Upgrading your Laptop

Know your Laptop

Upgrading Your Laptop

A laptop has power optimized CPU and other peripherals designed to work from a battery. It is a compromise between performance and adequate operating time. The CPU is specifically designed to crank up its speed as per its requirement. Laptop batteries have a finite life like your mobile phone batteries. But if you are near the mains supply point, you can continue to use the charger to extract the full performance.

We have modified an old Toshiba Laptop to run Centos Linux and re-purpose that as a NAS/back up server. You can upgrade or re-purpose your laptop too if you follow this long article.

Know your Laptop Battery

As a regular user of a smart phone for a long time, you know that a battery which powers your device has a finite life and over a period of time it slowly loses its capacity. It is entirely a different matter that your battery doesn’t lose its capacity uniformly in a linear fashion always. There are factors such as the operating temperature, the state of charge, the charging current and duration which affect the capacity. These days you get Lithium-ion batteries which have better characteristics than the earlier Ni-cad batteries which had ‘memory effect’.

Hook your laptop to the power supply for any kind of sustained activity. Batteries are for regions where you don’t have access to the mains power supply. Most applications would throttle the CPU if the supply line falls below a threshold value like they do in your iPhone.

Go to the command prompt by pressing Windows key and type cmd on the search bar on the lower left region.
And when it says Command Prompt app, right click on that and select ‘Run as Administrator’ . You will see a black window. Type:

Laptop battery Report

How to invoke powercfg command

It will save a nice formatted HTML file usually in your Windows/System32/ directory. Your browser may not be allowed to open that file. So right click on that file and copy it to save it elsewhere. Now you can open that file to view a full history of your battery along with its current status.

If some app doesn’t run properly or the wifi intermittently stops working you need to delve deep into the power management system. Again this utility comes in handy. Type :

and the utility will churn out an energy report which can identify how your Windows is configured to utilize the available power. In one case, the random Wifi issue was traced to a wrong power configuration in which the system reduced the Wifi radio power after some period of inactivity.

Battery History

Ways to Improve Laptop Performance

A Clean laptop is faster:
Computer manufacturers provide a fan to cool the CPU/Graphics Processor for a valid reason. The CPU will shut down when it exceeds a certain temperature. In some cases, it can result in permanent damage to the CPU. The cooling fan sits inside a shroud which can get clogged due to dust. Our laptops have to be periodically cleaned as they tend to get clogged with dog fur. It is not a rocket science to clean the innards of the laptop. Usually the simplest way is to direct the vacuum cleaner at the vents provided in the laptop. Only thing is just make sure it is not set at the highest speed to damage the vanes.
Here is a page which offers a solution to a random shut down in a desktop due to heating: https://blog.targetwoman.com/random-shut-down-windows-10/

laptop cooling fan

More Ram Better Performance:

Upgrade your RAM:
In automobiles, they say – ‘there is no replacement for displacement’ meaning for sheer power in a car engine, there is nothing to beat the displacement in an engine. Same way to some extent, in a computer the more memory you have the better is the performance subject to the law of diminishing returns. In a laptop fitted with a 2 or 4 GB RAM, you will notice noticeable improvement in performance if you upgrade the RAM. Windows 10 in its 32 bit version has a minimum requirement of 2 GB and 4 GB for its 64 bit version. We have seen considerable performance improvement when we upgraded the RAM to 8 GB. We usually upgrade the OS to 64 bit to really use the additional RAM.
The actual need depends on the application you will be running. The minimum system requirement for a Windows 10 may be 2 GB RAM. But if you are going to use memory-hungry applications like Photo/Video editing, you will need 16 GB or even more. Even the mundane browsers need additional 4GB if you keep several tabs open at the same time.

Laptop Memory upgrade

Before you order the new RAM, check your motherboard for the type of RAM and the maximum RAM the motherboard can support. The right place to check is the manufacturer’s website. RAM comes in many versions – DDR2, DDR3 and DDR4. DDR stands for Double data rate. Each successive generation is faster and uses less power.

Supercharge your drive:

Replace your Hard drive with SSD:
Conventional hard drives use spinning discs and the data are written/read by movable heads. Their storage capacity is high but it takes time to locate the sector where the information is stored. As a result, hard drives are slow. In addition as they are mechanical devices, they have a limited life and they are fragile. The Sold State Drives (SSD) on the other hand are electronic drives with no moving parts and hence are not fragile. As they have no moving heads to access data, inherently they are faster. Typically a hard drive returns a figure of 30-150 MB per second in a sequential read/write operation while a SSD returns 500 MB. You will notice shorter boot up time and faster loading time for most applications when you replace your hard drive with a SSD.

