Kibbles and Bytes 490

It is too early for it to be fall, but I was riding my motorcycle up to Burlington over the Appalachian Gap (Route 17) and I actually spotted a couple of maple saplings in full red already. With the cool evenings and shorter days it isn’t long before the woods will be ablaze with color.

Okay, even though I am counting carbs, I couldn’t resist having two corn-eating orgies. It used to be that Artie and I would have a contest to see who could eat the most ears of corn in a season, but these days it is a rare treat for me. I’m sure Art is still putting away a couple bushels each year, though.

I am not allowed to talk too much about our “Operation Burlap” but I can tell you this: Hannah is hard at work on the project and we will have an announcement on September 15. Until then the official word is WOOF!

We have quite a bit of dog art by Steven Huneck in our office <http://>. Steven is a local artist who specializes in dog images. He has a dog chapel up on dog mountain. Hannah and I are headed up there next week to talk to him about his art. We’ll bring the digital recorder with us to record a bit for the Small Dog Electronics Dog Food for Thought podcast. We’ll bring the pups along, too!  We want to offer Steven’s work in our Waitsfield store and perhaps online, too.


Battery Woes, Part 1: Apple Recalls 1.8 Million Notebook Batteries! By Ed

Apple is recalling 1.8 million lithium-ion notebook batteries after nine devices overheated, causing minor burns in two users. The affected batteries could overheat, posing a fire hazard to consumers.

Apparently this is the second-biggest computer battery recall in U.S. history, after Dell’s recall of 4.1 million lithium-ion batteries. Both companies use batteries made by Sony Corp.

These are batteries used in G4 iBooks and G4 PowerBooks. You can read all the information here:

The recalled batteries include those with model numbers A1061, A1078, and A1079 and serial numbers that begin with HQ441 through HQ507 and 3X446 through 3X510. To view the model and serial numbers labeled on the bottom of the battery, you must remove the battery from the computer. The battery serial number is printed in black or dark grey lettering beneath a barcode.

The recall is for batteries manufactured from October 2004 through May 2005.

Small Dog Electronics is committed to keeping our customers up to date with critical electronics recalls. We’ve put up a new page with recall information here:

This is a brand-new page and will be updated shortly.


Battery Woes, Part 2: Battery Melting/Burning/Exploding Issues By Ed & Don

Apple is recalling 1.8 million laptop batteries, and Dell is recalling over four million laptop batteries. Most of these faulty batteries simply short-circuit and won’t keep a charge; however, in some cases, the battery will actually catch on fire. This is a serious problem. To read more and to see which machines are affected, visit Dell’s recall page:

And, as posted above, Apple’s recall page:

Traditional lithium-ion batteries fail easily, and are recalled frequently, because of limitations in both materials and manufacturing. Read below for information about various types of laptop batteries.

From Don

In related news, Apple has joined with Dell and Lenovo and HP to form a group to hold a summit to set manufacturing and quality standards for lithium-ion batteries. A little bit like closing the gate after the horse got out, but I guess it got everyone’s notice when Dell had to recall 4.1 million batteries!


About Lithium-Ion Batteries By Ed

The original G3 PowerBook, introduced in January 1997, was the first Apple laptop to use a lithium-ion battery; previous machines used nickel-based batteries, or, in the case of the original Macintosh Portable, a sealed lead acid battery (no wonder it weighed 15 pounds!).

According, the classic lithium-ion battery is made of pressurized containers housing a coil of metal and a flammable lithium-containing liquid. The cells of a lithium-ion battery also contain separators that keep the anodes and cathodes, or positive and negative poles, from touching each other.

When a lithium-ion battery is manufactured, tiny pieces of metal can get trapped in the lithium liquid. Careful manufacturing reduces the size and number of these fragments, but can’t eliminate them altogether.

If the battery becomes hot through use or recharging, the metal fragments will become agitated and in extreme cases will puncture a separator in the battery and cause a short circuit. After that, the battery might stop working, or it could melt, catch on fire, or get right to the point and explode. This is more likely for small, lightweight batteries that are used to power very electricity- demanding machines. Fortunately, even for Dell, the melting/burning/ exploding battery scenario is extremely rare.

All Intel-based Apple laptops ship with lithium-polymer batteries. Lithium-polymer is slightly different from lithium-ion technology, as it uses a solid to hold the lithium electrolyte, instead of a liquid solvent. Lithium-polymer batteries can be lighter, have more possibilities for flexible shaping, deliver more current, and are less hazardous than traditional lithium-ion batteries.

For the record, Apple now refers to “lithium-based” batteries in its support and knowledge-base pages, rather than lithium-ion batteries.

