Plugable http://plugable.com Powerful USB and Bluetooth Devices Fri, 04 Sep 2015 20:56:11 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.2 Robust and Adjustable Stand for Plugable’s 250x USB Microscopehttp://plugable.com/2015/09/03/robust-and-adjustable-stand-for-plugables-250x-usb-microscope http://plugable.com/2015/09/03/robust-and-adjustable-stand-for-plugables-250x-usb-microscope#comments Thu, 03 Sep 2015 20:33:00 +0000 http://plugable.com/?p=17659 Micro_5

The Plugable USB microscope is an incredibly versatile and fun product to use. When I plugged it in, I was immediately struck by how even the most mundane objects became totally fascinating. This week I designed a rigid stand for the microscope to allow stable picture-taking and durability. Here is the design.

While the gooseneck stand included in the box is quite useful, it does have some limitations. It is tricky to get the microscope to sit perfectly square to the object. Also, the top-mounted snapshot button requires a very delicate touch to avoid sending tremors down the arm. The stand I designed is meant to compensate for these things and also harken back to the classic look of laboratory microscopes.
Micro_4

Early in the design process, I was fascinated with the idea of using a series of gears to have the microscope glide up and down a track. While interesting, using gears would actually have been a step in the wrong direction. Extremely tight tolerances would have been necessary to prevent the gears from sliding under the force of pushing the snapshot button, which would have pushed the limits of lower-end 3D printers. So instead, I opted for a simple rod and slot system. This solved not only the durability and printer tolerance problems of gears, but also lets the rod slide on a horizontal axis. This sliding action means the camera can accommodate wider items than before.

The arm for the stand is specially designed so both right- and left-handed users can easily access the rings for adjusting LED brightness and focus. As a lefty myself, I really appreciate products that offer this kind of flexibility. Anyone can use their dominant hand to make the necessary precise adjustments while using the other hand to grasp the spine of the stand and keep it in place.

Cable management was another interesting problem to tackle with my new stand. The USB cable is held in two spots: the back of the sliding rod and at the lower part of the stand. Together, these locations elegantly angle the cable out of the way. I’ve also included a simple clip to secure the cable to the gooseneck arm that comes with the microscope.

FullSizeRender (3)

To provide the largest viewing area, the stand was designed as wide as possible, while still fitting a standard six-inch-square printer bed. Because the microscope arm can be extended out to 100 mm (four inches), the legs had to be long enough to counterbalance the stand’s top-heaviness and high center of gravity. The printer bed size also limited the maximum height of the stand. While the provided gooseneck arm gives almost an extra inch in height, the new rigid design makes up for that with the horizontal extendability.

Micro_3

The USB microscope is a great fit for science classrooms and desktop labs. Hopefully this stand redesign can help users enjoy new levels of discovery.

This post is part of an ongoing series about using 3D printing to enhance Plugable’s products. This summer, Design Intern Justin Taylor is creating and testing CAD models of mounts and bracket systems for our various products. Here is the link to the growing archive of posts on this project.

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Customizable Desktop Battlestationhttp://plugable.com/2015/08/18/customizable-desktop-battlestation http://plugable.com/2015/08/18/customizable-desktop-battlestation#comments Tue, 18 Aug 2015 19:22:12 +0000 http://plugable.com/?p=17537 Spaceship1

This week, I revisited my old friends the UD-3900 and UD-3000 docking stations. Previously, I designed a VESA mount system to hold the docking station in place behind a monitor. This time around, I wanted to create something that would make our docking stations a focal point of the desk—foregoing overt minimalism in favor of a funky, angular asymmetry that grabs attention to the device.

I also wanted to increase the utility of the docking station so that it was more than a passive desktop sentinel. To do this, I made a series of accessories to click into the brackets. These expanded the usefulness of the dock and encourage people to interact with it in new ways throughout the day.

Here is the link to the final product on thingiverse.com. I was inspired by space station design where modules get added to the core structure over time as needed.

From my previous project, I got interested in modularity as a method to create interesting and customizable workstations. I wanted to further explore this direction. By breaking the design into many smaller components, the design process for each piece is more simple than trying to cram all the same functionality into one piece. For example, the bracket pieces do not need to wrap the docking station on all four sides because the top piece can be positioned to hold the brackets together.

So far there are four add-ons available. If you have any suggestions for a new one, please let me know in the comments!

Spaceship3

I created an add-on that securely holds three USB devices that was based off my previous design for a USB cap. USB plugs and adapters are notoriously easy to lose, so this design keeps them safe and accessible.

While we live in a digital age, paper and pencil remain essential tools in daily life. The pencil holder accessory keeps writing utensils handy. As an added bonus, the tubular form also lends itself to the space station aesthetic.

The phone stand is designed to hold a smartphone and has a underside grip for holding the charging cable. I’ve been using it every day this week and have noticed that I am less distracted by my phone when it is in its new desktop home.

The final accessory is a simple tray attachment. It is surprisingly versatile and works great for holding paper clips, keys, or spare change. I wanted to create an add-on that did not have an explicit function so that people could feel free to use it however they needed.

Spaceship2

Customization and modularity are great, not just because they allow adaptive workspaces, but because it is important for people to have control over their things and personal space. Similar to how people carefully arrange things like family photos and action figures in their workspace, and tape up cartoons, the bracket design gives users an opportunity to embody their personality within their environment.

This post is part of an ongoing series about using 3D printing to enhance Plugable’s products. This summer, Design Intern Justin Taylor is creating and testing CAD models of mounts and bracket systems for our various products. Here is the link to the growing archive of posts on this project.

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Windows 10 Work-Around for UD-PRO8 Docking Station Audio Issuehttp://plugable.com/2015/07/31/windows-10-work-around-for-ud-pro8-docking-station-audio-issue http://plugable.com/2015/07/31/windows-10-work-around-for-ud-pro8-docking-station-audio-issue#comments Fri, 31 Jul 2015 23:48:49 +0000 http://plugable.com/?p=17413 After updating to newly-released Windows 10, several customers have contacted us saying the audio in their Pro8 docking stations stopped working. Testing has shown that this happens only in 32-bit versions of Windows 10, not 64-bit. However, the majority of the tablets compatible with the UD-PRO8 are using 32-bit Windows and will experience this issue after the upgrade.

The malfunction appears to be related to a glitch in the driver installation process, and will prevent audio output when the “USB Multimedia Audio Device” is selected. If you are using a Plugable UD-PRO8 with 32-bit Windows 8.1, we recommend delaying the Windows 10 update until a fix has been found. However, if you have already upgraded to Windows 10 or don’t want to wait, there is a work-around.

Installing the following drivers will temporarily restore audio function, however, they must be manually reinstalled each time Windows 10 is restarted:

CMedia CM6300 1.04 Drivers

Restart Windows after installing the drivers and be sure to set “USB Multimedia Audio Device” again as the default audio device.

Restarting the computer after that is a two-step process:

1. Run the installer above before restarting, and allow it to remove the drivers.

2. Restart the computer, reinstall the driver, then restart again.

We will update this post once a more permanent solution is found.

If you’re a user of a Plugable UD-PRO8 docking station and are experiencing issues, we’re here to help! If support is needed, please run our PlugDebug tool found here to collect system logs, and send the resulting file to support@plugable.com along with a description of the behavior you’re experiencing and any additional details you feel are relevant.

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Adventures in Stackability and Modularityhttp://plugable.com/2015/07/30/adventures-in-stackability-and-modularity http://plugable.com/2015/07/30/adventures-in-stackability-and-modularity#comments Thu, 30 Jul 2015 18:59:25 +0000 http://plugable.com/?p=17260 Stacking6

We’ve had several customer requests for mounts that can stack several of our HUB7BC and HUB7-81X hubs.
Both of these devices offer seven USB 3.0 ports, but with larger workstation setups, seven ports is sometimes not enough. While multiple hubs can work together electronically, a frustrating reality is that their cases do not stack neatly.

For the HUB7BC, I created a three-story bracket system. It works nicely because the brackets are strong enough to hold the devices in place, but also thin enough to stay out of the way when plugging in a USB cable. The front and back faces are open for easy access. It is a simple, and dare I say, elegant solution to the stacking problem. This thing is cool because everything fits perfectly in a very simple design—no frills, or gimmicks. This understated approach makes the end result all the more satisfying. I love it when every part of a design just works.

Stacking4

The mount is designed to hold three hubs, which seems like a reasonable number of ports even for our more industrious users. However, I also wanted to create a bracket that can stack any number of hubs to suit their needs. The solution is modularity, creating pieces that build upon each other in a consistent way, an idea that informed my later work with the 81x hub. These brackets work like building blocks for assembling a customized workspace.

My early designs for the 81x were unnecessarily complicated and relied too much on support material. To resolve this I divided the functions between several modular pieces. By using removable pins instead of building the attachment apparatus straight onto the bracket, I was able to slim the profile and remove protruding parts on the top. The pins also allow the brackets to be stacked and rotated in interesting ways.

Stacking2

The earlier design had a built-in overhang which was meant to secure the top of the hub. While this worked, I was worried that the need for support material might deter a more casual 3D printer user. After printing and stacking those prototypes, I realized that each piece lends itself to the hubs above and below. I made use of this by removing the tops of each bracket, and adding a separate top plate to hold all the brackets in place once assembled.

The final design effectively secures and stacks the hubs, and allows a high degree of customization. The user can simply print out and stack additional brackets as needed. Check it out!

Stacking1

In previous projects, I have favored curved, sloping shapes. However, this project is full of edges and sharp angles. This started out of necessity, because a gradual angle allows the printer to build out a platform. As the design progressed, I deliberately took this angular style to greater extremes. Curves and smooth edges convey a sense of comfort, but also run the risk of seeming to benign and slipping from our attention. Angular shapes are more aggressive and seem to sharply declare their own existence. I want my work at Plugable to get people excited about our products. The strong, deliberate facets are meant to catch the eye and invite further investigation.

On a completely unrelated note, I also made little USB keychain holders for use around our Plugable office. They work great for holding Bluetooth receivers and USB sticks. Check them out!

Stacking3

This post is part of an ongoing series about using 3D printing to enhance Plugable’s products. This summer Design Intern Justin Taylor is creating and testing CAD models of mounts and bracket systems for our various products. Here is the link to the growing archive of posts on this project

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Installing Plugable USB-Ethernet Drivers in Windows 10http://plugable.com/2015/07/29/installing-plugable-usb-ethernet-drivers-windows-10 http://plugable.com/2015/07/29/installing-plugable-usb-ethernet-drivers-windows-10#comments Thu, 30 Jul 2015 06:05:31 +0000 http://plugable.com/?p=17365 In testing Plugable’s USB-Ethernet adapters with Windows 10, we were happy to discover they all work successfully when their drivers are properly installed. However, an installation problem could cause issues with the USB2-E1000.

Drivers are already built into Windows 10 for the ASIX AX88772 chip in our USB2-E100 and USB2-OTGE100 and the ASIX AX88179 chip in our USB3-E1000, USBC-E1000, and USB3-HUB3ME. When you insert these adapters into a USB port, the drivers are automatically installed with no need for an internet connection.

However, the driver for the ASIX AX88178 chip in our USB2-E1000 is not pre-installed in Windows 10, and we have discovered a problem with the downloadable driver that keeps it from installing. If this happens, the adapter will show up in Device Manager as “AX88178″ with a Code 28 error: “”Drivers for this device are not installed.”

There are several ways to work around this issue, depending on the scenario:

1. Upgrading from Windows 7 or Windows 8.1: If you have already installed the driver for the USB2-E1000 in Windows 7 or 8.1 and upgrade directly from that version to Windows 10, the currently installed driver will be available to Windows 10, and your adapter should work without any further effort. If you haven’t yet installed this driver, please install it before upgrading. The easiest way is to establish an internet connection, either wirelessly or through another Ethernet port, then plug in the USB2-E1000. Windows Update should see it and automatically download the correct driver. You can also download and install the driver from our website or from the disk that came with your adapter.

2. Doing a clean install of Windows 10 or using the USB2-E1000 on a new Windows 10 computer: Since the previous Windows 7 or 8.1 driver will not be carried over to a clean install of Windows 10, it must be freshly installed. The only way to accomplish this is to have an internet connection available when you first plug in the USB2-E1000. That will allow Windows Update to download and install the driver. If you are in a situation where this is not possible, we recommend delaying the update until an internet connection is available, or until this issue has been fixed. Currently, the driver on the Plugable and ASIX websites is not working with Windows 10.

If you’re a user of a Plugable USB-Ethernet adapter and are experiencing issues, we’re here to help! If support is needed, please run our PlugDebug tool found here to collect system logs, and send the resulting file to support@plugable.com along with a description of the behavior you’re experiencing and any additional details you feel are relevant.

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Potential Windows 10 Wake-from-Sleep Issue with USB 3.0 Hubshttp://plugable.com/2015/07/29/potential-windows-10-wake-from-sleep-issue-with-usb-3-0-hubs http://plugable.com/2015/07/29/potential-windows-10-wake-from-sleep-issue-with-usb-3-0-hubs#comments Wed, 29 Jul 2015 20:32:24 +0000 http://plugable.com/?p=17337 Testing here at Plugable on the final release version of Windows 10 has identified some situations where a USB device, such as a keyboard or mouse, attached through a USB 3.0 hub does not wake the host computer from sleep mode. The bug seems somewhat random, with not all systems affected. In some cases, two systems with similar USB 3.0 controller chipsets have behaved differently.

Minor issues with drivers are not unusual with major updates, and are usually soon rectified by Microsoft. As with all significant operating system updates, we recommend delaying the upgrade if possible to allow for bug-fixes to be developed and applied, but for many computers, Microsoft has already scheduled an automatic upgrade through Windows Update, and users may find Windows 10 installed on their computer unexpectedly.

If you have upgraded to Windows 10 and your computer is experiencing this problem, we recommend connecting the device used to wake the computer from sleep (typically a keyboard or mouse) directly to a USB port on the computer, bypassing any hubs.

Also, as with Windows 8/8.1, we recommend using the Microsoft-provided xHCI (USB 3.0 host controller) drivers, not those provided by the third-party manufacturer of the controller such as ASMedia, Intel, Renesas, Fresco Logic, etc. If you are upgrading from Windows 8/8.1 and already have 3rd-party drivers installed, we recommend uninstalling them and reverting back to the Microsoft-provided drivers before upgrading to Windows 10.

This post is the third in a series about possible ways the Windows 10 update may affect Plugable users. Overall, Windows 10 seems well-behaved except for this issue and some potential DisplayLink graphics adapter issues described in this post. An overview of the update is available in this post.

If you need help reverting to the Microsoft drivers, or experience any issues with Plugable hubs that are not mentioned here, please contact our support. We are happy to help!

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Windows 10 and Plugable Docking Stations / USB Graphics Adaptershttp://plugable.com/2015/07/27/windows-10-and-plugable-docking-stations-usb-graphics-adapters http://plugable.com/2015/07/27/windows-10-and-plugable-docking-stations-usb-graphics-adapters#comments Tue, 28 Jul 2015 00:28:24 +0000 http://plugable.com/?p=17262 Summary: Windows 10 requires the latest v7.9 DisplayLink drivers to be re-installed *after* OS upgrade is complete.

As we near the July 29th release of Windows 10, we’re getting frequent questions from customers who are excited about this new operating system and inquiring as to how things will behave when using their Plugable USB graphics device(s) with Microsoft’s new flagship OS. The purpose of this post is to provide some “best practices” guidance regarding Windows 10 and installation of Plugable’s docking stations and USB graphics adapters.

Most of the Plugable support crew are seasoned IT/support veterans, and as such we’re a cautious bunch when it comes to immediately migrating to a new operating system. (See here for our take on installing Windows 10 as soon as it’s available. The nutshell version is that as with any major OS upgrade, we suggest waiting a bit before installing on any mission-critical systems while initial issues are discovered are worked through.)

That being said, we realize, with all the excitement surrounding the upcoming release, that many users are going to want to dive right in. With that, here are our recommendations for how to approach different installation scenarios as well as some additional information about Windows 10:

Scenario 1: Upgrading to Windows 10 from an existing Windows 7/8 system
Scenario 2: Performing a “fresh” (non-upgrade) installation of Windows 10
Scenario 3: USB graphics not working after upgrading to Windows 10

Additional Information
Windows 10 Graphics Overview
Potential Issues
Feedback and Support

Scenario 1: Upgrading to Windows 10 from an existing Windows 7/8 system

This is likely to be the most common scenario for the majority of users. Please note that all previous DisplayLink drivers are not compatible with Windows 10. As such, we suggest the following steps for an upgrade installation of Windows 10:

  • Disconnect your Plugable docking station or graphics adapter(s). They will remain disconnected until prompted to plug the device back in.
  • Go to “Programs” and uninstall both the “DisplayLink Core Software” and “DisplayLink Graphics”.
  • Start the Windows 10 installation.
  • Grab a cup of coffee or a cold beverage, this will take an hour or so.
  • After Windows 10 has finished installing, run Windows Update. (Start button > Settings > Update). This is critical, as your system may be missing various drivers after installation.
  • After running Windows Update and rebooting, run Windows Update again. Repeat this process until there are no new updates found.
  • Download and install the DisplayLink 7.9 drivers here. (Note: Your docking station or USB graphics adapter should still be disconnected!)
  • During installation of the DisplayLink drivers, you will be prompted to connect your USB graphics device/docking station. Do so when prompted.
  • After connecting your device, your displays will likely flash several times as everything is detected. You will be prompted for a reboot. Do so.
  • After rebooting, things should be working as expected; any additional displays should be active, and Ethernet/audio should be active if using a docking station.

Scenario 2: You’re doing a “fresh” (non-upgrade) installation of Windows 10

  • Disconnect your Plugable docking station or graphics adapter(s) prior to starting the install. Keep the device(s) disconnected until prompted to plug it back in.
  • Start the Windows 10 installation by booting from your installation DVD or flash drive.
  • Grab a cup of coffee or a cold beverage.
  • After Windows 10 has finished installing, run Windows Update (Start button > Settings > Update & security). This is critical, as your system may be missing various drivers after installation.
  • After you’ve run Windows Update and rebooted, run Windows Update again. Repeat this process until there are no new updates found.
  • Download and install the DisplayLink 7.9 drivers here.
  • During installation of the DisplayLink drivers, you will be prompted to connect your USB graphics device/docking station. Do so when prompted.
  • After connecting your device, your displays will likely flash several times as everything is detected.
  • You will be prompted for a reboot. Do so, even if things appear to be working.
  • After rebooting, things should be functioning as expected; any additional displays should be active, and Ethernet/audio should be active if using a docking station.

Scenario 3: Windows 10 was installed with a docking station or USB graphics devices attached and/or previous DisplayLink drivers installed, and things aren’t working after the upgrade

Background

Some will wonder why there might be issues using USB graphics with Windows 10 when these same USB devices generally work quite well with Windows 7 and Windows 8. The primary reason is Windows 10 introduces a new driver model (WDDM 2.0) for the graphics chips in PCs that are responsible for outputting video (known as GPUs).

The primary GPU and its drivers play a key role in the functionality of USB graphics, as the DisplayLink software interacts heavily with these drivers to enable graphical output via USB. Simply put, both the GPU drivers and DisplayLink drivers need to function together seamlessly for everything to work as it should.

So when Microsoft introduces a new graphics driver model such as WDDM 2.0, GPU manufacturers such as AMD, Intel, and Nvidia must update their drivers to support this new model, and so must DisplayLink. This shift to a new driver model generally enables better performance in the long term, but early in the release cycle, issues/bugs can appear that were not present in previous operating systems.

Potential Issues

Updated 8/10/2015

For the most part, we’ve had positive results testing our Plugable USB docking stations and graphics adapters with the final release build of Windows 10. We have encountered a few occasional issues which we’re documenting below:

  • On the Surface 3 (non-Pro), DisplayLink installation can cause a lock-up/black screen to occur, requiring the Surface 3 to be forced off by holding the power button for ~10 seconds. Updating to the newest Intel graphics driver prior to installing DisplayLink drivers seems to drastically improve this behavior.
  • Some systems will exhibit display corruption or artifacting when waking from sleep mode. Unplugging and replugging the USB graphics devices usually resolves the issue.
  • Upon resuming from system sleep mode, windows/applications will occasionally be positioned on the wrong display and/or be rendered larger or smaller than expected. A monitor/TV which is turned on from a previously “off” state can cause this behavior as well.
  • If a DisplayLink device is connected to the system without first installing the DisplayLink drivers, Windows will silently attempt to update the drivers via Windows Update. Often this will take between one and five minutes, while the user is given little or no indication that this is happening. If the DisplayLink device is unplugged during this process, the installation is silently terminated, and will not automatically resume, even if Windows Update is run manually. If your device is not working, the best steps will be to run the DisplayLink cleaner software and reinstall using the process outlined above in Scenario 3.
  • On some systems, performance of USB-attached displays may be slow when operating in “clam-shell” mode with the laptop lid shut. This appears to be a bug in the “Intel Dynamic Platform and Thermal Framework” (DPTF) driver which was also present for some users on Windows 8/8.1. As Windows 10 does not allow this driver to be disabled in the operating system, the best current workarounds are to use your system with the lid open, or disable DPTF in the UEFI system firmware. (Your system manufacturer may be the best resource for walking you through disabling the device in firmware, though if you’re a Plugable customer we’ll attempt to help provide steps for this process.)
  • Though it’s touched on above, Windows Updates are key. Microsoft released a substantial 300+MB “Cumulative Update for Windows 10″ on August 5, which has helped with various issues.
  • In a few reported cases, Kaspersky Internet Security software is blocking the installation of the DisplayLink Ethernet Adapter driver needed in our docking stations. The workaround is to completely remove the Kaspersky Internet Security software and then follow the instructions from scenario 3 above to perform a clean install to resole the issue. Once the driver is installed the Kaspersky software can be re-installed

DisplayLink also has a list of known issues they’re tracking here.

