Saturday, February 20, 2016

QuickBook can not save PDF....

It's a loooong journey before I found the answer. Tons of suggestions on the Internet and some one even came up with a very good long check sheet.

However, my problem is probably simpler but hard to find the answer. It caused by the printer port.

They said Windows 7 64-bit would always point to LPT1 port as default. QuickBook needs to use NUL port instead of LPT1. So it's simple, all you need just change this setting from QuickBooks PDF Converter -> right click -> Printing properties -> Ports -> check on NUL -> Apply -> Restart computer.

So if your Windows is 64-bit, chances are you are having the same problem that I had before. It took me 2 whole days to debug this. Lesson Learned!

Monday, February 8, 2016

A Super Cool Car on the FreeWay :)

Saw a super cool car on the freeway today, looks like it's more than a racing car, perhaps it's the new "Transformer"? :)

It's called a "Slingshot" made by Polaris Industries in Minneapolis MN. MrShiftright from

Friday, February 5, 2016

1984 Mac - The best Super Bowl commercial

Every year, the commercials during Super Bowl are not just very creative but also costing a lot of money :) They try to drive you to buy their products and try to memorize their brand names.

There are several memorable Super Bowl commercials: 1984's Mac, is probably one of the most unforgettable one of all time.

You have never seen it before? It's either you are too young, or you don't car about Super Bowl :)

Here you go -

This commercials is believed (commonly) to be inspired by the book of "Nineteen Eighty-Four" written by George Orwell.

The book of "1984" from George Orwell -

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Zika Virus & The Hartley Family

What is Zika Virus?

According to CDC - Zika virus is spread to people through mosquito bites. The most common symptoms of Zika virus disease are fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes)

So a family having two daughter with microcephaly, from Kansas has shared their story and offers help to those families who have the same disease.

Indeed, Zika virus is the source of causing babies to have small heads and brains. I am posting their blog here to support them. Please go their blog and pass your love to them.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Intermittent Drop Out - USB, Thunderbolt, FireWire and more...

If you are like me - a poor guy with very little money in the bank, most likely you would buy a cheap enclosure and pop in your own hard disk or SSD. I did that all the time until someday I learned it is not saving me any money, it probably costs more of my time to find out the problem.

Have you ever removed the hard disk from a portable drive, such as Seagate's, and replace it with your own SSD? this can definitely give you a fairly fast speed, however, you should not do this. Read the technology specification FIRST! and pay attention on the power budget.

USB 3.0 can provide 900mA/5V, so total is 4.5W per port. If you read the 1TB SSD's manufacturer website, you may find that they require way more than 4.5W, sometimes, it's 7W or more. The same requirement applied to portable hard disk too.

Tell me how could you make a USB 3.0 portable enclosure which only draw 4.5W from the host to support 7W to the SSD?

You may said: Wait a second, but, it works for me, I could see the SSD in my system, I could use it, I could format it, erase the data, the only problem is it could drop out intermittently.

Well, read the SSD's data sheet again, did you see "Peak power consumption", "Average power consumption" and such? and what is the capacity of your SSD? most 256 GB or below might be OK, the 500GB and 1TB are very power hungry ones, you should not rely on 4.5W bus power.

What happened when SSD does not get enough power? You probably know the answer - Disconnected or Dropout or System hang. Data would be lost for sure. This can explain why you see "Intermittent Drop Out" if you plan to use your own SSD in portable device.

So what is the solution? Use the power adapter to the enclosure! YES and that is the ONLY answer.

Aside the enclosure power budget problem, I have seen many people using Samsung T3 Portable SSD - 500GB - USB 3.1 External SSD (MU-PT500B/AM) and plug it in to one of the following Hubs

Anker Ultra Slim 4-Port USB 3.0 Data Hub
USB C Hub, HooToo Shuttle 3.1 Type C Hub with Power Delivery for Charging, HDMI Output, Card Reader, 3 USB 3.0 Ports - Silver
AUKEY USB C Hub, 4-Port USB 3.0, Aluminum Body for MacBook, Google Chromebook Pixel

Satechi Type-C USB 3.0 3 in 1 Combo Hub for MacBook 12-Inch (with USB -C Charging Port) (Space Gray)

In my opinion, this would not work. These bus powered USB hubs are all failed from the design phase. You should not do bus powered hub that has more than 1 USB 3.0 port. Apple's laptop does not provide too much power to drive a bus powered hub that has 2 or more than 2 USB 3 ports. If you have a hub, does not matter it's USB 3 or USB 3.1, you need an external power to the hub. For those hubs that can do both bus powered and self powered should tell customers only use self powered mode. This can prevent customers from data lost and unstable system.

