Power Draining Stupidly Fast

Scottfab

Helpless Mac Newbie
With no programs open, bluetooth disabled (airport is still on), and screen brightness at only 50%, my battery still says it loosing about 1% of its battery life every minute. A powerbook doing nothing but being on with a battery life of under 2 hours? That's not right. I've already tried resetting PMU and calibrating the battery, but it still drains stupidly fast. Any idea?
 

Andrew Adamson

Got root? Sudoes.
One place to start looking is http://www.macdevcenter.com/pub/a/mac/2001/05/15/mac_dev.html. In addition to that, I would strongly suggest that you monitor what your airPort card is trying to do. I don't use an Apple notebook, but I have noticed that my old Dell notebook burns it's battery up pretty fast as it gets further away from the wireless router. No surprise here, but if I leave the card in when I am not near any local base station, the battery pretty much lasts less than two hours. It seems to last FOREVER if I keep it in the same room as the router. Try disabling your airport and see what happens.

By the way, does anyone know how to monitor disk activity by process in Darwin? In Linux, it is relatively simple to monitor disk reads and writes to track down errant processes, but without /proc, I don't know where to get this information. A process that does lots of disk r/w will kill your battery life, too.
 

Scottfab

Helpless Mac Newbie
My wireless router is in the same room as my laptop...

oh, and thanks for that link, but its too complex for me...
 

ora

Registered
Ha! I'm jealous! My powerbook is down to approx 14 minutes of battery life, and it goes from about 70% to auto sleep instantly. For me its because i used this laptop as a desktop, running it plugged in, for a couple of years. By any chance did you do the same?
 

Andrew Adamson

Got root? Sudoes.
Ora's dead right there. If you don't periodically discharge your battery, its life may be shortened horribly. My wife's old Viao laptop lasted less than 2 minutes on its battery because it was never, ever left unplugged. Now, I periodically unplug her computer and let the battery discharge without her knowing. But if your battery is new, it may be the sign of a poor battery.

Okay, well first thing is check to see what processes are running. Lots and lots of things can be running in the background, even if you haven't started any programs. The easiest way is to open a terminal window from the utilities folder and enter "top -o cpu". That will give you a list of the processes that are running, from the most cpu-intensive to the least. With nothing running on my underpowered Mac Mini, the top ones for me tend to be "top", "terminal" and occasionally "kernel-tas" and nothing tips above 7%. Anything cpu-intensive will dominate the list and may be a sign of a program that's misbehaving. Toward the top of the screen, you should see the cpu load by "user", "system" and "idle". With nothing running (or with well-written programs that are not doing anything), you should have the "idle" running in the 90% region. If something is chewing up your resources, your "idle" will be low and your battery will suffer. Sometimes, a simple alert box can suddenly steal all your cpu cycles and your idle will drop to 0. Let us know what you find.

The next thing to monitor is your disk usage, but as I suggested earlier, I have no idea how to monitor reads/writes in BSD to spot naughty processes. Maybe someone will weigh in on this.

Also, again, check your airport signal strength. If it not 100%, it may be a sign of something wrong there. Disable it for 10 minutes and see if it has a noticeable effect on your discharge rate.
 

Tommo

Registered
I would agree with Andrew in that I think the airport card is the most likely cause. Haven't fully tested it with a Powerbook, but my other laptop loses about 35% of its normal battery life with its wireless card enabled.
 

Darkshadow

wandering shadow
Hmm, have you let the battery drain completely, then let it fully recharge? You didn't say if you had done so, so I thought I would ask. If you don't do that every once in a while, the battery will think it has more of a charge than it really does, so it'll appear that it drains faster.

'Course, like they said above, if you never unplug it, then the battery may just be bad. But doing the above may give you a bit more even then.
 

fryke

Moderator
Staff member
Mod
You _did_ look at the Energy Saver control panel, right? And at the advanced Energy Saver settings...
 

Scottfab

Helpless Mac Newbie
People, people, I'm new to a mac but I'm not stupid. Fryke, I've already configured power settings. It sleeps in like 10 minutes, and parks the hard drive when it can. Darkshadow, I've calibrated by fully draining, twice.

And yes, it is plugged in for most of the time. However, I bought it 10 days ago. Does the battery die that quickly?

Someone suggested elsewhere a program known as Capacity Meter, but the site to download it is down at the moment.

