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Off Topic: Making Home Brew Starbucks Vanilla Latte – Life Changer

DIY recipes are beloved for many reasons; saving money, saving time and the rewarding task of simply doing it yourself. Today is a post that is clearly off topic from the normal USB hacks and news we typically post about. Today we are talking about making a Starbucks coffee at home. Not the standard black coffee from Starbucks, but the more delicious variety like the vanilla latte.

At the time of this post the Coronavirus is in full swing and many Starbucks shops are closed, or limited hours, or the drive-thru line is too long for the wait. Here is your in-home solution:

The first thing to understand is how sweet Starbucks really makes their drinks. It is well known the calorie intake and carbohydrate count for a vanilla latte is fairly high. This DIY recipe will help you control those intake amounts to help better control the sugar intake your body gets from these sweet-delicious-energy-giving drinks.

We should really give Starbucks serious credit on figuring out the right bit of sugar and caffeine to jump start the heart rate in a legally addictive way.

Starting with a vanilla latte, the true magic of this drink is the full, frothy milk. No requirement for a fancy frother which you see on the Starbucks counter top, but rather a simple $40 (about) milk frother from Amazon will do the trick (Miroco). The Miroco is a fantastic product and truly a life changer for making coffee flavored drinks. Probably the best “appliance” purchase we’ve made since the introduction of the DVR in 1999 (feel free to challenge us on this claim {wink}).

starbucks frother

First step is brew your coffee. Use any brand. If you really want the exact taste of a Starbucks version, use their coffee, but honestly they put enough sugar and syrup into these drinks, the coffee brand doesn’t matter all that much.

Once the coffee is brewed, fire up the milk frother.

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Why Does the Partition Size Matter Inside an Image File?

This topic is brought up today because we hear some Users have issues understanding this point. The partition size inside an image file does matter. The question we will answer today is why it matters.

Let us start off with two simplified overviews. First, all storage devices use a partition to define it’s characteristics. A storage device has a file system, like FAT32 or exFAT or NTFS and that file system has a defined size or digital capacity. These characteristics, and some others, are laid out in the partition.

Second, an image file is the above partition with all its detail, the file system, defined capacity along with all the actual files and folders on that partition and put into a single file or .img file.

For a non-technical person, let me use a puzzle as an example.

partition table, puzzle, image file

  • The puzzle box is equivalent to the physical device.
  • The plastic bag inside the puzzle box, holding all the pieces, is the image file.
  • Print on the puzzle box indicating the number of pieces, is the partition.
  • The puzzle pieces inside the box are equivalent to the data.

Okay, so at this point we know the image file (.img) is the bag which holds all the puzzle pieces and the data are all the bits inside the bag. So let’s address the question of this post, “Why does the partition size matter inside an image file?”

Back to the puzzle box. As with any puzzle, the outside of the box lists the number of pieces. In this example, we can use the number of pieces printed on the outside of the box as the partition table size. If the physical box size is, let us say, 8″ x 11″ then it’s totally logical that a 1,000 piece puzzle would fit inside. In fact, it is logical to say even a 20 piece puzzle will fit inside the box. But, could a 5,000 piece puzzle fit inside this box?

From the three scenarios above, one doesn’t work, right? The scenario where the box says there are 5,000 puzzle pieces in a box that is physically to small.

Partitions are the same.

The situation which doesn’t work, is when the print on the outside of the puzzle is telling you the number of pieces inside the box are clearly more than what the physical box can handle.

Said another way, you cannot use a partition table size of 4GBs and try to have the image file fit on a USB stick that has only 1GB of storage space. Even if the image file itself is only 1GB large of actual data. Just like the puzzle, no matter what is printed on the outside of the box, if the number of pieces are larger than what can fit inside the box… it just doesn’t work.

Here is a real-world example: You can download this IMG file which is only 40MB large. The IMG itself has a 4GB partition inside it. As long as you write out the IMG file to a flash drive that is 4GBs or larger, everything will work. If you try and write out the IMG file to something smaller, like a 2GB stick, it won’t work.

