Google Slides tricks

I’ve been using Google Slides quite a bit lately and I’ll be on to Office365 next, but here are some power user tips:

  1. The themes are really powerful, but you can many themes with the same name. There is an invisible GUID for themes, so when you are confused about formatting turn on the themes and then click on the “In this Presentation” button, you will probably see many themes of the same name. If you delete all but one, then things will be sane again.
  2. Deleting lists. Lists in this product are really strange. You can add them with the GUI, but there appears to be no way to get rid of lists. In a slide, you can use a keyboard shortcut, CMD-SHIFT-7 but this does not work in a theme. Very strange.
  3. Images are really easy. You just go and give it any link, but the tricky thing is you can actually crop images to shapes. Just click on the crop icon on the right and you will see you can crop to any shape. It is not in the format images menu though so hard to find.

Amazon Prime Photos doesn’t quite work for me

Well they now allow unlimited photos with an Amazon Prime account and you can share your high resolution photos with up to five family members. It does sound like the ideal backup strategy. But here are the problems:

  1. Live Photos. They still have a 5GB limit for videos and other storage, unless you pay $59 a year. The problem is that I have mixed my videos and photos all together and live photos have a video component, so you pretty quickly get hit that limit.
  2. They rename the photos! OK, this matters mainly to me because the actual names of the photos have meta data for me. That is, they will often have the name of the camera and also once the photos get renamed, you cannot just download them and use it as a straight backup, you either pickup Amazon’s scheme or not.

Anyway, continuing to look for a good photos sharing solution. As I said before iCloud Photo sharing isn’t bad but limits the photos to 4Mp. Amazon doesn’t but renames files. Still looking for something that is relatively free!

Ubiquiti Edgerouter Lite

I’ve been meaning to put a real router into the house for a while. You really want something that can handle 2M packets/second (why, I don’t know) but more importantly something that is reliable. Previously I had used the Linksys WRT-54G (which dates me!) and I found that under heavy load it would crash and hang. Even with DD-WRT installed.

For a long time i’ve been recommending Airport Extremes because they just seem to work, but now that Apple is out of the business, it seems like a good time to reconsider. There are two big features:

  1. Reliability. Making sure there is enough memory in the thing to keep it from crashing
  2. Failover. Having two internet connection particularly in an office is a good idea. So I have both the Edgerouter Lite and also the Linksys small business version.

Here’s a list of what I found:

  1. Make sure to plug the computer into the ETH0 port as that is the configuration one. The other ones will not respond to
  2. Edgerouter is more of an enterprise thing but the Quickstart is pretty clear, so first thing I discovered it that it came with version 1.2, so none of the guide are correct at the Ubiquiti site. I see that 1.9 is the current version
  3. There is no place in the UI for the router to update the firmware that’s obvious but looking at it, you actually click on a tab at the *bottom* of the screen called system (what a strange place to put this) and then scroll all the way to the bottom and then you can upload a file. go to the ubiquiti site first and get the latest tar. it looks like it needs ssh commands to do this. Which is actually easier to understand. It does need a connection to the outside world to do this though, so kind of hard to configure. Once nice thing is they let you have two firmware versions, so if an update fails, you can recover.
  4. Now I tried the load balancing wizard and the router seemed to just hang. You have to switch to ETH2 as the LAN port, but fortunately reset is easy. On the next try, I got the connection for a little bit and DHCP seemed to work but then I got the message could not load router configuration. The main issue seems to be that you have to wait a while for the configuration to take effect. You can’t just refresh the browser.
  5. When this is finally setup, then there is a new error, the router works, but I get “cannot read router configuration” when browsing to the web ui. It looks like you have to close Safari at least and then you can see the Web UI.
  6. Finally remember that user names are case sensitive, so the user name Rich is the not the same as rich

USB C cable recommendations; aka do not destroy your phone or laptop

Ok there are real problems with after market cables particular with USB C.


