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Matt LeBoff

Kicking around in technology since 2002. I like to write about technology products and ideas, but at the consumer level understanding. Some tech, but not too techie.

DIY USB Power Hub Station

Using very simple and inexpensive items, create a USB power hub station for all gadgets like headphones, chargers, GPS units, GoPro camera’s and more.

In addition to a very organized solution, the DIY USB power hub station is out of the way, yet easily accessible. No more taking up valuable kitchen counter space with cluttered gadgets and a birds nest of cables.

The solution is ultra-easy. For the DIY USB power hub station all you need is a shoe rack for the closet, a USB hub and your cables.

In less than 10 minutes you can be organized, powered and out of sight. This DIY project was less than $35 dollars.

First, grab a hanging shoe rack from Amazon. I found this 10 slot shoe rack for $13.

Next, grab a USB hub that only runs power (less expensive) and I found a matching 10 socket version for my 10 slot shoe rack for $20.

The only thing left to possibly buy are cables. However, you probably already have the powering USB cables required for your devices. I do think getting cables that have a combo Apple Lightening cable and microUSB cable allow things to be a bit more flexible when connecting various devices.

Here is a set of two cables with three different connectors (Lightening, USB-C and microUSB) for $6.00 (each) $13 total.

Once your items arrive the assembly is literally two minutes. There is a good chance it will take longer to clean out your closet than assemble the DIY USB power hub station.

The best location would be in the closet under your stairs. This is true because the space most likely has a power outlet.

  • Step 1 – Cut a small piece of fabric in the back of each shoe rack slot
  • Step 2 – Place USB powered hub in the bottom shoe rack slot
  • Step 3 – Lay out the shoe rack and thread each power cable from the USB hub to each shoe rack slot
  • Step 4 – Place devices in shoe rack slots and connect
  • Step 5 – Hang USB power hub charging station in your closet
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How To: Check for Bad Sectors on USB Flash Drive

This how to tutorial describes a simple way to check for bad sectors on a USB flash drive. The instructions below will also fix any bad sectors, if possible, during the scanning process.

A bad sector on a flash drive is a portion of memory on the flash drive which cannot be accessed, written to, or read from and therefore cannot be used. A bad sector on a flash drive sounds easy enough to diagnose, but it’s important to know there are two types of bad sectors: hard and soft.

Physical damage to a USB flash drive will create a hard bad sector. A hard bad sector cannot be repaired or fixed and is typically induced from physical abuse. A good example: leaving a flash drive in your pocket and it went through the wash, or the device was dropped and hit the ground is such a way, physical damage happened to the memory.

A soft bad sector on a flash drive are memory logic problems. A soft bad sector can occur from a software or data error during the write process. In lower quality flash drives, it is possible the incorrect firmware was written into the USB controller ROM and thus creates instability via soft bad sectors.

Bad sectors cannot be repaired; however soft bad sectors can be repaired.

The soft bad sectors can be fixed by using the CHKDSK utility in the Windows operating system. This same utility will also flag any hard bad sectors not to be used again, and of course not repaired.

Some signs of a bad sector on a flash drive include:

  • Cannot read a file on the flash drive
  • A file location is no longer available
  • Unable to format the USB flash drive
  • A disk read error occurs during operation

In our opinion, run the check disk one time to see if your issue is resolved, but if subsequent scans are required, we recommend discarding the flash drive to avoid further issues.

Running the chkdsk scan is really easy:

Insert flash drive to computer

Using Windows Explorer navigate to the drive letter

In the Explorer window type cmd and press enter

access usb flash drive cmd command

Once inside the command line utility type chkdsk d: /f /r /x and click Enter. NOTE: *The letter d represents the drive letter of the flash drive.

