Laptop Battery Philosophy

A few Sundays ago at a church social, I had a middle-aged lady ask me
for some technical advice. Now I've learned through my years as an IT
student (and now graduate) that most people really have no idea what it
is I actually learned and what they figure falls under my umbrella as
'technology stuff'.
I've had questions as simple as, "can I take the mp3 file off of this CD
and put it onto another CD as an audio file, so that it'll play in
cars?" All I could do with this one was hold back laughter. I'm not
trying to be rude here, but that's one of the first technical things I
learned to do, and I learned it in 8th grade. So it surprised me when a
grown man asked me this like it was some secret knowledge.
Toughest question to date: "How involved is it to allow laptops to
connect to a private network from my office? Do you know what all
technological specialties it would require? Can you do it/ how much
would you charge?" Wow. Well I can tell you it takes someone smarter
than I am. And depending on how you currently have the network
configured is going to decide how difficult this project is. It could be
as easy (read: not secure) as putting a hole in the firewall (which I've
done), or as complicated as scrambling ports and configuring email
servers as well as shared storage to be available in the outside world.
But I digress.
The question the middle-aged lady asked me was, "If I have a laptop
that's 2 years old and the battery won't charge anymore, is there a
possibility that the battery is already bad?" Now, let's get the obvious
out of the way: if the battery's not charging, there's almost certainly
wrong with it. It could be the problem I had with my first laptop, in
that the power connector isn't working properly. It's not the battery's
fault if there simply isn't any electricity flowing to it. Or, like
EVERY laptop battery they have created thus far, the law of diminishing
returns takes over. After some amount of time (could be 4 years like
mine was, could be 1.5 years like a friend of mine's, could be longer
than both of these), your battery will stop holding a charge as well as
it did. Most salespeople try to push buying a second battery for this
very reason, and because they can make more money that way. So it's to
be expected after some duration that, even if it's just for power
reasons, you'll need to upgrade your laptop to a new one or hope they
still sell batteries for your model.
But wait! There's a small glimmer of hope. If there wasn't more to this,
why would I have even spent my time writing this post? I have devised a
proven method of extending your laptop battery just a little more than
the average person's. It's not overly complicated, and it'll take you
almost no time at all. Here it is: don't use your battery when you don't
have to. BAM!
What does that mean? That means your laptop exists in 3 states at any
given moment.
STATE ONE: You have it unplugged from the wall and the battery's in and
are utilizing the portable nature of your laptop to go around where
there aren't plug-ins. Of course the more you do this, the faster your
battery dies. I'm not saying you shouldn't do this at all. After all,
you bought a laptop so you could have this option in the first place.
Just know what it is you're doing when you do it.
STATE TWO: You have it plugged into the wall, with the battery in, and
the laptop OFF. This is called a charging period. This is where the
power coming from the wall flows directly into the battery to charge it.
After your battery is fully charged, change to state three.
STATE THREE: You have it plugged into the wall, with the battery OUT,
and the laptop ON or OFF. See, if the battery is fully charged and you
continue to leave it plugged in, it turns into a vampire on your
electricity bill. It keeps drawing power and running it thru the
battery, thereby bringing about death all the sooner for your innocent
little battery. And if you have your laptop ON to use it, then the power
typically flows from the wall, thru the battery, and out to the system
to run the current operations. I typically did this very thing with my
first laptop, where I used it with the battery in and it plugged into
the wall, and was caught off-guard when the battery started dying on me
earlier and earlier.
Now you do have to analyze how you use your laptop before state three is
comfortable for you. If your like my dear mother and like to sit on the
couch and move around with it plugged in, chances are the cord will
inevitably pop out. If you don't have the battery in, that means your
laptop just turned itself off due to no power source. If that's your
modus operandi, so be it. Leave the battery in. But don't say I didn't
warn you when your battery can't hold a charge for more than 10 minutes.
No, I'm not exaggerating. 10 minutes is what I've heard from lots of
people it whittles down to before they give up and buy a new system.
Pleasant battery-lasting day to all.
And remember, you can always do what these bright folk did when the battery finally dies.