# Saturday, 23 November 2013

I always seen these USB charge boosters on sale all over the place.


But I never trusted them, since there was no way I could actually see wheter it was working or not other than through a gut feeling. But a few weeks ago I acquired a USB voltage meter, so now I CAN see wheter it works or not!

A disclaimer before hand, I'm not an electrician, but just someone who has read up on the topic on the Internet so if anything blows up when you try this. Don't blame me.

The speed of your charging depends on how many AMPs flows into your device, based on this Wikipedia article on USB charging we find out that normal USB ports usually only supply 500mA whereas it's possible for a dedicated charging port to deliver more than that.

I've measured most of my USB power sources previously, and other than the dedicated power plugs which came with the phones, they all delivered only 500mA of current when charging. Whereas the dedicated plugs could supply roughly 1A.

So I tested it with the the charger in my car, a Kensington Duo Powerbolt Charger first we use it without the charge booster.


And the charger supplies juice at a current of 0.5A. Next we plug in the charge booster.


Now the current is around 0.8A, definitely higher although not exactly the 2 times faster that the box is talking about.

So I guess it DOES work, even though it might not be as good as they say it is but I guess every little bit counts when it comes to juicing up your devices faster.

One interesting caveat though, the booster has 2 modes of functioning, one is where it'll boost your charging but it means you can't transfer data with your PC in this mode even if it's connected to a PC's USB port. The other mode is normal mode where you can sync data with your PC. My Nokia Lumia 1020 behaved EXTREMELY weird when connected to anything in this mode, basically the phone kept dropping in and out of charge mode, probably due to how the current is being passed through it. I recommend that if you do get this and you need to be NOT in boost mode? Just don't plug the thing in.

Because of this little issue, I have a theory about how this thing works. According to the Wikipedia article a dedicated charging port is identified by shorting it's data pins, so what this charge booster is doing could just be that it's shorting the data pins when it's on so that the device knows it can draw more current from it.

You can find this thing around town, I've seen them selling between RM60 to RM40 under various brands (since it is some China OEM product I guess) The cheapest price was at IP Mart so you can go check it out if you're interested.

A few more things to be aware of before you go.

  • Charging at a higher current heats up the battery/device faster. And since doing data transfer intensive processing on the device (like using Waze) also generates a ton of heat on the device, your device might get pretty hot with this. And then 2 things might happen, either the battery stops charging due to it's thermal protection circuit, or if the thermal protection circuit is faulty the battery *might* catch fire. :P Depends on the ignition temperature of the components inside the device I guess.
  • Someone once told me that if you had a device that was drawing much more current than the power supply could provide at best nothing happens and your device doesn't get charged, at worst you damage the power supply.

Scared yet? ;)

Saturday, 23 November 2013 12:03:00 (Malay Peninsula Standard Time, UTC+08:00)  #    Comments [0]  | 
# Monday, 18 November 2013

I recently got the ultra awesomely nifty Avermedia Game Capture HD II (what not a 2?) Why does it deserve such a title? Because it's not just a simple hardware HDMI capture device, you can actually include audio commentary edit AND upload the video from the box itself as well!!! Check out the review!

Trying to be funny, I recorded WZ doing the edit and upload demo. But he wasn't very cooperative since I didn't rehearse it with him so I left his part out of the video. You can watch the rejected bits below.

Monday, 18 November 2013 11:44:34 (Malay Peninsula Standard Time, UTC+08:00)  #    Comments [0]  | 
# Sunday, 10 November 2013

One important thing which I should regarding my previously comments regarding fuel consumption in my Nissan Serena S-Hybrid follow up post.

My daily office commute doesn't consists of any stretch of highway or anything which would allow me to go above 70km/h for any long stretch. Here's a more detailed table of the fuel consumption based on my records.

