less, it should sport a battery life of 3.5 hours at the very least, its processor should perform at at least the level of a 1.5GHz Banias, it should have a 5400 RPM, or faster, hard drive (in any case no Toshiba, thank you very much, they’re dog slow, even the ones with 16MB cache), the 3D graphics should support pixel and vertex shaders and should rack up at least 7000 on 3D Mark 2001, it should have at least 512MB ram at at least 333MHz DDR and the screen can be anything from 12″ to 15″.

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Popup tabs for Linux?

This weekend, I started playing around with CoolTabs. This really useful little program attaches to the side of your desktop somewhere and is always available when you need to drop a URL, document or directory. In the same way, it’s always there when you need to access the files, applications and URLs that you dropped, but without being obtrusive. See the animated screenshots at the bottom of the CoolTabs page.

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Cheap phone calls, yay!

Usually, it costs us 62.24 euro cents per minute to call home to ZA. With the “voordeelnummers” discount of KPN, it costs 43.57 euro cents per minute. Obviously we’ve activated this for the numbers we call often. This weekend I decided to have a look see at the alternative long distance carriers again. We’d had a bad experience with Tele 2, but that was some time ago. After a bit of googling, I came across bel1601: we now call ZA at 7 (yes SEVEN) euro cents per minute and 5 cents startup per call.

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Bad, interface, bad!

Why do the clever people at Microsoft persist in labelling their buttons with “Ok” and “Cancel”, even when these words have almost nothing to do with the actions that will be performed when such a button is clicked? Take this dialogue for instance (I got to look at it many times as I was debugging an ITK memory allocation error with 700MB of data in memory): It would be fantastic if one of the brightsparks up at Redmond suggested: “Hey boys, why don’t we rather label those buttons ‘Terminate’ and ‘Debug’?

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