What happens?

Windows is very smart. All versions of Windows (from 7 and higher) will take a look at the total available memory and compare that to the partition table size. If Windows sees the partition table is larger than the available memory of the device, she won’t let you do anything with the device… other than format it. Once the drive is formatted, Windows will automatically rewrite the partition table to fit the amount of available memory. In this example, Windows would format the drive to become a 2GB stick… not a 4GB stick.

Why does Windows do this?

They want to eliminate fraud. Windows 7 was introduced in 2009 and before that, the only OS was WindowsXP. Well, Windows XP didn’t have the capability to compare partition tables to available memory. The result was fraud. Many would sell some larger GB capacity drive… like at the time 32GB, but only 4GB of real, usable, memory was there. The user would run out of memory space long before the “printed capacity” of the drive was reached.

If you found this article; maybe there is a situation where an image file is not working when written out to a USB flash drive? If this is the case, be sure to check your partition table compared to the amount of physical memory available. The easiest way to check, would be mounting the IMG file on your computer and check Properties for the partition size. Keep in mind, the default “Mount” command in Windows doesn’t work. You need something like this.

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USB Juice Jacking – A Total Long Shot?

Will “USB juice jacking” trend on Twitter anytime soon? Probably not. Should you be paranoid about USB juice jacking? Probably not.

What is USB juice jacking anyway?

The idea is someone, a hacker, trying to steal your data while you are charging up, or “getting juice” from a public USB port.

Yes, it can technically happen, so don’t be fooled. But could it actually happen? Probably not, so don’t sound like a fool.

Getting down to brass tacks of how this could happen, what would a hacker need to pull it off?

First, they’d need to make a connection, either WiFi or Bluetooth. This connection would transmit your valuable data to the hacker. To do that, the hacker needs some sort of device that holds that communication chip. That chip would need to sit behind the USB port in the string of communication. This “device” would also need power.

Given the above, a quick observation of the USB port you are planning to use, will tell you everything you need to know. So basically if you see a big block with a USB port, don’t plug in your device. If it’s a wall mounted USB port, chances are ultra-slim there is a technology behind the placard stealing your data.

So take airport chairs and charging stations for example; as this is the most comment place a website gives for the “scare.” You are not going to get hacked using those ports. First off, airports are high security areas and those charging stations are monitored. Second, the security cameras will pick up on someone trying to tamper with a charging station or USB port on the chair. Third, the people in the terminal need a boarding pass to get to those spots, so their identity is already known if anything suspicious does turn up.

Now, if we are talking a coffee shop just be sure

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Not So Funny USB Jokes [11]

What do you call a bee born in the United States?
A USB.

When the person who invented the USB drive dies:
They will lower the coffin into the grave and realize it’s the wrong direction. Flip it, and try again.

Why do people complain about plugging in USB cables?
I always connect them on my second try.

Amazon offers a USB-powered taillight:
It’s used to backup your computer.

Arguing with your wife is like a USB port:
You will only be right 50% of the time.

I ate my USB flash drive:
It only took 1 byte.

If you are carrying around a USB stick:
Do you have mobile data?

What do you call a USB stick in Russia?
A “Put-in”

The USB Type C design is brilliant:
I can’t see a downside to it.

How do you stop an elephant from charging?
Take away its USB cable.

Thanks to these guys for inspiration.