Laptop hard drive upgrade

Upgrade your drive: The first step in any computer operation is to create a backup. When you want to swap out your hard drive, the first thing you do is to create a disk image so that the created disk image can be copied on to a new SSD. This way – you don’t need to install the operating system or any of the installed software afresh. There are many free and paid software to create a clone or a disk image. We have tried out many software in all these years. We find Macrium Reflect and AOMEI Backupper software get the job done in Windows with the least melodrama. For Mac computers, we find Carbon copy cloner and Clonezilla to be the software with the least issues.

So from the above page, you can see that it doesn’t need to cost a lot to upgrade your laptop. A few parts and a bit of your time is all that is needed to give a new life to your old laptop.

Creating insightful Images

The learned people at MIT found that a human brain processes a typical image in 13 milli seconds. On the other hand the brain takes about a few minutes to digest the content of a sentence depending upon the rate of reading for the person. Nature by the process of evolution has baked into our brain – the ability to digest a piece of information from our sight at a rapid pace for our survival. At the time when the Christians were fed to the Lions, your life expectancy will be a few minutes if you don’t take evasive action when you spot a hungry lion in the distance.

Come to think about it, in the scale of our existence in this planet, the language skill – especially the ability to read came pretty late. So it is not a big surprise that our reading skill is no match against our skill to grasp what our eyes sees which we share with all living creatures.

Creating insightful Images

The amygdala, a part of the brain helps to process sensory input which finally builds up evoking emotions like fear and pain amongst others. Studies have confirmed the role played by the amygdaloid complex in the processing of perceived objects with appropriate emotional response.

Nature has taught us to quickly process the image we see through our eyes within a short span of time and we capture images just like a camera in a series of pictures. When our brain sees an image, it triggers a flurry of activities inside the brain – association and connection mapped to our past experience both actual and primordial.

Visual cues combined with the main images help the brain to evaluate appropriate response and the emotion. This is how the brain recognizes a friendly face from a sea of other faces. The processing of visual information is highly evolved in almost all creatures. The tiny brain of the Honey bee weighing the same as a sesame seed is capable of processing visual information a lot faster than your desk top computer and it can recognize thousands of patterns so important for the bee to identify and operate in a 4 mile radius.

Images are complicated as are most things in life. Often the most important thing in the image – our sight – is cluttered with peripheral details or drowned in useless detritus. Brains are configured to figure out what matters and what doesn’t in a short span of time – a trait passed on to us from our ancestors.

Some images evoke positive responses while some result in a negative emotion. Sound also evokes similar results in our brains – but that is a topic we reserve for another day. Deep bass rhythmic drum beat like sound has shown to induce a sense of calm and lower stress levels in our body as it mimics the sound produced by the mother’s heartbeat. A mother’s womb is the safest place for a fetus and her heartbeat is the only sound that reassures the fetus of its safety.

Now that we have established the importance of the role of images in our perception, we will identify the elements in an image that will translate to evoking positive responses.

Various media spend billions of dollars to create Insightful images which sell an idea or a concept.

Most visual media professionals agree on one thing – the best image is the one that evokes a positive emotion.  The image must convey a thought, an idea or a story.  To quote Christopher Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus when chances upon Helen of Troy –

“Was this the face that launch’d a thousand ships,

And burnt the topless towers of Ilium

Sweet Helen, make me immortal with a kiss.”

We will quote our own story of creating insightful images.

When we started TargetWoman – this idea of an insightful image was drilled into the minds of the team managing visual creative. Before an article was put through the process of editing, the gist of the page was assigned to the team. The whole exercise was to brainstorm amongst the members of the team to come up with a concept and translate that concept/idea to an appropriate image.

Looking back we can summarize what image worked in terms of popularity and what images sank without a trace out of several thousand images we published.

1. Be Positive:  People react strongly to positive images. If the page is about an ailment –  don’t show the ravaged affected part. Instead show a picture of cure. Your image should offer hope instead of despair. Most of our topic in TargetWoman is about health. So we follow this rule religiously. Here is an example of the topic:

Stop Hair breakage

2. Be creative with your picture – angle, texture, lighting, shadows and props. Your picture is competing for attention amongst a thousand images and it has just about a few hundred milli seconds to create an impression. It just has to be arresting.