Feedback and Support

As always, we welcome comments and feedback below. Since we’re so early in the life cycle of Windows 10, if you encounter any consistently unexpected behavior, we encourage you to post details on DisplayLink’s Windows 10 forum as well, as they are tracking issues that require further investigation.

If you’re a user of a Plugable USB graphics device and are experiencing issues, we’re here to help! If support is needed, please run our PlugDebug tool found here to collect system logs, and send the resulting file to support@plugable.com along with a description of the behavior you’re experiencing and any additional details you feel are relevant.

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Windows 10 and how it affects users of Plugable Productshttp://plugable.com/2015/07/22/windows-10-and-how-it-affects-users-of-plugable-products http://plugable.com/2015/07/22/windows-10-and-how-it-affects-users-of-plugable-products#comments Wed, 22 Jul 2015 23:53:09 +0000 http://plugable.com/?p=17249 http://plugable.com/2015/07/27/windows-10-and-plugable-docking-stations-usb-graphics-adapters The latest version of Windows, Windows 10, will be released by Microsoft on July 29th and will be offered as a free upgrade to all current users of […]]]> UPDATE – The first in our series of Win 10 specific posts in regard to our USB docking stations and USB video adapters is here –> http://plugable.com/2015/07/27/windows-10-and-plugable-docking-stations-usb-graphics-adapters

The latest version of Windows, Windows 10, will be released by Microsoft on July 29th and will be offered as a free upgrade to all current users of Windows 7 and Windows 8: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/windows-10-faq

Windows 10  Desktop

Windows 10 Desktop

As the upgrade is free, Microsoft is expecting rapid, wide adoption from the public. So what does that mean to both current and future Plugable customers? As with most questions, there is both a short and long answer…

Short Version: Plugable intends to support all of our current products for use with Windows 10, with some caveats.

Long Version: Operating systems like Windows and Mac OS X are huge efforts and represent hundreds of thousands of people-hours of development time. As great as both Microsoft and Apple are at designing software, when such large projects are released there are always teething problems. Some hardware and software may not work as expected, while some hardware and software may not work at all. Regardless of the issues, over time and with help, most of them will be fixed by Microsoft or the other vendors.

What does that mean to users of Plugable products? We have done our best in the run-up to the release of Windows 10 to test extensively and identify issues. The results so far look pretty good, with the exception of some new problems for USB graphics devices which appeared in the very last Windows 10 pre-release build (10240).

The real-world tests will begin after July 29th when hundreds of thousands of users along with their hundreds of thousands of Plugable products put them to use on an almost infinitely diverse array of systems running Windows 10. Nothing humankind has made is perfect and Windows 10 will be no exception, but as always we will be here to help and cement our reputation for not only having great products but also a great support team.

As with an major operating system upgrade, if you depend on your Windows system to ‘just work’, we suggest holding off on upgrading to Windows 10 for now. If you are an early adopter, be prepared for the possibility of teething problems. If you do encounter issues, we’ll do our best to help as we will be experiencing the same pain along with you and we’ll do our best to make it subside.

In the coming days we will be publishing a series of posts detailing some of the specific issues you may encounter with the different categories of our products which will hopefully help users avoid or resolve some of the more common issues. We welcome any general questions you have below. If you have a specific issue you would like assistance with, please send us an email at support@plugable.com Thanks for going out of your way for Plugable products!

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New USB-C Adapters from Plugable Increase Options for MacBook 2015 Usershttp://plugable.com/2015/07/20/two-new-usb-c-adapters-increase-options-to-macbook-retina-users http://plugable.com/2015/07/20/two-new-usb-c-adapters-increase-options-to-macbook-retina-users#comments Mon, 20 Jul 2015 14:50:13 +0000 http://plugable.com/?p=17206 USBC-E1000

USBC-E1000

With the 2015 MacBook, Apple designers went all-in on the new USB-C standard, adding only a single USB-C port. But the current scarcity of purpose-built USB-C peripherals has users scrambling for adapter cables to connect existing USB 2.0 and 3.0 devices to their new computers.

Today Plugable gives everyone with a USB-C system two new options: the market’s first USB-C flash card reader, along with a USB-C version of its popular E1000 Gigagbit USB-Ethernet adapter. Since both devices plug directly into USB-C, these devices allow users to access flash cards or the network without hassling with expensive and potentially unreliable adapter cables.

Both devices conform to the USB 3.1 Gen 1 specification to transfer data at up to 5Gbps over the tiny USB-C connector. Besides the new 2015 MacBook, they work out of the box with the USB-C equipped Chromebook Pixel (2), along with other soon-to-be-released computers that will feature the new USB-C ports.

USBC-FLASH3

USBC-FLASH3

The handy USBC-FLASH3 card reader lets users grab images from flash-card-using cameras directly into Photoshop or other imaging software at much faster speeds than a USB 2.0 reader or a WiFi connection to the camera. This is especially useful to photographers who take a lot of photos. The reader also shines in other scenarios where quick transfers from flash card to computer are essential.

USBC-E1000

USBC-E1000

The USBC-E1000 Gigabit Ethernet adapter frees WiFi-only MacBook and Chromebook from their reliance on WiFi and provides a stable and reliable wired Ethernet connections near Gigabit speeds.

Both devices are backed by Plugable’s highly rated customer service team in Seattle (USA). Email support@plugable.com to reach us anytime.

At Plugable, we are really excited by these two new products and hope you are too! We would love to hear from you. Feel free to comment or questions below. Thanks for going out of the way for Plugable products!

Where to buy

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3D Printed Bracket for 5-Port USB Chargerhttp://plugable.com/2015/07/16/3d-printed-bracket-for-5-port-usb-charger http://plugable.com/2015/07/16/3d-printed-bracket-for-5-port-usb-charger#comments Thu, 16 Jul 2015 20:36:06 +0000 http://plugable.com/?p=17179 USB-C5TX_1

For this week’s project, I tackled the 5-Port Smart Charger. It’s a robust and immensely helpful device, with a simple yet elegant form. This USB hub can support five devices at the same time. While this is very useful, it could also quickly lead to a cluttered desk. Being able to properly secure the hub beneath the desk tames the unruly workspace. The bracket also works great on top of the desk, especially in a public setting, because the grips deter sticky fingers. Discreet utility and firm security are he primary design objectives for this. The bracket had to also be strong enough to resist gravitational force and the tensions from many cables.

Since the shape of the device is so basic, I felt compelled to add extra visual interest with the bracket design. While this instinct did lead to some frustrating complications in the design process, it also gave me a chance to finish with several styles of bracket.

The 5-Port Charger has a similar shape to the PS2-USB4 hub from last week. The smaller scale of the 5-Port allowed my designs to be in one piece, without exceeding 6”x6” limitation of the printer bed. At first, I thought the smaller size would make things much easier for me, but I soon came to learn that printing a small bracket, all in one piece, has its own set of challenges. The main source of frustration was finding a way to securely hold the port, while avoiding impossible overhangs in the printing process. So far, I have been reluctant to rely on the automatically generated support material to compensate for such overhangs. After noodling around with curves and awkward angles, I realized that even if it wastes time and material, support structure is my friend.

USB-C5TX_2

As a result of my tinkering, I have four workable bracket designs. All of them secure the port nicely to the top or bottom of a surface, but the fourth iteration is my favorite. It has a satisfyingly snug fit, interesting visual detail, and is simple to print. The smoothed rectangular shape of the 5-port conveys a sense of solidity and reliability. By encircling the perimeter of the device at the base, rather than the top, the top is exposed. This underscores the inherent stable character of the device.

Here is the thingiverse link again.
As always, if you have an ideas for how we can use 3D printing to enhance your Plugable product, let us know!

-This post is part of an ongoing series about using 3D printing to enhance Plugable’s products. Design Intern, Justin Taylor, is working this summer to create and test CAD models of mounts and bracketing systems for our various products. Here is the link to the growing archive of posts on the project.

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3D Printed Bracket for Desktop Powerstriphttp://plugable.com/2015/07/10/3d-printed-bracket-for-desktop-powerstrip http://plugable.com/2015/07/10/3d-printed-bracket-for-desktop-powerstrip#comments Fri, 10 Jul 2015 17:15:23 +0000 http://plugable.com/?p=17128 PS2-USB4_7

Last week a hotel chain reached out to us about our PS2-USB4 power strip. They really liked using it in their rooms, but wanted to discourage guests from bringing it home as a Plugable souvenir.

This was a particularly interesting design problem for several reasons: The primary task was to design a mounting mechanism to prevent casual theft. Second, the mount had to be robust enough to withstand daily use from many temporary users. Third, I wanted minimal interruption from the mount of the power strip’s visual form. The cherry on top was the need to keep the powerstrip easily accessible for maintenance. These competing needs for security and accessibility made for a fun challenge.

For my initial design, I unscrewed the backplate of the dock and replaced it with a two-piece slab that slotted into a rotating mount base. If that sounds confusing, it’s because it was. While I was eventually able to put the contraption together, the detailed bits were too delicate and rendered the whole thing ineffective. So I went back to the drawing board and opted for a simpler and more elegant solution.

PS2-USB4_5
Check it out!
http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:918652

From a clean slate, I decided to make a pair of interlocking brackets to clamp the powerstrip into place. The powerstrip requires large open faces to accommodate cables, so I built around the corners, allowing easy access while minimizing time and material to print.

Petty theft is largely motivated by opportunity. So by designing the brackets to look extra impregnable, would-be thieves are much more reluctant to attempt to remove the device. Hiding the connection point between the two brackets underneath the powerstrip increases the sense of impenetrability.

Even though my earlier design didn’t work out, it was a valuable learning experience about the difference between digital expectations and the physical realities of the print. Using this lesson, I could make tiny adjustments that allowed the brackets to fit together cleanly, with just the right amount of snug.

PS2-USB4_6

To give a subtle contrast to the otherwise rectangular device, I rounded the corners and added curved cutouts on the sides. These curved elements look nice, but also make the bracket pleasant to touch. This is important because it can help create a casual affection for the product through touch. In later designs, I want to further explore how texture can enhance a product.

PS2-USB4_4

Stay tuned, my next project is a mounting mechanism for the 5 Port USB Charger. http://plugable.com/products/usb-c5tx

And here’s the link again for the PS2-USB4 brackets
http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:918652

-This post is part of an ongoing series about using 3D printing to enhance Plugable’s products. Design Intern, Justin Taylor, is working this summer to create and test CAD models of mounts and bracketing systems for our various products. Here is the link to the growing archive of posts on the project.

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3D Print Project for Plugable Mounts and Bracketshttp://plugable.com/2015/07/07/3d-print-project-for-plugable-mounts-and-brackets http://plugable.com/2015/07/07/3d-print-project-for-plugable-mounts-and-brackets#comments Tue, 07 Jul 2015 20:51:16 +0000 http://plugable.com/?p=17067
UD-3000 Docking Station Mount

Here at Plugable, customers frequently contact us asking for brackets, mounts, and other accessories to better adapt Plugable devices to their workflow and environment. We would love to accommodate them, but the needs are too diverse and the demand too small to justify mass production.

However, the introduction of cheap but powerful 3D printing devices has opened a new way to meet this demand. Inexpensive enough for a home or office environment, yet able to replicate sophisticated designs, these printers allow us to offer a variety of options to our customers that they can tweak to their own unique situation, then manufacture themselves.

I’m Justin Taylor, and I’ll be heading up Plugable’s first venture into this exciting realm. From September to June, I study industrial design at the University of Washington, but this summer, I’ll be Plugable’s first product design intern, tasked with bringing this idea to reality. Using SolidWorks 3D modeling software and a Lulzbot Mini printer bought for this purpose, I’ll be designing brackets and mounts for our popular products, to secure them, declutter work areas, while adding some visual appeal.

Over the next few months, I’ll design multiple styles and iterations for each product, and upload CAD files for them to thingiverse.com, where your can download and print them on your own 3D printer. Working on this smaller scale lets Plugable avoid large fabrication and shipping costs, while still providing a wide array of options. I’m excited to use 3D printing to add a do-it-yourself flair to Plugable’s product line.

Throughout the summer, I’ll be blogging my progress and product releases here. The design process is full of drama, frustration, and triumph which often go unnoticed in the glossy final object. I hope to show a behind-the-scenes look at the retrospective realizations and tough lessons that take ideas from screen to reality. That said, I’m committed to great results. I hope my work can build a new excitement for our products and reward loyal Plugable customers with cool and useful accessories.

Plugable 3D Printer

Our new printer has a 6x6x6 print area, and can use a wide range of plastic filaments. We could have purchased a larger printer, but we wanted a machine that mirrors the capabilities of the average hobbyist. The Lulzbot Mini has been a great machine, and I highly recommend it to anyone ready to take a serious step into 3D printing.

For my first project, I’ll tackle Plugable’s top seller, the UD-3900 Universal Docking Station. Key design considerations are resistance to lateral forces from the various cables, accessibility to both front and back, and minimizing time and material used. At first I explored the possibilities of a desk clamp, but shied away due to the wide variation in desktop widths. I decided instead to take advantage of the VESA mounts common on monitors. The desk clamp is still a direction to explore in the future.

Using VESA mounts is a neat solution because it provides immense stability—preventing the stand from being knocked over by an errant cable. My first design iteration was quite blocky. Since I was still relatively inexperienced with the capabilities of our printer and the strength of the plastic, I wanted a reference for the thicknesses needed for later designs. Designing the mount in two pieces gives the choice of using a VESA mount or simply placing the stand on the desk.

Dock2

The first iteration helped me make better judgments regarding wall thickness and make adjustments to better secure the docking station. In the second iteration, I added rounded cuts to reduce material usage while also testing the printer’s ability to handle overhang. Despite a few minor errors, the cuts came out clean and add some visual complexity to the design. Feel free to download it. It’s ready to print!

Dock3

Here’s the link for the UD-3900 Vesa Mount:
http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:908484

I am excited to begin this journey and I’d like to invite your participation. If you’re a dedicated Plugable customer and want to see some interesting accessories for your product, let me know! Your recommendations could easily turn into my project for the week.

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Video Cables Untangledhttp://plugable.com/2015/07/06/video-cables-untangled http://plugable.com/2015/07/06/video-cables-untangled#comments Mon, 06 Jul 2015 22:19:41 +0000 http://plugable.com/?p=17057 Justin_smallMany Plugable products, like our USB docking stations and USB video adapters, allow you to connect additional displays to your system. However, deciding which cable types to use for those displays can be confusing. I will try to clarify the situation in this post.

The image below shows the back of our UD-3900 USB docking station. Let’s use it as an example.

Video outputs of the UD-3900 USB docking station

Video outputs of the UD-3900 USB docking station

I’ve labeled the UD-3900’s two video outputs. One is a HDMI; the other is DVI. When designing this dock we put a lot of thought into these outputs, wanting to give our customers as many options as possible for connecting different displays. We arrived at these two because many types of cables can be attached. Let’s look at a few examples.

The most commonly used cables are standard DVI and HDMI cables (photos below). “Standard” means the cable has the same connector on each end. These cables should always work with the dock as long as the cable itself is not faulty. When troubleshooting a display problem, the first step is to check that the cables are connected securely and if possible swap them with ones that are known to be good.

Standard DVI to DVI cable

Standard DVI to DVI cable

Standard HDMI to HDMI cable

Standard HDMI to HDMI cable

There are other options besides standard HDMI and DVI cables. A DVI to VGA adapter is included with the UD-3900 that can connect the dock to an older monitor with VGA inputs using a standard VGA to VGA cable.

DVI to VGA adapter, two shown so both connectors can be seen

DVI to VGA adapter, two shown so both connectors can be seen

Although not included with the docking station, you can also use an HDMI to DVI cable to connect a DVI display. Although we don’t make a cable like that ourselves, many of our customers have successfully used one like this: www.amzn.com/B00K7HECTQ/

A nice thing about this type of cable is that it is bidirectional, which means it can work in both directions. It can go from the HDMI port on the dock to the DVI input of a display or from the DVI port on the dock to a HDMI display. If needed, you can also use Plugable’s optional HDMI-VGA cable (http://www.plugable.com/products/hdmi-vga) to connect the HDMI port to a VGA display.

So what does this all mean? Out of the box, our UD-3900 dock can connect three types of displays: HDMI, VGA or DVI, and by using various cable and adapters you can
adapt these outputs to your particular setup. You can have two HDMI displays, two DVI displays, two VGA or any combination of those.

Now that we have seen what does work, how about some examples of what does NOT work?

I mentioned earlier that you can convert the HDMI output to DVI and vice-versa, but there is an important point to note: HDMI output can carry an audio signal, but DVI output cannot. Why does this matter? If you convert the HDMI output of the dock to DVI you will lose the audio. By the same token, if you convert the DVI output to HDMI, it cannot carry audio as that information was not present to begin with.

There is a common misconception about converting HDMI to DisplayPort. Although there are simple cables with an HDMI connector on one end and a DisplayPort connector on the other, they will not work with Plugable docking stations. This is because they are usually passive cables that only convert DisplayPort output to HDMI and not the other direction. Differences between the two standards only allow for this unidirectional conversion.

Although somewhat complex, I hope this information will help untangle the many cabling possibilities when using our products. Please let us know if you have any questions in the comments below!

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Plugable’s New Combination USB Power Bank and Wall Chargerhttp://plugable.com/2015/06/22/plugables-new-combination-usb-power-bank-and-wall-charger http://plugable.com/2015/06/22/plugables-new-combination-usb-power-bank-and-wall-charger#comments Mon, 22 Jun 2015 16:08:46 +0000 http://plugable.com/?p=17002 We already have several great USB chargers and USB power banks on the market today, but we wanted to offer a new and unique product that combined the best of both worlds. We’re excited to announce our new PB-WA5K 2-port USB 5,000mAh power bank and AC wall outlet pass-through smart charger.

We wanted it to be as simple to use as possible. That meant removing confusing buttons and vague LED light indicators for a more straightforward and elegant design. The trouble with most USB power banks is that while you’re on the go and charging your devices, eventually the power bank battery also needs to be recharged. Our solution was to take functionality similar to our USB-C2W 2-port wall charger and our PB-6K2 6,000mAh power bank and combine them together into one compact and convenient package with some great new features.

While on the go chances are you won’t have access to another USB charger to charge your power bank, but you may have access to an AC wall outlet from time to time. The PB-WA5K has built-in flip-out AC prongs to recharge the power bank battery anywhere you have access to a US/Canada/Japan style AC wall outlet. In addition, while the power bank’s battery is recharging, thanks to a new pass-through charger design, attached USB devices will also charge directly from the available AC power. So when you reach the hotel and plug in the power bank and your devices to it, everything will be charged by morning.

The dual USB port design allows you to charge two devices at once while wall connected. Both ports are controlled by a smart IC and are capable of charging two completely different devices simultaneously at their maximum rate. To turn on the charger we added a motion sensor, simply shake it quickly side to side and the status LED will illuminate. When plugged into an AC wall outlet the charger will remain on until it is unplugged. When used as a portable battery pack, it will automatically turn off after 1 minute if no USB device is attached and being charged. The status LED will let you know what is happening with easy to follow color codes for battery life.

Have any questions? Just comment below or email support@plugable.com. We’re happy to help!

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The Scales of Windows Never Seem to Balancehttp://plugable.com/2015/06/04/the-scales-of-windows-never-seem-to-balance http://plugable.com/2015/06/04/the-scales-of-windows-never-seem-to-balance#comments Thu, 04 Jun 2015 17:44:34 +0000 http://plugable.com/?p=16521 As a technical support engineer for Plugable Technologies I see a lot common threads in the questions asked by our customers.

A typical example would be:

“I bought your dual monitor docking station to use with my Lenovo Yoga 2 Pro. It seems to work OK, but the size of the information on my two external displays doesn’t look right. Is this a problem with the dock?”

The short answer to this question is, no it is not a problem with the dock. The long answer is that the problem lies with how Windows scales information on multiple displays. What does that mean exactly? Let’s break down the example above…

We have a Yoga 2 Pro in our test lab like the one the customer is using and it has an internal 13.3 inch diagonal display that supports a maximum resolution of 3200 x 1800 pixels. Simply put that means if the entire display was a sheet of graph paper, there would be 3200 columns across the page horizontally and 1800 rows down the page vertically. Each single block on the page would represent one picture element, or pixel. These pixels are illuminated with different colors to form the images you see on the screen. This is very simplified version of what is happening but for our example it works just fine.

A typical monitor that we could add to this system using our docking station would have a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels in a 24 inch diagonal display. In our test case (and to replicate what the customer has) we add two of these monitors using the dock to the Yoga which is running Windows 8.1. After adding the additional monitors I notice that the icons on the newly added monitors look much bigger than I expect. What is going on?

The answer lies in how Windows is trying to scale the information on each monitor connected to the system. Windows will try to automatically scale the content on each of these displays using an equation to make everything appear in the best way possible. Sometimes this system works very well and in other instances not so much, but why? The answer has to do with pixel density.

Remember that graph paper analogy I used earlier? Let’s take a look at a real word example:

scaling_blog_image

The image above shows the same background image on both displays, but at a different resolution. This is a simplified example of our graph paper analogy but shows the how the difference in pixel density of each display can cause the same objects to appear differently.

So how does that explain our mysteriously large icons from earlier? Windows by default will try to scale the content on each monitor to make everything look as good as possible. When it is faced with such a large disparity in terms of pixel density, resolution and physical size it can wind up scaling things too much and cause things to look out of proportion.

So how do we deal with this? Windows allows us to manually control the scaling settings via the ‘Display’ application within the Control Panel.

