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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.

Where to buy: SD Duplicators, Some Say “SD Copiers”

SD cards are so popular today because the gigabyte capacity in relation to the form factor size is such a great trade off.  The average user on the street would associate an SD card with a camera, but we know heavy users of SD cards use them for embedded operating systems, GPS systems and hand-held point of sale systems.

With that said, for those who need to mass data load content to Secure Digital cards, you might be looking for options on where to buy the gear. The following article, which has no affiliate links for commissions, lists some house-hold names who offer on-line purchasing of SD duplication gear.

SD duplicators manufactured by Nexcopy are available from a variety of different on-line retailers.  The models available from the manufacturer range in different sizes.  The models also range between systems running from a host computer and systems which are stand alone. The following content will talk about both, PC based and standalone duplicators.

Wal-Mart is a growing on-line destination for purchasing technology equipment.  Yes, Wal-Mart.  For example, a user can buy a 20 target SD duplicator from Wal-Mart.

20 target SD duplicator from Wal-Mart.  A PC Based system for data loading to SD cards

This system is PC based and requires a very minimal Windows computer to run the software.  You might ask, why a PC based system?  What advantages are there with a system like this?  Here are some bullet points on why a PC based system is a benefit:

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Microsoft Finally Capitulated the USB Safe Removal

In a battle that is so ancient most no longer consider it an issue, Microsoft has gone away with the safe removal for USB flash drives. The original suggestion by Microsoft was to eliminate data lose if a user removed the drive before properly ejecting it.

Nine out of ten times you wouldn’t lose data, unless a large file was being transferred, but it’s nice to see Microsoft adjust to user habits.

The update which includes this change is Windows 10 v v1809. If you are not sure the Windows version you have, simply right click the Windows icon in the bottom left of your screen and select “System

From the resultant page, you can view the version of your OS.

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Double AA Rechargeable USB Battery – 4 Pack

These are 1450mAh batteries that are rechargeable via standard USB port.

This is the better way digital devices should be designed.  I am not a fan of, for example, my portable speaker going south because the device can no longer hold a charge.  I’d much rather have my portable speaker take batteries which I can replace, than my device going dead and I have to throw it away.

As I type this, the four pack of double AA batteries are going for $35.  So just under $10 per battery. 

The company claims they will take 500 charges.  Assuming they have over stated that statistic, even at 250 charges… it’s a smart move.

They also claim the AA battery will last 2 to 3 times longer than a normal battery.  Probably a direct link to the 1.2V NiMH nickel metal hydride cell technology.

rechargeable AA batteries
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USB4, The Royalty Free Thunderbolt from Intel

In the news, Intel has given their specification for its high-speed Thunderbolt technology to the USB-IF implementers forum.  This is the group which creates and manages USB technology.

The USB4 specification will follow the current USB 3.2 specification, yet an exact date of release has not been defined.

USB4 will double the bandwidth of USB 3.2 and provide transfer rates at a theoretical maximum of 40Gb/s. 

USB4 Flash Drive

USB4 will also enable the use of multiple data and display protocols simultaneously.  This implies you will be able to transfer data, run your monitor and power your devices through a single connection.

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AirBar – Make Any Laptop Touchscreen

The Airbar will turn any Windows laptop into a touch screen. Very cool. The technology is friendly with Windows 8 and 10 and this is because it uses Microsoft’s “Gestures” technology to turn your laptop into a touchscreen laptop.

The Airbar was designed in Sweden and made in Sweden. The bar is $50 US Dollars.

The Airbar works by invisible light beams. To get it working you connect is via USB and set the bar at the bottom of your laptop screen, just like you see in the picture.

The Airbar will project light upward. As your fingers break the barrier of the projected light, the bar will translate this into gestures. Through the Windows API for gestures your actions will translate to the programs running.

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StarTech USB 3.0 & 4K DisplayPort Dock Station

The USB 3.0 / 4K display and dock station is ideal for the Bring Your Own Device work environment (BYOD).

Assuming you have a limited port laptop computer the StarTech dock station can expand your laptop screen and extend out to a 4K video feed needed. It doesn’t stop there with USB 3.0 port connectivity, and Ethernet connection.

The front side of the dock station also includes a USB charging port. You can avoid the inconvenience of a dead battery and make sure your mobile device is always ready to go, using the dock’s USB fast-charge and sync port. Plus, the always-on port supports device charging even when your laptop isn’t connected to the dock.