USB C, unlike other USB cables, are not created equal. Some only have six wires in them, some have 24, some have the right passive electronics (pull up resistors) and some have the right active electronics (e-mark), so you need to read reviews careful and grade cables by:

  1. USB IF certified. Ignore the Amazon reviews, search for this or search for Bensen Leung’s list.
  2. Power carrying. Cables carry a limited set of power, the most of 100 Watts, the least is 15 watts, mark this on your cable.
  3. Data carrying. Cables vary from 480Mbps to 40GBps
  4. Length. The longer the cable, the less data they carry

Decoder Ring

It used to be pretty easy. A cable had a set protocol and speed. However with USB C it support multiple and very different protocols over the same connector. USB really seven separate factors you need to consider:

  1. Connector type.The connectors on each end which typically use letters to identify themselves.  In the beginning there was USB A (the familiar rectangular thingy) and less common USB B (big and square) and then a host of smaller ones. Mini-USB and micro-USB.
  2. Connector genders. USB has traditionally been asymmetric and non-reversible. So the most common cable would be a male USB A with a female micro-USB for most cell phones. With USB C for the first time the two ends are asymmetric and reversible.
  3. Protocol and speeds. Over the wires there have been a host of speeds with really confusing names. So there is USB 2.0 or 480MBps, USB Superspeed aka USB 3.0 or 5Gbps. USB Superspeed+ aka USB 3.1 Gen 2 or 10GBps. And with USB C there is something called alternate mode so you can put other protocols through. Notably for video you can feed it HDMI 1.4 or 10Gbps or HDMI 2.0 or 20Gbps. You need 2.0 to get 60 hertz 4k. And also now Thunderbolt 2 at 20Gbps or 3 at 40Gbps. Confused yet?
  4. Length. In general the faster the protocol the shorter the length. It’s easy to get 4 meter USB 2.0 cables but USB 3.1 10Gbps is limited to 1 meter and Thunderbolt 3 to 0.5m. So one size cable does not fit all
  5. Power carrying for phone. The original USB 2 was limited to 250mA at 5V. Then this was bumped to 500mA then 2A and finally to 2.4A and there is a proprietary Qualcomm 3A specifications called quick charge. So this is how you 10 watt chargers (5V x 2A) or 15 watt (5V x 3A). For these 5V systems, the big problem is that cables need a 56 Kohm resister to signal what they can carry and many off brands do not.
  6. Power for laptops. With USB 3 the voltages are also negotiated from 5V to 20V. Not all cables can carry the full 100 watts per the specification (20V x 5 amps), some are limited to 60 watts so beware of that as well. The MacBook Pro 15″ late 2016 needs 87 watts for instance.
  7. Certification USB IF and emark. This means it has been tested. If it is has an emark chip then it is active and works longer.

Follow Benson Leung to get the scoop but basically bad power can destroy electronics. And you also to really understand how much data you want to push though.

  1. USB C to USB A. These connect your old USB charger the problem is that the cheap ones do not use 56K pull-up resistors, so can draw too much power and burn out your phone.
  2. USB c to USB c and USB c chargers . The new standard has variable voltage. So for phones it can be 5V by 2-3 amps but for laptops it can negotiate to 10V, 15V or even 20v at 5 amps. However some cables and chargers do not correctly set the voltage and will destroy your electronics.
  3. Full featured USB C vs USB 2.0 There seem to be differences in USB c cables because they support are USB 2, 3 and 3.1 Gen 2 in transfer speeds. That is 480Mbps, 5Gbps and 10Gbps (highspeed, Superspeed, Superspeed+). And of course now there is thunderbolt using the same connector at 40Gb. So net net u want USB c with USB 3.1 and all those extra wires. Because this thing is high data rate it is hard to get cables longer than 1M in full featured. Full featured also allows some wires to be used in alternate mode so it can drive a display.
  4. USB c For thunderbolt 2 and 3. These are even faster at 20Gbps and 40Gbps so u again need special cables. Even Apple doesn’t have a TB3 cable but startech makes a 0.5m cable which is the max length for 40Gbps. Or you need an cable active electronics to go farther. And for displays you have 10Gbps for DP 1.4 and HDMI 1.x but need 20GBps for DP 2 and HDMI 2 and 4kp60. And this alternate mode is so new that some cables do not work with certain laptops. Ao make sure your model has been verified to work.

Net, net here are some cables that you can try.

