Batteries: what exactly should we be doing to extend their life?


More often than not, our smartphone batteries die long before our devices do.

As more and more smart phones are moving away from having a removable and replaceable battery, I’ve found myself more concerned with how the usage of my phone and my charging habits will affect it in the long term. With my older laptop and cameras, it was never an issue. Battery no longer holding a charge? Buy a replacement and slap it in. 

All I need to do is plug it in, right?

Unfortunately, I was never well versed in proper maintenance and care of battery life until I started noticing a decline in my overall life of my cellphone. From being able to hold a charge for an entire day to having to plug in the phone halfway through the day even with minimal usage, it got me wondering if my charging habits had anything to do with it. 

As with most of my older devices, I was under the assumption that I should always drain the battery, keep the device plugged in to charge, and then rinse and repeat over and over again. Older batteries, such as Nickel Cadium (Ni-Cad) and Nickel Metal Hybride (Ni-MH) batteries required “training” on the battery, charging and discharging to keep them optimal and so, in respect, I thought the same applied universally for new devices currently using Lithion-Ion (Li-ion) batteries. 

Conflicting Reports

And so, I began some research on the internet to see what I could come up with for the care and proper maintenance of li-ion batteries. Soon though, my frustration was solidified in a Popular Mechanics article: “And yet, consumer electronics companies offers no true consensus …. the Internet only deepens the confusion. One article claims that li-ion packs should be drained on a weekly basis; another recommends to drain them once a month; others say they should never be drained.” Amid this quagmire of confusing information and statements, there was however some constants that kept popping up over and over again.
Depending on charging habits, the life cycle of a battery can vary.

Problems and Solutions

One of the most general worrying facts was finding out the damaging properties of completely draining your battery or letting your device run dry as I had previously done. As Wikipedia states: “Deep discharge may short-circuit the cell, in which case recharging would be unsafe. …. This may drain the battery below its shut down voltage; normal chargers are then ineffective.“ Combined with problematic issues arising when temperatures dip below and above certain thresholds (who hasn’t forgotten their phone in their car?) can shorten and damage battery life on your device.

An interesting tib-bit though, is finding out about li-ion safety circuits, internal hardware that is integrated into the battery that helps prevent overcharging, say if you were to leave your device plugged in for overnight. These circuits allows the devices the charge the battery up to 100% before turning themselves "off" and allowing the battery to drain down to a certain percentage before turning back on again. This explains sometimes why you might see the percentage of a battery drop from a full charge to somewhere near 90% of a charge upon unplugging your phone from the charger.

And so, through a bit of wading through conflicting reports about what is best for Li-ion batteries, this is what seems to be the general consensus:
Don’t drain your battery completely on your device and make sure to charge it often. The longer a battery remains drained without being charged, the harder it is to try and recharge it. There are methods to "revive" batteries that are considered dead, but it requires a little knowhow.
Do not worry about over-charging due to built in safe guards in your Li-on battery.
Don’t expose your phone and battery to extreme temperature changes.

While this article has to do with charging and discharging habits for your smart-phone and how it affects your battery, there are other tips and tricks to get more usage out of your battery through apps and usage.

As for now, these are some pretty straight forward guidelines to keep the batteries going on your devices through the entirety of your contract. Keep in mind though, some providers and carriers do offer battery replacements under warranty, so always make sure to check this out with them. 

What's your personal charging habit for your smart-phone?

How to Share Files Between your Mobile Phones and Computers

Your digital data – like files, photos, documents, music, ebooks and videos – is spread across a range of devices including your mobile phone, the tablet and your computer(s).

How do you easily transfer a file from the Android phone to your iPad? Or how do you copy-paste that long snippet of text from the computer to your iPhone? The following guide discusses apps, both web-based and mobile apps, that will help you exchanges files and everything else between your desktop computer and mobile devices easily and quickly.