Scaling Slider

There is a sliding control that allows us to change the scaling of items on all of the screens connected to the Yoga from smaller to larger by dragging the slider from left to right. However, this method is still applying Windows scaling equation to each monitor differently. If we want to set the scaling to the same value for each display, we can select the checkbox for ‘Let me choose one scaling level for all of my displays’

Scaling Radio Buttons

Now we have options to pick the same level of scaling for each display by clicking a radio button to pick between 100% (the default) up to 200%. However, Windows 8 does not allow for setting the scaling manually for each display connected to the system. You have to make the choice to use the slider to allow Windows to scale each display independently or manually pick the same scaling factor for all. The next release of Windows, Windows 10 will be the first to allow you to manually pick the scaling on each display.

So what does all of this mean? When you have a Windows system with multiple monitors with widely different pixel densities, resolution and physical size the automatic mechanisms to scale the image on each monitor may not be ideal. You can manually change these settings to something that suits your personal preference using the options in the ‘Display’ application. This behavior is not just limited to our docking station but can occur on any Windows system.

I know that is a lot to take in, and that is even with us presenting a simplified version of what goes on behind the scenes. To sum everything up neatly:

1. Monitors can have not only different resolutions but also different PPI/DPI measurements depending on physical size
2. Windows attempts to take these factors into account when scaling content on multiple displays
3. The effectiveness of this automatic scaling can vary depending on the disparity between all the displays connected to a system
4. While there has been some level of end user customization of scaling, the first version of Windows that will allow for manual scaling adjustment of individual displays in a multi-monitor setup is Windows 10

I hope this information proves useful and allows you to make use of multiple displays well in the future. I relied heavily on many sources while writing this post, and I list them below should anyone wish to dive deeper into what is going on behind the scenes.

References:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pixel_density

http://blogs.windows.com/bloggingwindows/2013/07/15/windows-8-1-dpi-scaling-enhancements/

http://blogs.msdn.com/b/danchar/archive/2014/11/01/high-dpi-multi-mon-with-surface-pro-3-dpi-scaling-tweaks.aspx

https://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/windows/desktop/dn469266(v=vs.85).aspx

http://sebastien-gabriel.com/designers-guide-to-dpi/home

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The New and Improved Plugable USB2-MICRO-250X Digital Microscopehttp://plugable.com/2015/06/01/the-new-and-improved-plugable-usb2-micro-250x-digital-microscope http://plugable.com/2015/06/01/the-new-and-improved-plugable-usb2-micro-250x-digital-microscope#comments Mon, 01 Jun 2015 14:57:38 +0000 http://plugable.com/?p=16837
We have received overwhelming positive feedback from schools, hobbyists and awesome parents making science a lot more interesting to their children with the USB2-MICRO-200X. So you might ask, why improve on something that is already a favorite with the customers? The answer is simple: Because we knew it could be better!

The USB2-MICRO-250X boasts improvements in both hardware and software. The stand is larger and more versatile, the microscope body is much more compact and stronger, the LEDs are more powerful, and the snapshot button is no longer a “button”. We’ve even released entirely new software that is both easier to use and universal. Read on to see why we went in the direction we did, and what it means for you.

Stand

Stand

Left: Original metal ball joint stand, Right: New flexible arm observation stand

The stand is by far the largest improvement over the original. The original stand had ball joints that allowed positioning of the microscope body over the object. Besides being too small to view larger objects, constant re-positioning eventually wore out the ball joints and the microscope would no longer hold it’s position. The new stand addresses these concerns by using a flexible arm with a suction cup base. This arm can be positioned in any number of ways, doesn’t wear out, and the suction cup can be attached to any smooth surface or to the included base.

Microscope Body

Body

Left: Larger original microscope, Right: New compact microscope

Overall, the new microscope body is much more compact and robust than the original. The original body, with enough force, could be broken apart by our younger users. The new one is about an inch shorter and the focus ring fully surrounds the body, making one-handed operation much easier.

The finish on the old microscope was also rubberized, where the new isn’t. The rubberized finish had a tendency to acquire scratches and fingerprints over time. The new microscope is thick, satin finish, injection molded plastic, which means much less scuffing and no fingerprints left behind.

Lighting

LEDs

Left: Original 5mm LED array, Right: New SMD LED array

The original light used an array of eight 5mm low power through-hole LEDs. We were able to cut the number of LEDs in half by using much more efficient surface mount LEDs. This also allowed us to mount a diffuser in front of the LEDs which makes for much smoother light distribution and less glare. Also, unlike the original microscope, the LEDs now turn on only when the microscope is being used.

The following comparison images were taken at the same distance and same resolution. Notice the much more even light distribution that lets you see all the dips and valleys, not to mention the higher magnification.

comparison

Left: New lights, better contrast, Right: Original lights, washed out

Snapshot Button

Snapshot

Left: Original snapshot button, Right: New capacitive touch button

The new snapshot button isn’t actually a button at all, but a capacitive touch sensor. This greatly improves your ability to take quality photos over the original. With the original having a physical button, you had to use a certain amount of force to depress it. This caused photos to sometimes come out blurry or not as you originally positioned, since you would have to stabilize the microscope while you’re pressing the button. This led to many customers not using the button at all, and just clicking the snapshot button in the software instead.

The new button only requires the lightest touch to take a picture. While this can lead to unintentional pictures being taken when handling the microscope, it’s far better than having a button you can’t use.

Software and Compatibility

We recently released our completely new Digital Viewer software to users in the original microscope page. This software was developed with the new microscope in mind, but it’s actually a universal webcam application which requires no proprietary drivers so it will work with any video capture device. This avoids all the issues we had with the old software which had detection problems.

The new software also has a completely fresh user interface. The biggest visual difference is the large, culturally universal icon buttons for camera functions at the top of the window. But we also added direct folder navigation to the main window so you can browse through your entire library without having to trudge through menus.

So if you are a fan of SCIENCE, or need a new digital microscope, the USB2-MICRO-250X will be your trusty lab partner. Keep scrolling for a range of sample pictures taken with the new microscope.

250x_collage

And on top of all the technical improvements, we’ve worked with our suppliers on volume orders to get the cost down.

Have any questions? We’re happy to help! Just comment below or email support@plugable.com anytime.

Where to Buy

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Connecting your existing USB devices to a new USB-C laptop or tablethttp://plugable.com/2015/05/29/connecting-your-existing-usb-devices-to-a-new-usb-c-laptop-or-tablet http://plugable.com/2015/05/29/connecting-your-existing-usb-devices-to-a-new-usb-c-laptop-or-tablet#comments Fri, 29 May 2015 19:02:56 +0000 http://plugable.com/?p=16884
Plugable USBC-AF3 Adapter shown connecting
a Plugable USB3-HUB3ME hub + Ethernet adapter to a MacBook.

One of the wonderful things about USB has been backwards compatibility. You can take a USB 1.1 device like a mouse from 15 years ago, plug into any computer today, and it will work.

The new USB Type C connector (USB-C) changes things around in terms of physical compatibility — you can’t just plug old devices into the new, smaller “Type C” port.

But all the wiring is there for full backward compatibility with no performance or functionality lost. It just takes is a simple cable to convert the size of the connectors. The new Plugable USBC-AF3 is a high quality version of this kind of cable.

So if you have a new 2015 MacBook, 2015 Chromebook Pixel 2, or any of the other coming flood of USB-C devices, this cable will let your older USB “A” device work with it. As always, just let us know if you have any questions, we’re happy to help.

Where to buy

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Kickstarter for Plugable Ultimate USB-C Dock Passes 5K in 24 hourshttp://plugable.com/2015/05/29/kickstarter-for-plugable-ultimate-usb-c-dock-passes-5k-in-24-hours http://plugable.com/2015/05/29/kickstarter-for-plugable-ultimate-usb-c-dock-passes-5k-in-24-hours#comments Fri, 29 May 2015 16:04:05 +0000 http://plugable.com/?p=16867

The Plugable Ultimate USB-C Dock has over $5K in backing in 24 hours on Kickstarter.

USB-C will be the biggest story in how we connect things to computers over the coming years. It supports simultaneous charging and device connectivity in ways that previous USB connectors could not.

But a laptop, tablet, or phone with just a single USB-C connector (which will be common) needs a dock to connect everything. This is the situation for Apple’s 2015 MacBook which launched in April.

It’s technically challenging to deliver a dock which implements USB’s new Power Delivery specification, so most of the docks announced so far re-use the laptop’s own power supply. Plugable’s dock does two things which are useful and unique in combination:

1) The Plugable Dock fully implements USB Power Delivery, includes its own power supply, and charges any PD-compliant device like the Macbook. So you can set aside your MacBook or other power supply as a spare.
2) Some USB-C computers and phones will support an external monitor directly via USB-C. Some won’t. Some will allow drivers to be installed, some won’t. Our dock includes 3 graphics outputs: one on USB-C’s built-in VESA Alternate Mode, and two via the well-known DisplayLink technology. So we’ll cover the maximum amount of systems with at least one or two monitors — and on most Mac and Windows systems, up to 3 monitors

An interesting example of the challenge is the coming generation of Android-M phones with USB-C support that Google announced yesterday. The dock will provide several useful functions on any USB-C Android phone, and we’ll describe that in a coming post.

If you have a USB-C system currently (MacBook 2015 or Chromebook Pixel 2015) or are planning to get one of the many USB-C systems coming this summer and fall, we hope you’ll consider backing our Kickstarter and getting your own ultimate USB-C dock.

Quick link to the kickstarter: plugable.com/kickstarter

Have any questions or comments? We’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to comment below.

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A Bluetooth Keyboard that’s More Portable and Durablehttp://plugable.com/2015/05/20/a-bluetooth-keyboard-thats-more-portable-and-durable http://plugable.com/2015/05/20/a-bluetooth-keyboard-thats-more-portable-and-durable#comments Wed, 20 May 2015 22:19:47 +0000 http://plugable.com/?p=16770 mainPlugable’s Bluetooth Folding Keyboard just launched. It aspires to be the perfect portable keyboard for your phone.

The best possible Bluetooth keyboard would be one that’s compatible – a standard Bluetooth keyboard that also supports the special keys and codes of Windows, iOS, and Android systems. It would be portable so you could fold it down to the size of your phone and throw it in your bag. And it would be durable so you can take it on the road and not worry.

The new Plugable BT-KEY3 Bluetooth keyboard aims for the sweet spot of all these characteristics.

Bluetooth keyboards have been around a long time. But most are too bulky to travel with. Years ago, I had one that folded and worked well. But it was all plastic and frustrated everyone by breaking often. It had a AAA battery, which was fine for the time but not as clean and convenient as a built-in battery that simply charges via USB.

2015-05-20-BT-KEY3-Layout-edit

The Plugable Keyboard is elegantly engineered to strike a balance between these competing demands:

  • The back is strong but lightweight aluminum. The hinges are stainless steel. This makes it extremely durable
  • The hinges are extremely smooth, it’s a pleasure opening and closing the keyboard
  • It comes with a soft but strong case that both protects the keyboard and anything else you’d throw in a bag with it
  • The case transforms into stand for your phone or tablet and adjusts to any angle
  • The keyboard has special support for Android, Windows, and iOS keymappings
  • It has a USB-charged battery that lasts for weeks of normal use

We’re really excited about this new keyboard. Learn more here: Plugable BT-KEY3. And feel free to comment below with any questions at all. We hope you find it both exciting and useful too. Thanks for going out of your way for Plugable products!

Where to Buy

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Using Easy Computer Sync to Transfer Data to a Second Drive on Your New Computerhttp://plugable.com/2015/05/18/migrating-to-a-computer-with-a-small-ssd-main-drive-using-the-windows-transfer-cable-and-bravura-easy-computer-sync http://plugable.com/2015/05/18/migrating-to-a-computer-with-a-small-ssd-main-drive-using-the-windows-transfer-cable-and-bravura-easy-computer-sync#comments Mon, 18 May 2015 15:00:22 +0000 http://plugable.com/?p=16477 EasyTran

Many recent computers combine a small, speedy solid-state drive (SSD) for system files with a larger, slower hard disk for data files. This can pose a problem when migrating from an older computer using the Plugable Windows Transfer cable because the data files and operating system files should go to two different drives. In some cases, even without an SSD, people want to put their data on a second drive separate from their system drive.

These scenarios are not well supported in the Bravura Easy Computer Sync software supplied with the Plugable Windows Easy Transfer cable. By default, Easy Computer Sync tries to transfer all the data from the main drive on the old computer to the main drive on the new computer. If the main drive on the new computer can’t hold all that data, an error message will complain that there is not enough space on the destination drive. Otherwise the data will end up on the wrong drive.

In this post, we will look at a method for getting your data stored where you want it on the new computer. I will assume the common scenario where all the user files are transferred to the second drive on the new computer. I will use a Windows XP computer as the old one, and a Windows 8.1 computer for the new one, but this will work with any combination of supported operating systems.

With appropriate modifications, this same method can be used to select any collection of files or folders from any fixed disk on the old computer and send them to any location on any fixed disk on the new computer.

I’ll assume you have downloaded the Bravura Easy Computer Sync software, installed it on each computer, and entered your product key. If you haven’t, follow the Install Instructions section on this page.

Preparing the Old Computer

1. Plug the Windows Transfer cable into each computer and start the Bravura Easy Computer Sync software. You will see the Welcome window.

Easy Computer Sync Welcome Screen

2. On both computers, click Next twice until the screen says “Waiting for Connection.”

Waiting for Connection

3. In a moment, the on-screen message should change to “Connection Detected.” If it doesn’t change within a minute or so, temporarily disable any anti-virus or firewall software and try again. If this doesn’t work, contact Plugable support for help.

Connecton Detected

4. After the connection is detected, Easy Computer Sync will display the Tools window. This is where you select the type of transfer you want to do. Since we are transferring files from an old computer to a new one, select Transfer Data to New Computer. The Sync Files option is used when you want to send data back and forth between two computers on an ongoing basis. However, the technique mentioned here will work for the Sync Files function also. The Drag & Drop function is used for manually transferring individual files and folders.

Tools Window

5. Easy Computer Sync will display a list of user folders it wants to transfer to the main drive on your new computer. Although the user folders under the user name—such as My Documents and Pictures— are frequently accessed, the individual files they contain are infrequently accessed and should go to the second drive on your new computer. Unfortunately, the software will not allow you to change the transfer location in this window. If these folders are left in their currently selected state, they will go to the smaller SSD drive, which is the system drive (usually the C drive).

Remove Checks as Needed

6. Since you don’t want these user folders on your SSD, clear the check mark next to each folder here, including the Public folder. In another window, you will individually select the destination disk and folder on your new computer for each user folder you see here.

Check Marks Cleared

In the following Steps 8 through 17, we will select the destination for a single user folder on the old computer. This procedure must be repeated for each user folder you want to transfer from the Select Items to Transfer window. At the end of this post, I will show you how to make the newly transferred folders the default user folders on your new computer.

7. To make a gathering place for those folders on your new computer, start by creating a folder on the destination drive with your Windows user name. Do this before proceeding to the next step.

In this example, I want to transfer folders belonging to the user named “David” on the XP computer to a folder named “David” on the second drive of the new computer. So I use Windows Explorer to create a folder named “David” on that drive.

Create a folder named "David"

Setting up a folder for transfer to second drive of the new computer (repeat for each folder)

Do the Steps 8 through 17 for each user folder you want to transfer from those shown in the Select Items to Transfer window. You can also use this procedure to transfer other data folders on your old computer if you know where they are. In this example, I will transfer the My Documents and Desktop folders from the David user in the XP computer to folders I will create with the same names in the David folder on the second disk of the new computer. In real life, you will probably want to transfer all the folders shown under your user name in this window.

8. Click Add Folder.

Click Add Folder

9. This opens a new window that shows drives on the old computer and the new computer. You can expand a drive and reveal its folders by clicking the + mark next to it.

Click + to expand folders

10. Unfortunately, in this view Easy Computer Sync does not automatically show the user folders we want to transfer, such as Documents, Pictures, Desktop, Music, Videos, and the like. This is because they are located under Documents and Settings folder on the system disk in Windows XP or under Users in later Windows versions. Easy Computer Sync hides these folders to protect them. To display and transfer them, you have to make these protected folders visible. To do this, click Show Protected Folders at the lower-left.

Click Show Protected Folders

11. A confirmation window will appear. Click Yes.

Confirmation

12. Expand the local disk again by clicking the + symbol.

Expand Local Disk

13. The User folders are now visible. Expand the Documents and Settings folder in Windows XP or the Users folder in later Windows versions to view them. Expand the folder of the user you are transferring (David in this example.)

Expand Documents and Settings folder or Users folder

14. In the left-side panel, highlight the folder on the old computer (such as My Documents) that you want to transfer. With it still highlighted, go to the right-side panel and expand the drive you want to transfer that folder to, and highlight the user name folder you made on that drive in Step 7.

10 Click David

15. Use the Create Folder function to create a new folder for the contents of the folder you are transferring. The new folder will be created under the one highlighted in the right-side panel.

Create Documents Folder

16. Click Create Folder.

Type in folder name

17. A text entry box will appear. Type in the name of the folder and click OK.The new folder will be created in the Select Folders Window. Making sure both the source folder and the destination folder are highlighted, click OK in the Select Folders window to save this pair of folders.

12.5 After make docs folder

The Select Folders Window will close and you will be returned to the Select Items to Transfer window, where you should see a check mark next to the name of the folder you just added.

12.7 Select items to transfer after my docs

18. Use the same procedure to add each folder you want to transfer. The screen shot belows shows the Desktop folder being added.

Adding Desktop folder

19. When finished adding each new folder to be transferred, click OK in the Select Folders window. After the final folder has been selected, make sure each folder you selected has a check mark next to it in the Select Items to Transfer window, as shown below. Make sure any folders you don’t want to be transferred are not checked. Easy Computer Sync will remember these settings for future transfers between the two computers.

Make sure all folders to be transferred have checkmarks next to them.

20. When all is ready, click Next in the Select Items to Transfer window to start the transfer. The Transferring Files window will show a progress bar while the files are being transferred. This may take a long time for large amounts of data.

File transfer in progress

21. When the transfer is finished, the Finished window will be displayed, showing how many files were transferred.

Finished window

22. Click View Log to see a detailed view of which files were transferred. This is useful if Easy Computer Sync reports some files not transferred. The log opens in Notepad as a text file, and can be saved from there.

Transfer log

This completes the procedure for transferring the user folders to your new computer. If you want to make those newly transferred folders your default user folders, follow the procedure below.

Changing your default user folders to the ones you transferred

After transferring your user folders to the second drive on your new computer, you may wish to set those folders as the default user folders in place of the original ones on your SSD drive. Windows and many programs automatically select the default folders as the save location for files. For example Word saves documents in the Documents folder. Photo programs like Picasa save photos in your Pictures folder. Many music programs save music in your Music folder. You change the default separately for each user folder. Please note that this will permanently alter your computer’s setup.

1. Open Explore and navigate to the current default folder. Right-click and select Properties.

1 open props

2. In the Properties Window, select the Location tab.

Click Location

3. In the Location tab, edit the text box to show the location of the newly transferred folder. Clicking the Find Target… button will open another Explorer window where you can locate the target. Enter the location of that folder in the text box.

3 name changed

4. Click OK. You will be asked if you want to move your documents and other files from the current default folder to the new one. Click Yes here to consolidate all the files in one folder. A window will appear showing the transfer operation.

Move files

If you have any questions or issues following these instructions, please leave a comment on this post, or contact us at support@plugable.com

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DisplayLink Launches Support for Android 5.0 and Higher Dockinghttp://plugable.com/2015/05/15/displaylink-launches-support-for-android-5-0-docking http://plugable.com/2015/05/15/displaylink-launches-support-for-android-5-0-docking#comments Fri, 15 May 2015 18:33:14 +0000 http://plugable.com/?p=16630 For the first time, you can mirror the display of a supported Android device onto a monitor or TV through the device’s USB port, using a newly-released driver by display chip maker DisplayLink. The driver works for adapters or docking stations using DisplayLink’s chips that are attached to tablets and smartphones running Android version 5.0 (Lollipop) or higher. Using the driver may also give access to other docking station functions, such as Ethernet and sound if the Android device already supports those functions. All Plugable USB display adapters and docking stations use DisplayLink chips.

This is a beta-level software release, which means there are crashes and bugs to deal with in specific scenarios, but the potential is exciting. Here is an example of how everything works so far.

The screenshots above show the app in the Google Play Store and the main screen when the app is launched. So what happens when you plug a DisplayLink device into an Android device?

The screen on the left shows what happens when you connect a DisplayLink device (in this case one of our Plugable UD-3000 docks) to a Motorola Moto X Gen2 phone with a required USB OTG adapter. The app will prompt to allow the DisplayLink device to become active, and then warn that everything on screen will be captured and sent to the DisplayLink device. Once allowing the action, the magic happens:

IMG_20150512_164453

So what all is working here?

  • A single mirrored display supporting up to 1920 x 1080 resolution
  • A USB hub with wired keyboard and mouse
  • The analog audio output (but not the input) of the dock itself

Once the DisplayLink device is in use, there are subtle indicators that it is working. In the notification pull-down there is an indicator that DisplayLink Desktop is running and the Cast Screen option has turned into a DisplayLink Desktop icon.

As this is a beta, I did run into some issues. While testing I received a text message and that caused the application to crash. I disconnected the phone from the dock and the OS was frozen and eventually caused a reboot. Again, this is an early beta and I’m sure with time these bugs will be worked out.

Disconnecting the phone from the UD-3000 and connecting it to our UD-PRO8 docking station yields even more interesting results. Not only can I make use of the additional display but there is also support for the wired Ethernet chipset since the ASIX Ethernet chip used in the dock is usually supported under Linux, which Android is based upon. Unfortunately the Moto X Gen 2 won’t pull a charge from the UD-PRO8 while connected so while docked the battery will discharge.