Confusingly, the MacBook and MacBook Pro are stamped with the words “Li-Ion,” but use the lithium-polymer version of the technology.


The Love and Care of Lithium-based Batteries By Ed

Conditioning and maintaining laptop batteries has been a contentious issue. Apple offers a few tips on the subject. These tips are straight from Apple’s website, and can be read here:

Be sure to fully charge your portable when you plug it in for the first time, and then run Software Update to ensure you have the latest software. Apple periodically releases updates that may improve battery performance.

For proper maintenance of a lithium-based battery, it’s important to keep the electrons in it moving occasionally. Apple does not recommend leaving your portable plugged in all the time. An ideal use would be a commuter who uses her MacBook Pro on the train, then plugs it in at the office to charge. This keeps the battery juices flowing. If on the other hand, you use a desktop computer at work and save a notebook for infrequent travel, Apple recommends charging and discharging its battery at least once per month. Need a reminder? Add an event to your desktop’s iCal.

You can calibrate your iBook, PowerBook, MacBook, or MacBook Pro computer’s lithium battery for best performance. Apple says, “The battery has an internal microprocessor that provides an estimate of the amount of energy in the battery as it charges and discharges. The battery needs to be recalibrated from time to time to keep the onscreen battery time and percent display accurate. With all iBooks and PowerBook G4 computers except the aluminum PowerBook G4 (15-inch Double-Layer SD), you should perform this procedure when you first use your computer and then every few months thereafter.” You can read how to do this here:

Notebook Temperate Zone. Your Apple notebook works best from 50° to 95°F. You should store them in places with temperatures of -13° to 113°. That’s 10° to 35°C and -25° to 45°, for the metrically inclined. Keeping your Mac as near room temperature as possible (22° C) is ideal.

If you don’t plan on using your notebook for more than six months, Apple recommends that you remove and store the battery with a 50% charge. If you store a battery when it’s fully discharged, it could fall into a deep discharge state, which renders it incapable of holding any charge. Conversely, if you store it fully charged for an extended period of time, the battery may experience some loss of battery capacity, meaning it will have a shorter life. Be sure to store the ejected battery at the proper temperature.

You can choose to use your Apple notebook in a way that maximizes its battery life:

The Energy Saver control panel offers several settings that determine power levels for your PowerBook. Your portable knows when it’s plugged in and runs accordingly. When on battery power, it will dim the screen and use other components sparingly. If you change this setting to maximize performance, your battery will drain more quickly.

Dim the screen to the lowest comfortable level to achieve maximum battery life. For instance, when watching a DVD on an airplane, you may not need full brightness if all the lights are off.

AirPort consumes power, even if you are not using its features to connect to a network. You can turn it off in its control panel to save power.

Likewise, you can turn off Bluetooth to maximize your battery life, as it also consumes power when not in use.

Disconnect peripherals and quit applications not in use. Eject CDs and DVDs if not currently accessing them.


Apple Settles with Creative Technologies By Don

Apple and Creative Technologies have settled the patent dispute between the companies that was the subject of five lawsuits. They shook hands, some money passed hands, and they kissed and made up. Basically, Apple paid about $100 million (chump change for the guys with the $10 billion bankroll) to Creative to license their recently awarded patent for music searching on portable devices. Apple had countersued with claims of its own, but there was enough pressure and evidence that Apple decided that the cost of settling now was much less than a prolonged legal battle with a risk of an even higher judgement.

In addition to the license to Apple, Creative Technologies will now be a part of the “Made for iPod” program and is planning on releasing a series of iPod compatible products. I think this is good news for Apple as it solidifies its hold on the MP3 market and will allow it to continue to dominate that market while also having Creative as a new part of the iPod peripherals market.

Now if only we could do something like this for the Middle East conflict…


Mighty Mouse Unplugged By Don

Apple introduced the Mighty Mouse Bluetooth wireless version some time ago, but we got our first stock just this week. I had always been a trackball user before the corded version of the Mighty Mouse came out, but I quickly converted to the Mighty Mouse because it had all the features of a trackball and all the features of a mouse in a much more compact pointing device. That wire just cluttered my desktop (as if my desk is not cluttered enough — I can barely see the bird’s eye maple!) and I was anxious to get one of the Bluetooth versions. I almost had to go to a sumo match with Hapy to get him to allow me one from inventory (Hapy controls the pursestrings around here with a very heavy hand!). Nevertheless, I was able to convince him without getting humiliated in the ring.

