When your Valentine One doesn’t power on

Ok this must truly be the dumbest thing I’ve ever done. We have a brand new radar detector and it mysteriously stopped working. Turns out that the lighter adapter has a mini-blade 2 amp fuse in it. There is a easy to push button which releases it.

So next time your Valentine doesn’t work, look in your glove compartment for a fuse down at the bottom. You insert it in and give it a firm push. Oops!

Building an AMD Ryzen Compile Machine

OK, a few folks have asked me what the best machine is for compiling things like the Linux kernel. Turns out the answer isn’t super intuitive, but the new AMD Ryzen has just been a monster at doing this. They have more cores and more threads, ECC for big memory and overclocking. All things that Intel charges buckets for. So what if you want to build a machine like this, what do you have to know:

  1. Processors. The Ryzen 8 core is one of the fastest linux compiles known at $800. And the Rizen 5 1700x is a real value leader at $200 for six cores. All of these overclock by the way, so you can expect perhaps 20% more performance. The machines also support ECC, so just make sure you have this support in the motherboard. With even 32GB of memory, you will get soft failures.
  2. Motherboard. Since you do not need SLI, the B350 is a fine board. Moreover, they support ECC if you look closely such as the ASUS Prime B350-A/CSM (although this has reliability and firmware issues according to Newegg) and B350-PLUS both supported unbuffered ECC. The ASRock AB350M Pro also supports ECC and has good reviews. It also has a native USB C/USB 3.1 connector and a single M.2 NVMe socket. The only thing missing is onboard Wifi (there are no mATX or mITX boards with wifi yet for Rizen)
  3. Memory. The Ryzen boards like fast memory, DDR4-2666 typically works and you can overclock to DDR4-3200. Note that with Ryzen, memory works in multiples of 233MHz. ECC usually is a little slower but more robust. On the qualification list for the ASRock AB350M Pro QVL they have a DDR4-2400 but only 4GB RAM sticks. It only supports unbuffered (non-registered) ECC, so density will be lower. Most unregistered memory is 1x4GB so you get a maximum of 16GB. If you try to get the 8GB sticks then you are limited to DDR4-2166, so that’s the tradeoff. Right now, if you only need 16GB, then you fully populate with 4x4GB and get to DDR4-2400. If you think you need more like 32GB then you use 4x8GB and are running slower at DDR4-2166. But there seem to ASRock support on Reddit but also  problems with 16GB ECC. Rymem is a great resource too, but most people don’t use ECC. There is some thoughts that you need to use single sided (single rank)ram to make it all work. In fact, single rank memory is faster so, the fastest 8GB dual rank is DDR4-240 vs DDR4-2666 for single rank. The system also slows again with four memory cars, where the maximums are 1866 for dual rank x 4 memory cards and 2133 for 4 single rank memory cards. In the end since 16GB is the most you can get with ECC memory, it’s not clear it is worth it compared with 16GB of DDR4-2600 memory. It’s simple with 32 or 64GB of RAM. For overclockers the suite spots use Samsung B-die like the G.Skill Trident RGB or the Corsair Vengance LPK 16GB C16 which overclock well to 2933 to 3200 or even 3500.
  4. Cases. This is a compile machine and it won’t have lots of disk, a simple mATX desktop should be enough. A Rosewill $24 can is enough.
  5. Video. Since Ryzen doesn’t have onboard video, you need a simple video card, There is a $28 dollar Radeon card that should suffice. But the case is big enough to support a big graphics card if you want to put one in. SLI isn’t supported, but there is room for dual graphics cards with one used for machine learning if you want. If you want a decent card for display the GTX 1060 is a good value at $250 vs the premium priced $780 GTX 1080Ti
  6. Wifi. Since this is mATX, then you can put a card directly into the box.
  7. SSDs. For a compilation machine, just having some fast SSDs is the trick. Ideall two one for m.2 and then another for the SATA m.2 socket.

 

How not to lose money with your NY MetroCard

OK, I don’t know how many New York Subway cards I have that have expired, so here are two solutions:

  1. If you have an expired MetroCard with money in it, take it to the subway station and they will give you a new card for free.
  2. EasyPay. If you don’t get there often enough, use EasyPay so that you have a subway MetroCard tied to automatic credit card replenishment. As an aside, use a card like Chase Sapphire Reserve with 3x bonuses for transportation.

