OWC USB-C Dock

If you have a USB-C equipped computer, then you really need to check this out!

I’ve been a notebook junkie since the early 1990’s when Windows 3.1 and Windows 3.11 for Workgroups was all the rage. Back then, I started out with an 8088 and did my best to make the hardware stretch as far as it could. I did more with underpowered, but more affordable hardware, than most people considered prudent… but it was what I could afford, and it was what I had to do to get the job done. My desire was not just to do more with less, but to be able to do everything that a desktop PC could do, but I wanted to do it with a unit that I could also take out and about with me.

When I had a family member approach me recently with a request to find them a better Mac, my thoughts immediately went to the Mid-2017 MacBook Pro with TouchBar. They wanted a 15″ device, as they wanted the bigger screen and the somewhat larger – or wider spaced – keyboard. The device was going to have all of the newest hardware, but it did have one big problem – USB-C ports. And ONLY USB-C ports…

This is where things got a bit tricky. The newer MacBook Pro’s only have USB-C ports. Period. They don’t have any other wired connectivity at all. While they do have Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, and connect well to higher bandwidth devices as well as Bluetooth powered accessories, wired LAN connections, memory card readers, flash drives and other USB accessories, as well as monitors, etc. aren’t possible without some kind of adapter or dongle. While this may be ok for occasional connectivity issues while you’re away from your home or corporate office, when you’re actually in a formal, office setting, it’s a pain in the butt.

Enter the OWC USB-C Dock.

ports-front

The OWC USB-C Dock works with any USB-C powered computer. It features 10 ports to handle all of your connectivity needs:

• 4 USB 3.1 ports with USB-A connectors, including 2 high power capacity ports (one on the front and one on the back)
• 1 USB 3.1 port with USB-C connector (on the back)
• 1 SD Card Slot
• 1 Gigabit Ethernet Port
• 1 USB-C powered PC connector Port (marked with a laptop over it)
• 1 HDMI Port
• 1 Audio out port
• A DC In, 20v/ 4A connector (required to power the dock, its connected peripherals and the computer)

ports-back

You should note the following – This dock
• WILL support video connectors/ dongles that support an HDMI pass through
• Will NOT support Thunderbolt 3 connections through its USB-C port. If you want that, you’re going to need a different dock.
• Does NOT have a miniDisplay Port connection
• MAY support a miniDisplay Port connection via a dongle connected to its one, single USB-C port.

Then again, I may just need to use an existing USB-C Port on the MacBook Pro for my miniDisplay Port powered 27″ 2011 Apple Cinema Display.

Currently, this dock is unfortunately giving me a bit of a hard time.

It comes with a USB-C cable that goes from the computer to a specific port on the back of the dock. It’s clearly marked, and I’ve got the included cable plugged in there and the other end in my MacBook Pro.

Unfortunately, the green data connection light doesn’t come on. I’ve tried a different cable. I’ve tried different USB-C ports on the notebook. The dock simply won’t make a data connection with my Mid 2017 15″ MacBook Pro.

As of this writing, I’ve got a note out to OWC looking for an answer as to why. It may be that you simply can’t use the USB-C Dock with a USB-C port that is Thunderbolt 3 compatible. It may be that you must use OWC’s Thunderbolt 3 Dock with any USB-C powered MacBook Pro.

Unfortunately, I don’t know, as of this writing, I have yet to hear back from OWC; and I’ve been waiting on an answer since 2017-09-11. As soon as I hear back from them, I will update this review with their answer.

Unfortunately, until that time, this dock is a bit of a dud for me. I don’t have any other USB-C powered computers to try this with.

This should be a slam dunk; as everything else that I’ve ever gotten from OWC has been awesome. The build quality of the dock is out of this world. Its solid. Its well-built; but unless I have a defective unit, it simply doesn’t work with EVERY USB-C powered notebook available today.
Again, as soon as I hear back from OWC, I’ll post a quick update to this review, and hopeful have some information on peripheral connectivity as well.

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WinSetupFromUSB

winsetupfromusbInstall Windows from a USB Stick!

