Battery life 
It's true! Smartphone battery life improves after several charge/discharge cycles. It's because the novelty drain is removed.

The fact is that Lithium Ion batteries start deteriorating from the moment they leave the factory. When you first get your new laptop, cellphone or other device fitted with Li-Ion battery it usually comes with a small charge. It will not harm the battery if you start using the device before the first charge - but it won't run for long.

The first time you charge the battery is no different to the hundredth time. It will take longer to fully charge the battery at first because the battery can accept more charge when it is new.

Lithium ion batteries do not have "memory" as do nickel cadmium batteries. And they have very low self-discharge rates. The self-discharge rate is negligible compared to the deterioration rate. In other words, if a fully charged battery is

The battery capacity is lost over time. The rate of loss increases with charge and temperature - thus a fully-charged battery loses capacity with time faster than one that is, say, 30% charged. And a warm battery loses capacity faster than a cool battery.

If you want your laptop battery to last for years, remove it from the laptop while it still has 20% to 40% charge<super and keep it in the fridge. Unfortunately for most batteries, they are kept fully charged in a warm laptop - losing maybe 25% of their capacity each year. After a couple of years, what used to be a 4-hour capacity could be reduced to a 2-hour capacity, and after 4 years the battery is just a useless weight.

Lithium ion batteries are easily destroyed by deep discharge. If you are going to leave your laptop switched off for a long period, remove the battery from the laptop because most laptops will cause a slow discharge, even when switched off.

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Linux Can 


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Office Tips 
OpenOffice.org can create, read and write Microsoft Office files. But, better than that, it also, by default, uses the open document format files. The OpenDocument format is typically much smaller than the equivalent MS Office version.

Most computer users, especially in bigger companies, still use MS office. And, as far as I know, MS Office is still unable to read OpenDocument format files. That means that when exchanging documents you need to save them as MS Office equivalents.

But, on the plus side, OpenOffice.org, while Copyright by Sun Microsystems, is open source software licensed under the LGPL, which in effect means that you may download and install and use it without paying a license fee. And, being open-source, you can be confident that it contains no spyware or viruses. But do be wary of free versions supplied on CD - unless it is part of a Linux distribution or magazine supplement. It is safest to download it directly from http://OpenOffice.org.

Tip: OpenOffice.org-Calc is able to directly open data base files that are used by The Jewellery Shopkeeper. These are dBase files and have the suffix '.dbf'. This is useful for those JSK users who are curious about the workings of the JSK database. But the dafault installation of OpenOffice.org that comes with Ubuntu Linux does not include OpenOffice.org-Base, and without that Calc is unable to connect to dBase files. The solution is to simply Install OpenOffice.org-Base using the Synaptic Package Manager.

Caution: OpenOffice.org-Calc, just like MS Excel or any other database manager must never be used to edit live data. To avoid serious corruption of a JSK database, NEVER save an opened dBase file back into the database. Even if no changes have been made to the data, the file structure can be irreversibly damaged. To be safe, first copy the required .dbf (dBase) file(s) to your own working directory.

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Thunderbird & Firefox saves your money 

Browsing my junk mail, I noticed another subject that looked like a phishing scam. Out of curiosity to see how clever the fraudsters are, I clicked it open. This is what I saw:

Notice the yellow line near the top. It warns that this might be a scam. Hovering the mouse over the blue address line proves that it is, in fact, a false address.
But, still curious, I clicked on the address. This is what popped up:

Ignoring the warning, I clicked on Yes, launching my default web browser, Firefox. But I still could not give away my account details because the following warning appeared:

However, in small type in the lower right corner there is a link that says "Ignore this warning". Being persistent, I clicked on that. But Firefox again displayed the "Reported web forgery" notice.

If it had let me open the web page, it would no doubt have looked just like the real bank web site and if I was naive I might have entered my user name and password, thus giving it to the fraudsters. My computer looks after my money :)

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Live dangerously, Safely. 
Anti-virus programs, firewalls, malware scanners, and other network nannies that are aimed at fighting anti-social cyber-evil may do what they are designed to do and advertisements for these products stress the dangers of being without protection.

But nowhere in the list of features do they mention that it is nowhere near 100% protection nor will they tell you that using the product will slow down your computer by up to 50% or more.

As the protection factor approaches 100% the usability of your computer approaches 0%. The only way to make your computer 100% safe from malware is to switch it off!


So, for more than a year now I have stopped using any anti-virus products. I practice self discipline when deciding what programs to trust and what web-site buttons to click on. And the only trouble that I have had during this period was when my laptop was stolen by robbers.*

However my behaviour is not reckless. I use a simple methods to stop malware from finding me a soft target.

1) Use an internet router. This acts as a firewall preventing direct attacks from the Internet. Do make sure that your wireless access is encrypted and password protected. And do not create 'demilitarized zones' in the router. If you must open a port for remote access - only do so if you understand the risk.

2) Use a good operating system. If you are using Windows, choose Vista rather than XP. (Anything earlier than XP is becoming secure through neglect by malware writers rather than inherent strength.) Any flavour of Unix/Linux or Mac OS-X is also very good,; again partly because of neglect by malware writers. Important: If using Vista, do not disable the UAC - it is there for a reason (see more about the UAC below).

3) Give any user account with administrator privileges a strong password.

and, last but not least...
4) Give your normal everyday user account 'Limited' or 'Standard' privileges. Being logged into your computer with administrator rights is nothing less than reckless. hundreds of thousands of malicious programs are on the Internet just waiting for a chance to infect your computer - but they can only affect your computer if they have the rights. While running as a standard, or limited, user, those malware programs will be forced to ask you for administrator permission.

Windows Vista is much more user-friendly when you are running as a standard user. The UAC (User Account Control) is an irritation when you are logged in as an administrator - it never asks for a password and so one gets into the habit of blindly pressing the continue button... dangerous behaviour. On the other hand, as a standard user, running in your own 'sand box', you will seldom encounter the dreaded UAC pop-up. Instead you will be comforted by the UAC asking for an administrator password when you make a mistake or if you are wanting to do something that really does require administrator privileges. There is seldom anything that requires one to log in to an administrator account.

Many computer 'power users' consider themselves to be expert enough to regularly use a user account with administrator privileges. They are missing the point. A truly experienced user will insist on being a standard user. In the Linux environment, only 'root' has administrator privileges. It is common knowledge that it is dangerous to be logged in as root, but with Windows, users do it all the time. No doubt that is because, up until Vista, one had to be logged in as an administrator to do simple tasks like install a printer. The UAC has given Windows standard users the power to perform administration with the entry of a password, similar the the sudo command in Linux.

In spite of all the benefits of being a standard user, Microsoft still installs the default user with administrator privileges. I wonder if they will fix this in Windows 7.

* They were honest robbers; I asked them to leave my laptop and they said "no, we can't do that".

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