Q: Cellphones now have built-in batteries that require a trained technician to replace. It is costly and inconvenient to send in the entire cellphone for a battery replacement, so battery longevity becomes a concern. The longevity of older types of batteries was affected by the manner in which you charged them. Does the manner in which you charge a modern cellphone battery affect its longevity? Should I top it off as frequently as possible or should I prefer to recharge it when it drops closer to zero?
— Erik Myklestad
A: Yes, some early battery types had a “memory effect.” If you regularly charged the battery when it got down to 25 percent of its charge and stopped charging it when it reached 75 percent of capacity, the battery may eventually report itself as fully charged when it was actually only charged to 75 percent of capacity.
The good news is that the current generation of lithium-ion batteries are not afflicted with memory effect.
Still, there are a few things you’ll want to keep in mind about optimizing your batteries health — if, that is, you expect to keep it longer than two or three years.
First, most lithium-ion batteries are expected to last about 400 full-charge cycles. You can extend the life of the battery somewhat by not draining the battery completely. Don’t be afraid to connect the phone to the charger to “top it off.” Topping off a battery is less stressful than charging it from an empty state.
And don’t worry about overcharging your smartphone’s battery. When the battery is fully charged, sensors in the battery prevent it from receiving more juice. At the same time, lithium-ion batteries are potentially dangerous power sources. Remember those stories about some brands of cellphones and laptops exploding a few years ago? So it’s probably not a good idea to leave your phone plugged into a charger for extended periods when you’re not around.
What’s more, some experts say that some cellphones charged without being turned off first tend to run “hotter” when plugged in to a power source for an extended period, which can gradually reduce their capacity. They run hotter because as the phone’s power drops below 100 percent as a result of the phone’s background operations, the charging resumes.
Q: Occasionally (like clicking on The Seattle Times website) a site will be slow loading until a pop-up says “Script running” and offers an option to stop the script. Stopping the script works. What is that all about?
— Jim Carroll
A: With many websites, the simple act of visiting the site launches a script on that web server. A script is essentially a small program that may, for example, check the location of your computer so it can deliver a weather report. In some cases the script may be unable to complete. It may be that you have your computer configured not to divulge location data. If the script is poorly written, it may fail to stop running when it encounters a mismatch with your computer’s configuration.
Anyway, the bottom line is that you can safely stop that script from running and get on with your business.
Q: I use a MacBook Pro, Time Capsule router and my own home network. I used to monitor my Visa charges on a Bank of America website. As of several days ago no Bank of America websites will load. All other websites load as in the past. If I take my laptop to my condo’s lobby and use the unsecured Wi-Fi, BofA sites will load. However, our concierge (using a PC and router of unknown brand) cannot open any BofA sites. What gives and how to fix?
— John Drinkard
A: I’m guessing that your problem is either with a setting in your home network’s firewall or that you’ve started using a virtual private network (VPN) to connect to the internet. Bank of America, along with most other financial websites, will not work if you’re using a virtual private network (VPN) on your internet connection.
VPNs provide protection for users because they encrypt all communications between the computer and websites. That’s a good thing. But they also hide the identity of your computer. That’s also a good thing for your privacy but a bad thing for sensitive service providers such as financial institutions.
My policy? I use a VPN when I’m on unsecured public networks. And I don’t conduct sensitive business, including banking, when I’m on those networks.