chkdsk commands for usb flash drive

  • The /f parameter tells CHKDSK to fix any errors it finds.
  • The /r parameter tells Windows to repair/restore bad sectors (if possible).
  • The /x parameter unmounts any “handles” to the drive or said another way, this step will not allow any other resource to access the flash drive during the scan.
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Three Level Aluminum Laptop Riser

aluminum laptop riser

Alles-Omoton is offering their three level aluminum laptop riser unit for only $16.62. They have a 99% positive feedback so little risk considering the company’s Amazon rating. If you are not a Prime member, orders that exceed $25 will qualify for free shipping. A recent price drop in addition to an on-page coupon reduces the total price 33% from list price. With room for any modern MacBook, this aluminum stand is also able to uphold a majority of PCs and Chromebooks, as well. This unique offering wields an adjustable design that’s uncommon among this style of laptop stand. Owners can choose between a 5.7-, 6.3-, or 6.8-inch height. This will undoubtedly lead to improved ergonomics and perhaps even a better arrangement for multi-monitor setups. Rated 4.7/5 stars.

OMOTON 3-Level Aluminum Laptop Riser features:

  • The laptop riser offers 3 height choices (5.7/6.3/6.8 inch) to meet your different needs. It provides optimal viewing angles.
  • This laptop stand for desk helps to relieve neck and shoulder pain. It also creates more space under your PC, which helps you to organize your desk.
  • The laptop holder is made of reinforced aluminum alloy. It can support up to 11lbs of weight. The soft silicone pads protect your laptop from scratches.

Click to view more details, pricing and size options.

GetUSB.info does mention Amazon affilate products to help pay for the cost of running our blog.

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We Can Solve Apple’s Glucose Testing Issues – Just Do This

It’s been reported for over four years Apple is trying to solve the non-invasive way to test for blood glucose levels, yet continue to run into problems.

The problems have not been disclosed by Apple during the development process, but it is almost certain the reason is from inconsistent test readings. Meaning, Apple’s method or technique for reading a body glucose level is not consistent enough to submit for governmental approval.

Hey Apple! If you want to solve your glucose testing issues… listen up, here’s how:

It is well documented the level of glucose in the blood has a direct correlation to the viscosity or fluidity of the blood itself.

We feel the sensor technique from Apple is not accurate enough to determine the viscosity and therefore cannot get accurate glucose readings.

To us this makes sense because whatever sensor the Apple watch is using, is trying to determine levels through a part of skin which is too thick. The wrist.

Here is your hot tip Apple (@AppleHCG @tim_cook):

Forget using the Apple watch as your source for testing. What Apple needs to create is a mouth piece that communicates with the Apple watch and scan the lingual frenulum skin for opacity which in turn indicates viscosity of the blood. The lingual frenulum is the thinnest piece of skin on the human body which gives you the ability to more clearly scan for blood viscosity by determining the level of opaqueness of blood circulating through the lingual frenulum.

A mouth piece would need to be developed to sit under the tongue with a sensor pointed towards the lingual frenulum which would scan the blood circulation or flow and based on color feedback it can be determined the level of sugar in the blood stream at that time.

The “under tongue” mouth piece would be used only when a reading is required by the user. In our estimates the reading would last no longer than 5 seconds.

To get the reading, the mouth piece would be designed to read from the left and right side of the lingual frenulum to determine the opaqueness of the blood. The heavier the viscosity the darker or dense the blood is and therefore more opaque. Blood is lighter when the glucose level is lower and less opaque. Blood is darker when the glucose level is higher.

The “under tongue” mouth piece would communicate wirelessly to the Apple watch to report the reading.

It goes without saying, the above solution is not a finished product. Development and testing of the mouth guard would need to be designed by the Apple HealthCare team. But this hot tip points you in the right direction.

If someone at Apple reads this article, I hope they have enough moral fiber and respect of OUR idea to reach out and contact us. gmo (at) getub.info

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Hold USB Flash Drive In DVD Case – Brilliant Solution – Inexpensive

Hold USB Flash Drive In DVD Case

This is a brilliant solution which after viewing the video you will say: “this should have come out years ago!”

This is the least expensive, yet most secure way to hold a USB flash drive in a DVD case.

