Replacing my Dell XPS 9550 laptop's battery

Friday, 9 October 2020

I’ve had my XPS 9550 since April 2016, so it’s almost 4.5 years old now. It’s still going pretty well but the battery has been getting a bit tired. I’d sit down on the sofa planning to do a bit of Chocolatey package moderation and it would be flat in under an hour (that’s just Firefox running). Any heavier tasks would chew up the power even quicker.

Whilst I’d love a new laptop, I think there’s another year (or more) left in this one, so I began the journey of locating a replacement battery.

Richard wrote about his experiences replacing a battery in the same model a few years ago. Unfortunately the supplier he used no longer exists.

If you Google ‘Dell XPS 9550 replacement battery’, you’ll learn a few things:

  1. Dell (for some strange reason) don’t actually sell replacement batteries for that model.
  2. There’s a bunch listed on Amazon.com, but while the search results say they’re available in Australia, for every one when you click on it, it says “This item cannot be shipped to your selected delivery location. Please choose a different delivery location”.
  3. There’s none listed on Amazon.com.au

That left trying 3rd party websites, and one possibility that came up in the list was https://www.laptopbatterydirect.com.au/.

They have both the 56W and 84W batteries listed for Dell XPS 15 9550.

Photo of 84W laptop battery with two screwdrivers

I knew I’d also need a T5 Torx screwdriver to undo the laptop case. Intriguingly one of the photos included two screwdrivers. I emailed the company and confirmed that they do actually include the screwdrivers (and indeed they were in the box when it arrived).

The battery only took a few days to be delivered. Apparently they have a warehouse in Australia so it didn’t need to come from overseas. That was a bonus.

Dell publish a full service manual for the XPS 15 (which includes replacing the battery).

Removing the bottom of the laptop was straight forward removing all the Torx screws.

Laptop with base removed

Remove all the screws around the old battery and then drop the new one in. It was a tight fit, particularly around the connector. A bit of gentle persuasion got it seated correctly.

Laptop battery connector

I’d seen a few reviews (mostly on Amazon) about folks who’d tried installing 3rd party batteries and either the laptop refused to work with them, or they didn’t hold charge correctly, so I was a little nervous to see how it all went.

Battery report

Windows can generate a HTML battery report for you via powercfg /batteryreport. The history only lasts from the last time you reinstalled Windows. I’ve done that a number of times since I first got this laptop so unfortunately it’s not the entire history of each battery I’ve had.

The most recent entries for the old battery indicated it had degraded to the point of having a remaining capacity of only 25,992 mWh (at 100% charge). Pleasingly the new battery reports 81,442 mWh.

Battery life estimates went from 53 minutes up to almost 6.5 hours.

So I think this is looking like a good update. Time will tell how well this battery lasts.

Lights, camera, action!

Friday, 2 October 2020

A number of times now I’ve given a remote presentation in the evening and I’ve struggled with lighting. The room I use just has ceiling lights and my desk faces a window. A pleasant view in the day but very dark at night. I ended up borrowing my daughter’s desk lamp to help make me look a bit brighter. That’s not a long term solution (especially if my daughter wants to use her desk light too!)

I’ve noticed some people getting Elgato Key Lights, and they certainly look pretty swish, not to mention how they’re remotely controllable, but at $AU270 per light (or $AU199 for the ‘Air’), they’re not that cheap. Elgato make some nice gear, but unless I was using it all the time I don’t think my budget could justify it.

More recently I saw the ‘Neewer’ brand getting mentioned on Twitter and at $AU55 for two lights, I was interested!

Neewer Lights

I ordered a Neewer 2 Packs Portable Photography Lighting Kit Dimmable 5600K USB 66 LED Video Light with Mini Adjustable Tripod Stand and Color Filters for Table Top/Low Angle Photo Video Studio Shooting amazon.com.au amazon.com.

You get two lights which are USB powered, with a controller on each power lead to turn on/off and dim up/down. They come with a small stand that uses standard 1/4” screw connectors.