Fuel (Liters) Distance (KM) Consumption (KM/L) Average Speed (KM/H) Car Running Time
40 330 8.25 23 14 Hours 2 Minutes
48.22 358.5 7.4 19 18 Hours 23 Minutes
49.29 349.9 7.09 19 18 Hours 10 Minutes
51.37 408.3 7.9 22 18 Hours 17 Minutes

Fuel usage is obtained by pumping to full tank at every cycle. Average speed and Car Running Time is obtained from on board instrumentation.

Below is an Excel Spreadsheet which if I feel like it I'll update to have a better idea of my ongoing fuel consumption. So the data below would be more updated.

Sunday, 10 November 2013 21:16:51 (Malay Peninsula Standard Time, UTC+08:00)  #    Comments [0]  | 
A few years ago Microsoft introduced a new ASP.Net feature called ASP.Net Web Pages. I found the light use of control tags intriguing, but I didn't see any reason to use it instead of the standard ASP.Net Web Forms style of developing web sites. It also didn't help that Microsoft seemed like it was talking about Razor as a side component to be used with ASP.Net MVC another new feature which I wasn't too keen on. But recently as I sat down to take a look at Razor once more, it finally dawned on me what Razor is actually good for. So make yourself a drink and come back to the longest code snippet filled article ever written by me on this site!

Sunday, 10 November 2013 21:00:45 (Malay Peninsula Standard Time, UTC+08:00)  #    Comments [0]  | 
# Tuesday, 05 November 2013

It's been two months since I've gotten my Microsoft Surface Pro, and since the day they announced it. I knew I would love it except for how they choose to deal with the digitizer! But here's a quick run down of why I love my Surface Pro.

10 inches of Power!

The Surface Pro packs a Core i5 processor into a compact 10" case which I can throw into a bag and forget about it. This means I get great processing power and is portable enough for me to carry with me without thinking of it too much! The two questions which I usually get are How the hell do you see anything on such a small screen? Which I answer it's probably because I've been using small PCs long enough to be used to the small letters on the screen! for the record I'm running it at 125% display magnification. The second question is How can you do anything on such a small PC? The Surface Pro has a 1.7Ghz Intel Core i5 with 4GB of RAM, it is more than capable of handling most tasks, the Surface Pro is where code gets written and worked on! It IS a small PC, but it has a lot of power under the hood!

The power of the pen!

I'm an avid user of Microsoft Onenote, and I strongly recommend it to anyone who needs a digital diary journal for their life. You can even get it for the iOS and Android platforms now, heck.. you can even just run it off the Skydrive website! Evernote? I'll always remember what my friend who has used both said to me once regarding Evernote. Evernote is for people who can't use OneNote for their platform! I've been using OneNote since the very first version and I've been writing in my OneNote since the very first version! Even when my notebook DIDN'T have a touch screen I sought to find some way of writing on it! The fact that the Surface Pro comes with a Wacom digitizer means I have a great writing experience, without the worry of having to hunt for AAAA batteries one day.

Still hating magnet docked pen though.

Light gaming!

One of the biggest surprise with the Surface Pro was that the Intel HD4000 actually turned out to be not utterly worthless in gaming, but I've actually managed to play quite a bunch of games on it, Rayman Legends, Walking Dead, Back To The Future, etc. etc. But of course it IS still just an integrated graphics chip and wheter or not a game worked on it is still pretty much a gamble. One thing I must note though, upgrading to Windows 8.1 allowed me to run some games which didn't want to run on Windows 8 previously like FTL and Fez,  although Stealth Bastard stopped working on 8.1 so it's not perfect yet.

But hey.. I can play Typing Of The Dead Overkill on it so I'm happy!

Now that the Surface Pro 2 has been announced, do I feel like I've bought my Pro at the wrong time? Not really, the Hashwell chipset on the Pro 2 will deliver about 1.5 hours more of battery life which is nice but not essential to me, same with the slightly higher graphics performance. Also... it'll probably take another 6~8 months before the Pro 2 reaches anywhere near Malaysia so I can wait.