The popular and most obvious solution for sharing files across devices is email. Send a file to yourself from one device and then download that email attachment on the other device. Alternatively, you may use file storage services like Dropbox, Google Drive or SkyDrive (readcomparison) to transfer files from one device to another via the cloud.

Then there are web-based apps to help you move files between your computers and phones without any software. There’s where you can upload files from the browser and download them on any other device. JustBeamIt is another web-based file transfer service where there are no limits as the file content is streamed directly from the source to the destination and not stored on third-party servers.

Google Keep is my favorite service for transferring text snippets from one device to another. You can write, or paste, text inside Keep and it instantly becomes available on all the other devices. Keep is web-based but they also have an Android app. I use Google Keep for transferring URLs from the desktop to mobile browser and also passwords that are too long and complex for typing on the mobile keyboard. Hopper and MoPad are other good web-based alternatives that can again be used for sending links and text snippets across devices.

If you are an Android user, AirDroid is probably the only app you’ll ever need for moving files in and out of your phone. Once you launch AirDroid, you can easily download (and upload) files and folders from the phone to your computer wirelessly via the web browser. The only restriction is that your phone and computer should be part of the same Wi-Fi network.

Mac OS users can consider installing Droid NAS, an app that will make your Android phone /tablet appear in Finder and you can then easily browse or transfer files over Wi-Fi.

SuperBeam is another useful app for transferring files between Android devices. Select one or more files inside any file manager app and choose SuperBeam from the Android sharing menu. It will generate a QR code that you can scan with SuperBeam on your other device and the file transfer will happen automatically. If the two Android devices are not connected to the same Wi-Fi network, SuperBeam will transfer files using Wi-Fi Direct mode.

Unlike Android, Apple does not provide access to the iOS file system except for the media gallery. You can use the excellent Documents app to transfer documents, photos and other files from the computer to your iPad and iPhone over the Wi-Fi network. The Documents app can be mounted as a network drive on your computer and files can be moved across iOS devices via drag-n-drop. The app also has a built-in browser to help you download and store web files including file types that aren’t supported by the default Safari browser.

iOS doesn’t support Bluetooth based file transfer so if you are to transfer photos or videos from the camera roll of your iPhone to an iPad, Dropbox is probably a good choice. For single files, web apps like and are perfect for the job.

Mobile apps like Bump and Hoccer that let you exchange files between Android and iOS devices, or between your computer and your mobile device, with simple gestures.

In the case of Bump, select a file on your mobile phone, tap the space bar of your computer with the phone and the file will instantly become available in the computer’s browser. For Hoccer, you can place your two phones side by side and drag a picture from one phone to another. If you have never tried these apps before, they’ll simply amaze you.

How to Save Money While Shopping Online in India

Online shopping can be convenient and you often get better discounts than what the local shops in your area have to offer but if you do a little more research, you may end up saving even more. Here are some tips and websites that may help you get the best deals while shopping online in India.

1. Use Comparison Shopping

There are dozens of credible shopping sites in India and it may therefore take time and effort to determine which of them offers the best deal on a particular product. Comparison shopping sites like , and aggregate prices from multiple online retailers (through XML feeds and web scraping) making it easier for you to compare prices.

The big downside is that these shopping engines do not have price data from all the popular retailers (like Flipkart) so the lowest listed price may not always be the lowest one on the Internet.

2. The Hunt for Coupon Codes

Some shopping sites accept coupon codes that you can apply at the checkout screen for some additional discount on your final bill. Google is of little help here as coupon codes are mostly valid for a limited period but there are coupon aggregating sites like where you may often find working coupon codes for any particular store.
The coupons are neatly organized by stores and the listings are sorted by their expiry dates. Popular US coupons website too has an India-specific section that aggregates coupons from Domino’s Pizza,, Myntra and other popular online shopping sites.

3. Research Online, Shop Offline

Not every local mom-and-pop store may have a website but some of these local stores may have better deals to offer than even the big online retailers. aggregates prices offered by the various offline retailers in a city and the site also lists their phone numbers and addresses should you decide to make the purchase from a local shop.