The dock station can act as a charging station unplugged as well, making it a very portable solution. A good fit for this product would be home-office where the work space is not that large, or class room where the budget isn’t there for a complete work station and a BYOD situation best applies.

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Question: Format a Flash Drive as exFAT or NTFS?

Most of the time formatting a flash drive is a very simple decision. There are only two situations where you should take consideration on what format to use. Here are the details:

Note: This article is focused towards Windows and Mac operating systems.

The file formats available for a flash drive are:

  • FAT (also called FAT16)
  • FAT32
  • exFAT
  • NTFS
  • HFS (Mac only)

Flash drive manufacturers format a drive as either FAT or FAT32. Any device of 2GBs or smaller will be formatted as FAT and any USB over 2GBs will be formatted as FAT32.

exFAT, USB

These two formats are the best file system for removable drives like flash drives because they support the quick disconnect function and chances are very slim you will destroy the device or files if you unplug the USB without using the Eject function (in Windows) or Un-mount function (in Mac).

The one huge limitation with FAT and FAT32 is the single file size limitation. If a single file is larger than 2GBs you need to have the device as FAT32. If you have a single file bigger than 4GBs then you must use NTFS or exFAT. Typically these large files are either video files or restore image files (for restoring a computer operating system from a single image file).

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Trained Dogs to Sniff Out SD Cards and USB Sticks

USB stick, dog

Police dogs have yet another smell they must detect. Tactical Detection K9 company now trains dogs to sniff out SD cards and USB sticks. The training is in response to better assisting law enforcement in child pornography investigations.

The percentage of a dog’s brain which is devoted to analyzing smells is 40 times greater than humans. For example, humans can detect about 5 million scents and a German Shepherd can detect around 225 million smells.

In a recent investigation a dog was used in the FBI raid of the home of the former Subway spokesman Jared Fogle in Hancock County, Indiana.

What could take investigators hours to find an SD card or USB stick in a house would take a trained dog considerably less time, probably no more than 30 minutes.

According to Tactical Detection K9 it took scientists over four years to isolate the odor associated with memory devices. Now that a specific odor has been identified it takes 8-9 months for a dog to be trained in picking up that scent.

A dog which can sniff out SD and USB sticks can cost upwards of $9,000.

Source: IB Times and Dummies.com .

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Lenovo USB Compu-Stick

Computers on a stick will begin to gain popularity over the next two years. Lenovo is the most recent to offer a compu-stick. The Ideacentre 300 Stick is a 2GB of RAM computer with an Intel Atom Z3735F processor (2M cache + 1.83 Ghz) and runs Windows 8.1.

The Compu-Stick can be plugged into any computer and when you reboot, the hardware now uses the OS of the compu-stick.

compu-stick, usb

Alternatively you may connect the device to a TV and sync a keyboard and mouse and now you have a fully functioning PC with your TV as the monitor.

This is a great step in the right direction as all technology will move towards solid state memory. The Lenovo product has 32GBs of memory which is fine for a first generation product. If they can house a microSD slot in there for expanded memory, it would be an inexpensive solution to a possible data storage problem.

The only caveat left is that unless true Grade A memory is used in these devices the data retention and stability is the week point. With Grade A NAND memory you have a re-write of about 100,000 cycles. SLC memory will help this issue and improve reliability.

Reports indicate the Compu-Stick will run about $150.

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Portable, Plugable USB Type C Dock Station

With the single USB-C port of the new MacBook laptop we knew a power station and/or dock station was right behind.  Here is a Kickstarter compaign to address the single port computer and connecting all your peripheral gadgets to your new computer.

The ultimate dock station will power and charge your system using USB’s new Power Delivery specification, while providing an additional alternate mode video output up to 4K resolution, gigabit Ethernet, audio input/output, and 4 USB ports.  The tall slender design of the dock station packs a number of sockets to support any type of peripheral you need to connect.

In addition, the USB 3.1 Type-C specification supports a feature called “VESA Alternate Mode” which works with the built-in graphics processor on supported systems to provide video output at resolutions up to 4K.  This is particularly important given the up-tick in TVs and monitors which are being released with a 4K specification.  The other two display outputs in the Ultimate Dock are enabled by the DisplayLink DL-3900 graphics processor, which can support two additional 1080P displays at 60Hz.  The DisplayLink driver is still in development, but the Kickstarter campaign claims the driver will have a final release by the time the dock station hits full production.

The Plugable Ultimate USB-C Universal Docking Station supports:

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