How-To Geek

Ask HTG: Finding Good Airline Seats, Leaving Monitors On To Save Energy, and Extending Your Network with a Wireless Repeater


Once a week we round up some of the reader letters we’ve answered and share them with the greater audience. This week we’re looking at how to find great airline seats, whether or not you should turn your monitors off, and extending your network with a wireless repeater.

How Can I Find Good Airline Seats?


Dear How-To Geek,

This might not be the most geeky of questions but it’s one that has been on my mind all season. I got great air fare prices for my Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s flights but I had absolutely horrible seats. Surely there has to be a geeky solution to picking the actual seats? I use great resources like Expedia and Kayak to find cheap tickets but I’m at a lost for making sure I don’t end up with the (!*%iest seat on the whole plane!


Cramped in Coach

Dear Cramped,

Well you can thank your traveling stars, we have a perfect tool for you. The next time you’re picking out tickets, hit up SeatGuru. You can browse it full-size at home while buying your tickets or hit up the mobile site if you’re standing at the ticket counter about to request a seat change. We promise you’ll be blown away by the level of detail. SeatGuru doesn’t just give you basic information like whether or not you’re going to get a window seat, you get a full diagram of the plane with detailed notes that cover everything from seat angle, leg room, and in-seat amenities (like power jacks). They even include details like which seats are missing under-seat storage due to the presence of equipment conduits. Their catalog includes all domestic US carriers, the majority of international carriers, and over 700 different air craft models.

Should I Leave My HDTV and Computer Monitors On to Save Money?


Dear How-To Geek,

I’ve heard so many conflicting accounts regarding energy consumption and televisions/computer monitors. Should I turn them off when not in use or leave them on? Does it really take more energy to start them up than it does to leave them running?


Energy Confused in Cordova

Dear Energy Confused,

The whole takes-more-energy to start thing is a myth. That said we’re going to answer your question in two parts. First, regarding HDTV sets. TV sets have no power save/sleep mode like computer monitors so it’s best to turn them off if you’re going to be away from them for more than a quick bathroom break and snack run. Although modern HDTV sets are quite efficient (the 65” monster in our lounge consumes less energy than a 75 watt light bulb) there’s absolutely no reason to leave them on if you’re not actively watching them—consider it the same as turning off the lights when you leave the room.

Monitors are a slightly different story. Depending on your monitor size and design (LED versus CFL backlighting, brightness settings, etc.) energy consumption can range between 16-160 watts. If your monitor is Energy Star compliant it must consume 1 watt or less while turned off and 2 watts or less while in sleep/standby mode. If you set your monitors to have an aggressive sleep mode (say, they go into sleep mode after 10 minutes of inactivity) you might as well leave them on all the time. Given the off chance that you’ll forget to turn them off once in awhile the total net savings over a year leaving them on but with aggressive power saving modes versus trying to remember to turn them off at every turn, you’ll come out ahead by letting the computer manage them for you.

If you don’t have an Energy Star monitor, however, it’s best you get in the habit of turning the monitor off whenever you get up from the computer. Non-Energy Star monitors can have erratic standby power consumption—one model might fall within Energy Star guidelines with a light 0.5 watt consumption and another might pull down 15-20 watts in standby). If you’re deathly curious you can always order a P3 Kill-A-Watt electricity monitor to check out the actual power consumption for all your devices.

How Can I Extend My Wi-Fi Network Using Extra Wi-Fi Routers?


Dear How-To Geek,

I have my primary Wi-Fi router and I picked up an additional 2 Wi-Fi routers. How can I go about extending the Wi-Fi signal/internet access from the primary router to these new secondary routers? I have some dead spots around the house I’d like to fill in (like in the garage). I’m comfortable upgrading the router firmware to Tomato but I’m not sure where to go from there.


Wi-Fi Extending in El Paso

Dear Wi-Fi Extending,

Your problem is already 99% solved. You have a Wi-Fi router, you have two extra Wi-Fi routers you can use to extend your network, and you’re comfortable installing 3rd party firmware. All that’s left to do is flip on the “Repeater” mode in the secondary routers. We have a guide to doing so in DD-WRT here; you should read over that to get a feel for the whole process. For the two repeater Wi-Fi nodes, you’ll want to log into them via the Tomato administration panel, navigate to Basic –> Network –> Wireless and then in the Wireless section toggle them from Access Point mode to Wireless Ethernet Bridge—the difference between Wireless Client and Wireless Ethernet Bridge is that in Bridge mode the repeater inherits the settings of the primary router which cuts down on configuration and firewall tweaking. Once you select Wireless Ethernet Bridge make sure to match the SSID, Channel, and Security settings in the repeaters to the primary router (i.e. if the primary SSID is HotSpot, on Channel 6, and WPA security with the password Ro0zring, then you need to plug all those settings in the the repeaters during the configuration process).

Have a pressing tech question? Shoot us an email at and we’ll do our best to answer it.

Jason Fitzpatrick is a warranty-voiding DIYer who spends his days cracking opening cases and wrestling with code so you don't have to. If it can be modded, optimized, repurposed, or torn apart for fun he's interested (and probably already at the workbench taking it apart). You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 01/2/12

Comments (6)

  1. Dave

    I recall an entry from The Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest (a bad writing contest) that described a man thusly: “He was as tall as a six-foot tall man.” This seems no worse than saying “consumes less energy than a 75 watt light bulb.”

    Also, no one should use Seat Guru. This is because I use it (have for years) and want first crack at those good seats!

  2. Aurora900

    I don’t know if you can safely say no TV has power saving/sleep modes… but mine will actually turn itself off if you leave it running with no input for a few minutes.

  3. sunnyorlando

    I have toyed around with extending wireless in my home. Using Netgear euiqoment, I first tried the repeater option and I found it worked, but with low performance. Most repeater connections had less than 32Mbps. It is stated so in the setup that this is a standardized limitation – not sure why. Also when using repeater mode, you are restricted to certain security modes only, on top of the bandwidth limitation of 54 Mbps or less. Its nice too have one SSID, but why sacrifice LAN speed?
    I eventually solved my by adding the additional routers (each with its own SSID) as sub-nets of the master router. This gives me flexibility and max bandwidth utilization, and no compatibly issues between brands (for repeating). Also, you can do this without any aftermarket firmware.

    Just something to consider

  4. Joe

    What about the stresses placed on the lamps when the TV is turned on and off? The turning on and off of a CFL lamp dramatically reduces its life expectancy. Wouldn’t it do the same for the CCFL lamps in LCD TVs? You would have to do analysis on how much the TV costs, the cost of electricity, etc to figure out at what point you should be leaving the TV on, and when you should be leaving it off.

  5. Stewart

    It might be worth pointing out that if you daisy chain wireless repeaters the bandwidth gets less and less. That is when you extend a wireless network the bandwidth to the extender is half that for the main router. If you extend that again its half again. Still I live in the UK and so there is every chance that the bandwidth will still be greater than the ADSL!

  6. Oldtimer88

    I have the following Verizon FIOS router:
    Actiontec 4 Port Wireless
    Model: MI424WR-D
    Firmware Version:
    Sticker Identifier: 0018016C0BFA
    FCC ID: LNQ802MAG\

    In the list for that device it says under Especial Features notes: “OEM’d to Verizon, FIOS port will not work”

    I understand the words, of course, but it is not clear to me the implication of the limitation stated. Can anyone give some additional clarification on this?
    Yes, the cable port is being used to bring Verizon cable signal to the router,,,,

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