Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Aerofoil 1.4 beta 2 released

Aerofoil the Vista Laptop Batter Saver (yes this is a googlebot search plug ;) ) now provides the following functionality and features:

  • Enable/Disable Vista's Aero Glass on AC/battery

  • Automatically switch Vista Power Plans on AC/battery to High performance/Power saver (fixed for languages other than English too)

  • Automatically enable/disable Windows Sidebar on AC/Battery

  • Vista hibernate/sleep would occasionally cause Aero Glass not to restart. Aerofoil will now attempt to restart Glass a number of times before giving up (usually this is successful in restarting). Note this is a Vista issue - not Aerofoil's (it just tries to work around it :) )

  • Still just a 40KB executable.

The "Auto Power Plan" option is now set on by default (off in beta 1), but "Auto Sidebar" is not since I do not use Windows Sidebar and don't want it starting when I plug my notebook into the AC :)

Final 1.4 version available here

Download here
GPL source code

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Local Telephone Number for your Royal Mail Sorting Office

Prescot Royal Mail Post Sorting Office - 0151 4266169 (note, it's now 2012 and I don't think this number is valid anymore, or if it is, nobody appears to pick up)

Why did I just give you that local postal office number? My father and me are fed up of spending a small fortune on peak time phone calls to a unanswered 0845 number for the post office to find whether they have one of our missing parcels.

If you want to find more local post sorting office numbers visit http://www.ufindus.com - this is where you'll find the above number and more (search for "What Service? Distribution" and "Whereabouts: {your wanted location}").

If this link goes down or has the numbers removed Google with combinations of words such as the local telephone code (e.g. "0151"), office region name (e.g. "Prescot"), the first line of the address (useful with the local telephone code in a search for finding full contact page details), "collect parcel", "royal mail", "postal depot", and "sorting office". Good luck!

If you find this useful please drop a comment below so we know we're not the only people annoyed with the Royal Mail's privatisation cut backs.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Aerofoil 1.4 beta Released

As mentioned in my last blog entry I'd be adding a new feature to Aerofoil to allow automatic profile switching between Vista's "High performance" and "Power saver" power plans when you run on AC or battery respectively.

This feature was added in 1.4 beta available as an optional switch in the right click context menu - "Auto Power Plan". You must have the two aforementioned power plans for it to work - these come with the English version of Vista as standard. (Sorry no Internationalisation yet so they must be the English names - please modify the source code if you want to improve or fix this).

Whilst I've not heard of any damage occurring from switching power plans more frequently, as usual use Aerofoil at your own risk - note the program's beta status, which means it may have bugs or small memory leaks.

Final 1.4 version available here

Download Aerofoil 1.4 beta with auto power profile - possibly some small bugs (source code).

or you may prefer...

Download Aerofoil 1.3 with no auto power profile option - very stable (source code).

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Aerofoil Recommended and in Top 20!

Aerofoil 1.3 has been recommended by the editor at PC Mag and is rated on Notebook Review as one of the top 20 useful utilities to save battery on Vista!

Aerofoil was intended to be a final version at 1.3 but I'm considering adding in Vista power profile management so it can change your power profile automatically on the fly too (again something I believe Microsoft should have provided instead of a "Balanced Profile"). As usual Aerofoil will seek to be the smallest least intrusive app to do this.

Final 1.4 version available here

Grab Aerofoil 1.3 here - if you need more info or source code have a look at the original article

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

How to open a Seat/VW/Audi key fob to change the battery

Not strictly tech, but trying to keep technology simple I thought it would be useful for those people with a Seat, Audi or VW to see how to change their car key fob battery. This will save you the expense of going to your dealership to change the battery when it runs flat (or like mine just refuses to unlock the doors - but lock still works)!

I have tried to cover all the risks involved so by reading this you know exactly what to be careful of and what you're letting yourself in for. This is no different to opening any other small electronic device - if you've done that before you'll be fine. Also, I've heard some VW dealers say that changing the key fob battery yourself may disable the immobiliser feature or reset your key. This is nonsense, my key still works fine and there is no electrical contact between the key part and the fob part - well at least in mine (newer keys or cars that detect key battery level may do).

Disclaimer - I take no responsibility for these instructions, you follow them at your own risk.

Following the order of the image photos (click the image to see it full size).

1) & 2) Flick the key out, wedge a thin screw driver into the key/fob divide crack at the key recess edge i.e. the edge of the nail thin line going all the way across the width (parallel to the buttons) - not the hole or groove inside the recess. With the screwdriver wedged into the edge (it should be perpendicular to the key fob) slightly twist or press the screwdriver to force the small crack open to separate the key part from the fob part. Try both the top - button side - and back side of the keyfob. This requires a fair amount of force to get the small key part lip over large fob's lip (see 2) - be careful.

3) & 4) The non-button side of the fob part has a simple clip on lid, this can be opened from the non metal ringed end first using your nail. Note that you should not open this like a hinged lid - it is not hinged and could break a small piece of plastic (shaped like a small "u") at the metal end - see in the top right of photo 4. Note be careful to not touch the small IC (chip) when you have the key open - doing this runs the chance of blowing it with a static discharge from your hand (although 9/10 times you should be okay if you accidentally touch it).

The replacement battery is usually a cheap CR2032.

If you want to see a video of opening these keys - by hand without a screwdriver (somebody has done this a lot - I couldn't do it without a screwdriver) have a look at the "switchblade" link on this VW page