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Issue #276: November 4, 2012

Q: In the research I do I often search for images in Google. I use IE9 and have Win7 Home Edition. My problem is that when I find the image (which is a hyper-link) that I want and I click on it the IE just sits there and does nothing. Sometimes it freezes up altogether. Can you help me with a solution?

Judie D.
Navarre, Florida

A: I haven’t read of any problems specific to the symptoms you’re describing, Judie.  If this is happening on all sites, then obviously something on your system is awry (I would immediately suspect malware of some sort).  If it is only happening on Google there’s something else going on.  I have occasionally observed what appears to be Google blocking the download of pictures from some sights, thought it doesn’t give the reason.  It may be something on the picture’s site (not Google) that’s interfering with what you’re trying to do.  Once you’ve located an image you want, consider going directly to the site to get it, rather than going through Google.  You might also want to check your browser’s Security and Privacy settings to see if you don’t have something set that’s preventing you from completing your action.

Q: I have heard that when a laptop is plugged in that it is best to remove the battery. Is that correct? It’s the only battery backup I have and we have a lot of power outages here. Should I take the battery out anyway? Will the battery overheat if it’s left in when it’s plugged in?

Judie D.
Navarre, Florida

A:  Wow, two good ones in a row, Judie.  It looks like my “Official Geek” is dominating the column this week.  Let’s talk about batteries a bit.  First of all, if your laptop and charger are functioning properly, the battery will not overheat no matter how long you leave it plugged in.  I don’t think Underwriters Laboratory would ever approve a computer that required the user to unplug it after some unspecified period of time or risk a fire.  Yes, we do occasionally hear about batteries overheating, or even exploding, but that’s not limited to laptops, and it’s not because they got left plugged in for too long.  The ones that have problems are somehow defective – either an individual battery, or occasionally, an entire product line.  The latter case results in a wide-spread product recall.

Back in the day, rechargeable batteries for use in portable devices came in basically one formulation: the venerable nickel-cadmium, or NiCd, which has since been superceded by nickel-metal hydride (NiMH).  These batteries worked fairly well, but over time they had an annoying drawback known as a “memory effect”.  If you did not fully drain the battery, before recharging it, after awhile the chemicals in the battery started to “remember” the partial usage, and only hold part of the charge capacity they did when new.  Once memory has developed in a NiCd or NiMH battery, it can’t be removed.  Newer lithium battery formulations such as lithium ion (LiOn), and lithium-ion polymer do not have this memory effect, and also have a relatively slow loss of charge when not in use.

But what about leaving them plugged in all the time?  Well, batteries that are kept full most of the time can lose around 20% of their capacity per year.  If they get hot, the loss can be even greater.  Regularly discharging and recharging them can reduce this somewhat, but the batteries have also have a limited amount of charge/discharge cycles, and over time, the more times a battery has been discharged, the longer it will take to recharge.  So, you can see for yourself that this is yet another one of those issues with a computer where there is no universal “best” that works for everyone.  It’s up to you to get educated and then decide what’s best for you.  In your case, it sounds like having a backup battery is pretty important, so you need to be plugged in all the time.  That means you should plan to replace your laptop battery at the 4-5 year point (if your laptop is still in service at that age!).

2 Responses to “Issue #276: November 4, 2012”

  • Judie Day says:

    Hi Jeff,
    Thank-You for answering my questions in yesterday’s paper. I’ve asked countless people about the battery in my laptop and you were the only one who gave me an answer. Since I heard about taking the battery out when it is plugged in I’ve been afraid that it would overheat and explode. I can’t thank-you enough for putting my mind at ease over that issue. I’m also happy to find out that I don’t have to unplug it every time.
    Also, I took your advice and tried using Bing and got the same thing with the graphic links in IE 9. I also tried Google Chrome yesterday and the graphic links do work with Chrome. So the problem is with the IE 9. I just don’t know where to look in the Advanced Options. Is it possible for me to uninstall IE 9 and reinstall it?
    Again, Thank-you so much for your help. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate it.
    Judie Day
    Navarre, FL
    PS I did end up having to replace my battery because my laptop is about that old.

  • Judie Day says:

    Hi Jeff,
    Thank-You for answering my questions in yesterday’s paper. I’ve asked countless people about the battery in my laptop and you were the only one who gave me an answer. Since I heard about taking the battery out when it is plugged in I’ve been afraid that it would overheat and explode. I can’t thank-you enough for putting my mind at ease over that issue. I’m also happy to find out that I don’t have to unplug it every time.
    Thank-you so much for your help. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate it.
    Judie Day
    Navarre, FL
    PS I did end up having to replace my battery because my laptop is about that old.


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