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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.

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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Massive 60 Target USB Charging Station

Brando, a USB gadget distributor located in Hong Kong, now has available a massive USB charging station.

The 60 port charging station can charge sixty devices at 1A or charge 30 devices at 2A. It is not clear if the 2A charge would require a USB Y-Cable.  The box does not support data transfer capability so don’t purchase the unit if you are looking to sync your digital device or USB data load a bunch of flash drives.

At $199 USD this is worth considering.

Imagine what kind of bird’s nest would be created with all those cables!

Source: Brando.

Large USB Charging Station
USB Charger, Large
USB Charger, power switch
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Our Answer to a Smartphone / Tablet Dock Charging Station

With the iPhone in its 8th iteration of the product and most likely you have some older models laying around. Those older models can be put to use, but chances are, you don’t keep them charged up. So after a couple of days without connection, they are dead. I currently use an older iPhone to stream my music at work. I don’t stream from my phone, because I always seem to get disconnect to the Bluetooth speakers after I take a call. USB charge dock station This is why I like the 10 port charging station from USBFever. It’s got a logical design for holding ten devices. With the USB ports on the bottom, it keeps the plugs from hanging off the wall. Just above the USB ports are hollow channels you can bundle up the USB cable and stash it away. On top are vertical channels to hold your iPhone, iPad, Smartphone or tablet. The vertical channels are tall enough the devices will sit sturdy and proper. Finally, the design includes a good balance of power output for the devices. There are a total of 10 USB ports. Eight of which push out a 2.5amp power supply and the remaining two are 1amp. This means the charging dock station will power the tablets as well as the larger iPhone and Samsung product while you can leave the smaller phones to the 1amp channels. The default color is Continue Reading

How Flash Memory Works

This is a great video that explains how flash memory works. Granted, the video is very technical but does work through the concept of reading and writing data to flash. So if you have the 17 minutes to use, I suggest giving this a watch. The video does cover SLC, MLC and TLC memory and how each of these technologies read and write with the different layers of a floating gate device like NAND. Source: YouTube. Continue Reading

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