Laptop

This Is How Kids Entertained Themselves Before Smartphones Existed

If you have kids these days, they likely can’t fathom a world that doesn’t include smart technology. No laptops, no iPads, no smartphones, and no device that turns your lights off for you when you’re not home. Certainly no refrigerator that can tell you when you’re out of something!

I was born in 1979, which makes me part of the last generation to completely grow up without this kind of technology being pervasive – we had a computer starting when I was in middle school, the Apple IIE – but it had like two games and a word processor. By the time I was in high school, cell phones were available (and they were slightly smaller than the one Zack Morris carried on Saved By the Bell), but we left them in our glove compartments in case of an actual emergency – if we were lucky enough to have our own to begin with. Even through college, laptops were novelties and cell phones weren’t pervasive. We were still dialing up our Internet (though Instant Messenger was all the rage).

That life? Anyone born five years after I was will never know it. Which is as odd to me as life without technology will seem to my son. So if you’re one of those crazy kids…

How Do You Disable a Computer’s Hard Drive LED Light?

When you are busy working on your laptop, the last thing you need is a constantly flickering hard drive activity light distracting you. Is there an easy way to disable it or should you go with a more round-about solution? Today’s SuperUser Q&A post has some solutions to a frustrated reader’s problem.

Today’s Question & Answer session comes to us courtesy of SuperUser—a subdivision of Stack Exchange, a community-driven grouping of Q&A web sites.

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The Question

SuperUser reader AnonymousPerson wants to know how to disable a computer’s hard drive LED light:

It is very bothersome to work with my Windows 10 laptop (a Dell…

How to Maximize Your Linux Laptop’s Battery Life

Laptop manufacturers spend a lot of time tuning their device drivers for Windows battery life. Linux usually doesn’t get the same attention. Linux may perform just as well as Windows on the same hardware, but it won’t necessarily have as much battery life.

Linux’s battery usage has improved dramatically over the years. The Linux kernel has gotten better, and Linux distributions automatically adjust many settings when you’re using a laptop. But you can still do some things to improve your battery life.

Basic Battery-Saving Tips

Before you do anything too complex, adjust the same settings you would on a Windows laptop or MacBook to maximize battery life.

For example, tell your Linux laptop to suspend—this is what Linux calls sleep mode—more quickly when you’re not using it. You’ll find this option in your Linux desktop’s settings. For example, head to System Settings > Power on an Ubuntu desktop.

Screen brightness can affect battery life dramatically. The brighter your display backlight, the worse your battery life will be. If your laptop has hotkeys to change screen brightness, try them—they’ll hopefully work on Linux, too. If not, you’ll find this option somewhere in your Linux desktop’s settings. It’s available at System Settings > Brightness & Lock on Ubuntu.

You can also tell your Linux desktop to turn off the screen more quickly when it’s inactive. The laptop will use less power when its screen is off. Don’t use a screensaver, as those just waste power by making your computer do more work and leaving the display on.

You can also disable hardware radios you don’t use. For example, if you don’t use Bluetooth, you can disable it to gain some more battery life. Head to System Settings > Bluetooth to disable Bluetooth on an Ubuntu desktop.

If you’re not using Wi-Fi, you can save a bit of power by disabling that, too. On Ubuntu, head to System Settings > Network and enable “Airplane Mode” to disable Wi-Fi and other wireless radios.

Remember that what you do with the laptop is also important. Running heavier software and using more CPU resources will cause your laptop to use more battery power. For this reason, you may want to look at a more lightweight desktop environment, such as the Lxde-based Lubuntu instead of the Unity-based main Ubuntu desktop.

Install Proprietary Graphics Drivers (If You Need Them)

If your laptop has integrated Intel graphics, congratulations. You shouldn’t need to worry about power management issues with your graphics drivers. Intel graphics aren’t the fastest, but they have excellent open-source driver support and “just work” out of the box.

If your laptop has NVIDIA or AMD graphics, however, you may need to do some work to decrease power consumption.

The worst case scenario is a laptop with NVIDIA Optimus or AMD’s switchable graphics. Such laptops have two different GPUs. For example, an NVIDIA Optimus laptop will have both a more powerful, battery-draining NVIDIA GPU and a less powerful, battery-friendly Intel GPU. On…

The Right Way to Rename Notebooks in OneNote

OneNote is a fantastic free alternative to Evernote, and offers a great place to keep all of your notes handy. Whether you primarily use the desktop app or jot notes on your phone, everything syncs up so it’s ready when you need it.

One of the things that’s a bit difficulty in OneNote is changing a notebook’s name. You wouldn’t think that it would be so hard, as you can just right-click on a notebook in the OneNote app and visit Properties. You’ll see a Display name field here, but that comes with a disclaimer that it doesn’t affect the…