Looking at that terminal thing, the only cpu intensive programs are Colloquy, Adium, and Safari, each being able to take up 30% when I get a new message or refresh a page. But then there's Windowserv occasionally, and I dont know what that is. Probably Windows Server. I occasionally connect to my PC, but not often. How should I go about disabling that? Also, the system fluxuates anywhere between 0 and 30% cpu usage for no good reason. Any ideas?
 

The Ghost

In the Machine
Scottfab said:
And yes, it is plugged in for most of the time. However, I bought it 10 days ago. Does the battery die that quickly?
IMO, you have a bad battery (call Apple Support or drop by an Applestore).
 

The Ghost

In the Machine
Darkshadow said:
Hmm, have you let the battery drain completely, then let it fully recharge?
You don't really want to let a battery drain completely. You want it to drain until your pBook/iBook goes to sleep. Draining a battery completely can damage the battery.
 

Andrew Adamson

Got root? Sudoes.
Sorry to harp on this. What is your airport signal strength? Did you try disabling the airport card for 10 minutes?

I'm not sure about Apple's stated battery life, but a lot of the test sites say that you should be able to get two hours of battery life on a 15" Powerbook watching a DVD! If you aren't spinning any motors, I can't see why you shouldn't be getting more than three hours. If you don't see immediate improvement with airport off, I'd try complaining to Apple and get them to cough up another battery.

One more thing.... On http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?s=&threadid=120310 , I read:
open a terminal window, make it wide, and run this:

ioreg -l | grep -i IOBatteryInfo

You will get an output that looks something like this:

"IOBatteryInfo" = ({"Capacity"=3623,"Amperage"=0,
"Cycle Count"=98,"Current"=3603,"Voltage"=12519,
"Flags"=838860805,"AbsoluteMaxCapacity"=4400}

The Capacity number divided by the AbsoluteMaxCapacity is basically how worn out your battery is (in my case, my one year old battery, which has been cycled 98 times, has about 3600/4400 = 82% of its original capacity left). If that fraction is something much less than 50%, after you've done the conditioning, you want a new battery.
I believe that the 'Cycle Count' parameter is specific to the battery in your machine only, so if you are using a reconditioned battery, I doubt it would tell you. But the Current/AbsoluteMaxCapacity value should be non-relative. A low value *should* point to a bum battery. Perhaps that will help.
 

Darkshadow

wandering shadow
If you only bought the powerbook 10 days ago, then almost definitely you have a bad battery.

I wasn't trying to imply you didn't know what you were doing, you hadn't said anything about letting the battery drain, so I thought I would ask.
 

Scottfab

Helpless Mac Newbie
The Ghost: I know, thats what I meant. Really people, I'm not that dumb.

Andrew: Signal strength is 5 bars.

And apparently my battery is above capacity, 4595.

Anyway (another A) I called Apple, they're sending a replacement battery.
 

Scottfab

Helpless Mac Newbie
I got my new battery (already!), and it doesnt seem to be faring much better.

Then I disabled airport. It seems to have made a decent difference. Losing 5% of battery took about 6 minutes before, but now it took about 9. So, thats about a 3 hour battery life, a nice jump from my previous extrapolation of 2 hours.
 

MikeQBF

Registered
Completely FWIW, and confirming your most recent observation... I experience a strikingly similar problem on my (now antique) 400MHz TiBook. I know both batteries are good, getting the same 1 to 1.5 hours of operation out of each.

The problem as I see it is Airport, plus leaving Safari running. Many (...most commercial...) websites will have active elements that ping the network frequently, never giving the network much of a chance to rest. This happens even if Safari is in the background.

A pain, I know. :-/
 

michaelsanford

Translator, Web Developer
I just called Apple support and they said that the AirPort (Extreme) card enabled operates in 802.11g at 1.5 watts (and in 802.1b 1 watt).

Andrew Adamson said:
Try disabling your airport and see what happens.
Scottfab said:
Then I disabled airport. It seems to have made a decent difference.
Well, no surprise there! :rolleyes:

And by the way, with AirPort enabled and connected and your screen on at all, and hard disks on, 2 hours isn't unreasonable.
 

Scottfab

Helpless Mac Newbie
so I guess if I ever want to get any real work done while not connected, its gotta be with the airport of. alright. :(
 

Darkshadow

wandering shadow
It would depend on what you're doing. I have my AirPort extreme card in my iBook on most of the time, and usually get somewhere around 3 hours on the battery.
 
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