Ultimate gizmos and kit for USB C to USB A/USB 3.0 mixed lifestyles

Ok for the true power geek, here are the USB C accessories you need. The main things to do are to look for cables with USB-IF certified and e-Marker chips and take the advice on sorting your cable capabilities by length since USB C cables all look the same but have very different speed differences. Don’t be the guy who thinks he is getting $30 100 watts power delivery and 40Gbps speed when he buys a $3 cable that is really 15 watts and 480Mbps.

  1. Silicon Power Swivel C80 USB C/USB A USB 3.0 flash drive. What a great idea, it has a solid metal ring so is durable like the Kingston’s we love, but it is reversible so perfect for the transition to USB C. At $70 for two 64GB drives it’s a real bargain. Not super fast, but super convenient particularly with the key fob ring.
  2. Cable Matters 72 watt USBC/USB c charger. Ok, this gives you 60 watts out of the single USB C so it can power our MacBook Pro. While not quite the 87 watts that you get with the big MacBook Pro 15 charger it has some huge advantages: a) half the price,  b) it uses a standard extension cord and is only two prongs, so easy to go international, c) it has four USB 3.1 traditional ports for charger your cell phone etc.
  3. USB C female to USB A male adapter  and USB A/USB 3.0 male to USB C male Adapter. This is super confusing, but there are two cables you need. It’s confusing, but the first cable let’s you plus a new USB C cable into an old USB A charger or computer like the charger above. The second let’s you plug an old USB A cable into a new USB C charger or computer.
  4. uNi USB C 100 watts/480Mbps 6m with USB-IF certified e-Marker cable. These are half the price of Apple’s and pretty reliable. Just be aware that not all USB C cables are created equal. Our little algorithm is all cables we buy at 2 meters are the same, they are 100 watts/480Mbps. Whatever you get make sure it says it has a true e-Marker chip that manages the power cable (yes power cables in USB C have chips that tell the charge device which pins do what, in USB C, a pair can carry 5-20amps at 5 volts) and they have different transmission rates (480Mbps USB 2 speed, 10Mbps USB 3.1 and 40Mbps at Thunderbolt 3)
  5. Skiva USB C 100 watts/10Gbps 1 meter USB 3.1 Gen 2 cable. then all cables we buy at 1 meter are special, they are full poe delivery and USB 3.1 data rates. These by the way are half the price of Apple at $12.
  6. Cable Matters Thunderbolt 3 40Gbps USB-IF certified 0.5m Cable. Get these in 0.5 meter are 100 watts/40Gbps. Otherwise you will get hopelessly confused. As an aside, 0.5 meters is the maximum length for 40Mbps.
  7. Apple Thunderbolt 3/USB C to thunderbolt 2 adapter. Ok, on the list of things if you have older Thunderbolt 2 disk drives, this converts from 40GBps Thunderbolt 2 to 20GBps Thunderbolt 2 and the mini-Displayport compatible connector. Note that an identical looking cable does USB C to miniDisplayPort, but this is not compatible. Argh!



Good coffee

Well if you don’t just want to go to your neighborhood Starbucks, what if you want really great coffee. Well, we tried olive reviews online, so why not try coffeereview.com. This is one of those sites where I’m not sure how legit it is, but for a $15 investment, it’s worth it to find out. They mainly review small roasters around the country and the single origin coffees seem pretty interesting. Here are some in the good value category.

That is not $60 for four ounces, but more like $15 plus $5 shipping for 8 ounces:

  • Topeca Coffee. Well this is probably the first thing I’ve ever mail ordered from Tulsa. Their Finca El Gauma is top rated at 94/100 points. This is a “seed-to-cup” vertically integrated family. business, they have farms in Colombia and retail in the US.
  • JBC Roasters. A local Madison Wisconsin family owned business, we tried the Tano Batak Sumatra

Super soakers

Well it’s summer so if you need some fun , then the Wirecutter did a nice review of soakers, the sad thing is that original pressurized soakers are no more. Laramie got acquired by Hasbro and they stopped making them and prevented peopleprevented peoplehttp://www.isoaker.com/Info/2015/01/20150102-super-soaker-is-dead.php from using their patent. Sad!