  1. For phones: USB C for USB 2 at 480Mbps and 15 watts. Use cables and chargers from Apple or Google. Note that the apple cable is only rated at Highspeed USB 3 or 480mbps. These are $19 from Apple or just $5 from VCE.  Troll Benson’s links to see what works but his list of recommended phone cables is on an Amazon wish list that works for mobile phones.
  2. For laptops 1 meter at 100 watts and full 10GBps: USB C for USB 3.1 Gen 2 at 10Gbps and 100 watts. And Startech JUX01 which is 10Gbps with 100 watts charging which Nathan likes (a trusted reviewer) at $24.
  3. For laptops 2 meters at 100 watt only: I’m having trouble finding anything but the $20 cables from Apple which supply the full 100 watts at 2 meters.
  4. For laptops at 2 meters that need only 60 watts. Choetech for $15 which has only 60 watts for $15.
  5. For SSD to a laptop. USB C for USB 3.1 Gen 2 at 10Gbps and 15 watts. There is also Amazon has the Belkin as highly rated example for $13-15 in 2 meter length but only support 15 watt sharing, so best for connecting a peripheral like an SSD for instance to a laptop and getting power from the laptop.
  6. For disk array to a laptop. USB C for TB3 for 40Gbps and 60 watts. I haven’t found testing for it but u will need a different cable set for TB3. StarTech cost $20 for 0.5m and a terminated with USB C on both sides and supports 60 watts for laptops (so not quite enough for a 15″ MBP 2016) and 150  watts for phones (e.g. 5V only). It is not e-marked though.USB
  7. For UHD 4K display at 60 hertz to a laptop. The main issue here is making sure it supports 5K or 4K displays at 60 hertz. So for a USB C for DP 2  for 18Gbps, the Cable Matters seems to work with a full DisplayPort. Then Pluggable has a USB C to HDMI 2.0 for 18Gbps that also supports 4kp60 but it is not MBP 2016 compatible. Note that Apple’s own adapter does not support 4Kp60.
  8. For ethernet to a laptop. Cable Matters makes a 1Gbps Ethernet that seems pretty decent.
  9. As a one connection docking station with HDMI at 30 hertz for UHD. The right one hasn’t seem to have been invented yet but I would say a single connection that is 40GBps USB C that breaks out Ethernet (1Gbps), 4Kp60 video (18Gbps), SD card reader (5Gbps) and some passthrough USB A and C Ports would be great. There is enough bandwidth at 40Gbps to do this, but most do not support 4Kp60 yet or the full 100 watt passthrough. Satechi or Juiced Systems at $75 is the closest with 4kp30 and about 60 watts passed through..

The confusing thing for consumers is that all look the same so get your label makers out and mark the cables with the power they can carry for phones (15W), for laptops (100W) and data rates (480, 5Gb or 10Gb). Wow that is going to confuse lots of people.

More bloggers from

Well, the family the blogs together has the most fun together. Here’s a list of everyone who is blogging. I don’t know how up to date, but we definitely have the domain names covered:


Well it seems like it is that time of year again. Got two questions on backups. Here’s the short story

  1. If you are using a USB flash drive to backup your precious photos please stop! That’s not super reliable. Instead get a $120 hard disk backup at least. Wirecutter has a good recommendation. Why a real hard drive. Well SSDs are fast but if you don’t plug them into the wall every year or so they will lose all data. They are electronics after all. 

  2. Use a tool like Dropbox, google photos or apple iCloud to automatically suck your photos and documents into the cloud. These work well and for most folks that is enough. 

  3. The next step up is to just have everything trickle fed to the cloud. Crashplan works well for me and is pretty much invisible. 

Mazdaspeed3 specification

I’ve been trying to use Harry’s Lap Timer and need the detailed specifications for a 2008 Mazdaspeed3. Here are the detailed specifications and some of the more obscure ones that these performance telemetry applications want:

Volumetric Efficiency: This a measure of how what percentage fuel goes in, it varies by RPM and many parameters. 12%

Drivetrain efficiency: This is how much loss there is between shaft horsepower and power applied to the ground. In this car it is quite efficient 262 horsepower gets you to 242 horsepower on the ground or 8%


Type: turbocharged and intercooled inline-4, aluminum block and head
Bore x stroke: 3.44 x 3.70 in, 87.5 x 94.0mm
Displacement: 138 cu in, 2261cc
Compression ratio: 9.5:1
Fuel-delivery system: direct injection
Turbocharger: Hitachi-Warner K04
Maximum boost pressure: 15.6 psi
Valve gear: chain-driven double overhead cams, 4 valves per cylinder, variable intake-valve timing
Power (SAE net): 263 bhp @ 5500 rpm
Torque (SAE net): 280 lb-ft @ 3000 rpm
Redline: 6700 rpm

