How to Maximize Your 2016 MacBook Battery Life

Gold MacBook Retina

Apple has released the latest generation of the MacBook Pros as well as the newer 12″ MacBook Retina, and in most regards they deliver a slim, lightweight experience while still getting the job done. However, there has been a lot of disruption in the ranks as to exactly how much battery life the units have at their disposal. This is something I suffered with too, until I started monitoring the MacBook’s performance and power usage.  By doing so I was able to greatly extend the laptop’s run time. And the tool I used to do this was the free coconutBattery system monitor app.

coconutBattery MacBook Power Monitor

coconutBattery System Monitor

The coconutBattery app is simple to download and install – just be sure that you get it from a reputable location on the web, as it is with all of the distributed free applications out there. Once you have it installed, you will want to monitor the total Watts that the laptop is consuming at a given time. The goal is to reduce this whenever you can.

coconutBattery MacBook Power Monitor


Luckily the coconutBattery monitor app makes this easy by letting you put the current watt consumption along with other data right on the toolbar. As you can see, I have chosen to have watts and time remaining displayed for a quick sanity check on power, But you can choose from several options to display. This also gives you back the total runtime left on your MacBook, something that Apple removed in a recent update to the macOS.

coconutBattery MacBook Power Monitor

In the actual screenshot above of the MacBook Retina laptop that I am using to write this, I am currently using 3.6 watts of energy (leftmost display numbers). This will give me 9+ hours of runtime on my current charge of 87%.  Also note that I am running several background processes that also impact battery life, including OneDrive, DropBox, Time Machine, and WiFi.

Monitoring For A Clear Picture

The main thing to do once you get a “real time” power monitor in place is to experiment with what takes the most energy and avoid it. Chrome, for example, hits the power wattage a bit hard, kicking it up to 6+ watts on typical use, At times DropBox will spike usage, but it tends to settle down after a few moments. Microsoft’s Office products on the Mac tend to be rather well behaved, at least with my testing. And Safari, despite  the recent Consumer Reports results, is the more economical browser when it comes to power. In fact, I am actively running Safari at this moment and I am still getting strong numbers for battery life.

I know that no two individuals are typically going to have the exact same use for their laptop, so there really isn’t any hard rules. Instead, you should consider downloading the power wattage meter of your choice (I do like coconutBattery) and take a few moments to identify your battery killers. You might be surprised at how much runtime you can get out of your new MacBook.

Play Real Air Hockey Against Your Smartphone With This Setup

Sure. you can download an air hockey app from a given app store and play against your smartphone, but where’s the challenge in that? No, if you really want to see how you stack up against your favorite smart device, consider building a robotic rig that will give your device the hardware it needs to compete with you mano a mano. Now that is how you really decide who’s best in a physical game. And you just might find out that humans don’t always have the advantage.

Robotic Air Hockey

The project is essentially an X-Y table that manipulates the paddle. The smartphone is placed on a tripod and watches the puck while it controls the paddle wirelessly. The smartphone (which is running a downloadable app that makes this work) is constantly crunching data and plotting trajectories that will eventually lead to your embarrassing failure as a superior challenger to its newborn physical prowess.


The project was created by Jose Julio at JJ Robotics, and you can get a kit to make your own robotic game table.  But now I have to wonder if this is just the beginning of our smart devices reaching out from their digital domiciles and making a stand in our physical world.

Consider that the typical smartphone has the hardware needed to actually play the game, including visual processing and data crunching. With a built in wireless control capability, it isn’t limited to a standard set of limbs that humans must make do with. No, it can adapt to any hardware that it can connect with, and becoming an expert on using it is as close as an app download.

smartphone air hockey

And with A.I. continuing to make giant strides, how long will it be until trash talking is part of the device’s repertoire? If you think it’s bad getting beat in air hockey by your smartphone now, just wait until it lays down the smack talk over beating you ten games in a row.

But for now, we should probably just enjoy a simple game of smartphone powered air hockey without questioning its eventual lead to artificial intelligence dominance of the physical world. Plus, you have to admit that this looks really fun. Now, let the games begin, foolish human!





The Invention of Air Hockey

Air hockey was invented by a group of Brunswick Billiards employees from 1969 to 1972. In 1969, a trio of Brunswick engineers – Phil Crossman, Bob Kendrick, and Brad Baldwin – began work on creating a game using a frictionless surface


FarmBot Genesis Is The Robot Gardener

Have you wanted to grow a garden, but found it difficult or time consuming? Then maybe you should consider something like FarmBot Genesis. This pioneer of the future of gardening knows what each plant needs, and caters to it specifically. From seeding to caring for the plant, one robot can grow enough food year round to feed one person. Farmbot Genesis is an open source initiative, and you can even download blueprints.


A Clock Built Of Lego

Can you build a digital clock completely out of Lego? As Swedish computer programmer Hans Andersson proves, it is indeed very possible. I find the articulated movements of the almost robotic clock very soothing to watch. And I imagine that the sounds could be nice as well. Oh, it also tells the time.


Practical Desktop Vacuum Molding

With the advent of desktop 3D printers, average people can now create extraordinary designs and prototypes that in the past would have been slow and cost prohibitive. But even the best models are very slow, making it difficult to move from the prototype to any kind of self production. The solution – it might be that desktop vacuum molding is exactly what is needed. And even if you don’t go the 3D printer route, this kind of technology allows you to make non-destructive copies of one-off works – provided that they are mold friendly designs, of course.