By Jimmy Brancaccio (

Wow, another week with tons of questions. Please check out the blog because it’s possible your question was answered there. Use the search function because the web page only displays some of the articles on the front page.

QUESTION: I have a Powerbook G4 which I bought more than two years ago to use when I had to be away from my home office for several days at a time on a regular basis. I no longer am away as often, and so the laptop is idle in its case for a few months at a time. I always put it away with a fully charged battery, and still, each time I boot up now, I am told that I am using reserve battery. Is my battery draining while sitting there unused? If so, what should I do — take it out when I’m not using the laptop, and store it separately from the laptop? Or do I just need a new one?

ANSWER: Batteries will drain over time, but usually not down to zero unless there’s a problem. I am not sure if you let the machine sleep or if you shut it down completely. If you do leave it in the sleep mode, change over to shutting it down when you leave it unused for such long periods. Your battery also might just be dead and if so you’ll want to replace it. Try shutting it down and leaving it for a while, and then see if it goes into reserve battery mode when you turn it back on.

There is also a nifty command you might want to run that will show the life of your battery. You’ll need to open Terminal (Applications folder >> Utilities). Next type in:

ioreg -w0 -l | grep Capacity

After that ’-w0’ thats the letter L in lowercase. And the next character is the pipe which can be found below the Delete key.

When it gives you some output, look for the Cycle Count (number of times the battery has been fully charged and run down to nothing), the Current (the current charge of the battery), and the Capacity (the highest charge the battery can hold). If your Cycle Count is between 300 and 500, you’re in the good zone.

Here’s a good link for the PowerBook support page, which has several articles on battery care:

QUESTION: I have an iBook with an iSight camera. I want to be able to communicate (audio and video) with folks who are using PCs with USB cameras. What’s the best way to do it?

ANSWER: With iChat AV 2.1 or later you can chat via text, and you can use two-way video conferencing with Windows users using AIM. Currently audio conferencing works only with other iChat AV users.

You may want to check out Skype for audio conversations with other users who have Skype installed (PC and Linux). Your iSight or built-in microphone will work with Skype. You can even make Skype call a telephone (although there’s a charge for this; talking to a PC or Mac is free).

Anyone else want to chime in about how to use webcams with a Mac and Windows machine?

By Jimmy Brancaccio (


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