Our computers, peripherals and gadgets use a range of batteries including alkaline batteries, rechargeable batteries, button batteries and UPS batteries. In previous Tech Tips I mentioned that UPS batteries can be recycled at Staples and Interconnection will take laptop batteries. If you want to find one location that’ll take just about every kind of battery, check out the King County Solid Waste Division’s web site. This web page let’s you locate organizations that’ll let you recycle batteries. In fact, their web site helps to find locations to recycle many items including: appliances, carpet, Christmas trees, cleaning products, electronics, fluorescent lights, furniture, microwave ovens, paint and many other items.
Do you have a pile of old zip disks, floppy disks or videotapes that you want to get rid of? If your pile isn’t too large then you could hand it to me at our next appointment and I’ll send it on to GreenDisk. If your pile is larger or you aren’t one of my clients, you can mail it to GreenDisk. GreenDisk is located in Sammamish, Washington, but they don’t have any drop-off centers. For $9.95 you can ship up to 25 pounds to Greendisk.
GreenDisk actually accepts a wide range of technotrash via their mail-in service. Their web site includes an up-to-date list of everything accepted by GreenDisk. Currently they accept the following:
• Media: CDs, CD-Rs, CD-RWs, DVDs, Blu-ray, 3.5” and 5.25” floppy disks, zip and jazz disks, and cases
• Tapes: VHS, audio cassette tapes, DAT, DLT, Beta, and Digibeta
• Computer drives: Hard drives, zip, jazz, floppy, CD-ROM, DVD, jump drives
• Communication devices: Cell phones, pagers, PDAs and their chargers, cradles, and headset accessories
• Batteries: Rechargeable batteries and chargers only – no alkaline batteries. See instructions on packing batteries for shipment.
• Small electronics: MP3 players, iPods, hand-held CD and cassette players, and digital cameras
• Ink: Inkjet and toner cartridges (All cartridges must be in a sealed bag to prevent spilling.)
- Photographic film negatives, instant film, sheet film, Advanced Photo System, slides, Disc film, 110, 126, 127, 120/220
- Black and white or undeveloped only: Motion picture film, film reels, Super 8, 8mm, 9.5mm, 16mm, 35mm, 70mm
- Medical x-ray, industrial x-ray, lithographic, micro film, microfiche
• Miscellaneous items: UPS units, AC chargers, keyboards, mice, modems, routers, headphones, cords, adaptors, cables, boards, and chips
All batteries will eventually experience diminished efficiency, storage capacity and will need to be replaced. However, regularly recalibrating your Lithium-ion battery will help to prolong your battery’s life and health, which will help reduce the frequency with which you’ll have to buy a new battery.
Apple recommends recalibrating your battery at time of purchase and then every few months after that. Battery University recommends recalibrating your battery every 30 charge/discharge cycles. Apple provides written instructions on how to recalibrate your battery. For years, I had a repeating event on my iCal calendar that sent me an email reminder which included a copy of Apple’s instructions. Recently, I started using Watts (30-day free trial, then $6.95) which lets me monitor the health of my battery, reminds me to calibrate my battery, then guides me through it.
Apple indicates that one should expect current Mac laptop batteries to retain 80% of their charge capacity after 1000 full charge/discharge cycles. Watts lets you keep an eye on this and alerts you if your battery is unhealthy and needs to be replaced. If you have the Growl notification application installed, Watts can be configured to display useful notifications and reminders to recalibrate your battery. I recommend Watts. Check it out, you might find it helpful.
Here’s a copy of Apple’s current instructions for recalibrating your battery if you own a MacBook, MacBook Pro, MacBook Air or PowerBook G4 with a dual-layer DVD drive.
- Plug in the power adapter and fully charge your PowerBook’s battery until the light ring or LED on the power adapter plug changes to green and the onscreen meter in the menu bar indicates that the battery is fully charged.
- Allow the battery to rest in the fully charged state for at least two hours. You may use your computer during this time as long as the adapter is plugged in.
- Disconnect the power adapter while the computer still on and start running the computer off battery power. You may use your computer during this time. When your battery gets low, the low battery warning dialog appears on the screen.
- At this point, save your work. Continue to use your computer; when the battery gets very low, the computer will automatically go to sleep.
- Turn off the computer or allow it to sleep for five hours or more.
- Connect the power adapter and leave it connected until the battery is fully charged again.
Personally, I find it inconvenient to try to incorporate the above recalibration process into my day-to-day use of my laptop. Thus, I tend to do this on a Friday evening, when I’m done using the computer for the night. I save all of my documents and quit all applications on the laptop. Then, I open a QuickTime movie and set it to loop continuously. I then disconnect the power cord so the laptop is running on battery. Sometime during the night, the laptop’s battery will be depleted and the laptop will automatically go to sleep. Then it can sit there for a number of hours. On Saturday morning, I”ll connect the charger to charge it up, which can take a couple of hours. When I’m ready to use the laptop the battery is fully charged and ready to go.