Though this is just an early beta there are a lot of exciting possibilities to this new product. With further development it may be possible to use an Android phone or tablet as a primary system. We’ll keep you up to date as the beta progresses, and we’d also love to hear about your experiences in the comments section!

Most Android devices do not have a full-sized USB “A” port, as a USB OTG adapter is required to connect any USB devices.

Hardware we have tested so far:

  • Motorola Moto X Gen 2 with Android Lollipop 5.0
  • Google Nexus 5 with Android Lollipop 5.1
  • Google Nexus 7 1st Gen (2012) with Andorid 5.1 (did NOT work)
  • Google Nexus 7 2nd Gen(2013) with Android 5.0

Plugable Devices Tested and recommended for testing:

While this is beta-level support, it’s exciting to have the potential to turn Android devices into desktop replacements with keyboard, mouse, a big screen, and other USB devices. If you put it to use, please let us know your results of testing with your own devices in the comments. We’d love to hear from you!

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Plugable’s Line of USB-C Productshttp://plugable.com/2015/05/13/plugables-line-of-usb-c-products http://plugable.com/2015/05/13/plugables-line-of-usb-c-products#comments Wed, 13 May 2015 20:01:49 +0000 http://plugable.com/?p=16435 Plugable's Gigabit Ethernet adapter plus 3-Port USB 3.0 Hub combo, Flash Memory Card Reader, Gigabit Ethernet adapter, and Passive USB-C Male to USB 3.0 Female cable

From top to bottom: Plugable’s Gigabit Ethernet adapter plus 3-Port USB 3.0 Hub combo, Flash Memory Card Reader, Gigabit Ethernet adapter, and Passive USB-C Male to USB 3.0 Female cable

With the announcement of the USB Type-C connector last year, everything changed.

A reversible, universal, multi-mode, charging, up to 10Gb/s data cable? Yes please! This blows any other connection standard out of the water. You can imagine a utopian future where all computers have standardized on USB type-C ports.

In recent months, we’re finally starting to see devices coming out with this new connector. On the leading edge so far are the Apple MacBook Retina 12″ 2015 and the Google Chromebook Pixel [2] 2015. The MacBook specifically only has a single USB-C port, which in the current non-utopian world means most of your current accessories become instantly obsolete. That’s where we come in.

We are excited to show off our new hub, card reader, and Ethernet adapters that all connect directly to your USB-C laptop or tablet. They all work with either the new Macbook or Chromebook Pixel. All three are based on our current USB 3.0 offerings, so compatibility is already well tested and understood. The first manufacturing batch is still in progress, but these will be on the market very soon.

The USB-C to female A cable is a new type of product. Through this cable, you can plug basically any USB device you own into your new USB-C equipped laptop. There are no active adapters involved here, and the cable is nice and short, so there shouldn’t be any signal interference or timing issues associated with active cables. Just a clean, well shielded, straight-through cable that allows you do adapt any USB 2.0 or USB 3.0 device you already own to that new laptop or tablet.

We fully intend to dive headfirst into the USB-C marketplace, so there will be much more to come. But for now, we are thrilled to reveal these first offerings. If you have any questions or feedback, we’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

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Quick Fix for Problems Using Bluetooth and Blueman from the Raspberry Pi Raspbian Desktophttp://plugable.com/2015/05/11/quick-fix-for-problems-using-bluetooth-from-the-raspberry-pi-desktop http://plugable.com/2015/05/11/quick-fix-for-problems-using-bluetooth-from-the-raspberry-pi-desktop#comments Mon, 11 May 2015 23:20:28 +0000 http://plugable.com/?p=15570 pi_Blueman

Bluetooth and Raspberry Pi are a natural combination, allowing your Pi to communicate wirelessly with devices like our Bluetooth home automation switch. However, recent versions of Raspian have had permission issues that won’t let ordinary users open Blueman, the desktop Bluetooth program, without being root. Fortunately, the solution is easy: just add the current user to the bluetooth group. Here are the details:

The Problem

You install Raspbian on your Pi, boot up and log in as “pi” or another normal user. You install Blueman, the graphical interface to Bluetooth for the Pi, according to the instructions here, and plug in your Bluetooth adapter. You select Bluetooth Manager from Menu > Preferences and the icon appears on your desktop. But when you click on it, or right-click and select Setup New Device, the rotating “busy” symbol appears next to the cursor for moment, but the Blueman window fails to open.

The Solution

This happens because when Raspian installs Blueman and the other Bluetooth software, it does not automatically add ordinary users to the bluetooth group. This group gives users permissions to access D-Bus, which Bluetooth uses for communication in Raspian. This causes a Permission Denied error whenever a Bluetooth process initiated by the unprivileged user attempts to access Blueman. The solution is easy. Just add the user that will use Bluetooth to the bluetooth group:

1. Open a terminal window.
2. Type the following at the prompt
sudo usermod -G bluetooth -a <username>

Replace <username> with your actual username, usually pi.

Add user to Bluetooth group

You can check it by typing:

cat /etc/group | grep bluetooth

You should see your username at the end of the group:

bluetooth:x:111:pi

Check if current user is in Bluetooth group

Check if current user is in Bluetooth group

Type sudo reboot to restart your Pi, then log in again. You should now be able to access Bluetooth using Blueman.

I hope this guide is useful. If you have any other questions, please comment here or contact us at support@plugable.com.

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Restoring Lost Bluetooth Icon to Your Windows System Trayhttp://plugable.com/2015/04/30/restoring-lost-bluetooth-icon-to-your-windows-system-tray http://plugable.com/2015/04/30/restoring-lost-bluetooth-icon-to-your-windows-system-tray#comments Thu, 30 Apr 2015 15:39:54 +0000 http://plugable.com/?p=16389 Missing Bluetooth IconThe Bluetooth icon in the Windows system tray provides an easy way to connect and manage Bluetooth devices on your Windows 7, 8, or 8.1 computer, and many Bluetooth users rely on it. But an accidental click in the wrong place can cause you to lose that icon, leaving no obvious way to access Bluetooth settings. Here is how to restore it.

The Problem

When Bluetooth is activated in a Windows 7, 8, or 8.1 computer, Windows places a Bluetooth icon in the System Tray—the collection of easily accessible icons near the clock. It will either appear on the task bar or can be accessed by clicking the upward pointing triangle.
betterBTmenu
Clicking the Bluetooth icon displays a menu with entries for adding and managing Bluetooth devices. At the bottom of the menu, in a location that is easy to click by mistake, there is a Remove Icon entry. This removes the icon and closes the menu with no notification or confirmation. The next time you go to use Bluetooth, the icon is unexpectedly gone. With no icon or other indication that Bluetooth is available, it is easy to assume that Bluetooth is broken or no longer exists on the computer. It is difficult to understand why Microsoft included this, since icons in the System Tray can be easily hidden using the Customize link on the menu.

Although it is extremely easy to remove the icon by accident, Windows provides no easy way to restore it. Despite the importance of Bluetooth these days, especially to tablet users, Windows provides no Bluetooth control applet in the Control Panel. In Windows 8/8.1, a Bluetooth settings panel is available several levels deep from the Settings icon in the Charms menu, but like most Charms panels, its functionality is limited, and it includes no method to restore the Bluetooth icon.

Restoring the Icon

A detailed Bluetooth control applet does exist. Called Change Bluetooth Settings, it can be opened by searching for it in the Start menu. The procedure is slightly different in Windows 7 and in Windows 8/8.1, but once found, the icon is easy to restore.

Windows 7

1. Click the Start button.
Search Change Bluetooth Settings Windows 7
2. Type “change Bluetooth settings” in the Search Programs and Files box directly above the Start button.
3. “Change Bluetooth Settings” should appear in a list of search results as you type. Click it to open the Bluetooth Settings window shown below.
Change Bluetooth Icon in Windows 7
4. Under the Options tab, place a check in the box next to Show the Bluetooth icon in the notification area.
5. Click OK and restart Windows. The icon should reappear the next time you log in.

Window 8/8.1

1. Right-click the Start Button.
2. Select Search
Search Change Bluetooth Settings Windows 8
3. Making sure Everywhere is selected, type “change Bluetooth settings.”
4. “Change Bluetooth Settings” should appear in a list of search results as you type. Click it to open the Bluetooth Settings window shown below.
Change Bluetooth Icon Windows 8
5. Under the Options tab, place a check in the box next to Show the Bluetooth icon in the notification area.
6. Click OK and restart Windows. The icon should reappear the next time you log in.

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USB Charging Past, Present, and Future – Type-Chttp://plugable.com/2015/04/27/usb-charging-past-present-and-future-type-c http://plugable.com/2015/04/27/usb-charging-past-present-and-future-type-c#comments Mon, 27 Apr 2015 16:00:24 +0000 http://plugable.com/?p=16231 Last October we wrote about choosing between a dedicated USB charger or a charge and sync USB hub. At the time USB charging could be quite frustrating for consumers as device and charger incompatibilities were rampant. Fortunately dedicated smart chargers, charge and sync compliant hubs, and charge and sync compliant devices are now far more common and USB charging has become more plug and play than it ever used to be. The era of fully standardized USB is upon us. USB Type-C.

type-c

Past

For many of us, just going back a few years was a dark time in USB charging. It seemed everyone had some device that would only charge from its stock charger and nothing else, or you could sync data to your computer but you couldn’t charge from it. When the Apple iPad was released many found themselves in this situation. Fortunately with its mass popularity 3rd party chargers were quickly developed to emulate the Apple charging signals which went on to become the unofficial universal standard for many other devices. This was great for consumers who didn’t want to buy expensive stock chargers but it still didn’t solve the charge and sync problem. Often syncing while charging either isn’t possible or is extremely slow. Eventually the USB Implementers’ Forum (USB-IF) designed a standard to resolve this issue, Battery Charging 1.2, and slowly it has been adopted into most modern devices, including later generations of the iPhone and iPad.

Present

Today several chipset manufacturers make smart chipsets that try to intelligently detect what device you are using and emulate the best charging signal for that device. Most major phones and tablets are supported from Apple iOS, Android, and Windows Mobile based devices from many different manufacturers. For 2015 we have introduced a whole new line of dedicated smart chargers and an update to our bestselling USB 3.0 hub to be BC 1.2 compliant ensuring almost any USB device will charge at the fastest rate possible.

Future

The future for USB charging appears bright with the introduction of USB Type-C, a new standardized universal connector that will hopefully become commonplace on future devices from cell phones to laptops. Currently there aren’t many USB Type-C devices on the market but the two that we’ve been testing have interchangeable power adapters thanks to cross-compatibility of the USB-IF Power Delivery standard.

Our testing of the cross-compatibility yielded some interesting results and there are some limitations to this cross-compatibility that need to be addressed. The most important information is knowing that the USB-IF Power Delivery standard has different power profiles and not every power adapter will support them all:

pdprofiles

  • The Apple MacBook 12″ with USB Type-C ships with a 29W power adapter. Looking at the specs written on the adapter it supports two power profiles of 5.2V at 2.4A and 14.5V at 2A (neither of which is a standard PD profile in the chart above)
  • The Google Chromebook Pixel [2] 2015 with USB Type-C ships with a 60W power adapter. It’s specs show support of 5V, 12V, and 20V at 3A (amperage for 5V and 12V is not labeled but we’re assuming for now that it supports 5V at 2A and 12V at both 1.5A and 3A as shown in the chart above)

adapters

It’s clear from our testing that the MacBook will accept charging signals from a PD power adapter like the Chromebook’s, but it is also clear that the MacBook adapter isn’t quite following the PD standard, rather something custom from Apple. We also found the MacBook does not charge any faster or slower using the Chromebook’s more powerful power adapter.

What is perhaps more interesting though is that the Chromebook Pixel [2] 2015  charges at all (albeit at a slower rate and a warning message “Low power charger connected – Your Chromebook may not charge while it is turned on”) when using the MacBook power adapter. This may suggest that the MacBook power adapter is indeed capable of following at least some PD profiles but that they just aren’t labeled on the power adapter.

While this is just an early look at USB Type-C and the USB-IF Power Delivery standard, later this year we expect to see several new systems sporting USB Type-C and we’ll be sure to keep you updated on the charging situation. We hope that cross-compatibility between devices and chargers will continue and only become more universal.

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Selecting the Right USB-Ethernet Adapter for your Computer and Networkhttp://plugable.com/2015/04/21/selecting-the-right-usb-ethernet-adapter-for-your-computer-and-network http://plugable.com/2015/04/21/selecting-the-right-usb-ethernet-adapter-for-your-computer-and-network#comments Tue, 21 Apr 2015 16:11:31 +0000 http://plugable.com/?p=16003 PlugableUSBEtherentAdaptersEditSmall
You’re a consultant, and you stride into a new client’s office with your Macbook Air, only to discover they’ve disabled WiFi for security reasons.

You pull out your Windows tablet in a hotel room, but the only internet available is coming through a wire on the desk.

You’re a gamer and you’re tired of watching helplessly as your frozen character dies of WIFI-induced lag.

You plug your computer into your brand new Gigabit fiber optic connection, and it’s no faster than before.

A USB to Ethernet adapter can be the answer in each of these scenarios. All of them can add an Ethernet port to a supported computer that lacks one. Some offer speeds far faster than a typical wireless connection or an older network card. A wired connection is also more stable, more reliable, and more secure than a wireless connection.

Plugable offers five USB-Ethernet adapters to accommodate your needs, including the USB2-E100, USB2-E1000, and USB3-E1000. There is also the USB3-HUB3ME that combines a USB 3.0 four-port hub with the chipset of the USB3-E1000, and the USB2-OTGE100, which is electrically identical to the USB2-E100, but features a micro-USB connector especially suited for tablets and smartphones that don’t have a standard full-size USB port.

Which one is right for you? Which will work with your device? How can you get the highest speeds without wasting money on unneeded capacity or buying something that doesn’t work with your computer? To make a good decision, you can think about the 3 C’s: Compatibility, Capacity, and Cost.

Compatibility

The table below gives an overview of the different Plugable USB-Ethernet adapters and their compatibility with different operating systems. Please note that even if a device is compatible with a given computer, it may need to be configured to work on a particular network, especially in corporate or institutional settings like hospitals or universities. Please consult your IT staff for details. When plugging directly into a cable or DSL modem on a home network, it may be necessary to disconnect power from the modem for 30 seconds, then plug it back in again to make it accept the new device.

Windows

All Plugable adapters can be used with all Windows computers with Windows XP and later and at least one USB port. However, while USB 3.0 adapters will work in a USB 2.0 port, they will not reach their full speed potential unless plugged into a USB 3.0 port. Also, computers with USB 3.0 ports several years old may need a driver upgrade to work properly.

The USB2-OTGE100 is especially suited to the many recently-introduced Windows tablets that only have micro-USB ports. While electrically identical to the USB2-E100, its male micro-USB connector eliminates the need for an On-The-Go (OTG) cable. However, because recent Windows tablets contain a full-featured Windows 8.1 operating system, they are fully compatible with any Plugable USB-Ethernet adapter provided an OTG cable is available, and are capable of higher speeds on a Gigabit network if a Plugable Gigabit USB adapter like the USB2-E1000 or USB3-E1000 is used.

Built-in drivers are available for some adapters in Windows 8 and later. If no driver is present, Windows will download the drivers automatically if the computer is connected to the Internet. If no connection is available, for example, because you are connecting a WIFI-only computer in a location with no WIFI, you can install drivers from the included CD disk, or download them to another computer from the Plugable website, copy them to a flash drive, plug it your computer, and install from there.

Mac

OS X versions from OS X 10.6 (Snow Leopard) to OS X 10.10 (Yosemite) should already contain drivers that are compatible with all Plugable USB-Ethernet adapters. However, if for some reason the drivers are missing, they can be easily downloaded from the Plugable website. Unfortunately, these USB-Ethernet adapters are not compatible with Apple devices like the iPhone or iPad that use iOS.

Chromebook

Chromebook computers already have the necessary drivers install for all Plugable USB-Ethernet adapters and should work out of the box.

Linux

In Linux systems, support for the different chipsets in Plugable USB-Ethernet adapters depends on the kernel version, as shown in the table above. However, expert Linux users can add support to earlier versions by rebuilding the kernel module from the source code. You can find your kernel version by opening a terminal window and typing uname -r.

Android

While the chipsets in several Plugable USB-Ethernet adapters are supported in Android itself after version 4.0, they will actually work only if the maker of the phone or tablet has installed the necessary drivers. If the drivers are not already included by the maker, installing after the fact is extremely difficult and requires professional-level expertise with Android.

On the Plugable.com product pages for the USB2-E100, the USB2-OTGE100, and the USB2-E1000, there is a list of known compatible and non-compatible devices. The USB2-E100 and USB2-E1000 require OTG cables to connect. USB 3.0 devices are not supported for Android at this time.

If your device is not on the list and you’ve tested it with one of our adapters, email us at support@plugable.com or leave a comment below. We’ll add it to the list.

iOS

Sadly, iPhones, iPads, and other Apple mobile devices using iOS do not support any Plugable USB-Ethernet devices at present.

Capacity and Cost

Everyone wants the fastest possible network access, whether for connecting to the internet or downloading files from an office server. But there’s no point spending money on capacity you can’t use. For example, if you are accessing the internet through a cable connection that promises a maximum 25 Megabits per second (Mbps), there is no reason to invest the extra money to buy a USB3-E1000 adapter that can reach speeds 40 or 50 times faster. Our USB2-E100, with its 95Mbps maximum speed, would be a better choice. Getting a faster adapter won’t make your network faster if its speed is limited by your internet connection or other hardware on the network.

The speed at which data can be transferred over a network depends on a lot of variables, and the final speed will only be as fast as the slowest thing affecting it. To get the most speed possible, be sure your router, cables, and any switches or hubs are also designed for the speed you are hoping for. If there are many computers connected ot your network or if any connected computer has a virus or trojan, this will also degrade speed.

For the purposes of selecting the right adapter for your situation, you’ll want to select an adapter that exceeds the maximum speed of your network, while taking into consideration any likely future improvements. Network speeds are usually measured in Megabits (one million bits) per second (Mbps). Be careful not to confuse Megabits with the Megabytes commonly used to measure file sizes and hard drive speeds. A byte is made up of 8 bytes, so it would take more than 8 seconds to download an 100 Megabyte file at 100 Megabits per second.

Generally for a home network, the most important consideration is the speed you have contracted for with your Internet service provider (ISP). Contact them if you aren’t sure. Speeds of 10-50 Mbps are common, but recently download speeds in excess of 1 Gigabit per second (1000 Mbps) have become available in some areas. In an office setting where you might be spending a lot of time communicating with another server on the same local network, the maximum speed of the local network hardware and the server you are accessing might be the most important consideration. Some offices also have fiber optic access to the internet at 1000Mbps or higher.

I hope this guide is useful. If you have any other questions, please comment here or contact us at support@plugable.com.

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Try Pi WiFi: Using the Plugable USB WiFi Adapter with Your Raspberry Pi 2http://plugable.com/2015/04/14/try-pi-wifi-using-the-plugable-usb-wifi-adapter-with-your-raspberry-pi-2 http://plugable.com/2015/04/14/try-pi-wifi-using-the-plugable-usb-wifi-adapter-with-your-raspberry-pi-2#comments Tue, 14 Apr 2015 22:41:42 +0000 http://plugable.com/?p=15713 2-Pi

UPDATE: Raspian has changed the WiFi interface, and the content of this article may not work on your Pi. Please see the final comment for instructions that work in the latest version. This post will be updated after I have a chance to test the new method thoroughly.

Just about everyone who has rode the Raspberry Pi wave in the last two years is excited about the possibilities presented by the new Raspberry Pi 2. With six times the processing power, it has the potential to turn a fun computer for experiments and hacks into a respectable piece of hardware that could almost replace a desktop computer.

But what if your desk is far from an Ethernet connection? What if you want to use the Pi in an isolated place to control security cameras or home automation? You’ll probably need a WIFI connection, but the Raspberry Pi doesn’t come with this capability built in.

The Plugable USB-WIFINT is useful in this situation. All you have to do is plug it in, set your network ID and password, and you are ready to roll. The same procedure should work with any WIFI adapter that uses the same Realtek RTL8188CUS chip set. It also works with any Raspberry Pi model updated to the latest version of Raspian. To get started, you’ll need your SSID (wireless network name) and the password for the network.

Connecting from the Graphical Interface

1. If you already have an internet connection, make sure your Pi is up-to-date by issuing the following commands:

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get upgrade

Accept any updates and wait for them to be installed. If you don’t have an internet connection, you can do this after the adapter is installed.

2. Plug in your Plugable USB-WIFINT adapter. The red light on it should blink for a few moments.

3. On the desktop, click Menu > Preferences > WiFi Configuration.

Pi_WIFI_1

A window titled wpa_gui will appear on the screen. You should see wlan0 in the Adapter field.

Pi_WIFI_3

4. Click the Scan button to scan for wireless networks in your vicinity.

Pi_WIFI_5

5. Double-click on your network in the scan results. A configuration screen for your network should open. Enter your network key into the PSK field.

Pi_WIFI_4

6. Click Add, then click Connect on the main window. You should now be connected to WIFI.

Pi_WIFI_2

If you have any questions at all, please comment below or email support@plugable.com. We’re happy to help!

