> Prolong lithium-based battery life

Lithium-ion and lithium-polymer batteries have a few key differences, according to this Battery University guide, but the main danger to laptop battery remains the same.

With the nickel-cadmium or nickel-metal-hydride batteries common in the 90s, you would need to discharge fully quite frequently to avoid the 'memory effect', which should be called the 'forgetfulness effect', because it happens when batteries forget that yes, they actually do have more power left, and quit prematurely, thinking they're out of power. That's an act of forgetting if I've ever seen one, but with lithium-ion and lithium-polymer, you don't have to worry about it; frequent shallow charges are not only safe but less stressful and healthier for the battery. You only have to discharge fully maybe once a month and that's only to give the software gauge a chance to recalibrate to the size of a full charge.

However, this is all scribbling in the margins of battery life. Charge or discharge frequency were never really the main thing killing laptop batteries. From what I have witnessed, people have just been killing their batteries by leaving the mains adapter plugged in way too long, sometimes for days. I've seen some random internetling claims that lithium batteries can be safely left docked indefinitely, but the Battery Guide article says nuts to that: forcing a battery to remain in a state of full charge with constant heat applied for an indefinite period is just a great way to age your battery chemistry at a far accelerated rate — even lithium.

Bottom line: you can read that whole article, or you can just not work with your laptop plugged in unless your battery actually needs charging. This single factor explains most of the differences I have observed between the battery life of different laptops in different environments.

> List what's been removed from Snow Leopard

An informal list has formed at Waffle [via Daring Fireball]. The knifing of PowerPC support was widely expected, but the dropped creator code adherence is going to spark a bunch of people to falsely believe that their system can no longer open their oldest files anymore, when the truth is that it has merely forgotton how to figure out which app to open them with.

I can understand clearing out the cruft, but adhering to creator codes made the system more intelligent about how to open your legacy files, so that really wasn't cruft at all, was it?
UPDATE: Looks like I'm not the only one who was shocked at the braindeadness of the creator code move: see more details and complaints about this issue here and here. ]

> Solve Exchange/iPhone bug by turning off security

Nope. Not kidding. That really is Apple's official, recommended solution to the recently reported 'surprise policy enforcement' that results in a broken Exchange functionality for any iPhone that is upgraded to firmware 3.1.

Apple doesn't let you downgrade your phone, so if you leapt early, you got burned — big-time.

> Fiddle endlessly with Photoshop CS4

If you're feeling incredibly obsessive about small gains, take a look at this beyond-comprehensive list of ways to use Photoshop CS4 at its very, absolutely fastest. [via Daring Fireball]

The simplest tip on that list is more likely to make a perceptible difference for the average user than all of the others, combined:
"Photoshop requires at least 2 GB of free hard-disk space, but more is recommended. The OS volume should contain at least 20 GB of free space to ensure that the virtual memory system has plenty of available hard disk space."

> Launch any app from the keyboard in Snow Leopard

Never have looked too kindly on increasing my third-party background app load (a very risky category), just to get more keyboard shortcuts in OS X. So, I'm very much looking forward to assigning keyboard shortcuts to launch apps, natively in 10.6 (via macosxhints.com); at least, whenever I eventually, cautiously, pull the trigger and actually switch to Snow Leopard!

Which is something I definitely recommend you avoid, until at least the third 'point update'. Rather than jump into bed immediately with all four big Apple cats (Jaguar, Panther, Tiger, and Leopard), I hung back, watched and waited, until versions 10.2.3, 10.3.4, 10.4.4, and 10.5.3, respectively, to finally do the deeds.

You can ascribe my caution to the ridiculous-but-undeniable fact that it takes this planet at least three attempts to get any new computer engineering to work in such a manner that nobody will need to pay a huge upgrade tax in the time and energy spent identifying mysterious new bugs.

Refusal to participate directly in the bleeding edge treadmill is definitely the way to go. If you have trouble letting go of the immediacy of it all, repeat after me:

"An operating system is a serious piece of engineering. Not a fashion accessory. An operating system is a serious piece of engineering. Not a fash—"