Portable Battery Packs

Ok, so you’ve got a MacBook Pro and you need a battery pack, the main issues are:

  1. For the older MacBooks, getting something with a Magsafe connector.
  2. For the MacBook 2016 and later, you need something that does high speed USB C charging. Most chargers will charge at 5V x 2A or 10 watts, but these machine needs more like 60 watt for the smaller ones or 86 watts for the 15″ MacBook Pros.
  3. Your Windows laptop with a proprietary connector

Here are some good choices:

  1. BixPower 12V and 19V output with multiple tips. These work  with laptops with different inputs. So that you don’t have to up convert and downconvert them.
  2. RavPower USB C Battery Pack. For MacBook Pro 2016 and later, This supports up to 30W recharging, so not quite 10 watts, but about 3 times faster.
  3. Lizone QC Battery and Lizone 5 pin to MaBook Pro 2015 or earlier. This connects a Lizone battery directly to the a MacBook, they use a proprietary 5 pin, but they do have a Magsafe adapter.
  4. Chargetech AC Outlet Battery Pack. The most expensive option at $200 plus, but this has an inverter, so you can plug in anything that needs AC power up to 87 watts. It is also not as efficient as DC-to-DC but the faster charger of all.

Keyboards for Programmers

There’s no doubt that if you are typing 12 hours a day, having a crappy keyboard is really frustrating. 

A few quick notes. While the Apple keyboards for instance do work are OK, the true aficionado needs a mechanical keyboard.

So here are some reviews. Hobgear is one person’s view. Note that these are “compact” keyboards, so have 87 keys (no number pad) and you can carry them around. There are also 101-key with the number pad which is useful for some types of work (like Ubuntu with the way it does keyboard Grid switching). But they are less portable. For those, the Corsair K70 is a great choice fyi.

  1. Filco Ninja Magestouch. This is the top rated one. The so called ten keyless version is light and its a little unusual in that the keycaps are on the front, so you don’t type on them. It’s $150 for the ten keyless with Cherry Brown (these are smooth actuation) or $135 for Cherry Blue (my favorite, these are noisy and clicks, but feel definite).
  2. CM Storm QuickFire Rapid. It’s nice because it has a few keycap pullers. As an aside, on the Mac keyboard, the CTRL, Option and Delete keys are different. You can use a simple keyboard remapper to fix this. It’s quite a bit cheaper and nearly the same performance at $95 for the Brown.
  3. WASD Keyboards CODE. These are Cherry Blue or Brown and they have a DIP switch so the keyboard mapping works. It also has LED Backlighting which I actually kind of like. It’s $145.

 

Good deals on gift cards

Well a few tricks here to double dip:

  1. Cashbackmonitor.com doesn’t work on gift cards mainly because they are largely excluded from rebates.
  2. However, MileagePlus X is explicitly all about gift cards, so check there first for deals. As an example AMC is a 5x bonus with a 25% additional bonus if you hold a United Visa card. That means 6x on any purchase.
  3. If they don’t have it you can try Granny Gift Card. Yes that’s a name and look for other sites with cards. There is more risk here in that these are often times physical cards sold by random people, so beware.
  4. For 2% of so discounts, use cashbackmonitor.com to click through to eBay.com and look for an e-card there. If it is from PayPal, you can be pretty sure it is legit.
  5. Once you have an e-gift card, then you can use it at a portal like United MileagePlus or on Cashbackmonitor as they don’t care about the form of payment.

When FileVault forgets

Sometimes when you boot your MacBook particularly in some recovery modes it will forget the cached FileVault credentials. You then get thrown into a strange mode where it says it forgets and asks for FileVault password. And says you forgot your password. 

Actually it’s not you. It’s the macOS which has lost the encrypted disk credentials

Of course you don’t have it because you never got to type It in. What you need to do is just type in I forgot my password and then you login with your Apple ID. 

It will then recover your FileVault is from iCloud and then ask you to type in a new login password. Then on reboot all will be good. 

Buying from Nike, get a 28x Mileage bonus

OK, this is a little convoluted, but Happy Fathers Day here is how it works (hat tip to TPG) but here’s some documentation on a promotion that ended June 16, keep on the look out for more, but the basic idea is you find a retailer that is on both the United Portal and also where you can buy an egift card on their mobile application:

  1. Buy through the mileage plus shopping portal for 15x the normal rate. Note that you can use any form of payment to do this, just click through the portal. That’s basically 30% off right from the start through June 16
  2. If you spend $150 then you get an additional 500 miles (so 3x multiplier, an additional 6%) through June 23.
  3. If you use the Mileage Plus X application then you can buy a Nike gift card for 10x off and use this for the above purchase.
  4. If you have a United credit card, then this purchase above is multiplied by 10% more.

So doing all the math, this promotion is 15x + 3x + (10x *1.1) = 28x and at 1.7 cents value thats an amazing 47% off.