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Plugable’s New USB 3.0 Graphics Adapter for 2K and 4K HDMI Displayshttp://plugable.com/2015/04/07/plugable-new-usb-3-0-graphics-adapter-for-2k-and-4k-hdmi-displays http://plugable.com/2015/04/07/plugable-new-usb-3-0-graphics-adapter-for-2k-and-4k-hdmi-displays#comments Tue, 07 Apr 2015 21:52:55 +0000 http://plugable.com/?p=16131 Multimedia background. 4k resolution conceptWhen Plugable was the first company in the world to launch a 4K-capable USB 3.0 DisplayPort graphics adapter last fall, we heard from users around the globe who were excited to be able to add Ultra-High-Definition displays to their systems via USB. As popular as our UGA-4KDP DisplayPort adapter has been, we’ve also heard from many who have been awaiting the release of our HDMI version of the adapter. Today we’re happy to announce that the wait is over! The Plugable USB 3.0 4K HDMI graphics adapter (UGA-4KHDMI) is now available. (Well, the wait is over for US customers. We expect the adapters to be available in non-US geographies soon).

The USB 3.0 4K HDMI graphics adapter is powered by the same DisplayLink DL-5500 chipset as our UGA-4KDP, and the performance specifications are identical, with support for displays up to 3840×2160@30Hz and 2560×1600/2560×1440@60Hz. Being designed for 4K it can of course render pixels with even better performance with 1080p (1920×1080) and smaller resolutions. The DL-5500 chipset was designed to have a DisplayPort output, so to provide an HDMI port our new UGA-4KHDMI has an integrated active DisplayPort to HDMI conversion chip matched to the full capabilities of the DisplayLink chip.

As a market leader in USB graphics technology, Plugable set out to create a unified design for our three flagship graphics adapters; a design that would look great while also focusing on improved reliability over previous USB 3.0 graphics adapters. We love all things USB here at Plugable, but we’ve found that the modular USB 3.0 “Micro-B” connection standard can be more fragile than we’d like. When designing our new adapters, we upgraded to a robust, built-in USB 3.0 cable and eliminated the USB 3.0 Micro-B connector.

The Plugable USB 3.0 4K HDMI adapter is the newest member of our redesigned family of USB 3.0 graphics adapters. Like its siblings the UGA-3000 and the UGA-4KDP, our new 4K HDMI adapter shares the same aesthetically-pleasing, clean design and solid built-in 12″ (30cm) USB 3.0 cable. If you’re unsure which adapter will best fit your needs, please reference the comparison chart below, or feel free to reach out via email to support@plugable.com and we’ll be happy to help!


2015 Plugable USB 3.0 Graphics Adapter Comparison

Where to buy

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Massive New 97-Port USB Type-C Hub Shows Plugable’s Engineering Prowesshttp://plugable.com/2015/04/01/massive-new-97-port-usb-type-c-hub-shows-plugable-engineering-prowess http://plugable.com/2015/04/01/massive-new-97-port-usb-type-c-hub-shows-plugable-engineering-prowess#comments Wed, 01 Apr 2015 14:04:26 +0000 http://plugable.com/?p=16083 USB’s new Type C connector is amazing. It’s reversible (like the Apple Lightning cable), it replaces both the iconic USB Type A connector and Type B, it’s forward and backward compatible with USB 3.1 down to USB 1.1, capable of 10 Gbps (more in the future), and can deliver up to 100W in either direction by negotiation through USB Power Delivery.

But if your Macbook or tablet only has one or two Type C ports, that just ain’t enough to enjoy all this goodness. You need more ports. And Plugable has delivered.

Introducing the Plugable USB3C-97XXX 97-Port USB 3.0 Type-C Hub. http://plugable.com/products/usb3c-hub97xxx

Available now in Zaire, South Africa, Zimbabwe and Guam. US, Canada, UK, and Japan sales pending certifications.

Specs:
-97-port USB 3.0 Type-C self powered hub
-Revolutionary 400W (5V, 80A) UL certified power adapter (quad US AC wall outlet plugs, 100-240V 50/60Hz)
-Consumes only 27W when idle, that means there’s about 93.25% left for all your dozens of USB devices
-Compatible with computers that have strong USB 3.0 xHCI host controllers and USB Type-C connectors
-Fully plug and play so you can plug those devices like they’re hot
-Features thirty two VIA VL812 Rev B2 hub chipsets with the latest v9095 firmware for maximum compatibility and performance with controllers up to the task
-Sleek piano black glossy UV clear coat finish with all 97 ports on one side to minimize cable clutter and maximize accessibility
-USB interconnect cables configured in triple twisted pairs to ensure maximum EMI protection
-Individual LED status indicators for each USB port (LEDs may blink randomly on computers with weak host controllers and may cause seizures)
-Backward, forward, and sideways compatible with all USB hosts and devices
-Minimal packaging tape and Velcro straps used in construction making it highly recyclable

Other products seen in this video:

Questions or comments please reply below, we’re more than happy to help.

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DisplayLink Releases Updated Mac Driver (v2.4 Beta 1)http://plugable.com/2015/03/16/displaylink-releases-updated-mac-driver-v2-4-beta-1 http://plugable.com/2015/03/16/displaylink-releases-updated-mac-driver-v2-4-beta-1#comments Mon, 16 Mar 2015 15:14:35 +0000 http://plugable.com/?p=15618 Update 7/7/2015: The 2.4 code set has gone final and is no longer classified as beta! The background info in this post is still relevant, though the links will now take you to the current 2.4 release rather than the “Beta 1″ release.

We regularly receive inquires from Mac users who are looking for updates regarding the compatibility of our DisplayLink-based USB docking stations and graphics adapters with Mac OS X. Progress has been slow, and there hasn’t been much substantive news to report in quite some time — until today.

imagesSome brief background for those unfamiliar with the situation: With the release of OS X 10.9 (Mavericks) almost a year and a half ago, we were disappointed to find that we could no longer recommend our DisplayLink-based docking stations and USB graphics adapters to Mac users running OS X 10.9 due to various issues introduced with the OS update. The regressions affected DisplayLink and other external display solutions (e.g. Thunderbolt to HDMI and DVI adapters; using iPads as extra displays). The 10.10 (Yosemite) update did not improve the behavior for DisplayLink devices.

Each new DisplayLink driver revision since the release of Mavericks has contained incremental improvements, though working around some of the key OS/API issues at the driver level has been a slow process.

Today DisplayLink has released their Version 2.4 Beta 1 driver for the Mac OS, and this release is the first to make significant progress on some of the core issues that have been consistently present since the release of OS X 10.9.

The following are some of the most notable fixes in this release:

  • Display layout and positioning are now preserved after system reboot and sleep/wake
  • Portrait/landscape rotation orientation is correctly applied
  • Hot-plugging or unplugging a DisplayLink adapter is much less likely to cause undesirable system behavior
  • WindowServer crashing (which causes a spontaneous log-out from the OS) has been reduced
  • CPU utilization of DisplayLinkManager has been reduced in some scenarios
  • Constant OpenGL error logging in Console experienced by some users should be resolved

As excited as we are regarding the improvements above, caution is warranted as well. DisplayLink has had to work around existing OS X issues in this new driver release, which could make support fragile as OS X updates come out.

Some of the known-issues that still persist with this new driver are:

  • Some users will experience intermittent graphical corruption/distortion
  • WindowServer crashes/spontaneous log-out issues are still present in some scenarios
  • Higher than expected CPU utilization from DisplayLinkManager/WindowServer in some scenarios

Because this is a beta driver and because of the remaining Mac external display issues, we still can’t recommend our USB graphics products for use on Mac. But we’re quite glad to see this progress.

Download DisplayLink’s version 2.4 Beta 1 driver for Mac OS here.

Comments are welcome below, though we also recommend posting your experiences in the DisplayLink Mac Forum so that DisplayLink has visibility to as much user feedback as possible.

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Hands-On With USB-C on the Chromebook Pixel 2http://plugable.com/2015/03/14/hands-on-with-usb-c-on-the-chromebook-pixel-2 http://plugable.com/2015/03/14/hands-on-with-usb-c-on-the-chromebook-pixel-2#comments Sat, 14 Mar 2015 16:15:48 +0000 http://plugable.com/?p=15919 This has been an exciting week with the launch of Apple’s new Macbook with a single USB-C port (technically USB 3.1 Gen1 Type-C). Then just a day later Google announces their Google Chromebook Pixel 2 2015 — shipping immediately with several useful USB-C accessories.

So we had to get our hands on one and show the power of USB-C. A few of the breakthrough aspects of the new USB-C port:

    • Capable of delivering data and power with direction being negotiated (a dock could power a laptop, or a laptop power a dock).
One Bus to rule them all, One Descriptor to find them,
One Receptacle to bring them all and in either orientation bind them

– Our geek spin on Tolkien
  • Power up to 100W – devices start at 5V but can negotiate up to 12 or 20V at 5A. The Chromebook Pixel’s supply is 12V 3A (60W), and because this is now standardized, it should be able to power any device (including the new Macbook) … well, in theory.
  • Devices can negotiate to repurpose half the data lines as an “Alternate Mode”, with a native DisplayPort video channel defined by VESA being on of the first Alternate Modes defined. The Chromebook Pixel appears to support this, which is how it implements its USB-C to HDMI adapter.
  • The USB-C port is very small, thin, but strong. Pins are mirrored on either side of the port and hardware detects and corrects for orientation, so devices can be plugged in either way and work the same.

Dozens of companies and of course Intel were involved with the definition of USB-C. But the surprise here is Apple. Historically, they’ve intentionally created proprietary connectors or re-purposed standards in non-standard ways. But with USB-C, we’re seeing a serious Good Guy Apple moment. They contributed significantly to the USB-C connector, from supporting either orientation (like the proprietary Lightning connector) to making sure USB-C could be a functional superset of every bus that’s gone before. It’s a huge credit to Apple that they saw the potential for a single bus that could be standard across every device – Mac, iOS, Windows, Android, whatever.

Enough talking. Let’s see it in action.

And here are some of our devices that we show in the video that work with the Chromebook Pixel 2.

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Chromebooks Gaining USB Multiple Monitor Supporthttp://plugable.com/2015/03/13/chrome-os-multiple-monitor-support http://plugable.com/2015/03/13/chrome-os-multiple-monitor-support#comments Fri, 13 Mar 2015 15:07:22 +0000 http://plugable.com/?p=15842 Note: Google has disabled 3+ multi-monitor support while they finish the UI. See Google Chromium OS Issue 467193 for updates on Google’s status for enabling this support.

2015-03-12-DisplayLink-ChromeOS

Chrome OS has begun the process of supporting DisplayLink USB 2.0 devices, which will eventually enable USB docking stations and graphics adapters for Chromebook systems.

For the moment, there are still lots of limitations including mice cursors not working and EDIDs getting lost. But with time and attention, this could become one more area where Chrome OS closes the productivity gap with other systems.

So what’s new? You may have seen the addition of ozone and fre(c)on (we have seen this called out as “+frecon” or “freon”) in the most recent ChromeOS builds. What does this mean? According to Google’s own François Beaufort.

This project is about removing X11 dependency and add hardware overlay support in order to provide better performance/reduced power consumption for WebGL and video and reduce Chrome OS binary size

With this switch, Google has also been able to take advantage of the DisplayLink USB 2.0 DRM/KMS driver that’s been in the Linux kernel for several years and begin work on some much needed configuration support. While still not complete enough for normal use, this work may eventually translate into DisplayLink functionality for Chrome OS in the near future (there is no official announced release date yet).

Display adapters which will work in this scenario are USB 2.0 based and feature the DisplayLink DL-1×5 family of chips since they are backed by open source drivers.
Plugable Universal Docking Station
Our devices which fall into this category include our:

We have done some preliminary testing using the ASUS Chromebox CN60. To be able to get newest build and fre(c)on/ozone bits, we had to switch over to the dev channel. We ended up with the following build:

chromeOS_about

The CN60 already has a built in DisplayPort and HDMI video port, but we wanted to push the envelope and add yet another monitor via our UGA-165. So, what was the result?

At first we just used two monitors overall, one plugged into the native DP- or HDMI port and the additional one into the USB grpahics adapter. Boom, we had instantly gained an extended monitor and gazed at all the pretty pixels.

Unfortunately we also came across our first few bugs. The mouse cursor was not visible on the UGA-165 connected extended display (same result for the USB-VGA-165 and UGA-2K-A). I could still move around and bring up menus on the extended display. I attempted to turn off mouse acceleration via the xset m command to fix this problem (a trick often mentioned by the Chrome OS and Linux community) but CROSH (the equivalent of command prompt for Chrome OS) just did not want to take to my commands, so I gave up. As an alternative means, I enabled “Show large mouse cursor” in Settings, and was able to utilize an over sized mouse cursor on both monitors (IN YOUR FACE CROSH!).

The most lamentable fact was, attaching more than two displays (no matter what the combination, either built-in video port or display adapter) would bring the system to its knees. All we saw was black screens and a complete system lock up. If the third display was quickly disconnected, the system recovered however. The ultimate fix was to remove the third monitor and to reboot the system which brought everything back to life.

We are excited to see this feature enabled in the dev channel and are anticipating the official arrival of ozone/fre(c)on in the stable channel once all the bugs have been ironed out.

With this support beginning to roll out to more Chromebooks, it’d be great if you could take the time to report them to Google to help improve support for this scenario.

And your experiences help other Chromebook users trying the same things. Feel free to comment below. Thanks!

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Setting up a New Hard Drive or SSD in Your Plugable Docking Stationhttp://plugable.com/2015/03/12/setting-up-a-new-hard-drive-or-ssd-in-your-plugable-docking-station http://plugable.com/2015/03/12/setting-up-a-new-hard-drive-or-ssd-in-your-plugable-docking-station#comments Thu, 12 Mar 2015 22:53:58 +0000 http://plugable.com/?p=15615 Customers often ask us why their new blank hard disk drive (HDD) or solid state disk (SSD) doesn’t show up on their computer, ready to blame their Plugable docking station. Most often the drive just needs to be initialized, partitioned, and formatted. In this post we present a step-by-step guide for doing this.

HDDs OMG

Initializing prepares the drive to be used by the computer, partitioning sets aside specific areas of the disk for data, and formatting sets up the framework the computer uses to store that data. We’ll cover the most common scenarios we run into, starting with Windows and finishing with Mac OS X instructions. The following steps apply to our USB3-SATA-UASP1, USB3-SATA-U3, and our entire Plugable Storage System lineup. They also apply to new hard disks that are installed inside your computer and potentially other docking stations/enclosures/adapters. We’ll be using a 4TB hard drive as our example.

If you are trying to access existing data or attempting data recovery on your hard drive and are encountering issues, please see this post here.

Before we get started, a brief word of caution is essential. Initializing and formatting a hard drive will erase *all* information on that drive. In the case of a new drive, that’s not a matter for concern—it does not have any data on it yet to worry about. However, if there are other drives in use on your system, it’s absolutely critical to pay close attention that you don’t erase the wrong drive. If you have multiple external hard drives connected we recommend disconnecting them all prior to initializing your new drive as well, just as a precaution.

If you wish to skip to our quick instructions without the extended walk-through information click here.

Windows

For Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8/8.1, and Windows 10, the experience is basically the same, and we’ll focus on using the Windows Disk Management Console. This console shows all of the drives connected to the computer and information about how they are currently configured. It lets you create partitions on your new blank hard drive so Windows can make use of it for data storage and recognize it as a drive letter in Windows Explorer.

The quickest way to open the Disk Management Console in any Windows version is to press the Windows and R keys together on your keyboard to open the Run dialog box:

win+r

Once open, type diskmgmt.msc and press Enter (make sure you are logged in as an Administrator or the program may not run):

init0

When the application opens, the Disk Management Console should automatically detect a new non-initialized drive and display a pop-up window asking if you’d like to initialize it:

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

If no pop-up appears, take a look at the console. Each disk Windows recognizes is given a number and a horizontal bar representing the capacity of the disk and any partitions that exist. The new drive you are looking for should be listed as “Not Initialized.” Right-click on that drive and select “Initialize Disk”:

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

In either case it is extremely important when using Disk Management to make sure that you are working with the correct hard drive. The last thing you want is to accidentally delete important data!

There will be two options to initialize the drive: Master Boot Record (MBR) or GUID Partition Table (GPT). MBR is the older legacy method of initializing drives, and is only necessary if you need to access the drive on a Windows XP system (XP cannot recognize drivers initialized with GPT). GPT *must* be selected for drives over 2TB in size. If MBR is selected on a drive larger than 2TB, you will only be able to access the first 2TB of the drive, regardless of the drive’s capacity. GPT disks should be accessible to Windows systems running Vista and later:

init1_crop

(If you’re interested in more information about MBR vs. GPT, Microsoft has a very thorough post here.)

Once you’ve made your selection and clicked OK to initialize the drive, it’s time to partition and format. You can create multiple partitions if you want, but this guide assumes that you, like most people, want to access the entire drive through a single drive letter/partition. As mentioned earlier, each disk that Windows recognizes is given a number and a horizontal bar representing the space of the disk and any partitions that exist. Since we’re working with a drive that contains no partitions yet, it should be listed as “Unallocated” space. It’s a good idea at this point to make sure the drive size is what you expect it to be. In the following example, we’re working with a 4TB GPT initialized drive, which Windows reports as 3725.90 GB (Windows computes disk size differently than disk manufacturers, hence the difference):

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

Right-click the unallocated space, and select “New Simple Volume”:

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

After clicking “New Simple Volume” you will be guided through a series of steps. For the vast majority of users, just accepting the defaults and clicking Next will be fine. The two items you may wish to change are Assign the following drive letter if you’d like your drive to have a specific letter assigned, and Volume label, which will be the name you will see associated with the drive letter in Windows File Explorer:

init5

init6

init7

init8

init9

After clicking Finish in Disk Management you will see the drive partition being formatted:

init10_crop

Once the format is complete the partition will have a drive letter and be accessible in Windows Explorer:

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

Note: If you had manually selected to initialize the drive as MBR and not GPT, or if you are using Windows XP and the drive is larger than 2TB, the drive will be split into two sections and only the first section of 2TB will be usable. Our 4TB drive when initialized as MBR is reported as two sections of 2048.00 GB and 1678.02 GB. A volume cannot be created for the second section, the option is grayed out:

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

Mac OS X

For Mac OS X we’ll be focusing on the Disk Utility. The Disk Utility is much like the Disk Management Console in Windows with many similar elements. The biggest difference is the type of partitions available and selecting the best partition scheme.

When a new blank hard drive or SSD is attached to a Mac system, you should see a dialog box automatically pop-up asking what you would like to do. If it does not, the Disk Utility can be found within the Utilities folder (found inside the Applications folder). If you’re sure that erasing any data on the drive is OK, go ahead and click “Initialize…” to open the Disk Utility:

Screen Shot 2015-02-26 at 2.54.10 PM

Once Disk Utility is open you will see a list of drives attached to the system to the left of the window. It should be fairly easy to identify the drive you want to initialize as the drive size and model number will usually be present. For this example we’re using the “4 TB HGST HDS 724040…” hard drive:

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

After selecting the drive you wish to initialize you will be presented with several options. Click on the “Partition” tab:

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

Now click on “Options” to select the partition scheme for the drive:

Screen Shot 2015-02-26 at 2.55.04 PM

Here we have options for GUID (GPT) and MBR, but we’re also presented with Apple Partition Map. MBR is the older legacy method of initializing drives, and is only necessary if you need to access the drive on a Windows XP system (XP is incompatible with GPT and Apple Partition Map). Apple Partition Map is also an older legacy method of initializing drives, and is only necessary if you need to use the drive as a start up disk on a PowerPC-based Mac. Because our example hard drive is greater than 2TB Apple does not give us the option to select MBR, only GUID (GPT) and Apple Partition map. We recommend GUID for most users.

After clicking “OK” we now need to partition the drive. You can create multiple partitions if you want, but this guide assumes that you, like most people, want to access the entire drive through a single partition. Click on the “Partition Layout” drop-down menu and select “1 Partition”. You may give the partition a name you will see associated with the drive in Finder, we chose to leave ours as the default “Untitled 1″:

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

Now we need to select what format (filesystem) to use. If you are solely a Mac user, the best option is “Mac OS Extended (Journaled). If you need to use the drive with older Windows XP based computers you will want to select “MS-DOS (FAT)” but please take note that the maximum file size this format supports is 4GB which is problematic for larger files like HD video. If you want to use this drive between Windows Vista and newer computers, the best filesystem is ExFAT. For this example we’re going to select ExFAT since in our office we use a mixture of Mac and newer Windows systems:

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

After selecting the format and clicking “Apply” you will be presented with a confirmation dialog:

Screen Shot 2015-02-26 at 2.56.44 PM

After clicking “Partition” Disk Utility will format the drive:

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

After the formatting process is complete the Disk Utility will show the hard drive size and model and there will now be an entry for your formatted drive partition and the drive should automatically mount and be visible in the Finder (we have the Finder set to show mounted drives on our desktop, this is not enabled by default on newer versions of OS X):

Click to enlarge

If you have any questions at all, please comment below or email support@plugable.com. We’re happy to help!

Quick Instructions

Windows

  1. Logged in as an administrator, open the Windows Disk Management Console by pressing Windows + R to open the Run dialog box. Type diskmgmt.msc and press Enter.
  2. The Disk Management Console should automatically detect a new non-initialized drive ask to initialize it.
  3. Select either Master Boot Record (MBR) or GUID Partition Table (GPT). Click OK.
  4. Right-click on the unallocated space, and select “New Simple Volume”.
  5. After clicking “New Simple Volume” complete the “New Simple Volume Wizard” to format and assign a drive letter.