Installing Windows isn’t as easy as it used to be. Back in the day, all you needed to do was stick a CD or DVD in your optical drive, turn the PC on, and let it rip. Windows usually installed and was ready to go in under an hour. Today, it isn’t as easy. Many PC’s no longer have optical drives; and its not as convenient to carry optical discs as it was years ago. Today, USB or thumb drives area LOT easier to carry and often have tons more space than a CD or even DVD. Installing or even reinstalling Windows is a lot easier when you can put the install files on a thumb drive, but its not always easy to get your computer to boot from that drive. Thankfully, with WinSetupFromUSB, it’s a lot easier. It’s a cool utility for your Windows PC.

WSFU-02

If you want or need to have your Windows setup files with you on the go, this is a cool little utility to help you put it together on a USB or thumb drive. Install the utility, mount your ISO file as a drive on your PC and then format the thumb drive with a single partition. The tool will help you format the thumb drive and make it bootable

After your drive is formatted and ready, you specify the location of your Windows source/install files (the ISO you mounted earlier) and specify the destination as your formatted thumb drive. You then let the app copy all of the files to the thumb drive. You can even test the drive in QEMU, a specialized process emulator.

I had trouble getting the application to work. The tool wouldn’t complete the format of my 8GB thumb drive correctly and it wouldn’t work with Windows 7 or Windows 8 media. I’m not sure if that was me, the app, or the fact that I’m running Windows via a VM. You may have to play with this a bit in order to get things to work for you, so be prepared to spend a bit of time. This is not necessarily a turn key solution for creating portable install media for everyone.

download WinSetupFromUSB

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NetworkMiner seeks hidden traffic

NetworkMiner is a Network Forensic Analysis Tool (NFAT) for Windows. NetworkMiner can be used as a passive network sniffer/packet capturing tool in order to detect operating systems, sessions, hostnames, open ports etc. without putting any traffic on the network. NetworkMiner can also parse PCAP files for off-line analysis and to regenerate/reassemble transmitted files and certificates from PCAP files.

The purpose of NetworkMiner is to collect data (such as forensic evidence) about hosts on the network rather than to collect data regarding the traffic on the network. The main view is host centric (information grouped per host) rather than packet centric (information showed as a list of packets/frames).

NetworkMiner has, since the first release in 2007, become popular tool among incident responce teams as well as law enforcement. NetworkMiner is today used by companies and organizations all over the world.

The professional edition comes installed on a specially designed USB flash drive. You can run NetworkMiner directly from the USB flash drive since NetworkMiner is a portable application that doesn’t require any installation. It is recommended that you copy NetworkMiner to the local hard drive of your computer in order to achieve maximum performance.

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Get over the 4GB limitation on FAT32 file-system very easily

If your USB flash drive (or any other storage device) is FAT32, you’ll face the 4GB limit. This file system has a ‘natural’ limitation for the maximum file size it can handle, which is 4GB. The partition itself can have a greater size, but you will not be able to create files greater than 4GB. The only way to solve the problem (beside splitting yours files to a limit of 4GB each using a spitting tool) is by converting the FAT32 partition of your USB flash drive to NTFS which can handle files of a greater size.

The simplicities way to do this is using Windows’ native conversion utility which works from the command prompt. Assuming the drive letter of your USB flash drive is is K:, here is what you have to do:

1. Open the Command Prompt (if you have Windows XP: Start > Run > cmd; if you have Windows 7 or Vista: type ‘cmd’ in your Start > ‘Search programs and files’).
2. Type: convert k: /fs:ntfs (substitute k: with the letter of the USB flash drive of the partition you wish to convert, then press enter)

Thats it, after a while the partition will be converter to NTFS.

Note: NTFS is a fault-tolerant and more efficient than FAT32, beside, handle files of a greater size and provides performance improvements.

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Corsair Announces Flash Voyager USB 3.0

Flash Voyager GTR 128gb

Corsair announced the Flash Voyager USB 3.0 family of USB flash drives.

