Off isn’t really Off

In the olden days, our gizmos had electro-mechanical power buttons. When the thing was turned off, no power was sent to it.

Nowadays, things have changed with the advent of electronically-controlled everything – including things like washing machines.

You can even look at the specs of most gizmos these days, and you’ll see two power ratings: Max power consumption, and “Sleep” power consumption.

Puters haven’t been off-off for a long time now. Smartphones are also never really off in many cases, and neither are smart TVs.

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HDMI Cables: Which type should I use for 4K?

I recently had some fun with HDMI cables – specifically, how best to connect a 4K UltraHD Blu-ray player to a 4K TV?

As a follow-up to my Display Cable Madness vid, I dive a bit deeper into the different flavors of HDMI cable: 1.4, 2.0, and 2.1.

Obviously, the latest and greatest cable is always recommended for new components. But what about existing setups?

Would your upscaled Blu-ray to 4K setup benefit from a newer HDMI connection?

It’s not just about resolutions and refresh rates, but also stuff like UltraHD Deep Color and High Dynamic Range (HDR)…

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Why I ditched my smartphone

Smartphones are nice, right?

They let you Do Stuff™, and you can even convert your entire social life to be run entirely via Google’s servers!

WOW!

Well, according to a recent investigation by the Tucker Carlson clan, it turns out Google is hoovering up far more data than previously thought.

So, I finally decided to take the plunge: I’ve switched to a dumbphone, and I’ve never been happier…

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A better Stylish Smartphone Faraday Box

9 months ago, I made this video: Make your own stylish smartphone Faraday Box in 10 minutes

Since then, I’ve learned a ton more about Faraday cages, and experimented a lot to make an even BETTER box.

It turns out that my original box was only so-so at blocking Bluetooth. My original testing of Bluetooth blocking was, shall we say, not very thorough. My primary focus was blocking cell network signals.

I also mistakenly assumed that if Bluetooth was blocked, WiFi at 2.4 GHz would also be blocked. Nope! WiFi is much harder to block due to the higher signal strength (among other things).

I’m fired!

To make matters worse, contrary to popular belief, we’re still learning about how Faraday cages actually work!

And so, I give you: Stylish Smartphone Faraday Box: Mark II

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Get your politics out of my tech!

In recent years, we’ve seen a huge upsurge in “political correctness” and certain “social movements”.

From James Damore being fired for speaking his mind in a very “leftist” corporate culture, to Amazon’s Alexa declaring that she is a feminist, to DNA testing services telling everyone they’re African to “combat racism”…

It seems that amidst all this political/social mayhem, our tech has essentially been weaponized.

We may still have separation of church and state, but it seems that the political and social views of tech corporations are being pushed onto people via their products.

I don’t think that’s a wise course of action…

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Why is my USB stick so slow?

A few weeks ago, I published a video on how to get max speed from your USB 3 gizmos, which you can find here:

Slow copy speeds with USB 3? No problem!

Right, but if what about lowly USB 2 sticks? They’re far more prevalent than USB 3 sticks, and many of them are veeeery sloooow…

There are a few things to watch out for when buying your next USB stick.

And you don’t even need to be a technical genius!

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DIY Ultrasonic Fuel Gauge / Level Sensor

If you have a fuel or water tank that is either metal or colored plastic, you may have run into the same problem I had: How do you know when it’s empty?

Mechanical level gauges are nice, but not always practical or even possible. So, I went on the hunt for an ultrasonic level sensor for my fuel tank.

Alas, what’s available on the market is too expensive, not very reliable, and often goofy in terms of features. So I decided to build my own!

This ultrasound fuel gauge can be built for around $33 using a breadboard, Arduino Uno, and one of 2 different ultrasonic transceiver modules designed for use with Arduino or Raspberry Pi boards.

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Easily trace wires with the Voltcraft LZG-1 / Extech CT40

There are many ways to trace a bunch of wires from point A to point B. Most of them kinda suck for one reason or another.

Enter the Voltcraft LZG-1 / Extech CT40!

With this gizmo, you can trace up to 16 wires at once. The system uses a remote unit with 17 alligator clips (16 + one for the common/return conductor).

The remote unit sends a 5V pulse width modulated “square” wave to the main unit. Clip 1 is a ~52% duty cycle wave, and Clip 16 is about 98% duty cycle – at 32 Hz. This allows the main unit to distinguish between each wire reliably – as long as the resistance of each wire is less than 30kohms (which is pretty high).

The main unit also doubles as a DMM. Although it’s not the greatest digitial multimeter, it’s good enough for most applications.

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Shrink your videos quickly and easily with HandBrake

Video is all the rage these days. Heck, even I started a YouTube channel!

Even if you’re not a “video author”, you still probably record videos of family, friends, important events, and so on.

The video files saved by most devices – including smartphones – is usually not optimal in terms of compression and especially in terms of file size.

Normally, editing and even just compressing/re-encoding videos is really complicated. Fortunately, there is a free piece of software that lets you shrink and optimize all your vids in just a few quick clicks.

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