Mac

  1. Open the Disk Utility located within the Utilities folder inside of Applications.
  2. Select the drive to initialize on the left.
  3. Click on the partition tab.
  4. Click Options and select the partition scheme. GUID (GPT), Apple Partition Map, or Master Boot Record (MBR). Click OK.
  5. Choose the partition layout, enter the desired size of the partition(s), and rename the partition(s) if desired.
  6. Choose the drive format. Mac OS Extended (Journaled), Mac OS Extended (Case-sensitive, Journaled), MS-DOS (FAT), or ExFAT and click “Apply”.
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Recovering Existing Hard Drive or SSD Data in Your Plugable Docking Stationhttp://plugable.com/2015/03/12/recovering-existing-hard-drive-or-ssd-data-in-your-plugable-docking-station http://plugable.com/2015/03/12/recovering-existing-hard-drive-or-ssd-data-in-your-plugable-docking-station#comments Thu, 12 Mar 2015 22:48:31 +0000 http://plugable.com/?p=15670 It’s happened to almost all of us at one point, your computer or external hard drive fails and panic sets in. Perhaps your files haven’t been backed up yet or this drive is the only backup. One way or another, you made it to us and bought one of our docking stations. Now what do you do?

IMG_3161

Because one of the most common reasons for buying a Plugable hard drive docking station is to recover data off of a SATA hard drive from another computer or external hard drive enclosure we wanted to talk about some issues our customers frequently experience. The following steps apply to our USB3-SATA-UASP1, USB3-SATA-U3, and our entire Plugable Storage System lineup. They also apply to hard disks that are installed inside your computer and potentially other docking stations/enclosures/adapters.

The most important thing to keep in mind is that data recovery is often best left to trained technicians and anything you do to recover data on your own could make recovering the data impossible, even for a data recovery specialist.

If you are trying to set up a new blank hard drive and are encountering issues, please see this post here.

Internal Hard Drives

Our lay-flat and vertical docking stations are quite useful for recovering data from a desktop or laptop computer because they support both 2.5″ and 3.5″ SATA hard disk drives (HDD) and solid state drives (SSD). If you’re able to remove the drive from the computer to insert into our dock, you’re on your way to accessing the data. With that being said there are always scenarios where this may not be true. There are many factors that can cause data to be inaccessible. Assuming for the moment that the hard drive in question hasn’t failed completely and is not part of a RAID array, chances are our dock should be able to help access data off the drive.

Here are some common trouble scenarios for recovering data from an internal drive in our dock:

  • Complete drive failure. This is fairly self explanatory, the drive itself has mechanically or electronically failed causing the drive to not be detected by our dock.
  • Pending drive failure. HDDs and SSDs often fail slowly, most commonly encountering what is known as bad sectors. This can lead to data corruption making data recovery extremely difficult or impossible. Other factors can also be present but are usually less likely such as intermittent electronics on the circuit board, failing drive bearings, etc.
  • Partition / filesystem damage from improper shutdowns, viruses, etc.
  • Incompatible filesystem(s) with the host data recovery computer. For example, Windows systems cannot natively access data from Mac or Linux/Unix formatted drives, we’ll touch more on this later.
  • Drive is part of a RAID array like RAID0, RAID10, RAID5, or RAID6. A drive from a RAID1 array is the only kind of RAID drive our docking station can potentially recover data from.
  • Whole disk software based encryption such as Microsoft BitLocker / EFS, TrueCrypt, and others.
  • Specialized backup and partition software such as Norton GoBack and some versions of Acronis can cause issues and should be removed/disabled if possible prior to data recovery.

External Hard Drives

Hard drives extracted from external enclosures or drives used in other docking stations will have many of the same potential issues that we just talked about for internal drives but do introduce other new scenarios. A typical scenario is the power adapter or USB port on an external drive has failed. The hard drive inside the failed enclosure is removed and the ‘bare’ drive is inserted into our hard drive docking station to attempt recovery. Or sometimes a drive that was used in another dock is inserted into ours or vice versa.

Here are some common scenarios with for recovering data from an external drive in our dock:

  • All of the above scenarios from our Internal Hard Drives list apply.
  • Whole disk hardware level encryption. This can be in the form of a drive sold intentionally to protect against data theft or unintentionally where what consumers believe are standard hard drives from companies such as Western Digital (the most commonly found in our experience) are written to using a form of proprietary hardware encryption which prevents the drive from being read in any enclosure except for the one the drive shipped with.
  • Sector emulation. See our Understanding Large SATA Drive Compatibility blog post for more details. “Some docks have a non-standard sector emulation feature that enables using capacities above 2TB on Windows XP 32 bit. But this requires that drives initialized and formatted in a special way, and NOT be used with other SATA controllers in desktop PC’s or other drive docking stations, unless those units also have a matching firmware version and support for this feature. Plugable USB SATA docks do not support sector emulation for XP. Rather, we’ve chosen to support 3TB+ Advanced Format drives in the standard way without any emulation.”

Determining if your Drive is Healthy or Failing

One of the first steps is finding out if the drive you are trying to recover data from is in good health. Often a drive appears to be working fine until you try to copy large amounts of data. Sometime common signs of a failing drive are during a transfer a file cannot be read and the data transfer may fail, often with a cryptic error such like “Cannot copy my.file: Data error (cycle redundancy check)”, files could transfer but be corrupted, transfer speed is much slower than expected, and/or the drive drops offline during transfers requiring the dock to be reset.

Usually the first course of action would be to check the S.M.A.R.T. status of the drive. This can indicate signs of failure in a drive like bad sectors or read/write errors. There are several free (or free trial) utilities available for Windows and Mac that can be found online. Here’s what we recommend:

If the drive appears healthy after checking with a SMART utility but is obviously showing signs of irregular behavior, we recommend to download and install the advanced diagnostic utility from your hard drive manufacturer. Unfortunately for Mac users this isn’t an option. Here are some common drive manufacturer diagnostic links for Windows:

Determining the Filesystem of the Drive

A common scenario we run into is a customer will take a hard drive out of another computer or device like a network attached storage (NAS) device and try to recover the data with our dock only to find that the host computer can see the drive but can’t actually read the data on it. For a Windows user this would be apparent when looking in the Device Manager and seeing the drive listed, but the drive not being mounted and accessible from Windows Explorer. A Mac user would similarly check in Disk Utility for the drive if it is not accessible from the Finder.

The first step is to identify where the drive came from prior to being used in our docking station. Was this drive from another Windows computer? Was it from a Mac, or perhaps a Linux computer? How about a NAS device or external hard drive? By knowing this information we can look for information about what type of filesystem is on the drive.

Next you’ll need to find out if your computer can support the filesystem of the drive in question. Here’s a basic list of what filesystems are supported by OS:

  • Windows XP (with proper update installed) and higher can read and write to FAT(16), FAT32, ExFAT and NTFS.
  • Mac OS X 10.6.5 and higher can read and write to FAT(16), FAT32, ExFAT, and HFS+ (Mac OS Extended Journaled or Case-sensitive, Journaled). Mac OS X 10.3 and later can only read but not write to NTFS (write can be enabled, but it is not recommended as it may be unstable).
  • Linux (Ubuntu for example) can read and write to FAT(16), FAT32, ExFAT (with the proper package installed), NTFS, EXT2, EXT3, EXT4, JFS, and XFS. There other filesystems but they are far less common and not available for every Linux distro by default: BtrFS, ReiserFS, UFS (Unix), ZFS.

Knowing what filesystems are supported will help you decide how to proceed. If you’re a Windows user and find the hard drive you need to recover data off of is from a Mac, either you need to install some 3rd party software to read it, or simply recover the data on a Mac system. If you’re a Mac user, you should be able to read data off of a Windows computer drive without issue.

The hardest part is recovering data from a Linux formatted drive on a non-Linux computer. Whether you’re a Mac or Windows user, chances are if you’ve got any kind of NAS device in the home, it will be using a filesystem your computer cannot natively read. In our experience most consumer grade NAS units use EXT2/3/4 filesystems. For Windows users we recommend installing some 3rd party software. For Mac users, take a look at this blog post done by CNET.

If you have any questions at all, please comment below or email support@plugable.com. We’re happy to help!

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Windows 8.1 and the ASMedia USB 3.1 XHCI 1.1 Host Controllerhttp://plugable.com/2015/03/05/windows-8-1-and-the-asmedia-usb-3-1-xhci-1-1-host-controller http://plugable.com/2015/03/05/windows-8-1-and-the-asmedia-usb-3-1-xhci-1-1-host-controller#comments Thu, 05 Mar 2015 17:00:24 +0000 http://plugable.com/?p=15717 Update 3/22/2015:
A new stable version of the ASMedia USB 3.1 driver is now available. ASUS is not yet linking to this version from the motherboard support page so here is a direct download link: Version 1.16.24.0 from 2/12/2015.

 

 

When we heard ASUS had released the first commercially available USB 3.1 equipped motherboard we rushed to get our hands on one. We picked up the ASUS Z97-PRO(Wi-Fi ac)/USB 3.1 and assembled our new USB testing workstation. Since Intel is not yet ready with their USB 3.1 controller, ASUS added an ASMedia ASM1142 USB 3.1 XHCI 1.1 controller with two teal colored USB 3.1 type A connectors.

Click to enlarge

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As most of our products are USB based, we wanted to get some early testing results to be prepared for any issues that might arise with this new USB 3.1 controller. We installed a fresh copy of Windows 8.1 with all of the latest updates and found that the built-in Microsoft XHCI “0110” driver (version 6.3.9600.17393 from 10/6/2014) for the ASMedia controller only appeared to be USB 3.0 capable according to the device description.

msstack

Normally we do not recommend replacing the built-in Windows 8/8.1 Microsoft USB driver stack with 3rd party drivers but in this scenario to achieve full USB 3.1 functionality we tracked down the latest 3rd party driver installation utility from ASMedia (version 1.16.23.0 from 12/24/2014) provided by ASUS in their motherboard support downloads section and installed it. Now the controller was being recognized as an XHCI 1.1 controller capable of USB 3.1!

asm1.16.23.0

Unfortunately we experienced major issues almost immediately. Upon connecting our USB3-HUB7-81X (VIA VL812 B2 based) 7-port hub, the system instantaneously crashed with a “SYSTEM_SERVICE_EXCEPTION (asmtxhci.sys)” blue screen of death. This was not a good sign as the driver in question that caused the crash was the ASMedia driver (asmtxhci.sys) we had just installed.

IMG_20150303_141805

After several reboots and experimentation, we found the crashes to vary widely in frequency. Sometimes the crash would occur with a simple USB 3.0 flash drive, other times with our 7-port hub and all 7 ports occupied with USB graphics adapters. When connecting these same devices to the on-board Intel 9 Series USB 3.0 controller there were no issues. We decided to remove the ASMedia 1.16.23.0 drivers and roll back to the built-in Microsoft “0110” drivers to see what would happen. We found that the controller became as stable as the Intel controller but with the tradeoff of losing USB 3.1 functionality for future USB 3.1 devices. This was not a compromise we were willing to make.

We did some digging and found that the “asmtxhci.inf” driver file from the ASMedia driver installer not only worked for the new ASM1142 USB 3.1 controller, but it appeared to be a unified driver covering all ASMedia USB host controllers. This gave us an idea. We installed an older ASMedia ASM1042 USB 3.0 PCI-E controller card in our USB test workstation and installed the ASMedia 1.16.23.0 drivers once again. Both 3.1 and 3.0 ASMedia controllers were now running the same driver on the same workstation.

Click to enlarge

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We found that the instability we encountered on the on-board ASM1142 3.1 controller also happened on our add-on PCI-E ASM1042 3.0 controller. Knowing that the instability was definitely driver and not hardware related, we looked at the “asmtxhci.inf” driver file for the older (stable) ASMedia drivers that we have been recommending to our customers for their ASMedia USB 3.0 controllers (version 1.16.18.1 from 4/10/2014, WHQL certified) and found that it was also compatible with our new 3.1 controller despite being the oldest of the three compatible drivers.

Once again we removed the 1.16.23.0 drivers, reverted to the Microsoft built-in drivers for both ASMedia controllers (“0110” for the ASM1142 and “0096” for the ASM1042), and finally installed the older ASMedia 1.16.18.1 drivers. After doing so both controllers were stable in our tests and the ASM1142 USB 3.1 controller was being recognized as 3.1 (XHCI 1.1) capable.

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

At the moment Plugable is still testing the ASMedia ASM1142 controller but the early results are looking great after finding a stable driver. We’ve currently got 6 of our USB3-HUB7-81X 7-port USB 3.0 hubs and 36 of our UGA-3000 USB 3.0 DisplayLink graphics adapters attached with no signs of instability or USB resource limits. (Please note that Windows and DisplayLink does have limits to how many monitors can be attached. Our demonstration here is unlikely to initialize all 36 adapters with monitors attached successfully. Realistically we have been able to get up to 14 with success in the past.)

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

For the time being, we strongly recommend users do not install the latest 1.16.23.0 driver version from ASMedia but rather install the older stable 1.16.18.1 drivers (or use the built-in Microsoft “0110” drivers if 3.1 operation is not required). Unfortunately as we’re still waiting for some native USB 3.1 devices to test, we cannot comment on actual USB 3.1 device functionality on any of the aforementioned driver versions.

Due to the difficulty in finding and downloading the stable ASMedia driver version 1.16.18.1 we have provided it below for your convenience. Feel free to also comment below if problems remain but Plugable cannot take any responsibility for any issues these drivers may cause to your computer.

ASMedia ASM1042 USB 3.0 XHCI / ASM1142 USB 3.1 XHCI 1.1 Driver Version 1.16.18.1 WHQL – 4/10/2014

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Plugable Car Cup USB charger Giveaway (Uber drivers only)http://plugable.com/2015/02/26/plugable-car-cup-usb-charger-giveaway-uber-drivers-only http://plugable.com/2015/02/26/plugable-car-cup-usb-charger-giveaway-uber-drivers-only#comments Fri, 27 Feb 2015 01:52:33 +0000 http://plugable.com/?p=15658 #giveaway for #uber drivers. RT + follow for chance to win one of 10 Plugable car USB chargers

Rules:

  • No purchase necessary
  • Drivers in the 50 US states only on this giveaway (sorry! We’ll get to drivers in other geographies in future giveaways!)
  • Winners selected from followers who retweet, who have some history in their twitter feed of activity as an Uber driver
  • Winners selected from retweets in by Saturday, Feb 28th
  • Winners will be contacted via Twitter DM (Twitter only allows this communication for users who follow @plugable)

For more information on how the Plugable Car Cup USB charger can delight your riders by keeping them fully charged, visit http://plugable.com/products/usb-c3c

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More Windows Tablets Can Transform into Full Desktops in 2015http://plugable.com/2015/02/11/more-windows-tablets-can-transform-into-full-desktops-in-2015 http://plugable.com/2015/02/11/more-windows-tablets-can-transform-into-full-desktops-in-2015#comments Thu, 12 Feb 2015 01:06:16 +0000 http://plugable.com/?p=15474 Docking-Station-hero-image-v2_3840x1080
This year, even more Windows tablets can be transformed into full desktop workstations using the Plugable UD-Pro8 docking station, introduced for the Dell Venue 8 Pro tablet in a successful Kickstarter campaign last summer. To help you decide whether turning a one of these tablets into an ultra-portable desktop solution will work for you, here is a list of compatible devices and some videos about the UD-Pro8.

Compatibility

Currently, the following tablets have been confirmed by us or our customer base to be compatible with the UD-PRO8:

  • ASUS VivoTab Smart 10.1 ME400C
  • Dell Venue 8 Pro 3000 (Z3735G CPU)
  • Dell Venue 8 Pro 5000 (5830, Z3740D CPU)
  • Dell Venue 8 Pro 5000 (5830, Z3745D CPU)
  • HP Stream 7 5701
  • HP Stream 8 5901
  • Lenovo IdeaTab Miix 2 8″
  • Nextbook 8 (Win 8.1)
  • Toshiba Encore Mini

For full details see our compatibility chart here. If your tablet is not on the chart or is marked “untested,” and you would like to test it with the Pro8, you can apply for a review unit at http://plugable.com/pros. For FAQs about the Pro8 click here.

Reviews

You can see Pro8 customer reviews on Amazon here. Below we’ve embedded several YouTube reviews and unboxing videos of our Pro8:








If you have any questions at all, please comment below or email support@plugable.com. We’re happy to help!

Where to Buy

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Charging on the Go Gets Easier: The New Plugable Power 2015 USB-C2W 2-Port USB Smart Chargerhttp://plugable.com/2015/02/10/charging-on-the-go-gets-easier-the-new-plugable-power-2015-usb-c2w-2-port-usb-smart-charger http://plugable.com/2015/02/10/charging-on-the-go-gets-easier-the-new-plugable-power-2015-usb-c2w-2-port-usb-smart-charger#comments Tue, 10 Feb 2015 19:07:58 +0000 http://plugable.com/?p=15386 Earlier this year Plugable introduced our popular USB-C5TX 5-Port 40W USB smart charger. However, 5 ports and a cable to the wall can be overkill when traveling. For your bag or purse, smaller and lighter is better. That’s where our new Plugable USB-C2W 2-Port travel charger shines. With its small size, two USB smart charge ports, and flip-up wall plug, it’s great for charging at the coffee shop or hotel room. And with the C2W’s smart IC built into each port, devices like iPhone 6 and 6 Plus charge up to twice as fast with the C2W than with their bundled power adapters.

Half the size of the C5TX, the new USB-C2W has a flip-out AC wall plug built in (for US, Canada, Japan), which means one less pesky power cable to haul around. It’s so small you can stick it in your pocket, making it the perfect charging solution when you’re on the move.

Tired of juggling a multitude of USB chargers for all the electronic devices you carry? The C2W USB smart charger can be the perfect replacement for the whole lot. It charges most cell phones, tablets, USB battery packs, handheld game consoles, e-readers, e-cigarettes, cameras, smart watches, fitness trackers, bicycle lights, and many more. You only need one outlet.

How does smart charging work? USB charging isn’t perfectly standardized. Different devices have different special handshakes to detect “their charger”. With the C2W, when you plug in your device, a chip built into the charger identifies the device connecting if possible, then selects the best charging mechanism for the fastest possible charge. Some devices like iPhone 6 and 6 Plus will choose to charge faster with the C2W than with their bundled power adapters. Devices choose how much and how fast to charge, but each USB port of the USB-C2W can supply up to 2.4A of charging current, sharing an impressive 4A, 20W total between both ports. That is enough power to an iPad and an iPhone simultaneously.

If you have any questions at all, please comment below or email support@plugable.com. We’re happy to help!

Where to Buy

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Plugable-BTAPS Python Library for Creating Custom Applications with the Plugable PS-BTAPS1http://plugable.com/2015/02/05/plugable-btaps-python-library-for-creating-custom-applications-with-the-plugable-ps-btaps1 http://plugable.com/2015/02/05/plugable-btaps-python-library-for-creating-custom-applications-with-the-plugable-ps-btaps1#comments Thu, 05 Feb 2015 22:05:51 +0000 http://plugable.com/?p=15331 Plugable BTAPS Command Line Application

We are excited to announce the release of our open-source library for interacting with our Plugable PS-BTAPS1 Bluetooth Power Switch. This library is fully compatible with Windows and Linux systems running Python 2.7 and the pyBluez library. We hope that this library will help the open-source and maker community create interesting new projects and applications with our Programmable Bluetooth Power Switch.

All of the code and documentation for the library is hosted on our Plugable BTAPS Github Repository. Some examples of how to use the library can be found in our Github wiki. The library is MIT Licensed, so feel free to use it directly, or as a reference for implementing BTAPS functionality in any of your projects.

This library exposes most of the features present in our Android and iOS apps including:

  • Setting Switch On/Off
  • Reading current status of switch (name, on/off state, timer settings)
  • Creating, modifying, and deleting timers
  • Changing the device’s name
  • Updating the device’s date and time to your PC’s current date and time

Bundled with the library is also a simple command-line interface for interacting with a single Plugable PS-BTAPS1. It’s an interactive program, and only requires the Bluetooth device address of a PS-BTAPS1 to be used.

# Replace 00:00:00:00:00:00 with your device's Bluetooth Device address
btaps 00:00:00:00:00:00

Installation
The library and CLI application can be easily installed using pip.

pip install plugable-btaps

Some small features are still missing, but they will be implemented as time allows. This is the first release of the library, and there are certainly areas to improve on. We welcome code contributions and bug reports in our Github repository.

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Plugable Launches DisplayPort and Mini DisplayPort to HDMI Active Adaptershttp://plugable.com/2015/02/05/plugable-launches-displayport-and-mini-displayport-to-hdmi-active-adapters-2 http://plugable.com/2015/02/05/plugable-launches-displayport-and-mini-displayport-to-hdmi-active-adapters-2#comments Thu, 05 Feb 2015 15:59:00 +0000 http://plugable.com/?p=15223 Multimedia background. 4k resolution conceptAs a market leader in multi-monitor docking stations and graphics adapters, our offices at Plugable are by necessity full of all sorts of various displays, PCs, and tablets. Over the past year, we’ve seen a substantial increase in the number of systems and displays which include the VESA DisplayPort (DP) and Mini DisplayPort (mDP)/Thunderbolt outputs. As much as we’re excited about the growing popularity of DisplayPort, connecting our DisplayPort computers to our high-resolution HDMI monitors using many commercially available adapters was often a frustrating experience. Existing adapters on the market vary wildly in features and quality – most wouldn’t allow us to use resolutions above 1920×1080, and would even sometimes lose sync and result in a blank display.

We set out to fix that.

And with that, Plugable is proud to announce the launch of our DisplayPort and Mini DisplayPort to HDMI active adapters, both of which have passed the rigorous testing necessary for VESA (DisplayPort) certification. Plugable’s DP and mDP active adapters allow the versatility to connect your DisplayPort-enabled PC or tablet to virtually any HDMI-equiped display, including monitors and HDTVs with Ultra-HD 4K resolutions. Our adapters support an internal clock rate of up to 300MHz which allows for all the “must have” features of HDMI 1.4: resolutions up to 4K@30Hz, 1080P@120Hz, steroscopic 3D support, and Deep Color depths. The adapters are also capable of transmitting 8-channel LPCM/High Bit Rate (HBR) audio, up to 192kHz sample rate. Additionally, both adapters support AMD Eyefinity technology, allowing you to connect a 3rd or 4th display on supported AMD graphics cards.