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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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Snap Power USB Charger

You know a product is a great idea when a couple of pictures describe the entire product. With that in mind, we’ve all seen wall outlet USB charges, but the Snap Power, in my opinion, will rule them all. The design is clever. Installation is ultra-easy. Accessibility supersedes all others. Take a second and just look at it: In my mind there are three things which make this a brilliant wall charger. If you don’t mind me walking you through the obvious, here we go. Or skip the highlights and jump right over to their website: The design is brilliant. The User keeps both outlets available for normal use while a sleek looking USB port is added underneath. At the time of this article there is one USB socket, but visiting their website you can see two sockets, one on either side. They are constantly improving. Installation is very easy. Simply unscrew your current face-plate and replace it with Continue Reading

(Infograph) History of Portable Storage Devices

The history of portable storage is an interesting one and starts earlier then you probably think.  Starting in 1928 the punch card is what started it all.  Like the punch music you probably remember on your grandmothers piano where the piano played automatically from the punch roll. History of Portable Storage (Infograph) – An infographic by the team at History of Portable Storage (Infograph) Continue Reading

Eliminating Moore’s Law With Phosphorus Atom Transistor

Scientists are trying to break the boundaries of Moore’s law by taking a phosphorus atom and create a working transistor as the gate to control electrical flow. Moore’s law describes a long-term trend in the history of computer manufacturing whereby the number of transistors that can be placed in the same amount of space doubles approximately every two years. Michelle Simmons, director of ARC Center for Quantum Computation and Communication Technology at the University of New South Wales, Australia, took an atom and etched it into a silicon bed with “gates” to control electrical flow and metallic contacts to apply voltage to start/stop current.  It’s the first such device to be precisely positioned using Continue Reading

Web Receipt Is Snap Shot of Web

Little Printer is a thermal printer which browses the web and prints up interesting snippets of information. I love my iPhone and use it for many things, keeping a calendar, phone book, email, text etc, but I still prefer a piece of paper to make my daily list of to-do’s.  Likewise, it’s best to read a story from a book or magazine.  Well, along those same lines of “analog” textual feeling is the Little Printer.  A printer designed to print up a receipt of information for a grab-n-go read. For all the douche-bags who are going to write about going green, or go paperless, or get with the times and read your phone – you know I’m right when I say – screw you!   Sometimes paper is better. Continue Reading

Jelly Batteries – A Better Solution

In a jelly battery the jelly would replace the liquid electrolytes currently used in most lithium batteries.  University of Leeds dreamed up a very unique solution to our never-ending-quest for more battery power. A new prototype of battery, the jelly battery, avoids what the pros call “thermal runaway.”  The thermal runaway is what causes batteries to over heat and [sometimes] catch on fire. The Leeds research team says their secret to success lies in the blending of a rubber like polymer with a conductive, liquid electrolyte into a thin, flexible file of gel.  That film sits between the battery electrodes.
“Safety is of paramount importance in lithium batteries. Conventional lithium batteries use electrolytes based on organic liquids; this is what you see burning in pictures of lithium batteries that catch fire. Replacing liquid electrolytes by a polymer or gel electrolyte should improve safety and lead to an all-solid-state cell,”
said Professor Peter Bruce from the University of St Andrews, who was not involved in the study. Continue Reading

Osama bin Laden Used USB Flash Drives To Stay Current

Unless you’ve been living under a rock the last 7 days, we all know Osama bin Laden was killed on May 1, 2011 by US Special Forces. Reading through many articles that week, it’s interesting to learn the al Qaeda leader kept quite and under the radar for nearly 5 years by living in a solid wall compound and without direct cable access, TV access, internet access. The only direct access bin Laden had was a radio. That said, Osama bin Laden kept current with the outside world by use of flash drives. It was reported his trusted courier would shuffle USB flash drives between his compound and the outside world to communicate, send message and negotiate with the al Queda terrorist group. During the attack on Monday May 2nd the Special Forces recovered nearly 1000 thumb drives which contained all sorts of information about bin Laden and his relationship with al Qaeda organization. What is also interesting is the level of hypocrisy bin Laden had. Along with the report of flash drives – which you can only assume many of them where made by US companies – bin Laden also had Coca Cola brought to his compound as well. It seems extremely hypocritical for a terrorist who’s sworn his life to avenge all American’s, yet indulges in US products during his day-to-day existence. With the hundreds of USB flash drives now in the hands of the Special Forces we should learn a lot more about the habits, plans and leaders of the al Qaeda network. Glad bin Laden is gone from our world. Continue Reading

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