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Simple thoughts in a complex life

Tag Archives: Apple

Snow Leopard Unibody MBP Battery Life Test #5 : The Apple Test 2

It turns out that I need a lot of time just to complete the Mac Book Pro battery test. Well, I have completed item #5 in my checklist, which is to repeat the battery test as close enough to the way Apple tested them after a clean install of Snow Leopard.

As with item #2 I did a partial using Apple scenario, only this time I did not start from 100%. I take notes of the battery usage while I was browsing quite heavily searching for the best computer spec for my brother in law. The only applications running were Firefox and TextEdit. We were in a relatively dark room and I constantly adjusted the brightness to be at 50%.

The result : my battery is down 29% in 97 minutes. The average battery usage is 0.2989% per minute, which means 100% battery life would approximately equal to 334 minutes or 5 hours and 34 minutes of usage.

That is not so bad, considering that I was browsing heavily that day, the fans even turned on, something that I do not experience much.

Fixing Snow Leopard Auto-Sleep Problem

Does your Mac suffer from the auto-sleep problem? My MacBook Pro did. It is a problem where the Mac does not want to go to sleep by itself when it is left idle, even though the Energy Saver preferences has been set correctly. The commanded sleep mode (clicking   > Sleep or closing the lid) works fine. I did not remember exactly when did this problem started, but it started when I upgraded to Snow Leopard.

As usual I consulted our best friend Google and found out that the problem is actually quite common. The best explanation that I got from searching around the web is from the website of one of the sleep helper software which I am having trouble remembering the name of, and I can’t seem to find the website again (here’s one example of sleep helper program, but that’s not where I get this information from).

The programmer wrote in his website that the problem could be caused by software or hardware problems. Usually when the cause is from software, some running programs or processes prevented the machine from going to sleep. If the problem is caused by hardware, then the machine should be brought to an Apple Service Provider for a repair.

The sleep helper software works by forcing the OS to sleep when the conditions set in the Energy Saver preference pane has been fulfilled, even though some program tries to prevent from going to sleep. Since I had installed lots and lots of stuff in my machine, I figured that this must be the cause of my problem. Unfortunately, I tried some of these software, and none of them worked. I closed all running program, left the machine idle, waited and waited for some time, but the machine did not go to sleep by itself.

So, since I am also planning to test my MBP’s battery performance on a clean install, I backed up my data, formatted the hard drive and install Snow Leopard from scratch. To my surprise, the auto-sleep problem works well for a week and then it started to have insomnia again! Then I tried uninstalling the few programs I have installed one by one to see if some of the programs are blocking the sleep function. But even after I uninstalled all of the programs, the sleep problem persisted.

Then I tried to remember every changes that I had made to the machine, and after a while I found out what the cause is. The problem is caused by a well-known workaround to enable native NTFS write support in Snow Leopard, the one that requires you to add the UUID or the label of your volume to the /etc/fstab file. My BootCamp partition is mounted this way and since the volume is always mounted it prevented OSX from going to sleep.

So the moral of the story is, editing /etc/fstab for NTFS read write support is fine for flash drives and other USB devices but I would not recommend it for volumes on the internal drive.

Snow Leopard Unibody MBP Battery Life Test #2 : The Apple Test

Work has been crazy these few days, there’s this deadline that we’re trying to make in the office so I was having trouble allocating enough time for the perfect Apple environment test.

Moreover, my machine also has the notorious auto-sleep problem. A problem in which the notebook does not want to sleep by itself when it is left idle, even though the Energy Saver preference has been set properly. The manual sleep function works just fine though. This irritates me so much – you have to close the lid to preserve battery – that it made really want to format the machine as soon as possible. And the second battery test would not be valid if I formatted the machine.

Nevertheless I did a partial battery test using the Apple scenario. I did the test for only approximately half of the battery capacity. Here is the details of what I did. I charged the battery to a full 100%, and then used the notebook the way Apple tested them, by browsing some websites and writing some documents, the screen brightness was at 50% and so was the keyboard brightness. I used Firefox for browsing and OpenOffice.org to edit the document.

The result : my battery was down by 45% in 1 hour and 52 minutes. The average battery usage is 0.40178% per minute, which means 100% battery life would approximately equal to 249 minutes or 4 hours and 9 minutes of usage.

Hmm, that didn’t differ much than the result of the first test.. Maybe the running background processes are the ones really eating up the battery. And it’s possible that they are the ones responsible for the MBP’s auto-sleep problem. Well, we’ll see about that in the next test, after I format the notebook.