  • Nerf SquallNerf Squall. Lots of quality problems, but at $6 does it really matter? Not a big stream of water
  • Stream Machine. These are very simple so more likely to work forever.

Unifi AP AC square reboot themselves

We’ve had really great luck with Unifi and the access points are cheap and easy to manage. Now that there are mesh systems, perhaps this will change (the Eero is supposed to be great), but for the price, nothing is as good.

However, as we added more users and intensity, suddenly the “square” Unifi AP AC has started to crash. Ashe ” I’ve not had to turn on debugging, here are notes on things to do:

  1. Get the Cloudkey, this is a $80 mini computer that runs the Unifi controller, so you can always monitor the APs remotely. At that price, it is hard to ignore
  2. To do debugging, you can look at the Unifi logs and we see that the UAP AP AC are rebooting under heavy load as much as every 15 minutes. This doesn’t seem like it’s a problem with the round ones. I recall the square ones used different chips and never quite fit in. Beside being very hot.
  3. Make sure you lower their loads, by lowering their transmit power, we moved them to “low” which seemed to help and add more AP ACs as it seemed load dependent. The access points with say less demand seem to work fine.
  4. And yes we upgraded to the latest firmware and controller software.
  5. In looking at this, I realized that I had not configured them well, at home, where it is relatively quiet setting them up for “automatic” and very wide channels (HT40 at 2.4GHz and VHT80 at 5GHz) seems to work great, but at work, there is lots of interference, so according to the forums, it makes sense to force sectorization and go to “low” power and narrow channels (HT20 for 2.4GHz and VHT40 for 5GHz). Then you can put them closer together.

The solution seems to be to move to the “round” APs and there are couple of new choices:

  1. Gen 3 or the Unifi AP HD has arrived. Although $300, these are 4x MU-MIMO and with the latest MacBook 2016, you can get 1.4Gbps out of them. To do this, you need a pair of Ethernet cables and you have to bond them, but the work.
  2. Gen 2 or Unifi AP AC Pro is the direct replacement and is nice for low noise
  3. Unifi AC Lite is lower power and then you can get really low cost for each room kind of Wifi, not a bad choice and very cheap. This means you have to have Ethernet in each room though.
  4. Unifi AP AC LR for outdoors and big distances.

Net, net, the recommendation is to move off the square APs, they have lasted four years, so maybe that’s the life, get the new circular ones and a Cloud Key for each site.

The hunt for a X299 or X399 successor to ASUS X99-WS

We’ve had good luck with the Haswell-E Xeon 1650 v3 with the ASUS X99-WS motherboard. We get a full 16 lanes of PCIe to four slots and it is very fast. Plus it has ECC for all the memory we have added. These have been great for machine learning, for computer simulation of cars and for compiling custom Linux builds.

But now with the big processors coming out it’s time to see what the alternatives are:

Intel X299

This is the logical successor, the new HEDT (high end desktop) line seems tailor made for machine learning and training. But we need something with all those lanes as we either put in four GPUs or lots of fast SSD disks on PCI Express. PC Parts Picker has a good list of available motherboards.

AMD Ryzen

The other option is to look at the new Ryzen line or even their Epyx. This has an incredible number of cores and seems to work very well for highly threaded things and paired with the very fast nVidia GTX 1080 could really be contender particularly given the lanes.



Never say No to would you like your to return next time it is connect to your Mac

OK, I had a whole bunch of spurious network adapters stuck in my macOS Sierra network preferences, so I deleted them expected that USB discover would bring them back. Well, I then got a strange error message:

Would you like <Insert name of adapter> to return next time it is connected to your Mac?

Not understanding what this meant, I just said, NO.

Well what it means is that the next time you say plug that thing in, it will not show up on your Mac, so I don’t know when you would ever say yes to this.

The solution to this is pretty message and it involves blowing away a plist (property list). Specifically you need to start terminal and do a:

sudo rm /Library/Preferences/SystemConfiguration/NetworkInterfaces.plist