The era of CD and DVD is coming to a close with USB flash drives taking its place. Yet many CD and DVD duplication facilities have shelves and shelves of DVD jewel cases which they need to put to good use. This DVD-to-USB-Insert card is the quick, easy and cheap solution. The insert allows users to keep their DVD case and related jewel case artwork to remain the same, but now secure a USB flash drive inside the DVD case, rather than an optical disc.

So many businesses enjoy the DVD case because the DVD case is a great storage box. The case is a good size with a thick spin to print what the contents in the DVD case are.

Continue this same “library” methodology with the DVD-to-USB-Insert card.

In case you can’t see, or didn’t see, the video posted above the solution will hold two USB flash drives in a DVD case. The DVD-to-USB-Insert is a thick 0.65mm clear plastic which is the same diameter as a DVD. However, the clear plastic has two rectangles which are inverted to hold just about any sized USB flash drive. This solution will fit two USB flash drives into a single DVD case. The two rectangles are the same size and as said, will fit darn nearly all USB sticks with a size that is 3″ long by 3/4″ wide and a depth of 3/8″ ( for you metric folks, that is 76mm long, 21mm wide and 9.5mm deep).

The clear plastic has a hole in the center the same size as a DVD disc and will snap into the “holder” of the DVD case. Using any DVD case on the market you can easily hold a USB flash drive inside a DVD case. The video shows how secure the USB flash drive is when inside the DVD case. The flash drive will not fall out during shipping or transit.

To be clear, the DVD-to-USB-Insert is only the clear plastic that holds the USB flash drive using the nipple snap that holds the DVD. The DVD case itself is not sold with this solution because the assumption is you (the user) already have stock or inventory of the DVD case itself.

This solution to hold a USB flash drive in a DVD case does not infringe on any patents from other manufacturers who use alternate solutions to secure a flash drive inside a DVD type case.

Please contact USB Copier for more details. This is a USB duplication service company.

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This USB Stick Can Backup Your Phone Pics

There are two popular methods to get large videos off your iPhone.

The most common problem is having a large video on your iPhone which you need on your computer. Email programs usually limit a file size at 20MBs, so if the file is larger, what can you do?

There are two popular options which come to mind: Use QuickTime or Use a USB flash drive.

Option #1

Use QuickTime. Macs already have QuickTime built into the OS, but Windows users must install it. Before deciding this as your best route to get large videos off your iPhone here is a list of things to consider:

  • You must backup your iPhone on QuickTime before you access the video
  • You need your computer (an authoized computer) to perform the backup
  • Windows user smust download and install QT
  • QuickTime is an invasive program which most Windows users will not like
  • Not a “portable” way to get the videos off your iPhone
  • However, this is a free solution!

Option #2

Use a flash drive.

Yes, you need to buy a specific flash drive, but after this investment it’s infinitely easier to get videos off your iPhone. Some advantages worth considering:

  • Get large videos off your phone without a PC
  • Share the videos immediately to another user’s PC
  • External storage device for backups of those videos

Point number one is really the value in all this {wink}.

Yes, you need to make a purchase of a product so you won’t be able to make the transfer ‘right now’ but will be able to once you have the USB device.

Specific USB drives have software which work with the iOS allowing the download of files from the phone to the drive. The one tested is the SanDisk iXpand flash drive at 128GB capacity and will cost about $40ish dollars.

The process is very straight forward.

  • Download the iXpand app from the Apple app store
  • Connect the flash drive to your iPhone
  • Select what file you want to transfer, that’s it
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40TB Expansion Solution – Not Much When Viewed Like This:

Seagate offers a 40TB expansion solution which is plug-n-play. At first glance, the 40TB solution might seem like a bit much, but when broken down to more specific user experiences and demands, it might not be all that much.

To make the point, we are going to use a family of 4. Two parents and two young kids, say 2 and 5 years old.

Having two children at this age means video recording is happening on a daily bases. If it isn’t, those parents are missing out on precious moments which could be caught on film.