Snow Leopard Unibody MBP Battery Life Test #1 : Real-World

I’ve finished the first of four items planned on the battery life test, the real-world usage test.

I do the test while working in the office. Since I am a developer working in Windows platform, I used the notebook to remotely connect to my development machine and see how long it would last.

I started with 100% battery, programs running were Firefox, Apple Mail, Adium, iTunes, TextEdit, and Microsoft Remote Desktop Connection. I didn’t check the display brightness level, but I assume that it was at 100% all the time because I have a big glass window behind my desk and I live in the tropics. I was using AirPort to connect to the network, and Bluetooth was disabled.

I did all the browsing, emailing, chatting, listening to music in OS X, and only coding on the remote Windows machine. I also did some downloading in iTunes. At lunch break, I streamed a movie for about twenty to thirty minutes to watch while eating. The machine went to sleep several times while I was briefly away from the desk.

I think this test could be described as “moderate wireless usage”. The Remote Desktop Connection constantly streamed some data during the test period, occasionally wireless usage went high when I downloaded something or when I streamed a movie. The CPU usage were not intensive.

The result, I got to work for 3 hours and 58 minutes, before the battery was completely drained (0%) and the machine went to hibernate by itself.

Next up is the Apple Environment test.

Snow Leopard Unibody MacBook Pro Battery Life Test

up to 7 hrs of wireless productivityApparently, my post about my suggestion on fixing the battery life problem in Snow Leopard has been generating enough traffic to make me feel compelled to do a battery life test. So here goes.

First, a short description of my machine :

  • It is a 13″ MacBook Pro, with 2.26 GHz processor and 2 GB of RAM. Logically, faster processor would consume more power for a given time and the same applies to larger amount of RAM.
  • I upgraded to Snow Leopard via the upgrade path, as advised by Apple (I read this on gizmodo.com).
  • It had all sorts of programs installed, the Applications folder had 70+ items and I also installed programs that runs as a service like SynergyKM, Growl.

I think this machine qualifies for a real world test machine.

The target of this experiment is to try to verify Apple’s claim about the notebook’s battery life, and to compare it to real-world usage scenarios. Apple claims that the battery would last up to 7 hours of “wireless productivity” (8 in 17″ MBPs). As usual, in every claim there’s the fine print. You can see in this page, in the fine print, 7 hours is achieved in a specific working condition. The keywords are in bold.

13-inch MacBook Pro testing conducted by Apple in May 2009 using preproduction 2.53GHz Intel Core 2 Duo-based MacBook Pro units. 15-inch MacBook Pro testing conducted by Apple in May 2009 using preproduction 2.8GHz Intel Core 2 Duo-based MacBook Pro units with a Better Battery Life setting. 17-inch MacBook Pro testing conducted by Apple in May 2009 using preproduction 2.8GHz Intel Core 2 Duo-based MacBook Pro units with a Better Battery Life setting. Battery life depends on configuration and use. See www.apple.com/batteries for more information. The wireless productivity test measures battery life by wirelessly browsing various websites and editing text in a word processing document with display brightness set to 50%.

There are several experiments that I plan to do. In order :

  1. Real-world usage test.
  2. The Apple Environment test.
  3. Format and do a clean install of Snow Leopard.
  4. Repeat item #1.
  5. Repeat item #2.
  6. Write a conclusion.

For anyone interested, I will update this post with links to each item, and I will try to do at least one test in a week.

My Apple Experience

I have recently switched to using an Apple MacBook Pro as my main means of computing. This is my impression of owning an Apple product so far.

My Background

I had never been a fan of Apple product. Although I really liked the nice interface, I don’t like Apple products for several reasons. Firstly, it’s expensive, Apple products are known for their high price. Secondly, I can’t use it for work, I am a software developer who writes mostly for Windows. Third, I can’t use it for serious gaming. Fourth, Apple fans/product owners have this particular attitude that I don’t really like much. Apple seems like some kind of religion for some people.

Although I was not a fan of Apple, I admitted that Apple makes high quality products. And I even recommended buying Apple to some of my family where it was relevant for them.

When Apple recently introduced the 13-inch MacBook Pro to its product line while also lowering the price, and also being encouraged by a post by a fellow developer, I thought that it was probably the best time to try to own an Apple product. Nowadays Macs can run Windows through Boot Camp anyway. So I went ahead, I sold my relatively new ASUS laptop for a MacBook Pro.

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