The diminishing battery life

February 12, 2011

My stock 3-cell battery for my Dell 11z is starting to lose its charging capacity. When I first got my 11z I did an informal test where I had the screen brightness turned up to maximum and had the WiFi continously running which resulted in 2.5 hours of battery usage. Now, with my screen brightness turned up to one-half way and with the WiFi turned off (as on a plane flight) I can get about 1hour and 45 minutes of usage. This is a big difference, and not too surprisingly considering the battery is 15 months old.

As such, I’ve ordered a new 6-cell battery off Amazon.com for $48 US and will hopefully have battery time in the area of 4-6 hours. The 6-cell battery is much bulkier, but having the extra battery power will certainly come in handy during those long airline flights.

Update:

Well, my new battery arrived just 3 days after ordering it, so I can’t complain about slow delivery! It was sealed in a new box and looked just like a stock Dell battery. It is about twice the size as the 3-cell battery (which makes sense since it is 6-cell) and does protrude down at the back of the netbook, which props up the back a bit when typing. Not too bad, though. I’ve only charged it once, and it seems to have 4+ hours of battery life with full screen brightness and WiFi turned on. So far, I’m pleased with my purchase and now I don’t have to worry about running out of battery power on a flight or when I’m running around at a conference, etc. Hopefully, this battery will last a while so I can keep using it until my 11z becomes obsolete or when I get an Air Mac. 🙂

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Dropbox: Still my favorite cloud file syncer

February 12, 2011

Over the past year or so I’ve checked out all the various free file storage/syncing options available on the net. Dropbox, is still my favorite because of its ease-of-use. Last year I dumped my Windows 7 Desktop system for an Apple iMac 27″ desktop system, and fortunately Dropbox works on the Mac just as well as with my Windows 7 machine (and Dell 11z). Dropbox allows me to easily transfer files between systems and also have a convenient storage location for small to medium sized files in the cloud.


My Dell 11z is still alive and kicking!

February 12, 2011

It’s been quite a while since I last posted on this blog, so I thought I’d give anyone who reads it an update. My Dell 11z is now about 15 months old and it’s still doing a great job as a lightweight, compact netbook computer. I’ve got a few small scratched on the black lid, but otherwise it seems just as new as the day I got it. I’m still running Windows 7 (although I briefly installed the Mac Snow Leopard OS on it) and I haven’t had any hardware issues.

On business trips I take my BIG Dell M4400 (17″) laptop in my travel bag and I often bring along my Dell 11z also. I love using my 11z on the plane where space is tight in coach class. The only issue I have with traveling is that the stock 3-cell battery on my 11z is starting to lose charging power and doesn’t last as long as when I first got it (I’ll discuss this in a separate post). But nevertheless, I do find my 11z a perfect netbook computer that is still the perfect size for my needs.


McDonalds to Offer Free WiFi

December 16, 2009

It appears that starting in mid-January, McDonald’s will lift their $2.95 fee that it had charged customers for two hours of wireless Internet access, and offer free WiFi. So, you can check your email and surf the net while eating you Big Mac! For McDonalds locations with WiFi, you can check this web site.


The Microsoft Wireless Mobile Mouse 4000

December 11, 2009

For my Dell 11z, I was using a Logitech laser mouse because the small USB Nano receiver had such a small profile which allowed me to keep it inserted in a USB port permanently. I didn’t have to worry about breaking it off or damaging the 11z’s USB port as you would with the typical USB mouse receivers (which are about 1-inch in length). Unfortunately for me, my Labrador puppy got a hold of my Logitech mouse and chewed it to bits. 😦 Thus, I was on a search for a replacement mouse.

Now, I could have bought an identical Logitech mouse as I was using, but I wanted to find something that was a little bit smaller and easier to travel with. While on a business trip to Phoenix, I stopped in at a Target Store and found a good looking mouse made my Microsoft called the Wireless Mobile Mouse 4000 (a good high-tech name!). It was slightly smaller than my previous Logitech mouse and also came with a low-profile nano USB receiver. So, I decided to give it a try and purchased it for $29.99 US.

After using it for a few days, I really like. It’s very lightweight, runs on one AA battery, and is advertised to work on several different surfaces (e.g., granite table top, carpet, wood, etc). It also is suppose to have a 10 month battery life, and has a convenient on/off switch on the bottom of the device.

The precision of the mouse is pretty good, and the scroll wheel is silent. Of course, it comes with the two standard mouse buttons, a center button (the clickable scroll wheel), a left-side button and the scroll wheel can tilt left and right.

So, I think I found a perfect mouse to use with my Dell 11z. Now, if it was only dog proof I’d be all set! 🙂


Intermittent WiFi Issues… FIXED!

December 5, 2009

Ever since upgrading from Vista to Windows 7 on my Dell 11z, I’ve been having Internet connectivity issues with my wireless home router. I’ll be connected and working along with either Firefox or Windows Remote Desktop, and all of sudden my Internet connect will be dropped. I check my WiFi connection and I am still connected to my wireless router, but the Internet connectivity is down. Sometimes it will come back online after waiting a minute or two, and other times it just won’t reconnect unless I reboot my machine. Even then, it drops the Internet connection intermittently about every 2 minutes or so. So what gives?

At first, I thought the problem might be my Belkin N+ Wireless Router since I got it recently. However, all of my other laptops seem to connect to the Internet with no dropping issues. I then thought it might be either the WiFi card itself or the WiFi drivers I installed. So, I went to Dell’s web site to download and install the latest drivers for the Dell 1520 Wireless-N Mini Card available for my Dell 11z. After installing that driver (version 5.30.21.0) I still had the same intermittent Internet disconnects.

I then did some Googling and found a posting on the Dell Support Forums site that stated Dell Support Reps often tell their customers to download the latest device drivers from the manufacturer’s site directly, since they have the latest and greatest stuff. As such, I found a link to a Broadcom WiFi mini-card driver that was newer (version 5.60.18.8) than what Dell had on their site. So I downloaded that version and gave it a try.

Low and behold, my intermittent WiFi Internet connection issue was solved! I can connect to my home wireless router and not have to worry about waiting every two minutes for my Internet session to reconnect. Hurray! So I learned a couple of lessons from this exercise:

  1. The Dell driver’s site doesn’t always have the best device drivers. It may be better to go directly to the device manufacturer’s site and use their drivers (provided you know enough about the device and who makes it).
  2. Device drivers are usually the culprit when you have issues on a newly installed OS.
  3. Google is your best friend to resolving system issues.

So I’m very happy now that my Dell 11z is running much better. Nothing is more frustrating than an constantly dropping Internet connection! 🙂


Dell has updated Win 7 Drivers for 11z

November 28, 2009

When I first did the Win 7 upgrade for my 11z (last month) Dell had very few Win 7 drivers available on their support site. Consequently, I had to do a lot of digging around and guesswork to find suitable drivers. Fortunately, Dell has updated their support page for the 11z and most of the necessary Win 7 drivers are now available. Most importantly are the WiFi 1520 Card and Bluetooth card drivers. I’ve gone through the process of updating all of my drivers to match what is available on the Dell support site.

Also, I noticed a new BIOS firmware upgrade is available for the 11z dated 25 November 2009, which has a few bug fixes. Dell recommends installing this update, so I’ve done so on my 11z with no ill effects. Hopefully it will run a bit smoother!