If you have MacBook 2015, and want to add an external USB hub or dock, your best bet is OWC USB-C dock or CalDigit USB-C dock, or any hub that does have correct power budget for all the extended ports plus the system itself. You do not want to buy a hub that can only rely on the power from Mac or PC laptops, and you do not want to buy a dock that came with a 72W power supply and claim can provide 7.5W on 5 of the USB 3.0 ports while providing 30W to charge MacBook. This does not make sense to me. Do the MATH yourself! ;)

Update 9/9/16: I am using CalDigit USB-C dock now, it works great and has correct power budget and buffer for the entire system and ports. No dropout bus powered drive.


Monday, February 1, 2016

USB-C cable & Thunderbolt3 cable! Quality! Quality! Quality!

Back to year 1996, you might not care about the quality of low-speed USB 1.0 cable, now it's 2016, with the new standard coming out - USB 3.1 Gen 2, Thunderbolt 3, and more, you are looking at the entire different world of the new interface and protocols comparing to the 20 years ago.

The old USB 1.0 or 2.0 or even 3.0 cable that has Type-A/B on both ends are pretty easy to implement nowadays, well, probably not USB 3.0 cable since it is pretty high speed data transfer rate. However, the newer invented - Type-C interface, is facing huge challenge which is introduced by combining power delivery, and displayport video protocol.

The worst case of the bad type-A/B cable is to cause data lost. But what about Type-C cable?
If you get a bad quality of Type-C one, you may potentially damage your devices and computers or smartphone. Seriously? oh... YES. Remember, it combines Power Delivery and Data all together in one cable. If the cable does not follow the specification, it would do the terrible thing.

Take a look at one of my favorite Engineer's reviews
his FAQ:

and also his co-worker, Vincent Palatin, in Google's USB-C team

and CNN:

Benson from Google has done amazing jobs, in fact, I am wondering why he has so much free time to review those crappy cables :)

Benson, you should spend more time with your kid :) Just kidding.

I have an access to both Apple MacBook 2015 and Google's Pixel from my friend who sold me as a refurb one. Cable makers or device makers are welcome to reach me for the reviews. I will also post the results here.

Device getting hot? Good or Bad?

Heat is the death to your valuable device! Keep it cool! But HOW?

Back to year 2001, I had a chance to work with some project with some top mechanical engineers who had been working on several big projects. I actually learned some interesting things from them.  They totally changed my wrong idea of the ME design. One is the "overheating device" where most people believe it's bad but in reality, if you feel the chassis or enclosure or housing is pretty warm, that means your device housing is "proactively" dispense the heat that generated from the logic board and chips, or at least it's trying to pass on the heat to the enclosure then to the air.

In other word, if you put two identical logic boards side by side but with different enclosures around, one is plastic and one is aluminium, they would have slightly different life-span that caused by different heat-dispense methods.

The warmer aluminum housing is actually a better design v.s. plastic one where you may feel just slightly warm or nothing. The heat would be circulated inside the plastic housing much longer than the metal housing, which is a bad thing to your board and components on the board. The aluminum enclosure on the other hand could proactively dispense the heat and pass it on to the metal - as long as it does not burn your hand, you should be happy to get a metal case. Moreover, if you have properly housing design, you can pass heat to other objects that have proper contact to your enclosure. For example, heat can be passed on to not just the air, but to entire table. Using a overheating logic board without any heat-dispense design is not smart at all.

In EE world, the higher transfer rate would introduce more heat, thus, designing a proper housing to cover around the board and provide an efficient way to dispense the heat would be critical to the product.

A lot of new technologies nowadays claiming very fast speed and high bandwidth, no doubt that they all would introduce heat, such as PCIe SSD, Thunderbolt 40G, 10Gb, 100Gb Ethernet, even the Cloud server room that accumulates lots of lots of HDDs, SSDs, CPUs, Ethernet controller, Routers, Switches are taking heat as the BIGGEST challenge, thus, choosing a good enclosure is important.

I have seen some products on Amazon selling the identical products with different material of housings. I would choose the metal one which should have better heat dispense if the board and chips generate heat continuously.