I got more grief from Artie, who controls our inventory, He demanded my invoice before he tossed me a Mighty Mouse from the warehouse floor. Having cut through the red tape at Small Dog, I was now able to actually test the Mighty Mouse. I went back to my desk, but Berkey was using my machine to burn some DVDs for a customer so I had to wait again. I felt a little like Rodney Dangerfield. I finally tossed him out of my chair and put the batteries into the Mighty Mouse (it comes with two AA lithium batteries). I opened the little door on the bottom of the mouse and thought I’d be good to go. But, nope, it turns out that my desktop machine gets swapped out so often that this one (a quad 2.5) did not have Bluetooth, so I ran down to the store and got a D-Link USB Bluetooth adapter < product/41418>. I knew I was likely to have a Mac Pro soon, so it didn’t make any sense to use the Apple Bluetooth upgrade. At $35, the D-Link is a great option to add Bluetooth to a Power Mac, although there are some Bluetooth devices that may not work with this solution.

I installed the software that came with the Mighty Mouse wireless (you will need to install this software), restarted my Mac, and used the Bluetooth setup assistant to set up my new Mighty Mouse. It took only seconds for it to be discovered and ready to use. I unplugged the old mouse and got back to work without the wire! Going to the keyboard/mouse system preference panel, I noticed some new options for my new mouse. In addition to being able to activate vertical and/ or horizontal scrolling, I was now able to activate 360° scrolling, which means that I can scroll diagonally, too. There is also a new zooming feature that allows you to use a modifier with the scroll ball to zoom in on documents. I set this for the Command key, so when I hold that key down and use the scroll ball it will zoom in and out on the document. That’s a handy feature, especially if you are working with images. There are options for zooming that include activating “smoothing” and how the screen image will move when you are zoomed in.

I was a bit worried about battery life. However, after a few days of work the battery meter in the Bluetooth pane of the Keyboard/Mouse system preference still showed a full battery. That is the same pane where you can rename your Mighty Mouse.

One interesting feature of the Bluetooth Mighty Mouse is that you can run the mouse on either one or two batteries. While it comes with lithium AA batteries, you can also use alkaline AA batteries. Apple warns against mixing battery types or mixing an old battery with a new battery.

I haven’t had any need to clean this new Mighty Mouse yet, but my old wired Mighty Mouse was getting a bit sluggish in scrolling and would only scroll down and not up. With a trackball or regular mouse, I would pop the ball out and clean the lint and dirt off the sensors. With the Mighty Mouse, the ball is not removable, but if you turn the Mighty Mouse upside down and roll the ball vigorously on a damp cloth or paper towel it will clean the ball and the sensors. I did this to my wired Mighty Mouse and it immediately got over the sluggish scrolling.

One other difference between the wired and the Bluetooth Mighty Mouse is that the wireless Mighty Mouse features a laser tracking engine that Apple claims is up to 20 times more sensitive to surface details than the traditional optical technology that is used in the wired version. That means it can track with precision on more surfaces than ever — even smooth or polished surfaces — with no mouse pad required. It works fine on my polished maple desktop and on my purple Small Dog mouse pad.



Here are the specials for this week, valid through September 1 or while on-hand supplies last. Be sure to use the wag URL to get this special pricing.


$50 Rebate – Miglia TVMini HD

To order:


Office 2004 for Mac Student and Teacher Edition – $138 AND get $50 back w/ mail-in rebate!


LaCie 300gb Extreme Triple Interface FireWire 800/400/USB – $169, limited time only!

To order:


MacAlly BTMouse – Bluetooth Full Size Optical Mouse – $38!

To order:


Small Dog Groove Cube portable speakers – $14!

To order:

+—————-+ Mophie Relo Run 5G Black – $19!

To order:


3-Year AppleCare Warranty Plan for MacBook – only $189 until September 8!

To order:


MacBook 1.83, Canon iP1700 Printer, Belkin Surge Protector, Cable for printer, Ogio Case – $1189!

To order:

+—————-+  PowerMac G5 DC/2.3GHz 2.5 GB RAM/250/Superdrive/GeF6600, Apple 20in LCD – $3099!

To order:


Back-to-School Add-On Bundle – Office, 512 MB Flash Key, Lock, More – $174 PLUS $50 Rebate!

To order:


They are tearing up Route 100 in front of our facilities here in Waitsfield, so I have been taking the back roads to work. This has a few advantages. It slows me down because they are all dirt roads, but it also gives me a whole new set of scenery, wildlife, and friends to wave at as I motor down the road. It doesn’t seem to be having an impact on the traffic at our store, because I just got a page to come down to help as the store is jammed at 10:00 AM on a Thursday!

Thanks for reading this issue of Kibbles & Bytes and have a great weekend.

Your Kibbles & Bytes team,

Don, Ed, and Holly


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