Using an iPhone with a video setting of 4K at 24FPS (Frames Per Second) a one minute video will eat up about 270MBs of space. If the parent takes a 4 minute video once a day for a year, that is 360GBs of data. About 1/3 of a single Terabyte of storage.

Before we continue along with how a family can easily take up 40TBs of data, also consider the Seagate solution comes with software that will automatically sync your mobile devices with the storage device. These large videos are hard to get off your iPhone unless a streaming backup service is available. Seagate provides that. We also did an article about downloading them manually with a SanDisk USB iXpand product.

Given the age of these kids, a 4 minute video is probably a bit short for whatever crazy or funny thing the kids are doing. So rounding up to 10 minutes’ worth of video per day, per parent puts the data storage consumption at about 5.5GBs per day.

Of course you can reduce the resolution from 4K down to H264, but who wants to do that? You need to edit the higher resolution video or consider that 4K in like five years from now will be low resolution.

As the kids get older, they will start adding their video to the Seagate storage solution. The example could drag on and on, but the point is this: With technology getting better each year, the storage required to save the digital content we create will expand equally.

As a closing thought; keep in mind how difficult and time consuming the process is to move data from one storage device to another, newer storage device. The 40TB expansion is a big purchase now, but the upgrade to a bigger storage device will not happen for as quickly as needed if a smaller storage device is bought.

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A Quadrillion+ Swivel USB Flash Drives Fit Inside the Empire State Building

The Empire State Building stands at a total height of 1,454 feet, with an inside space of 37 million cubic feet.

Taking the swivel USB flash drive, the #1 selling body style in the world, at a size of 57 x 19 x 10 mm in dimensions it is theoretically possible to fit 17,760,000,000,000,000 Quadrillion flash drives inside the Empire State Building.

Would this be a good conversation starter at a cocktail party?

Ref: Wikipedia Continue Reading

The Difference Between USB Splitter and USB Hub

GetUSB.info researches USB products every day from every corner of the internet. Although we don’t publish about those finds each day the research goes on with a filter geared towards bring value to our visitors.

Over the past six weeks we have seen an increased number of products listed as a USB splitter and it’s worth posting an explanation about what a USB splitter is, or might be.

A USB splitter does not split the USB signal. The most common use of the term “splitter” is a phone splitter for an analog signal. Meaning you can take a single phone line and use a splitter to get the same analog signal on two phones, at the same time. A USB splitter is not this – at all.

A USB splitter should truly be called a USB hub. A USB hub is comprised of an upstream port and multiple down-stream ports. The upstream port is the signal coming into the hub, the down-stream port(s) are the ports available to get that information. Key word here is “available to get” because not all ports are equally available to get the same upstream signal, simultaneously.

For example, if you have audio playing from your PC to a USB speaker, a hub will not automatically split that audio signal to multiple USB speakers connected to that hub. Same would go for video and data. You cannot split USB signals to multiple devices automatically.

To call a USB hub a USB splitter is a very poor choice of words. In fact, we would consider this a red flag for not buying product from a supplier who uses such a term to describe a USB hub.

There is a USB-Y cable which is the closest thing which could be considered a splitter. A USB-Y cable has two connectors from the upstream port to a single downstream port; however, both of those upstream ports do not transmit data. One connector transmits the data and power and the second connector transmits only power. For example, it is very common to get an external hard drive (a disk drive, not solid state) which comes with a USB-Y cable. This setup is designed to pull the maximum power from the host (your PC) using two connections and send as much power as possible to the device, the external hard drive.

Looking at the image above, the idea would be connecting two USB A cables to two USB ports on the host computer and the single USB-A connector to the device. This setup will provide additional power to the USB peripheral device.

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A USB Flash Drive Which Cannot Get a Virus

A computer virus is something we all strive to avoid because we understand the consequences and the amount of time and energy required to restore a computer to its original condition. In a recent poll by GetUSB.info when asking users to name the top three ways a computer can get a virus, they responded with:

  • Link from an email
  • Link from an unsecure website
  • USB flash drive

However, if Nexcopy has anything to do with the last answer, a computer virus which spreads by USB flash drive will be a thing of the past.