The new Flash Voyager USB 3.0 models bring SuperSpeed USB 3.0 performance to the Flash Voyager family, and share the same durable rubber housing and stylish looks that have made the Flash Voyager family a favorite of consumers looking for fast, reliable, and portable data storage. All Flash Voyager USB 3.0 models are shockproof, water-resistant, backward compatible with USB 2.0/USB 1.1, and provide easy plug-and-play compatibility with most operating systems.

Flash Voyager USB 3.0 USB flash drives will be available worldwide in April from Corsair’s network of authorized retailers at a suggested retail price (in the United States) of $19.99 USD for the 8GB version, $29.99 USD for the 16GB version, and $69.99 USD for the 32GB version. Note that stated capacities are unformatted.

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Top 11 Tips to Increase Laptops Battery Life

Tip 1. Avoid using unnecessary programs
One of the main reasons of battery life reduction is the usage of unwanted programs on the laptop which only takes in more power from the battery. Hence use only those programs which you mostly work upon. Opening limited number of programs simultaneously can help increase your battery life as well. Also use applications which consume less power.
Tip 2. Clean your Laptop regularly

Any electronic devices gathering dust or dirt generates more heat as it blocks the air-vents and with devices such as Laptops or cell phones their battery life reduces fast. Cleaning air vents from time to time and working in an open space zone which allows the air vents to breathe will help reducing the battery life and heating of the devices.

Tip 3. Genuine Adaptors

The use of cheap quality adaptors can harm the battery life of your laptop. So make sure you use the adaptor of a better quality.

Tip 4. Reduce Background processes

Background processes which are not used much should be reduced. In case of the non usage of the internet stop the other programs associated with running on the task bar something like the anti-virus program as it will also use battery to keep itself running.

Tip 5. Unplug external devices

Make sure that various USB devices such as flash drives, Wi-Fi, data cables, Bluetooth, external speakers….etc should be unplugged when not in use as they use more battery power than any other device.

Tip 6. Check the appropriate levels of your brightness

on your laptop screen. Limit the use according to your tolerate levels as it is again one of the causes of power sink.

Tip 7. Sounds to be checked

Avoid using high volume sounds of your speakers and also try muting your speakers when not in use.

Tip 8. You do not require screen savers

Screen savers suck in more battery power and are totally useless for genuine reasons. So simply avoid using screen savers for effective battery coverage.

Tip 9. Control power options

You can turn off your hard-drive or monitor for a specific time duration using Windows XP and Windows Vista that already come with advanced power management features. This can further be checked by going to control panel and clicking the ‘power options’ feature available on it.

Tip 10. Choose Hibernation mode to Standby mode

Opting in the Hibernation mode will save the battery power as it will turn the computer off completely (saving of course the current state)than choosing the Stand by option where although being in the ‘sleep mode’ with monitor or hard drive turned off the memory still remains active and slows down the CPU.

Tip 11. Go for recent modern laptops
The modern laptops which have arrived in the market have Li-ion ( ‘Li’ stands for Lithium) batteries which doesn’t affect the memory as there is no problem of ‘partial discharges’ and recharge which very much exists in laptops having Ni-MH batteries. It is therefore recommended that you buy a latest one rather than going for an older version.

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OSForensics is a free and comprehensive diagnostic tool

OSForensics is a collection of diagnostic tools that will provide a complete report about your computer configuration, files stored and activity. From just searching for files to create and compare hash results, OS Forensics is a complete solution for any system engineer or simple user.

read the full review download OSForensics

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Create a bootable USB flash drive the easiest way possible

Many times I’ve been asked “how to create a Bootable USB flash drive” and every time I found it quite difficult to give a straight answer. That’s because there are several tools and guides out there related to ‘install Windows from USB flash drive’ and even if I’m an advanced user, some were quite hard to understand or they just didn’t work. Luckily, not long ago, I’ve found an easy way to create bootable USB flash drives (thumb-drive) with a tool called Koala.

You can find out more about Koala if you read the full review or you can download Koala here. Koala requires .Net Framework 2.0, you can get it here – in case you don’t have it already.

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