Though the Purple Type Cover 2 does look nice...

Tuesday, 05 November 2013 23:13:26 (Malay Peninsula Standard Time, UTC+08:00)  #    Comments [0]  | 

Received a new DX shipment.. bought some interesting junk this time, first up is this.


It's an electronic cigarette lighter which recharges via a USB plug, flipping it up causes a coil (the glowing orange thing in the picture) to heat up and you can light up a cigarette with it. Surprisingly the coil only stays powered for around 5 seconds at a time, I wonder was that a decision to save battery life, safety or just because any longer the thing might just melt? I don't smoke, I just find it interesting to have a battery powered lighter!

Next up is this.


It's a flashlight powered by USB. Why didn't I just get a NORMAL flashlight? Well, I was getting a bit tired of the batteries in my flashlight running out when I needed them. And with this I can just slap it into any of my USB power sources and it'll work!

And finally we come to the most interesting thing.


This is a combination Voltage AND Amperage meter for a USB port! This is very cool indeed, with this little gadget not only can you see how many volts is being pumped out by a USB power supply.


You can also see how many amps is the connection pumping out!


Knowing how many amps are being consumed (is that the right term to use?) is useful because it's a nice indication of how fast your device is charging/drinking the battery. It is also interesting to use it as a gauge to see wheter or now all the battery packs that claim to have 1A~2A output actually live up to their name. Of course, it also depends if the device you plugged in can actually draw that much current.

Tuesday, 05 November 2013 00:22:13 (Malay Peninsula Standard Time, UTC+08:00)  #    Comments [0]  | 
# Saturday, 02 November 2013

As I was reading a rather interesting entry on Scott Hanselman's Blog, a rather interesting thing stood out. If I press Fn+CapsLock on the Type Cover of my Surface Pro, It'll make it so I don't need to press the FN key to access the function keys!!

That'd be fantastic I thought! Until I actually tried it...

Cause you see... while it works... It also effectively disables the Home, End, Page Up and Page Down keys, since they're on the same row... I guess it's depends what I feel like doing at the time I guess.

Saturday, 02 November 2013 22:08:38 (Malay Peninsula Standard Time, UTC+08:00)  #    Comments [0]  | 

So it's been a month after I got the Nissan Serena S-Hybrid let's do a quick round up of my experience.

The Good

It's a nice, comfy car to sit in that is able to carry loads of people. And of course.. auto doors always makes people go Ooooooo!!

The Expected

As I mentioned before in my last post, the Serena S-Hybrid isn't a Hybrid in the sense that it has an eletrical motor to augment the normal combustion engine, therefore you're not gonna get the GREAT fuel mileage savings compared to other Hybrid cars. My typical fuel consumption is 7.4KM/L which isn't great if you compare it to a typical Sedan, and only slightly better when compared to older Nissan Serena.

The other thing which worries me a bit is the idle stop system which stops the car engine when the car idles, as one of my colleagues commented when he first saw the system in action"Doesn't this just cause extra wear and tear on the ignition system?" So how well would it work 5 years down the line?

The Ugly

I HATE the damn air filter covering the battery.

2 weeks after I got the car, I tried to remove it according to the pictures in the manual. I hear a loud POP as I was trying to take it out, but I was never able to remove it. After which when I drove, the engine noise sounded louder and more amplified as if there was a loose connection at the exhaust. I wasn't too sure if it was a problem since I just got the car and wasn't used to the sound it makes yet. But then after I sent it for it's first month service, the sound was gone, so I'm gonna peg it on the fact that I did loosen something when trying to get to the batteries!

Another funny issue which I have with the car is that I can't see the tip of the hood properly and have already got a minor incident with a curb since I couldn't see wheter I was gonna hit it or not!

Saturday, 02 November 2013 15:17:07 (Malay Peninsula Standard Time, UTC+08:00)  #    Comments [0]  |