Tag Archives: usb

Travel Gear


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http://live.pirillo.com/ – In a couple of weeks, my wife Ponzi and I are going to Germany. General Motors saw our live stream, and asked us if we would like to stream live from an auto show in Frankfort, Germany. Uhm.. DUH! Stay tuned in September, when we become an International show for awhile!

So many gadgets, so little suitcase space. Ponzi has to have clothes… and shoes… and probably do-dads… and maybe some like whatever that stuff is that women can’t live without! Of course, I have to have my gadgets. How can I stream from Germany without them? Let’s take a look at some of what I keep in my backpack, and the things I’ve had to buy for this trip.

Verbatim’s USB Kit is hands down the best thing I have in my backpack. I mean, look at all this!
There’s a tiny little 4-port USB hub, a USB extender, and even a crossover cable! It all comes in this handy hard case, to make traveling with it even nicer.

Cable. I HATE cables! Look at all these long cables! ARGH! Probably the best invention ever is the retractable cable. Any manufacturer of a portable device who does not make a retractable cable is doing their customers a serious disservice. I have a couple of these floating around, and use them for literally everything I can.

I also have my PSP charging and sync cable. I had to buy this separate from my PSP. Why Sony gives you two separate cables is beyond me. I have this wrapped up nice and neatly, using a small black velcro strap. Too bad I can’t get a retractable one of these!

Then of course, the biggie. Since Germany is on an entirely different electrical system, I bought a Belkin converter. This thing has so many settings, I’m not sure I’ll ever figure them out. I know I’m going to have to hit an electronics store (or an Apple store!) in Frankfurt. Keep your fingers crossed that I can get everything I’ll need to keep all my gadgets working in Germany!

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Alphagrip USB Keyboard Alternative


Chris | Live Tech Support | Video Help | Add to iTunes

http://live.pirillo.com/ – I have discovered that I cannot type very well unless I am using a ‘normal’ keyboard. This new Alpha Grip USB Keyboard is designed much like a game console controller. Some of the keys are on front, some are on back. There is a little trackball for your mouse. It really works… it’s just very different.

Alpha Grip is a totally handheld keyboard. AlphaGrip technology sets you free by enabling handheld typing at 50-70 words per minute while standing, walking, running, riding in a vehicle, leaning back in your chair or recliner, or lying in bed.I gave this a go while sitting at my desk. I had to laugh at myself as I searched for the proper keys to type my own name. This is definitely revolutionary, and I totally get the ergonomic design. However, I think I might just stick with typing over 100 wpm while using my boring old normal keyboard.

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Vista Headaches with Cameron Reilly


Chris | Live Tech Support | Video Help | Add to iTunes

http://live.pirillo.com/ – Cameron Reilly joins me live to discuss his problems with Vista. Apparently, kangaroos do not play nicely with Vista.

Cameron Reilly of Gday World is an ex-Microsoft employee. He knows how Microsoft products work. He is obviously a geek of the highest caliber. Yet… he continually has Vista issues. Most recently, he lost an entire days’ work due to an odd BSOD. Windows had updated overnight. The next morning, Cam went to use his computer, and it blue screened on him. The only error message he received was something along the lines of “rundll32.exe has encountered an error…..”. Pretty obscure, eh?

Cam called his IBM tech support. They suggested using the recovery console to reformat his system. What’s that?? The recovery console crashed, as well? Holy mother of XBox… is that even possible?! They promised to ship him a disc within just a few days. He’s still waiting for those, btw.

After hours of fiddling, Googling, and trying everything he could think of (including BIOS upgrade and driver updates), Cam accidentally found the problem and solved it. Buried somewhere deep in a forum online, he found a post where a user had these same error messages, who ended up having USB problems. Cam unplugged every USB device from his computer, and began plugging them back in one by one. The last one… the USB sound card he is using to talk to me now… started throwing the errors and crashes again. Presto! Unplug it. Plug it back in. Grrrrrr! Unplug it again. Plug it back in. Ah-HAH! There’s the driver. Everything works well now. It’s 2am. Think Cam got any work done at that point?

I don’t care who is talking, or what they say. In my mind, Vista is still very much a beta program. There are known USB issues, Hub issues, driver issues… shall I stop there? Microsoft has issued a “performance pack” and a “reliability pack”. Why aren’t they addressing the actual issues users are facing? Why is it that this “wonderful, magical operating system” we waited for is still falling short of every single expectation?

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Backup and File Management


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http://live.pirillo.com/ – Before there was the Internet, my Dad Joe had two computers. One was at work. One was at home. He would carry work home with him on a floppy disc. Dad feels that the floppy discs served an excellent purpose… extra backup of data.