Devised as a royalty-free alternative to HDMI, DisplayPort is no longer just a niche connector found on high-end video cards. Microsoft’s Surface Pro systems, Intel’s NUC series, Apple Macs, and many others are now coming standard with this type of connector included. DisplayPort monitors are becoming more widely available as well, though most entry level monitors still exclude DisplayPort connections as a cost-saving measure.

The Plugable DP-HDMI adapter is a great choice for those using our UGA-4KDP USB 3.0 DisplayPort Graphics Adapter with a high resolution QHD or UHD HDMI display. The mDP-HDMI adapter is a good fit for those with newer laptops, ultrabooks, and tablets which offer the smaller Mini DisplayPort or Thunderbolt connection.

For additional technical and compatibility information including the exciting details regarding “active” vs. “passive” adapters, check out our DP-HDMI and mDP-HDMI product page.

Where to Buy

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Nexus 7 First Gen (2012) Upgrade to Andriod 5.0 (Lollipop) Breaks USB-Ethernet Supporthttp://plugable.com/2015/02/03/nexus-7-first-gen-2012-upgrade-to-andriod-5-0-lollipop-breaks-plugable-usb-ethernet-support http://plugable.com/2015/02/03/nexus-7-first-gen-2012-upgrade-to-andriod-5-0-lollipop-breaks-plugable-usb-ethernet-support#comments Tue, 03 Feb 2015 20:28:23 +0000 http://plugable.com/?p=15291 Update: The latest Android version update for the Nexus 7 first gen (2012), version 5.1.1, has resolved this issue. If this version is not yet available over-the-air (OTA) for your tablet, you can download and install it manually from Google’s factory image website here. Use the “nakasi” image for regular WiFi devices, and “nagasig” for devices that can use cellular networks.

The recent over-the-air upgrade to Android 5.0 (Lollipop) on the Nexus 7 first gen (2012) tablet appears to have broken support for USB-Ethernet devices including Plugable’s USB2-E100 and USB2-OTGE100 USB to Fast Ethernet adapters. This is ironic, because the same upgrade on the Nexus 7 second gen (2013) has finally fixed support for these devices.

At Plugable, we are looking for a possible work-around, but even if one is found, it will likely require root access to the device. In the meantime, if you are using either adapter with a Nexus 7 first gen (2012) device and have not yet upgraded to Lollipop, we recommend staying with Android version 4.4 (KitKat) until this issue is resolved. Further updates to this issue will be reflected in this blog post.

If you have questions or useful information about this, please comment here or email us at support@plugable.com.

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Pi and Coffee: Automate Your Morning with Plugable Bluetooth Switches and a Raspberry Pihttp://plugable.com/2015/01/29/pi-and-coffee-automate-your-morning-with-plugable-bluetooth-switches-and-a-raspberry-pi http://plugable.com/2015/01/29/pi-and-coffee-automate-your-morning-with-plugable-bluetooth-switches-and-a-raspberry-pi#comments Thu, 29 Jan 2015 15:00:48 +0000 http://plugable.com/?p=14933 Pi and Coffee
It’s 6 am. Time to get up. Your favorite song starts playing. A dim light comes on next to the bed. A few minutes later a bright light jars you from sleep. Meanwhile the smell of fresh-brewed coffee wafts in from the kitchen. Welcome to another automated morning with your Raspberry Pi and some Plugable PS-BTAPS1 Bluetooth Switches.

All you need to send your morning into the future are one Raspberry Pi, one Plugable USB-BT4LE Bluetooth adapter, and a Plugable PS-BTAPS1 Bluetooth switch for each lamp, coffee pot, or other morning essential you want to control.

There are four basic steps to get this going: 1. Get the Pi Ready, 2. Set Up Bluetooth, 3. Communicate with Your Switches, and 4. Set Up a Schedule. I assume you already have your Pi up and running. The instructions in this guide assume you are using the Raspian distribution, available here. Raspbian is also installed by default if you use the NOOBS installer.

Get the Pi ready
Connect your Pi to the internet, then make sure everything is up-to-date by running the following commands:

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get upgrade

Answer “Yes” to any prompts.

Next install the latest Bluetooth drivers by running the following at the command prompt:

sudo apt-get install blueman

The script we will use to control the switches is written in Python and uses the PyBluez module. Both can be installed with this command:

sudo apt-get install python-bluez

Plug your Bluetooth adapter into the Pi and you are ready to go!

Set Up Bluetooth

Now, let’s make sure Bluetooth on the Pi is working and can communicate with the BTAPS1.

Plug the BTAPS1 into a convenient electric outlet. Make sure Bluetooth adapter is plugged into a USB port on your Pi and issue the following command:

hcitool scan

You should see a list of Bluetooth devices in the area. One of the lines should end with “Plugable.” That is your BTAPS1.

hcitool_scan

If you don’t see your switch in the list, make sure everything was set up correctly. If it still isn’t responding, contact support@plugable.com for help.

Write down the number in the first column. It’s the unique address for this switch, called a bdaddr. You’ll need it later. Mark the BTAPS1 you used so that you can distinguish it from the others you have (I write the bdaddr on a piece of masking tape attached to the switch). Plug in your other BTAPS1 switches one-by-one, run the command, write down each bdaddr, and mark each switch.

Communicate with Your Switches

Now that we know the Pi can see each switch through Bluetooth, let’s set up the script that controls them.

Ivan Fossa Ferrari, one of Plugable’s resident software geniuses, has written a script which allows you to switch the BTAPS1 off and on by sending a short command from your Pi. You can see the script and learn how it works here.

We will download that script and save it as a file that can be executed by Python on your Pi.

Open the Epiphany browser on your Pi and open this same blog post there. Right-click the following link:

Download Script

Select “Save Link As…” and in the window that appears, change the name of the file to btaps.py.

Click Save. The btaps.py file should be saved in your home directory.

To test the script, plug one of your BTAPS1 switches into an outlet, then plug a lamp into it. Switch the lamp to the ON position. It shouldn’t turn on because the BTAPS1 should still in OFF status.

In terminal window, type this:

python ~/btaps.py 00:00:00:00:00:00 on

Replace 00:00:00:00:00:00 with the bdaddr for the switch you are using. The light should turn on!

If it doesn’t work, make sure the lamp is switched on, and that the address was typed correctly. If that isn’t the problem, make sure the BTAPS1 is still accessible to your Bluetooth adapter by running hcitool scan command again.

Now issue this command:

python ~/btaps.py 00:00:00:00:00:00 off

Again, replace 00:00:00:00:00:00 with the bdaddr for the switch you are using. The light should turn off.

Did it work? Great! Try the same thing with the other switches you have and make sure they respond to the command also. Remember to change the bdaddr in the command each time you test a different switch. If you forget the bdaddr for a switch, you can always find it out with the hcitool scan command.

Set Up a Schedule

Now it’s time to get creative. How do you want to wake up? Loud blast of music? Gentle lights? Toast and coffee? Let’s set it up. We’ll use the cron function in the Pi that allows us to schedule events in many different ways.

First, let’s make sure your Pi wakes you up in the morning of your time zone and not somewhere else. At the command line, type:

date

You Pi will display its concept of the time and date. Is it correct? Check the three letters to the right of the time. Do they look like your time zone? If they say UTC, your Pi still thinks it is in the UK, and has to be educated. Type this command:

sudo raspi-config

Select item 4 “Internationalization Options.” Go to item I2 “Change Timezone.” Wait a moment for the next screen to appear. Select your geographic area, then on the next screen, select your city or location. Press the tab key until you are on “OK”, then press Enter.

Type the date command again. Make sure it shows your correct time zone. If the time or date is wrong, correct it by typing a command in this format, using the current time and date in your time zone:

sudo date -s HH:MM:SS

Check it again.

Now let’s set up a cron job to turn on that light. Type the following at the command prompt. You don’t want to use sudo because this job will be personal to your login:

crontab -e

The default nano editor will open the the crontab file, which is used to schedule events to happen at specified times. You can use it to issue commands that turn your switches on and off whenever you want, and have it repeat in many different ways. If you have never used crontab before on this Pi, it will open a file that explains the format for scheduling new cron jobs. I’ll explain it here too.

A single cron job issues a single command on a schedule you set. For example, you can turn on a light every day at 7 am or turn your coffee pot off at 8 am. It consists of a single line added to your crontab file. You add that line to the crontab file with the crontab -e command. Never open the file and edit it directly.

The line has five numbers that determine when it takes effect. When the appointed time comes, the cron program issues the command that follows the numbers in the line. It looks like this:

M H DOM MON DOW COMMAND

M refers to the minute you want the command issued. For example if you want the light to come on at 7:15 am, you would put 15 here.
H refers to the hour, using the 24-hour clock. If you wanted the popcorn popper to make you popcorn at 4:00 pm, you would put 16 here.
DOM refers to the day of the month. If you wanted your light to come on only on the third of the month, you would put 3 here.
MON refers to the month. If you only wanted your command to be issued in November only, you would put 11 here.
DOW refers to the day of the week, with Sunday being either 0 or 7 and all the other days numbered in order. If you wanted your coffee only on Monday, you would put 1 here.
COMMAND refers to any command that can be executed by your Pi.

For any of the numbers, putting * will make it happen every minute, every hour, every month, or every day of the week, respectively.

For example, if you add this line, it will turn your switch on at 5:30 am every Wednesday:

30 05 * * 3 python ~/btaps.py 00:00:00:00:00:00 on

You can turn it off at 7:00 am every Wednesday like this:

00 07 * * 3 python ~/btaps.py 00:00:00:00:00:00 off

You can have it come on when you arrive home from work at 8:00 pm (you work hard!):

00 20 * * 3 python ~/btaps.py 00:00:00:00:00:00 on

This command would operate every day at 9:20 pm:

20 21 * * * python ~/btaps.py 00:00:00:00:00:00 on

It’s a good idea to practice this by making a sample lines that activate in a few minutes. For example, if the current time was 7:30 pm, a good test would be:

32 * * * * python ~/btaps.py 00:00:00:00:00:00 on
34 * * * * python ~/btaps.py 00:00:00:00:00:00 off

Save the file with control-o and control-x, and wait to see if the action happens. The light should turn on at 7:32 pm and turn off at 7:34.

You can wake up to your favorite song at 7 am everyday with the following cron job. Just connect your speakers to the Pi, and make sure your favorite song is in your home directory:

00 07 * * * omxplayer ~/yourfavoritesong.mp3

Once you feel you’ve mastered cron jobs, make a schedule for your morning. Create a line for each switching action for each BTAPS1 switch, then save the file as before with control-o and control-x. You can comment using a hash mark (#).

On every Tuesday and Thursday, the script below would fire up the coffee maker at 6:50 am, turn on your bedside lamp and play your song at 7 am, then turn on the bright lights at 7:10 am. It would then turn off everything when you leave for work at 8 am.


50 06 * * 2 python ~/btaps.py 00:00:00:00:00:00 on #Coffee maker ON 6:50 am TUE
00 07 * * 2 python ~/btaps.py 00:00:00:00:00:00 on #Bedside lamp ON 7 am TUE
00 07 * * 2 omxplayer ~/yourfavoritesong.mp3 #Song plays 7 am TUE
10 07 * * 2 python ~/btaps.py 00:00:00:00:00:00 on #Very bright lamp ON 7:10 am TUE
00 08 * * 2 python ~/btaps.py 00:00:00:00:00:00 off #Coffee Pot OFF 8 am TUE
00 08 * * 2 python ~/btaps.py 00:00:00:00:00:00 off #Bedside lamp OFF 8 am TUE
00 08 * * 2 python ~/btaps.py 00:00:00:00:00:00 off #Very bright lamp OFF 8 am TUE
50 06 * * 4 python ~/btaps.py 00:00:00:00:00:00 on #Coffee Pot ON 6:50 am THU
00 07 * * 4 python ~/btaps.py 00:00:00:00:00:00 on #Bedside lamp ON 7 am THU
00 07 * * 4 omxplayer ~/yourfavoritesong.mp3 #Song plays 7 am THU
10 07 * * 4 python ~/btaps.py 00:00:00:00:00:00 on #Very bright lamp ON 7:10 am THU
00 08 * * 4 python ~/btaps.py 00:00:00:00:00:00 off #Coffee Pot OFF 8 am THU
00 08 * * 4 python ~/btaps.py 00:00:00:00:00:00 off #Bedside lamp OFF 8 am THU
00 08 * * 4 python ~/btaps.py 00:00:00:00:00:00 off #Very bright lamp OFF 8 am THU

So fill up that coffee maker, plug in the BTAPS1, and hit the sack. Maybe the future hasn’t brought you a robot maid or personal helicopter yet, but your automated morning wake-up is already here with Pi and coffee!

If you have any questions at all, please comment below or email support@plugable.com. We’re happy to help!

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The Mystery of the Windows Static IP That Won’t Stickhttp://plugable.com/2015/01/27/the-mystery-of-the-windows-static-ip-that-wont-stick http://plugable.com/2015/01/27/the-mystery-of-the-windows-static-ip-that-wont-stick#comments Tue, 27 Jan 2015 15:00:50 +0000 http://plugable.com/?p=15127 One of the interesting things about helping customers at Plugable is that we not only see a wide variety of creative uses of our products, but sometimes we also get to find the root of operating system problems.

Now I know that may sound strange. I have always been ‘that guy’ who wants to get at the true root of a problem if possible. I have spent more hours than I care to admit tracking down seemingly minor glitches in the hopes of never having to be bothered by them again.

That opportunity presented itself again recently and I thought I would share the results as they may be useful to everyone.

Some of the customers who had purchased one of our USB docking stations mentioned they were having trouble setting a static IP address in Windows. They would make the change and although everything appeared to work properly at first, the change would not stick.

That shouldn’t happen with our docks. While a driver for the Ethernet adapter does get loaded, there is nothing special about the driver that would preclude setting a static IP.

I grabbed a random test laptop and was able to duplicate this behavior. I would make the change to the network adapter in the Network Connections area of the Network and Sharing center in Windows 8.1 Pro. Although everything seemed to work fine, the change did not stick. If I went back in the settings for the Ethernet adapter, it would still be set to DHCP.

I removed the dock from the test computer and using the laptop’s built-in Ethernet adapter, I got the same results. Nothing seemed relevant in the Windows logs and no error messages were displayed.

When searching for other reports of a problem like this, the challenge is that the search terms are very general and a lot of other results pop up. However, I did find two links that finally helped me zero in on the solution:

http://support.microsoft.com/kb/937056

The Microsoft Knowledge base article referred to Windows 2000! Some steps mentioned no longer applied to Windows 8.1, but the general description seemed to fit what I was seeing.

So I decided to be daring. I made a backup of the registry (by exporting it) before making any changes and then navigated to the registry key located at HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Network. There I deleted the binary value called Config and restarted. This allowed me to set a static IP address and have the setting maintained as it should be.

I tested this on another machine that had exhibited the behavior and it worked there as well. Feeling confident, I emailed the fix to one of our customers who had run into the issue (with the caveat to backup the registry) and it resolved it for him as well.

Not being content with just finding the fix, I Googled the registry key to see what results I would get. It’s something I like to do to see what comes up when I search for an answer I already know. That led me to only one other result from Microsoft here:

http://blogs.technet.com/b/juanand/archive/2010/01/11/the-case-of-windows-7-network-connections-empty-folder.aspx

This blog post touts a similar fix to solve yet another range of maladies, but it doesn’t actually delve into the details of what this value records. Further searching led me to a book called Windows 2000 Server 24seven by Matthew Strebe (ISBN 978-0782126693). On Page 575 there is a reference to the Network key in general, saying it “Contains keys that create the bindings between network adapters, clients, services and transport protocols”.

There are probably more references out there that may explain what is being stored and more importantly why it can become corrupt and cause so many problems (I’ll keep digging in the hopes of find the true root), but meanwhile I hope this relatively simple fix will help people experiencing similar problems setting static IPs.

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New Plugable USB Fast Ethernet Adapter Brings Wired Ethernet Directly to Your Tablet’s MicroUSB Porthttp://plugable.com/2015/01/22/new-plugable-usb-fast-ethernet-adapter-brings-wired-ethernet-directly-to-your-tablets-microusb-port http://plugable.com/2015/01/22/new-plugable-usb-fast-ethernet-adapter-brings-wired-ethernet-directly-to-your-tablets-microusb-port#comments Thu, 22 Jan 2015 15:48:58 +0000 http://plugable.com/?p=14998 You are in a hotel room in a far-away city and you need to access the internet through your tablet. But there’s no WIFI! Only a hard-wired Ethernet connection. What do you do?

2_512In the past, with many popular tablets, you could reach for your trusty Plugable USB2-E100 Fast Ethernet adapter and get connected, but you needed a special OTG (On-The-Go) cable between its standard USB connector and the MicroUSB port on your tablet. It worked great, but the OTG cable was small and easy to lose. It often ended up as the weak link in your network access.

Now Plugable is proud to introduce the USB2-OTGE100, a new USB Fast Ethernet adapter that completely eliminates the need for an OTG cable. Instead of the standard USB connector of the E100, it features a male MicroUSB connector that plugs directly into the MircoUSB port on your portable device. You can ditch the OTG cable and use a wired LAN connection with ease.

Like the E100, the new USB2-OTGE100 features a compact design that fits easily in your pocket or bag. On one end there is a RJ45 connector that fits any standard Ethernet cable. On the other end is a wire that terminates in a male MicroUSB B connector that fits into the MicroUSB port found on most Windows and Android tablets and Android smartphones. It’s powered through the USB port, so no batteries or AC adapter are needed.

Although the OTGE100 is a lifesaver when all you have is a wired internet connection, using it to connect directly to a network has other benefits even when WIFI is available. Wired connections offer increased reliability and faster speed than WIFI (802.11)–especially when the signal is weak or far away, or when many people are using the network.

The OTGE100 uses the same ASIX AX88772 chipset as the USB2-E100. It is supported out of the box by nearly all tablets that feature Windows 8.1, including the Venue 8 Pro, Acer Iconia tablets, the HP Stream 7, Lenovo Miix 2, and the Nextbook 8. It is also supported by many tablets with Android versions 4.0 and later, including Nexus 7 first generation out of the box and second generation with Android 5.0.1 (Lollipop) or later. Many ASUS tablets are also supported. Unfortunately, Kindles and most Samsung tablets aren’t supported. The OTGE100 also works with many Android smartphones, including the Nexus 5 and the Moto X. Check the product page for the OTGE100 for a list of devices that we’ve tested with it.

Plugable’s new USB2-OTGE100 Fast Ethernet Adapter is a great way to get connected. Take it with you and leave that OTG cable at home!

If you have any questions at all, please comment below or email support@plugable.com. We’re happy to help!

Where to Buy

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Plugable Launches 7-Port SuperSpeed USB 3.0 Hub with 60W of Power and Best Available Charge and Sync Supporthttp://plugable.com/2015/01/15/plugable-launches-usb-3-0-7-port-with-60w-of-power-and-best-available-charge-and-sync-support http://plugable.com/2015/01/15/plugable-launches-usb-3-0-7-port-with-60w-of-power-and-best-available-charge-and-sync-support#comments Thu, 15 Jan 2015 17:16:05 +0000 http://plugable.com/?p=14861 2_512

Last year we introduced the USB2-HUB7BC, our flagship 7-port USB 2.0, 60 watt powered hub with BC1.2 charging support. This hub was our “holy grail” of charging hubs due to the great compatibility that the BC1.2 charging standard offered. Nearly any iOS device with a Lightning connector and many other Android devices could charge and sync through that hub at up to 1.5A per port. The only drawback for some was that the hub wasn’t USB 3.0 and proprietary charging signals weren’t supported when the hub was being used as a stand-alone charger with no host computer connected. New for 2015 we now have a USB 3.0 version with all of the same great features it’s USB 2.0 predecessor has and more.

We are excited to introduce our new Plugable USB 3.0 7 Port Hub and BC 1.2 Fast Charger. This is a USB 3.0 hub for connecting a PC, Mac, Linux, or other computer to add up to 7 additional USB devices. It also provides new, advanced compatibility for devices which support the new BC 1.2 charging standard: charging and syncing (“Charging Downstream Port” or CDP mode) and charging with only the hub’s power adapter and no computer (“Dedicated Charging Port” or DCP). Unlike the USB 2.0 version, this new USB 3.0 hub also has support for other proprietary charging signals when being used as a stand-alone charger. The USB3-HUB7BC uses a robust 60W UL-certified power adapter (12v 5A output, 12A at USB’s 5V) to power and charge the most demanding devices.

Note that not all phones or tablets support the new BC 1.2 standard or all parts of it. Specific supported devices include all Apple iPads and iPhones with Lightning connectors, along with many newer Android devices including Amazon’s Kindle Fire line of tablets. Older Apples (30-pin) and other phones and tablets do not support the BC 1.2 standard at all, so they won’t charge. Other devices may charge but not sync. All of these behaviors are determined by the phone or tablet, and so will vary by device.

If you have any questions, we’re here to help. Just ask below or email support@plugable.com anytime. Thanks for going out of your way for Plugable products!

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Our Best USB Charger Just Got Better, The New Plugable Power 2015 USB-C5TX 5-Port USB Smart Chargerhttp://plugable.com/2015/01/13/our-best-usb-charger-just-got-better-the-new-plugable-power-2015-usb-c5tx-5-port-usb-smart-charger http://plugable.com/2015/01/13/our-best-usb-charger-just-got-better-the-new-plugable-power-2015-usb-c5tx-5-port-usb-smart-charger#comments Tue, 13 Jan 2015 17:37:53 +0000 http://plugable.com/?p=14698 Last year we released our USB-C5T 5 port smart charger and it’s been a great success, but we set out to make it even better. New for 2015 is the Plugable USB-C5TX.