Smallrig clamp mount

The comments on this product point out that the stand is not that tall, but I realised that I shoud be able to mount the stands on my existing monitor arms. All I’d need was something to attach to the arms. A couple of SMALLRIG Super Clamp Mount with Ball Head Mount Hot Shoe Adapter and Cool Clamp amazon.com.au amazon.com should do the job!

I was pleasantly surprised that it only took a few days for the packages to arrive. I presume they must have stock in Australia instead of having to ship from overseas.

I assembled the lights and removed the tripod foot so I could instead use the clamps. Here’s the clamp attached to the monitor arm:

Camp on monitor arm

And here’s one of the assembled lights:

Light on stand behind monitor

Now I’m all set for my next evening presentation!

Disclosure: As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases

Why I'm excited to be a developer right now

Wednesday, 23 September 2020

Microsoft Ignite 2020 logo

Microsoft’s Ignite 2020 conference is on this week. It’s all online and registration is free!

This Thursday at 3pm +930 I’m participating in a “Table Talk” open discussion on the topic “Why we’re excited to be a developer right now”, along with Samir Behara, Sal Janssen, Dr Neil Roodyn, Senthamil V.

We’d love to have you join and take part in the discussion!

The church of the future (from 1995)

Saturday, 12 September 2020

Way, way back in 1995 I’d been a part of a team that published a newspaper leading up (and during) that year’s National Christian Youth Convention (aka NCYC 95). After the convention had finished, the New Times newspaper (which had been supporting us) asked us to continue writing pieces.

Recently my Dad gave me a collection of articles from these publications that he’d kept. This one stood out as being surprisingly relevant! If you know me well, you’ll be familiar with my unusual sense of humour, and I enjoyed sprinking this into my written work.

Extract from New Times August 1995

The full text from my article, first published in the August 1995 edition of New Times follows:

YAWN, I don’t think I’ll ever get used to getting up early for church. It’s good to catch up with friends. But worship is the real reason we get together each week.

Of course our church, like most, is “virtual”. We all meet via our computer communications link. Sure, you miss out on actually being with other people. But there are advantages.

You can attend your own church, no matter where you are in the world. It allows people with disabilities to participate as much as anyone. What I consider the biggest advantage is that you can “tune-out” those noisy kids!

On reflection, I guess modern church life has changed a lot over the years.

Today, we had communion. I think my replicator is on the blink, because the wine/grape juice was an uncharacteristic luminescent green.

The minister’s message was pretty good. I do appreciate being able to fast forward over the boring bits. I don’t know how people used to cope when they actually had to site through a whole sermon.

The use of hypertext scripture readings, multimedia and 3D real-time computer animation are commonplace in the sermons of today. They certainly add a new dimension to understanding the Bible in today’s society.

Like most churches, we are often struggling with our regular giving. Accepting all major credit cards has helped, though. But I’m not so sure about the floating of our church on the stock market. Next thing you know the CPI will stand for the “Consumer Prayer Index”.

And another thing. Call me old fashioned, but I do prefer those tried and true choruses - I can’t relate to all these modern techno-sampled tunes we have in church now.

Well, I guess things are always changing - technologies, language, people. But God never changes. God’s still as relevant today as in the 1990s.

Given what’s happened just this year, I’d say most of my predictions been pretty close to the mark.

In the garden - August 2020

Sunday, 9 August 2020

August, and winter is hanging around. It’s been pretty cold overnight and first thing in the morning. Today was overcast but there has been the odd day where the sun comes out and warms you up a little.

I do enjoy it when the jonquils and daffodils appear. Splashes of colour that are have laid forgotten for most of the year. Here’s a few growing in our garden. I don’t know the names of all the varieties. Some we’ve planted but many were already in the garden when we moved here.

Daffodil - yellow and orange

Daffodil - pale white and yellow

Daffodil - pale white and frilly yellow

Daffodil - small yellow

Daffodil - small white and yellow

Daffodil - small white and orange

Jonquil - white