PriceBaba’s product catalog is however limited to mobile phones and tablets and they are primarily covering retailers in the Mumbai-Pune and Delhi-NCR region.

4. Earn Cash back on Purchases

Coupon codes aren’t the only way to save money on your online purchases. Sites and offer cashbacks on your regular purchases as long you visit the retailer’s site through the special links listed on these cashback websites.

It works something like this. You create an account at CashKaro and it will provide you links to various retailer sites where cash back offers are available. You visit the shopping site through these special links, make the purchase as normal and the cashback amount will be paid to you once a threshold is reached.

5. Watch the Specials on Social Web

Most online shopping brands in India are active on Twitter and Facebook and some of them do regularly post offers and deals on these channels. It may thus be a good idea to like /follow you favorite retails on the social web.

Also, shopping sites like,,,, HomeShop18 and others have dedicated pages where they list ongoing offers – you may want to put these pages in your bookmarks as well.

6. Try a Different Browser

News reports in the WSJ and USA Today suggest that certain shopping sites, especially those in the travel category, may alter prices based on your geo-location and even your previous browsing history (cookies). I am not sure if Indian shopping sites use “dynamic pricing” but the incognito (or private) mode in your browser will prevent the site from connecting the dots and they’ll treat you as a new customer.

What is PRISM, and what the NSA spying scandal means for you

Perhaps while you’ve been outraged at the Xbox One’s newly revealed always-on and used games policies, you missed out on the news that the National Security Agency has been spying on everyone and everything since 2007. Surprise! Dubbed PRISM, the spy-on-everything program is a collaboration between the NSA, FBI, and just about every major tech company you love, hate, or love to hate.

The original program’s ambition was to monitor and collect data from foreign sources that might pass through United States networks for one reason or another — not the worst-sounding goal. However, as leaked reports regarding the program revealed, the agency had access to just about any service the consumer public would use in these modern times. The program has access to a wide array of information from Apple, Microsoft, Google, Facebook, Yahoo, YouTube, Skype, AOL, and PalTalk (which is a video chat room service). The information includes everything you do on a daily basis, from sending emails and participating in chats, to monitoring stored videos and images, to your social networking information and basic electronic activity, such as a logging into and out of a network.

The NSA getting access to these companies’ servers isn’t entirely convoluted or complex. According to the reports, Apple, for example, will be hit with orders from the Director of National Intelligence which demands access to its servers. Apple will comply, and the data from the servers goes through the FBI, which then hands the culled information over to the NSA.

The only thing thing standing between the NSA and going through all of your information, is that an NSA agent has to be 51% sure you’re foreign.

If you’re a reasonably seasoned user of modern technology, then there’s likely always a little voice in the back of your head that reminds you not to do sketchy things online, because someone, somewhere can see what you did. We’re so used to hearing that, for example, Facebook has access to everything on our computer if it wants, or if you uploaded a photo online a decade ago and quickly removed it, someone can still find it. So, we just kind of shrug and not think about it, and assume that Facebook — or the NSA in this case — has better things to do than read the GChat conversations we’ve had with coworkers regarding who’s cute in the office.

If you don’t want to shrug and ignore PRISM, but also don’t want to have it suck up all of your time because you have better things to do than worry about a government program you likely can’t do much about, the Electronic Frontier Foundation made a very handy timeline just for you. The timeline doesn’t just cover PRISM, but is a timeline for domestic spying, dating as far back as 1791 when the Bill of Rights went into effect. The timeline quickly jumps to the time of the internet from there, because domestic spying — along with just about everything else — was made much easier with the advent of the internet.

The EFF’s timeline is well-organized, and does allow the option for you to miss an entire day of work reading up on the NSA if you choose to click all of the related links. If not, you can get caught up on domestic spying rather easily, and go back to posting both your sensitive and superfluous information on the internet for the government to see.