Transmission: 6-speed manual
Final-drive ratio: gears 1-4, 3.94:1; gears 5-6, 3.35:1; limited slip

Gear: Ratio Mph/1000 rpm Speed in gears (max rpm)

  1. 3.54 5.3 36 mph (6700 rpm)
  2. 2.24 8.4 56 mph (6700 rpm)
  3. 1.54 12.2 82 mph (6700 rpm)
  4. 1.17 16.0 107 mph (6700 rpm)
  5. 1.09 20.4 136 mph (6700 rpm)
  6. 0.85 25.9 155 mph (6000 rpm)

Wheelbase: 103.9 in
Track, front/rear: 60.4/60.0 in
Length/width/height: 176.8/69.5/57.7 in
Ground clearance: 4.8 in
Drag area, Cd (0.32) x frontal area (25.5 sq ft, est): 8.2 sq ft
Curb weight: 3180 lb
Weight distribution, F/R: 63.5/36.5%
Curb weight per horsepower: 12.1 lb
Fuel capacity: 14.5 gal

Type: unit construction with a rubber-isolated crossmember
Body material: welded steel stampings

SAE volume, front seat: 51 cu ft
rear seat: 44 cu ft
cargo, seats up/down: 17/43 cu ft
Front-seat adjustments: fore-and-aft, seatback angle; driver only: rear height, lumbar support
Restraint systems, front: manual 3-point belts; driver and passenger front, side, and curtain airbags
rear: manual 3-point belts, curtain airbags

Front: ind, strut located by a control arm, coil springs, anti-roll bar
Rear: ind; 1 trailing arm, 2 lateral links, and 1 toe-control link per side; coil springs; anti-roll bar

Type: rack-and-pinion with electrohydraulic power assist
Steering ratio: 14.7:1
Turns lock-to-lock: 2.7
Turning circle curb-to-curb: 36.1 ft

Type: hydraulic with vacuum power assist and anti-lock control
Front: 12.6 x 1.0-in vented disc
Rear: 11.0 x 0.4-in disc

Wheel size/type: 7.0 x 18 in/cast aluminum
Tires: Bridgestone Potenza RE050A, 215/45R-18 93Y
Test inflation pressures, F/R: 33/32 psi
Spare: high-pressure compact on steel wheel

MacOS Finder Problems and Tips

OK, here some  of the common problems I’ve had with MacOS:

  1. MacOS Sierra seems to have developed this, when copying (but not moving) files on  a Synology NAS, I get the dreaded Can't move files, the required files cannot be found. Error code -43
  2. When you try to delete in the Trash, you get the same error.
  3. When you are on your network and connect to a Network drive, it gives a drive not found message.
  4. The file is in use when you are trying to copy on a network drive.

The problem to each of these appears to be to kill Option Right click on Finder and choose Relaunch or kill it from the Activity Monitor with a force quit or logout and back and it should work again.

MacOS and Mac Bluetooth Keyboard flakiness

I always have trouble the first time I try to pair my Mac bluetooth keyboards. Here’s a quick guide to what you have to do:

  1. Most of the time the device isn’t visible. You should check the single LED light. If it is fast blinking, then the keyboard or mouse is not paired and you should be able to see it
  2. To actually see it, you need to go to System Preferences/Bluetooth and wait for it to appear. Many times it just doesn’t appear no matter what I do.
  3. One problem is that the keyboard only pairs with one particular device. For me, I forget which keyboard goes to which computers so you need to reset the keyboard so that it pairs. The way to tell is if you get a slow blink rate rather than fast. Here’s how to reset one. Take the batteries out (this only works for the older keyboards obviously, not the new ones with the embedded battery). This resets it. Then put the batteries back in and hold down the power button. Don’t let it go. You will see the LED go solid then go to fast blink. You should now see it in the Bluetooth menu.
  4. If you do then try to pair if it says “Pairing failed” or doesn’t connect, then you should try to turn the Bluetooth on and off on the Mac. Sometimes, the bluetooth driver stack gets hung.