Nexcopy is a US company based in Southern California who specializes in flash memory duplication equipment, printers, FDA compliant flash drives, copy protection and now a road-blocking malware on flash drives.

USB drive cannot get a virus

A virus will spread via a USB stick because the device is writable. In fact, any device that is connected to a computer which is writeable could spread a virus; other devices such as external hard drives, SD cards, microSD cards, etc. all have the same potential for harm.

But what happens when you turn these storage devices on their head and not allow them to be writable in the first place? This simple yet obvious solution is a gigantic step in the right direction for controlling the spread of a virus via USB.

The Lock License flash drive designed and manufactured by Nexcopy is exactly that. The Lock License drive is a USB stick which is always write protected. The device doesn’t care what it’s plugged into, or when, or how, the Lock License drive will always be read-only.

A virus will spread in a very specific way. A virus is designed to scan newly connected devices and ping them to see if they can spread (if the device is writable). A new device is defined by any computer system when “power” is assigned upon connection, which, coincidentally is the same time the virus will try and spread.

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Transfer Rates Faster Than USB

In the world of physics, heat represents resistance. Think of touching your car tire before you’ve driven it – cool. Think of touching your car tire after driving to the store – warm. Resistance.

Copper found in USB connectors and USB cables is the heat element which represents the resistance of faster speeds. The warmer copper gets, the slower the data transfer rates will be because the heat represents inefficiencies of the material.

Research presented at February’s IEEE International Solid-State Circuits Conference by lead author Jack Holloway and co-authors Ruonan Han and Georgios Dogiamis developed a data transfer system that can transmit information 10 times faster than a USB. The new link pairs high-frequency silicon chips with a polymer cable as thin a strand of hair.

Mr Holloway explains, “Copper wires, like those found in USB or HDMI cables, are power-hungry — especially when dealing with heavy data loads. There’s a fundamental tradeoff between the amount of energy burned and the rate of information exchanged.”

The most common alternative suggested to a copper wire would be an optical wire. Optical wires deal with photons and are extremely efficient but the problem are how the photons interact will silicon of a chip. Since photons don’t work well when talking to silicon, it means a direct connection from a fiber optic cable to a computer chip isn’t ideal.

The technology (by Holloway and team) is a plastic polymer material which works very well at sub-terahertz signals (very high signals) which translates to a competitive alternative to fiber optics.

Next, the team engineered a low-cost chip which pairs with the polymer conduit. Typically, silicon chips struggle to operate at sub-terahertz frequencies. Yet the team’s new chips generate those high-frequency signals with enough power to transmit data directly into the conduit. That clean connection from the silicon chips to the conduit means the overall system can be manufactured with standard, cost-effective methods.

The physical size of this plastic polymer is the same size as a human hair.

Resource: Fiber Optics.

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Universal USB Type A Connector – Doesn’t Matter What Side Is Plugged In

There are some USB articles floating around right now about the USB type A connector and how it takes three tries for a connection. Well, we do agree with them but it doesn’t have to be that way. There is a universal USB connector for the Type A, it’s just not that readily available.

Would you buy this? Shoot us an email if interested {gmo [@] getusb [.] info}

Pictures first, here are three up-close pictures of the universal USB connector

universal USB connector

universal type A connector

picture of universal USB connector

Physically, a USB type-A connector appears to be symmetrical. It’s rectangular in shape with no clear marking of a top or bottom. I think most have figured out the seem on the USB is the bottom side, the smooth side would be the top. HDMI for example is very easy to distinguish top and bottom because each side is shaped a little differently. However, the type A connector is not symmetrical! Looking inside the connector one will see a slight position change of the internal USB connector. One side up – one side down.

It is unclear why this USB connector type has not gained more traction with vendors and manufactures. Our company received samples of this several years ago with the comment product would change to this connector type; however, that shift has never come to fruition.

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