Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Fixing Problems with Kogan Agora Laptop

Yesterday, the problems with my Kogan Agora Laptop had reached the point where I was considering sending it back. The battery lasts 2 hours, much less than the claimed 3.5 hours. The new "Unity" Ubuntu interface was proving very hard to use.

But just after I wrote that post, Srinivas Chemboli dropped in to ask how the Kogan was going. He pointed out that I could select the Unbuntu classic (no effects) interface at the logon screen. This restores the borders around windows and the pull down menus I had been missing. He also pointed out that the "no effects" version does not use transparency and other graphics effects (which I find annoying anyway) and so reduces the processing and therefore power consumption.

Switching to the classic interface eliminated my problems with the interface and also seemed to make the computer a little more responsive. This morning I tried using the laptop after a full charge, with WiFi, web browser and email. The system ran for 2 hours and 43 minutes, 45 minutes longer than before. This cannot all be attributed to the changed user interface as while I was at it, I removed start up tasks:
  1. Bluetooth Manager: I rarely use Bluetooth. But I did noticed the Bluetooth light is still on and so this has not switched of the hardware.
  2. Evolution alarm notify: I do not use such alarm functions and will probably switch from "Evolution" back to a pure email package.
  3. Remote desktop: Not using GNOME remote desktop, and its sounds like a security risk anway.
  4. Ubuntu One: Not using Unbuntu One cloud storage.
  5. Visual assistance: Not using assistance technology
  6. Zeitgeist Datahub: Something used by the Unity interface.
  7. Personal File Sharing: Shares files over Bluetooth. Sounds like a security risk.
I am not happy with the user interface and the battery life, while still not up to the claimed rating is better. I will investigate other software changes I can make, before considering upgrading with a Laptop Solid State Drive, or sending the unit back. There is some power reduction advice to work from.

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