According to a June 2010 survey by the Pew Research Center, only 29% of Americans know some of their neighbors and 28% know none of their neighbors by name! So this week through this weekend, Mario Armstrong is appearing on HLN to talk about what YOU can do to meet and get to know your neighbors and use that knowledge to better connect with people, reduce crime in your neighborhood, and just keep tabs on what’s going on!
There are a lot of services out there that promise a free credit report, but are actually scams – remember all those free credit report TV and radio jingles? Everyone is entitled to a free credit report once a year through the website annualcreditreport.com, but if you want to know your actual credit score – the number that rates your credit-worthiness – you’re going to have to pay extra. Enter Credit Sesame, a new startup that will let you get both your credit report and credit score for free.
Credit Sesame has partnered with Experian to provide your credit score, so you won’t know what the other two major credit ratings agencies (Equifax and TransUnion) think, but it’s a good start. Credit Sesame will also offer you loan and credit card advice about the debt you already have, and can send you updates about changes to your credit report. If you’re actually in the market for a loan or credit card, they’ll send you offers from bank they think match your financial needs: if you choose to go with one of those offers, Credit Sesame makes a commission. That’s how they can provide their other services for free, but they promise that the offers will truly be helpful to consumers.
Doug Sillars is a Sr. Product Development Engineer at AT&T. You can find more blog content from Doug and other experts on emerging technologies on the AT&T Networking Exchange Blog. AT&T has sponsored the following blog post.
Do You Have Enough Juice for the Big Call?
It’s going to be a big day. All you need is to get one phone call from the VP to approve the final provisions, and the deal of the year will be closed. You’re working remotely at a client site for the day, but that’s no big deal because the super-powerful, do-anything smartphone in your pocket lets you work onsite AND take the big call. But then, just as you’re tackling big issues, handling e-mails, and anticipating that important call, you notice that your battery is quickly dying… and you forgot your charger!
Will you have enough juice to take the big call? Maybe – if you stop your phone’s battery from draining. Here are the 7 biggest culprits to battery drain, and how you can reduce their impact on your phone or tablet.
1. Screen settings.
Check your screen settings to preserve your battery power.
- Screen Timeout: Choose the shortest time you can stand. I use one minute on my Samsung Galaxy Note II, and my battery life suits my needs. I tried 15 seconds and 30 seconds for time out, but the timer always caught me mid-email. When my kids turned the setting on my wife’s phone to ten minutes, her battery was dead in four hours.
- Brightness: I use the automatic setting – that way, I minimize power in dark rooms, and crank it only when I need it in a bright location. Sure, sometimes it takes a second to set up, but my battery life is better.
- For LED (or OLED or AMOLED) screens: Black and dark colors use less power than white. When possible, use a darker background image or screensaver.
- For LCD screens, color does not make a difference in power drain. So, when in doubt as to the technology of your screen, darker screens are better.
On mobile, each connection stays active for a period of time after each connection. This is to reduce latency on future connections. However, this “tail” radio time can be a significant draw on the battery.
Here is a pretty technical video, but it outlines best practices. If you are a developer, and you want to test your mobile app, check out ARO (developer.att.com) to see if there are ways you can optimize your mobile app to reduce battery drain.
If you use ActiveSync or BBM e-mail servers, you can specify how often e-mail is delivered. Depending on how much e-mail you get per hour, you can change the settings.
- Push e-mail is immediate delivery. If you do not get a lot of e-mail – this is best (I use this setting for evenings and weekends)
- Timed polls. If you get >12 e-mails an hour, polling every 5 minutes is more efficient. Check out this earlier post for more on email push or poll.
4. Vampire apps.
These sneaky apps connect in the background and drain out your battery.
- There is a popular news app that pings the internet for information every 3 minutes (24 hours a day). That’s 480 radio connections a day (as much as 10-20% of your battery).
- If you install an app, and notice a degradation in battery life soon after – try uninstalling that app.
- For active usage – Wi-Fi is usually more efficient than cellular (sometimes even to cellular, rarely worse).
- Turn off LTE. LTE uses more power than 3G.
- Turn off data or go into Airplane mode for ultimate savings.