Dad wants to make things simple. He wants to have a program on his computer that opens. Once open, he wants to click buttons to tell the program which folders or applications to back up, then click “GO” and have it just back it all up for him. He’s not a fan of online storage. Dad believes, along with millions of other people, that any information put online is a target to be accessed by outsiders. Online storage is only as secure as the weakest link. Unfortunately, the weakest link is usually a human… not a computer.

The easiest way to backup your information is to use a removable drive. Simply plug it in to a USB port on your computer. Drag and drop any folders you want saved into the removable drive in your “my computer” window. Voila! The information is now backed up. If you have a lot of free space on your removable drive, you can do incremental backups. On the removable drive, right click your new file and choose to rename it. Add the date to the end of the file name and save. Now the next time you backup, add the date to that file name, as well. This gives you a comprehensive backup, where you can go and restore any document or file to a previous date if needed.

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USB Humping Dog

I’m very lucky that Wicket (male) and Pixie (female) don’t hump legs. Every once in a while, Pixe has a moment of gender confusion and decides to take Wicket “doggie style.” Wicket doesn’t seem to mind, though. The act, itself, is less about procreation – and more about asserting dominance (or so we’ve been told).

So, uh… I think I want one of these, if only for shock value at airports and coffee shops. Not a humping dog, a USB humping dog. Don’t worry, I believe it comes pre-neutered. You ever wonder where they get neuticles from? Look no further. Add this to your wish list for the next holiday season – or pick one up for dear ol’ Dad for Father’s Day. I bet he’ll appreciate it more than Mom would.

I wonder what kind of breed… nevermind.

USB Problems

Whether you have a USB printer, keyboard, mouse, scanner, audio, adapters, drives, hubs (or even an iPod) – whether your USB device is external or internal – Chris has some hints and tips to help you through your problem.

http://live.pirillo.com/ – John asks "I have a Toshiba Satellite notebook running Windows Vista Home Basic. For some reason a few weeks ago 2 of my 4 USB ports just stopped working all of a sudden. I’ve tried uninstalling the drivers but they reinstall themselves almost instantly. Are there any other settings I can change?"

There are a set of steps you can take to determine what’s really wrong:

  • If you upgraded from XP to Vista, try running the device under XP as it may be an incompatibility in Vista.
  • Try reinstalling your device drivers.
  • Try running the device on a USB port you know is good. If the device works, then there may be a hardware problem that needs to be fixed.

Chris also recommends running USBDeview, a free program from Nirsoft:

USBDeview is a small utility that lists all USB devices that currently connected to your computer, as well as all USB devices that you previously used.

For each USB device, exteneded information is displayed: Device name/description, device type, serial number (for mass storage devices), the date/time that device was added, VendorID, ProductID, and more…

USBDeview also allows you to uninstall USB devices that you previously used, and disconnect USB devices that are currently connected to your computer. You can also use USBDeview on a remote computer, as long as you login to that computer with admin user.

When all else fails you may need to contact customer support and have the laptop services.

Do you have any suggestions for John?

Weird, Strange, and Odd USB Gadgets

I love USB – it’s simple, sexy, and ubiquitous. I’m probably the only guy on the planet who would describe the Universal Serial Bus as “sexy,” but I still remember fiddling with RS-232 ports back in the day (very unsexy). If a device doesn’t accept a charge by USB, throw it back – it’s simply not worth the hassle, otherwise. And if you think that the world of USB has been relegated to storage devices and media players, think again:

And there are thousands more USB devices that are equally as… strange. I’ve seen some serious doozies in my holiday shopping travels. If I could, I’d collect every strange USB gizmo on the planet. I was half hoping to find a few listed on pt’s open source gift guide.

What’s the weirdest USB device you’ve ever heard of?

Mobile Stocking Stuffers

Every year, I struggle to find great stocking stuffers for Ponzi. My fiancee is difficult to shop for, despite what she claims. It’s frustrating, but every year I manage to pull it off without showering her in chocolate (which never gets consumed, anyway). I’ve tried little books, but they remain unread. I’ve tried arts and crafts, but they never get assembled. Geeks are so much easier to shop for!

My wish list of “wants” and “needs” is rather extensive, but I just added six Proporta items to it tonight. Expect even more gift suggestions (and accompanying links) in the coming weeks. Who wouldn’t want these?

These recommendations aren’t linked through any affiliate program, by the way – I make them because I’m sure you’re struggling to find something for that special geeky someone, too.

USB Charger for Airplanes

Okay, so it’s not exactly for airplanes – the Inflight USB Power Unit was designed for airline passengers. “Plug compatible with any standard USB charging cable. The Inflight USB Power unit plugs into the passenger seat audio jack and outputs regulated power to the attached USB charging cable/connector.” If only I could get every device manufacturer to let me charge by USB, I’d be in heaven. This is a must-have USB charging device. I play with my PSP on just about every flight, and it’s nice to know I could connect my iPod as well. Consider this sucker ordered and owned.