Our Example here is

Eskrima Workout

3. Connect with the audience: Research who your target audience are and connect with them. Our target audience are educated women. That is the reason why most of our pages are over 900 words long. The pictures in our pages aim to establish a common theme. Our Example:

Hanging Yoga

2 Reasons why you should use Edge Browser

Naming convention: Microsoft, some times comes up with pithy names pregnant with rich connotation for its products. Take for example, its Word Processor software – ‘Word‘ its biblical connotation is apparent and so it creates an image in your mind – that it is the ultimate. Another example is their Spreadsheet software – Excel – symbolically meaning that it excels in everything. Now their ubiquitous Browser software – Edge, it offers an edge over others. The top 2 reasons why you should use the Edge Browser are lower resource usage and enhanced privacy and safety.

Top 2 reasons why you should use Edge Browser

From the time, they annihilated the first browser – Netscape, their version was Internet Explorer (IE) which despite its shortcomings resolutely stayed on the scene for decades. Many web developers had a love/hate relationship with Internet Explorers in the past. It was quite tolerant of poor coding in HTML and rendered the page without any issue whilst other browsers refused to render the page. Internet explorer took time to adopt industry standards while the rest of the world quietly marched on. The only thing going for it is it was baked into the Windows OS and you needed it to download other popular browsers. If you decide to use its later Internet Explorer 11 version, it consumed the lowest system resources – RAM or CPU – probably because it shared common dynamic link libraries. It was fast as well. It is getting better at safety too.

The Edge:
It is safe to use the new Edge Browser from Microsoft. It uses the lowest system resources when I tested it against Google Chrome and Firefox. The Internet Explorer 11 has the lowest memory footprint as the screenshot here shows. All the browsers except Firefox run a single tab with the same site.

Comparison of System resources for browsers

The original Google Chrome invokes a separate updater as a service. Other browsers in this line up do not invoke any such service when I tested them. If you are paranoiac about some of the software running in your computer surreptitiously calling home ostensibly to check for new updates, you will need to take a call in avoiding such software. Windows anyway checks its servers for any update at regular intervals regardless of the fact that you use Edge or no Edge. I routinely conduct net auditing to keep an eye on any software that wants to call its home from my computers. I block them in the firewall if it is deemed unnecessary.

Set up Privacy in the Edge Browser

User privacy is taken seriously in this new Edge. Check out this page: Microsoft Edge https://microsoftedgewelcome.microsoft.com/en-us/privacy

To set your level of privacy, just type the following into the address bar:

It has 2 panes : Left pane shows where you are while the right pane shows you 3 options:
1.Basic : It is open season where the site will work as usual with only the known harmful trackers are blocked. The ads will continue to function as usual.

  1. Balanced : This mode blocks harmful trackers in addition to trackers in sites you haven’t visited. The ads will work mostly as usual with less personalization. Works for must of us.
  2. Strict: Blocks all trackers. Ads won’t work most of the time. But some functions of the site will not work either.

Control who can track you here

Whilst at it, you can set other privacy options in the same screen. Scroll down and select ‘Microsoft Defender SmartScreen’ under the Services heading (Recommended). Other choices are optional. Personally I have not enabled others.

The old Edge (now called as legacy edge browser) is based on MicroSoft’s own HTML engine whereas the new Edge is based on Chromium from Google’s open source browser engine.

The new Edge is specifically tuned for speed and better privacy than the Google Chrome browser.The Edge offers World class productivity, privacy and additional values. If you use Chrome extensions, you can use them with some exceptions in this Edge. In Short Microsoft new Edge offers an edge over other browsers.
Chrome is a resource hog when compared with Internet Explorer or the subsequent versions.

Microsoft Defender SmartScreen: Guards you against phishing sites and malware sites. The cloud based anti-phishing and anti-malware component is baked into Windows,outlook and Edge software which goes on further to prevent you from downloading obnoxious material from such blacklisted sites.

Control from control Panel of the Windows

It has always been a struggle to fight against the software vulnerabilities. Every time some one wrote a malicious code – a virus, it required some time before the antivirus researchers analyzed the malware and came up with a antivirus solution and eventual distribution of the anti malware. This time was enough for serious computer pandemic and successful monetary gain for the malware producers. Microsoft Research came up with a Reputation score where it created a blacklist populated with reported malware sites and software.

This helped to narrow the time taken to address a malware from several weeks to days. Microsoft could do this effectively as the same company builds the OS – Windows as well as the other software connecting to the Internet – Browsers and Email clients. It is another reason why you don’t hear of serious virus/malware issues associated with Windows as we used to hear about in the past.

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