Everyone knows that GPS consumes a lot of energy. Here are some tips to minimize the drain:
- When you are finished with an app that uses GPS (like Google Maps), make sure you quit the app (the back button on Android), and don’t send it to the background. If the app is still running in the background, it may still continue to ping the GPS radio to get your location.
- GPS on standby DOES use a small amount of power. If you are not using GPS, just turn it off. This is not a big savings – it won’t add hours to your battery life, but it will save minutes… and it could be enough to make a difference in catching that important call!
Switching between Wi-Fi and a mobile network requires energy, too.
- If you are not using Wi-Fi, the Wi-Fi radio will continuously ping for a new network that it might join. This can use up a lot of power.
- If you are associated to a Wi-Fi network, it is not as big a drain. Just stay associated with it to avoid #1.
- If you are not planning on using Wi-Fi for a long period of time, just turn it off.
Some games or bigger apps use a lot of processor power (the CPU or GPU). Just know if you play “Bad Piggies” for an hour, you will use up a lot of battery.
There is a power drain here, too, and the solution is simple: If you are not using a Bluetooth accessory, turn off Bluetooth.
Bonus: More random thoughts.
Here are a few more ideas to help you conserve battery power.
- In general, different chargers should not make a difference. If you use a higher amp charger you COULD damage your battery.
- Watching video or listening to music generally means that the screen is on, the radio is on, and the processors are running. Guess what – lots of battery drain potential. Some streaming services are more efficient than others, so if you have issues with one service, try another, and it may last longer.
- Ads in the app are being sent down by the radio, so they do incur battery drain. If it becomes an issue for you, buy the no-ad version.
Do you have some additional tips for extending your phone battery life? Please share your ideas with us so we can all be ready to take that important call when it comes!
Maybe your phone’s dead, or you just haven’t had the heart to upgrade to the unlimited text message plan from your wireless provider. Or maybe cell service is down, and you still need to get in touch with someone asap. Google Talk has been helpful for making phone calls for years, but recently Google launched a service to let you send free text messages too.
The first thing to do is enable SMS. Once you’re logged into Gmail, go to the gear symbol at the top right and select “settings.” From there, choose the “Labs” tab toward the righthand side. The Labs apps should be displayed alphabetically, so scroll down to “SMS,” or just search for SMS in the search bar. Change the radio button to enable, and then scroll down and save your changes. Google’s design sense is a little lacking here, so the save changes button isn’t obvious, but don’t forget it!
Did you know that Facebook messages have “read receipts?” Basically every time you read a Facebook message, the sender on the other end can see exactly wheat time you read the message – down to the minute.
It may be nice to know that others have seen your messages, but it can be incredibly frustrating if you’re the recipient! After all, if someone knows you’ve seen their message but haven’t responded, they can easily misinterpret that as avoidance, when really you’re just busy or you know, forgot.
Keeping track of business-related expenses is a must. And if you’re doing most of your office supply and equipment ordering online, it makes sense to use Slice to keep track of all your receipts digitally. No more sifting through paper receipts and invoices come tax time!
Slice is simple: give the application permission to see your email, and Slice will archive all your purchase records from major online retailers like Apple, Amazon, and eBay. You can add up to five email accounts to your single Slice account, so it’s perfect for small business and remote collaborators.
The app (available for both iPhone and Android) makes your purchase history easily accessible anytime, but can also deliver push notifications about deliveries en route regardless of the shipping carrier. And the UI is far superior to the mobile offerings of certain other shippers who shall remain nameless, since we’d really like to keep getting our Amazon purchases in a timely manner.
Slice is currently in beta. More info and signup at www.slice.com.
As a technology commentator on NBC’s “Today” show, CNN and NPR, among others, Mario Armstrong knows how to effortlessly translate high-tech topics for low-tech audiences. Despite his expertise, when it comes to travel, Armstrong doesn’t exactly have a teleport. He still relies on the usual trains, planes and hotels. In a brief break from his perpetual parade of gigs, the tech expert chatted with us about where he goes to recharge and the portable devices he relies on to keep him plugged into today’s ever-evolving world.