The C5TX, unlike its predecessor, has smart charging on all 5 of its USB ports and an integrated (and more powerful) power supply to charge the most demanding devices. It was important to us to eliminate the need to decide which port to connect a device to by making all 5 ports equally compatible. We also wanted to make the charger as compact and portable as possible, so we ditched the external power brick and installed a built-in power supply that uses the same standard detachable AC power cable (IEC 60320 C7, included) as many common consumer electronics devices. The power supply accepts 100-240V at 50/60Hz, so it can be used in any country around the world (with appropriate AC outlet adapter/cable).

With so many devices from daily life capable of charging from USB, why waste valuable AC outlets by using a separate AC adapter for each one? The C5TX is the perfect all-in-one universal USB smart mutli-charger for charging most cell phones, tablets, USB battery packs, handheld game consoles, e-readers, e-cigarettes, cameras, smart watches, fitness trackers, bicycle lights, and more.

To maximize device compatibility, each USB port is equipped with its own individual smart-charging chipset that tries to identify the device connected and choose the best charging mechanism to provide the fastest charge possible. Some devices, like the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, charge even faster with the C5TX than with their bundled power adapters. Each USB port can charge a device at up to 2.4A, with an impressive 8A, 40W total to share between all 5 ports. That is more than enough power to charge 3 iPads and 2 iPhones at the same time.

If you have any questions at all, please comment below or email support@plugable.com. We’re happy to help!

Where to Buy

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Upgrade the USB Charging Capabilities of Your Carhttp://plugable.com/2015/01/12/plugable-power-cup-usb-charging-charger-power http://plugable.com/2015/01/12/plugable-power-cup-usb-charging-charger-power#comments Mon, 12 Jan 2015 15:58:48 +0000 http://plugable.com/?p=14706 Your car may have enough cup holders but USB charging ports are often scarce. With our new Plugable USB-C3C, we’ve packed 3 USB smart charging ports into a beautiful cup-sized charger that sits in any cup holder and gets power from your existing 12V accessory socket / cigarette lighter.

With so many devices in your daily life capable of charging from USB, the need to recharge them on the go has become more important than ever. The USB-C3C is an all-in-one universal USB smart mutli-charger designed specifically for your car. It’s able to charge most cell phones, tablets, USB battery packs, handheld game consoles, e-readers, e-cigarettes, cameras, smart watches, fitness trackers, bicycle lights, and more all while sitting neatly and securely tucked away in your vehicle’s cup holder.

To maximize device compatibility, each USB port is equipped with its own individual smart charging chipset that tries to identify the device connected and choose the best charging mechanism to provide the fastest charge possible. For some devices like the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, they will charge faster connected to the C3C than with their bundled power adapters. Each USB port can charge a device at up to 2.4A with an impressive 7.2A, 36W total to share between all 3 ports. More than enough power to charge 3 power hungry tablets, such as iPads, at the same time.

The Plugable USB-C3C is a great upgrade especially for cases where:

  • The car has only 1 or 2 USB charge ports.
  • The car’s USB charge ports don’t have a smart charging chipset so that only some devices charge; or, like the iPhone, charge at a slower 1A rate when as much as 2.4A is possible. This is extremely common as most built-in USB charging ports are device specific or limited to 1A.

If you have any questions at all, please comment below or email support@plugable.com. We’re happy to help!

Where to Buy

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Developing Custom Applications with our Plugable PS-BTAPS1 Bluetooth Switchhttp://plugable.com/2014/12/19/developing-custom-applications-with-our-plugable-ps-btaps1-bluetooth-switch http://plugable.com/2014/12/19/developing-custom-applications-with-our-plugable-ps-btaps1-bluetooth-switch#comments Fri, 19 Dec 2014 23:31:57 +0000 http://plugable.com/?p=14512 BTAPS1 Sample App Running on Fedora 21
Our new Plugable PS-BTAPS1 is perfect for many different home automation projects, however, we understand that our Android and iOS apps may not fit the bill for every project, and we wanted to provide a way for hobbyists and programmers to develop custom applications that are able to interact with the device. We have for you today some instructions and sample code on how to trigger the device’s on and off functionality from a custom application. More information on how to perform more advanced functions, such as using the built-in timer, will be forthcoming at a later date.

The PS-BTAPS1 uses Bluetooth’s very simple Serial Port Profile for communication. All that is required to talk to the device is an open RFCOMM connection and then the right payload to be sent to trigger the device’s desired functionality.

There are two different payloads necessary for turning the device’s switch on and off:
0xCCAA03010101 will tell the BT-APS1 to flick its internal switch to ON.
0xCCAA03010100 will tell it to do the opposite, and switch to OFF.

To make this somewhat simpler to understand, we are providing a sample application written in Python 2.7. The code for the application can be found below:

All that is required to run the application is Python 2.7 and the PyBluez module, which can be downloaded here.

This sample application has a simple command line interface for making your PS-BTAPS1 switch on or off.

python btaps.py 00:00:00:00:00:00 on
python btaps.py 00:00:00:00:00:00 off

Replace 00:00:00:00:00:00 with your PS-BTAPS1’s Bluetooth Address. You can easily find your device’s Bluetooth Address like so:

Windows:
Go to Control Panel -> Devices and Printers -> Right Click on your paired Plugable PS-BTAPS1(It should be listed as “Plugable”) -> Properties -> Bluetooth Tab -> Unique Identifier

Linux:
Open a terminal and run:

hcitool scan

This code has been tested under Fedora 21 and Windows 8.1. It should run on older versions of Windows and Linux without issues. Unfortunately, this sample code will not work under OS X due to lack of support in PyBluez. Mac OS X applications should still be possible using OS X native Bluetooth APIs.

More information on programming the Plugable PS-BTAPS1 should follow early in the new year. We can’t wait to see what cool and interesting projects are developed by the community!

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Automate Any Appliance with the New Plugable PS-BTAPS1 Bluetooth Controlled Switchhttp://plugable.com/2014/12/19/automate-any-appliance-with-the-new-plugable-ps-btaps1-bluetooth-controlled-switch http://plugable.com/2014/12/19/automate-any-appliance-with-the-new-plugable-ps-btaps1-bluetooth-controlled-switch#comments Fri, 19 Dec 2014 15:07:40 +0000 http://plugable.com/?p=14421 mainDid you grow up watching the Jetsons every morning? I did. As an adult, I’m still waiting for someone to invent a bed that involuntarily kicks me out, showers me, dresses me, and sticks a warm cup of brew in my hand. I probably shouldn’t hold my breath…

While my childhood-inspired wishes may be impossible, home automation is slowly becoming more common. With the new Plugable PS-BTAPS1 Home Automation Switch we aim to bring this capability to your house as simply and inexpensively as possible. When paired with any iOS or Android smartphone, this switch uses our companion application on the phone to control power to any device that plugs into a standard AC wall outlet. You can have that device turn on when your smartphone gets near it, reacting to the presence of your mobile device’s Bluetooth radio. Or set a timer schedule using the phone’s UI. The switch will execute that schedule indefinitely even when you’re not around. Or you can simply use your phone as an instant remote control.

IMG_20141218_174112To set up, plug everything in and then from your phone’s UI, connect with the switch via Bluetooth using your phone’s built-in Bluetooth control (look for the device name “Plugable”). Then install the free “Plugable Power” application from the iOS or Android App Store and open it to see and control the device you’ve already paired with.

The switch is controllable by Bluetooth – so when you configure the switch, you have to be close enough to make a Bluetooth connection. Once set to Timer Mode and given a schedule, it will turn appliances on and off to the schedule you’ve set even when you’re not around.

And if you’re a tinkerer or programmer, we have information and open source available to control the switch directly.

We’re excited about the potential of bringing existing lights and appliances to life via Bluetooth. If you have any questions at all, feel free to comment below or email us at support@plugable.com. Thanks for going out of your way for Plugable products!

Where to Buy

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20 Years of Linuxhttp://plugable.com/2014/12/17/20-years-of-linux http://plugable.com/2014/12/17/20-years-of-linux#comments Wed, 17 Dec 2014 22:19:24 +0000 http://plugable.com/?p=14480 Originally Published in Linux Journal Issue #239, March 2014

20 Years ago, 15 years before founding Plugable Technologies, Bernie Thompson wrote an article for the first issue of Linux Journal. Over the next twenty years, LJ published 4 more articles including this 20-year retrospective in March 2014. Thanks to Linux Journal’s generous terms allowing authors to keep their copyright, we’re able to republish the full series of articles here. If you have your own memories and opinions of the time, please share in the comments. This is Article 5 of 5.

cover23920 years ago in the world of operating systems, IBM was a dying king and Microsoft an ascendant prince. Apple was in exile. And a young wizard named Linus Torvalds rebuilt venerable Unix, which already had 20 years of its own history, and re-imagined it in the form of Linux. The world had a powerful new open source platform to build on.

By the end of the 1990s, IBM was nearly irrelevant to the personal computer market it had built. Microsoft had risen to nearly 90% market share. Linux had a disconcerting combination of enormous investor hype and low market share. But Linux was beginning to quietly appear in set top boxes and networking equipment. It was dominating the Internet server market. And a little company called Google was deploying thousands of Linux boxes to revolutionize search.

By the end of the 2000s, at least 10 “year of the Linux desktop” milestones had come and gone without success. Windows was still dominant, but the PC era was about to end. Apple had returned from the dead to win the hearts and wallets of consumers and developers by building OS X and iOS on an open source Mach+BSD kernel with different lineage from Linux. Linux was everywhere and nowhere: the Internet ran on Linux, yet few consumer’s browsers did.

Here in 2014, the world seems to be shifting in Linux’s direction, as long as a Linux-derived kernel is what counts. Windows 8 has alienated Microsoft’s installed base. Mobile is ascendant. Android has reached 80% smartphone share. And last year, Chromebooks rose to take 10% of the US computer market and 21% of laptop sales, outselling Apple Macbooks. Yet the Linux desktop, in the pure form of Ubuntu or one of the other distros, still shuffles along with less than 2% share by most measures.

From Megabytes to Gigabytes

In the first issue of Linux Journal I wrote “Linux needs 2MB RAM to try out, OS/2 needs 4MB, and NT needs 12 MB.”

Those Linux and OS/2 numbers were for command line configurations only. The NT number included its GUI since it couldn’t operate without it. But the march of Moore’s Law over the long stretch is stunning. In less than 20 years, we’ve seen nearly a 1000x increase in typical memory sizes.

Today, Windows 8 can run in 512 MB for just a single task or two, but 2 GB is a normal minimum. Linux is still the most miserly. 256 MB is normal for platforms like the Raspberry Pi, and running Linux on a wireless router with 8 MB of ram is not unheard of using DD-WRT micro version.

The original article focused on the issues of “Will Linux, OS/2, or NT work on my PC?”. These issues have receded as even sub-$200 PCs today can run anything. The important question has become: What’s the best fit for what I need my computer to do?

The Importance of the OS

Applications
Libraries
Operating System
Drivers
Hardware

Simplified OS Layers

A good operating system mediates between users, applications, and hardware with a focus on clarity, compatibility, and security. It enables applications written today to work on the latest OS version, and a significant portion of the existing installed base of older versions. It enables those applications to keep working even as things underneath change over time. It allows hardware created today to support existing applications and ones not yet written. All it takes is for one essential application or piece of hardware to be unavailable on a new platform, and the user can’t move. This creates powerful lock-in to a users’ current system.

The OS also provides a UI and set of standard ways for users to get things done. Humans are flexible, but they suffer compatibility problems too. When a new UI moves things around, there’s a human cost in time and frustration. When there’s a shift in the way computers are used — from command line, to mouse and keyboard GUI, to touch GUI — not every use scenario or user shifts. We all know the command line is still critical for any IT Pro. Operating systems must either pick a paradigm, or find a way to expose similar functionality in each world.

This isn’t easy, which is part of why the OS world has fractured and diversified in the shift to touch GUIs over the past few years. As platforms and UIs have been churned, at times it seems we’ve needed a Hippocratic Oath for programmers and UI designers: first, do no harm.

And in the realm of security, protecting users and their data has become even harder post-NSA. We’ve entered a Wild West era where we have ceded moral authority to deter nations, corporations, and rogue groups from exploiting others online. It’s everyone for themselves, and a trusted operating system is at the center of that.

How are the operating systems of today doing by these standards?

Windows has had the largest financial investment in it, by far, over the past 20 years. For the last decade, Microsoft has had thousands of employees working on Windows at any given moment. Executives are obsessed to distraction with avoiding the innovator’s dilemma. Many investments are “big bets” that aim to anticipate customer and partner demand, rather than smaller steps to respond to it. Often priorities are focused on internal goals and “better together” initiatives that attempt to extend lock-in or push the user base the latest version. When those initiatives are aligned with the interests of users and partners, they tend to succeed. But many have not.

Among the unheralded successes has been the Windows Update mechanism. For users, it appears that they plug any new or old device into their Windows PC, and it just works — no digging for disks for downloads. In fact, it’s a smart cloud-based system that was implemented before the cloud was a buzzword. When a new device is plugged in, Windows automatically reads the plug and play IDs, checks its servers on the web, and downloads and installs the best available driver automatically. More than 10 years on, Linux and Mac OS X have nothing equivalent.

On the downside, the Windows 8 transition has been particularly jarring. Microsoft faced a tough choice: lose market share in the new tablet space, or create a version of Windows and an ecosystem of applications that supports tablets well. They chose to sacrifice usability as a desktop system to win new tablet users. The result is a confusing collision of two UI worlds. Some users have gone scrambling to find an alternative, driving up sales of Chromebooks and perhaps hastening the tablet shift.

Meanwhile, the Windows 8 App Store had a new API and no provision to run those apps on Windows 7 or earlier. This created another catch-22 for winning over application developers. It sped up the unravelling of the valuable application lock-in that Microsoft had established starting with Windows 3.1. A commercial application developer a decade ago would have been crazy not to design for Windows. Today, that same developer is crazy not look first at designing for a hosted HTML, CSS, and Javascript model that would allow the application to work on any platform. That should be ringing alarm bells in Redmond, given the market share of other Microsoft platforms that weren’t able to leverage the lock-in of Windows binaries (Windows CE, Zune, Windows Phone, etc.)

Security-wise, it’s important to understand that Windows 7 and 8 have perhaps the best line-of-code level security of any existing OS. Microsoft invests enormous efforts to identify and fix potential exploits before shipment. But the weekly “patch Tuesday” flood highlights how difficult it is to protect a big, juicy target like Windows. It’s the potato blight of our era. We’ll talk about Linux security later, but what protects Linux is less the quality of its code, and more the diversity of it.

After one and a half years, Windows 8 has only crossed 10 percent market share. But Microsoft still has a chance to regain its footing, given the combined market shares of XP, 7, and 8.

Mac OS and iOS

Steve Jobs warned Microsoft that trying to merge the desktop and tablet worlds wouldn’t work. And so far Apple has largely stuck to that line, with success. Millions of eager buyers are willing to pay a premium for Apple products. iOS has been passed by Android in pure unit sales, but still gets more use day to day.

Mac OS X was my main platform for much of the 2000s. It puts a nice UI on a deeply functional Unix foundation. The excellent MacPorts system gives entry to the full catalog of open source applications. Apple’s XQuartz project enables even GUI X apps to be ported. Users that care about particular scenarios like working with photos, music, and video have a platform with great support for those scenarios, because of Job’s attention to end-to-end quality.

Apple has delivered many innovations, but among the most powerful was the successful iOS and later OS X App Stores. Small developers had withered under Microsoft. By enabling software developers to make money, these app stores allowed Apple’s application ecosystem to quickly rival Microsoft’s.

Apple has historically been more willing to sacrifice the compatibility of older applications and hardware. That might have become a problem as Apple’s installed base grew. But the application problem has been mitigated with the strategy of offering free OS upgrades combined with free application upgrades from the App Store. Your current software binaries won’t work several versions from now, but you won’t care because you’ll have downloaded a free update.

Hardware compatibility, however, has often been sacrificed. One gets the sense that Apple sees a robust hardware ecosystem as competing with them, rather than a source of strength for the platform as a whole.

In security, Apple has been both smart and lucky. Smart to build on Unix. Smart to introduce strict app store criteria and the Gatekeeper feature to steer users away from untrusted apps. But they have also been lucky to stay under the radar. If Windows and OS X’s market shares were reversed, Apple would be forced to have a much higher level of focus on individual exploits, being a monoculture like Windows.

Android and Chrome OS

Google has also kept the tablet and desktop worlds apart somewhat, in the form of Android for tablets and Chrome OS for laptops, both built on the Linux kernel.

Linus’ strategy of benevolent dictatorship for the Linux kernel has delivered stable progress over the years and kept the worst decisions out. However, above the kernel, progress on Linux has been unstable and constantly disruptive… mostly to users, if not to competitors.

With Android, Google’s role has been to provide that stability above the kernel, along with the opportunity for a for-profit ecosystem of software and hardware to build around the platform. The result has been an amazing explosion of Linux-based devices.

With Chrome OS, Google has consummated the process of making the browser the OS. HTML, CSS, and Javascript are the new terminal to the cloud. For those of us who live on the web and hosted applications, there is enormous peace of mind in having no local software and few security issues to think about. Especially when we’re gifting a laptop to grandpa or our daughter. Or if we think we’re on the NSA’s naughty list.

Because Android and Chrome OS are open source, whether you’re Amazon building the Kindle or CyanogenMod, you have the freedom to take it in new directions.

Google has succeeded in hastening the end of the Windows monopoly by grabbing a significant chunk of market share with an open source operating system based on Linux. All this makes it likely that the next generation of applications will be developed with web compatibility and platform portability as a primary concern. Even if Android and Chrome OS do not continue their meteoric rise, for the moment they have mitigated much of the lock-in that would have prevented users from moving to the next innovative platform.

The Linux Distributions

The ever-churning cauldron of Linux distros and spins is the hotbed of innovation from which Android, Chrome OS, Kindle, TiVO, and countless other innovations past and future are born. On the downside, competing groups innovating in different directions has obvious consequences for some key OS characteristics: clarity and compatibility.

In practice, for hardware that is well documented, the results at the kernel level are generally excellent. If you can get your driver into the kernel, it tends to get carried forward intact. On the other hand, trying to keep a binary driver in sync with the Linux kernel is difficult, expensive, and usually futile. Linux’s strategy of sacrificing binary compatibility for the freedom to innovate and keep the kernel clean has proven powerful over time.

There are some exceptions, such as graphics which touches many layers of the stack. The transition to compositing desktops has hurt performance on Linux scenarios where a beefy GPU isn’t available. And the more functionally complex KMS/DRM driver model has had many impacts on users. OS features like support for multiple monitors that require participation at many layers have been difficult to achieve.

At the application level, the story is more mixed than the kernel. Competing libraries, versions, and package managers make it difficult to port even open source applications to every distribution. There are many potential libraries to become dependent on, and each dependency may evolve in ways that will demand that your application change or bifurcate to keep up.

Some distros focus on minimizing churn and compromising by providing facilities such as a commercial app store. Ubuntu and Red Hat Enterprise Linux are best known as playing this role on the desktop. When that plot has been lost, back to basics distros like Linux Mint have won converts.

Amazon m1.small EC2 pricing Linux vs. Windows

Linux $0.060/hour
Windows $0.091/hour

In the cloud, Amazon has a growing list of applications in their marketplace built on Linux (often RedHat or Debian based). You can see Linux’s customizability, maintainability, and lack of licensing cost at work in how Amazon prices Linux-based hosting vs. Windows hosting. Linux is a more cost-effective choice.

Can the Linux distributions do a better job for end users? Yes, definitely. Branches like Ubuntu’s effort to replace X with Mir should not be taken so lightly. It would be a boon to Linux adoption if there were more efforts to consolidate or combine projects, to present a unified front to applications and end users. Is the universe forever expanding until we’re all on isolated islands, or will it consolidate? It’s a delicate balance. We could start with a joint development conference between the Canonical and Red Hat teams to find common ground.

On the plus side, Linux’s software and hardware diversity make it difficult for mass exploits. And more fundamentally, open source is essential for trust through transparency. Any individual, nation, or corporation can do their own code review to weed out potential exploits. While not a panacea for sophisticated, targeted attacks, these characteristics allow Linux to deliver the best security of any platform in practice.

The Future

Despite the challenges, the future for Linux is unstoppably bright.

Beyond the desktop, Linux leads in servers and has completely conquered the embedded market. It’s impossible to conceive of any one company being able to port a commercial OS to as many CPU and device architectures as Linux has. As the embedded world transitions from 8/16-bit processors to 32-bit, billions of new devices will be running Linux inside.

Even today, an average Microsoft or Apple executive is probably (knowingly or unknowingly) running several copies of Linux in their home: perhaps their TV, router, thermostat, or the coming generation appliances and vehicles.

Linux is currently winning the mobile race with Android, and grabbing significant “desktop” share with Chrome OS. Efforts such as CyanogenMod, Firefox OS, and Ubuntu for phones will keep creating innovative options. And as applications and users increasingly live within the browser, the barriers to move between platforms will continue to fall.

The revolution that Linus started 20 years ago is accelerating. “World domination” which was previously a sly joke, now appears inevitable. Happy birthday, Linux.

Originally published in Linux Journal Issue 239 March, 2014. Bernie Thompson is a former IBM and Microsoft OS developer, and a Linux kernel contributor. He is the Founder of Plugable Technologies: a USB, Bluetooth, and network devices company.

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