Author Archives: Steve

My Phone’s Battery Drains Too Fast! Let’s Fix That.

It seems to me that my phone’s battery drains way too fast sometimes. I use it semi regularly throughout the day but still in the evening I’m at 15% when I think there’s no good reason for me to be. Fortunately, there’s an explainable reason this happens. Let’s first take a look at why the phone needs power:

smartphone-1641909_960_720

Everything your phone does requires what’s called a process. A process is all the calculations and tasks the phone has to do in the background so that you can enjoy it the way it was meant to be used. Processes can build up quickly, especially if you’re like me, and you have a lot of apps on your phone that you switch between.

For instance, your phone is making sure you can receive calls; there’s a process for that. It is checking that the screen is at the correct brightness; there’s a process for that. It is looking out for new text messages or SnapChats or Facebook notifications or Instagram updates. They all require processes and they’re all running even when you lock the screen.

I have some tips that will allow your battery to remain as charged as possible:

1.Disable the fancy settings.

This is one of the easiest ways to increase battery life. Your phone came to you with all sorts of features that, on the surface, are fun to use and make your experience better. However, they all require processes that will eat away at your battery life. Fancy settings include but are not limited to:  Bluetooth, location services, auto-rotate, auto-brightness, NFC, Hey Siri/Ok Google, Gestures.

2. Lower the brightness.

I know, I know, you want to be able to see your screen in its most amazing clarity. But that requires power, unfortunately. Setting the screen to a low brightness when it’s dark in your surroundings will help you conserve power. The screen is the one of the most power-draining parts of the phone because of the energy required to light it up. If you can handle a dimly lit display, you’ll really reduce battery consumption.

3. Close apps not in use.

The apps you open throughout the day have an impact on battery life after you’re done using them. Try to remember to close all the apps frequently.

4. Uninstall apps you don’t use.

Some apps have 24/7 processes to check for notifications. SnapChat and Facebook are examples of these. If you have other apps like them that you simply don’t use anymore, uninstall them to make sure they aren’t draining power unnecessarily.

5. Keep a battery bank with you.

If all else fails, having a battery bank with you will allow you to charge your device on the go.

[Sidebar] How to Resize a VirtualBox .vdi

Congratulations! You’ve made a virtual box of your favorite linux distro. But now you want to download a picture of your cat and find out that you’ve run out of disk space. 
Image: habrahabr.ru

Rather than free up space by deleting the other pics of Snuffles, you decide you’d rather just make the virtual machine have more disk space. But you’ll find out quickly that Oracle has not made this super-easy to do. The process is not simple, but it can be if you just use the following steps:

Open the Command Line on your windows machine. (Open Start and type cmd)

You can then navigate to you vitualbox installation folder. It’s default location is C:\Program Files\Oracle\VirtualBox\

Once there, type this command to resize the .vdi file:

VBoxmanage modified LOCATION –resize SIZE

Replace LOCATION with the absolute file path to your .vdi image (just drag the .vdi file from file explorer to you cmd window) and replace SIZE with the new size you want (measured in MB) 1 GB = 1000 MB

Now your .vdi is resized, but the disk space is unallocated in the virtual machine. You’ll need to resize it. To do this, download gparted live. Make a new virtual machine. It is going to simulate a live CD boot where you can modify your virtual partition.

If your filesystem is ext4, like mine was when I did this, you’ll need to delete the linux-swap file located in-between your partition and the unallocated space. Make sure you leave at least 4 GB of unallocated space so that you can add the linux-swap partition back later.

After you’ve resized your partition, you’ll be done. Boot into the virtual machine as normal and you’ll notice you have more space for Snuffles.

Image: wideopenpets.com

How To Find Your Device’s MAC/Physical Address

The Physical address of a device is an unchanging number/letter combination which identifies your device on a network. It is also referred to as a Media Access Control Address (MAC Address). You may need it if you’re having issues with the campus network and UMass IT wants to see if the network itself is the problem.

To find the MAC/Physical address on a Windows 10 device:

Right click on the Start button to make a menu appear:

windows-key-x-menu

Select Command Prompt from the menu.

In the window that appears, type “ipconfig /all” without the quotes:

cmd

The resulting text displays information about the parts in your computer which communicate with the network. You’ll want to find the one that says “WLAN adapter” and look under that heading for the Physical Address:

WLAN

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To Find the MAC Address of a Apple/Macintosh computer:

Click the apple menu in the top left of the screen and click System Preferences:

system-preferences-hotkey

In the window that appears, click “Network”:

preferences_overview

Highlight WiFi on the left-hand side and click advanced:

wifiadvanced

Navigate to the Hardware tab to find your MAC address:

hardware

To Find the MAC address of an iPhone:

Use the Settings app, go to General>About and the MAC Address is listed as “WiFi Address”:

iphoneMAC

To find the MAC address of an Android device:

The location of the MAC address on an android device is unique to the device, but almost all versions will show it if you navigate to Settings>Wireless and Network; the MAC address will be listed on the same page or in the Advanced section:

Find-MAC-Address

You may also be able to find the MAC address in the “About Phone” section of the setting menu:

wifi-mac-address-android

 

Today’s Virtual Reality Headsets

The world of Virtual Reality has had a dramatic increase in popularity in recent years. The technology that people have been waiting for has finally arrived and it comes in the form of a head-mounted display (HMD). There are many brands of HMD which range in their ability to achieve total immersion. The low-end forms of VR use a smartphone and a pair of lenses, like Google’s Cardboard:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The Google Cardboard costs $15 and is about the cheapest form of VR you can find, assuming you already own a compatible smartphone.

The cheapest versions of VR use the same same lens-enclosure method of delivering VR. Users are limited to apps they can find on their phone’s app stores, which are buggy at best. Still, if you’re unsure whether or not you want to buy a more immersive HMD, this is a great way to get an idea of what you’ll be buying. The real immersion begins when the display and the technology inside is specifically designed for VR gaming.

The best VR experience while still keeping your wallet happy is from Samsung Gear VR, but it requires that you already own a recent Samsung Galaxy smartphone:

Samsung_Gear_VR

Samsung Gear VR

AT $60, the Samsung Gear VR has some more intricate technology than the Google Cardboard allowing for a better experience. You could also add the Gear 360, which allows for “walk around the room” immersion for $350 but if you find that price point reasonable you may be better off in the high-end territory. The Gear VR has its own app store with games designed for use with it.

If you don’t have a Galaxy Smartphone, but you do have a PlayStation, you may be interested in what 25818482705_8a1bb716bf_bSony has been working on. Their VR HMD is the Playstation VR. At $400, the PSVR connects to your PlayStation for use with VR-enabled games. The PSVR is meant to be used with the Playstation Move Controllers which will add another $100 to your total. A Sony executive says plans to make PSVR compatible with PC may be in their future.

The high-end forms of VR include the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive:

HTC Vive

These HMDs are designed with PC games in mind. They provide an experience far superior to the cheap options but will run at a high price of $599 for the Rift and $799 for the Vive. The Vive includes two hand controllers which allow the user to have virtual hands for interacting with VR objects. Oculus is working on a similar device, the Oculus Touch, which is available for pre-order as of October 2016.

Oculus Rift

Many companies are investing in virtual reality and creating their own devices to compete with the front-runners. It is expected that the VR market will expand much further, especially once the price point of the high-end HMDs comes down. Virtual Reality is in a state of great potential; the applications of these headsets goes well beyond gaming. The military is interesting in them for training purposes. Educators can use them to teach students. Doctors can use them to treat psychological conditions. I have no doubt that Virtual Reality will eventually become part of our everyday lives.