Annoying Commercials

<rant>

There’s a product being advertised that is incredibly annoying.

Because I don’t want to use the name, we’ll just call it “Shit Mobile” or “Shit Solar”.

I can only assume that they’ve drank the Kool-Aid and have succumbed to — no, that perhaps they eagerly embraced it — their own junk-science and bullshit marketing. I’ve been absolutely bombarded with their ads constantly.

So it has my attention.

We’ll summarize:

  • 20,000mAH capacity.
  • The product is a battery for recharging your USB-powered devices.
  • On one side, it includes an integrated inductive charger — probably Qi* and an LED illumination array.
  • On the other side, it has a solar panel that can “recharge the battery in about 60 minutes.”
  • It appears to be about 7 cm x 15 cm and perhaps 2 cm thick.

And it’s being marketed as one of those mock “unboxing” videos.

An hour to charge it fully in sunlight, eh? I’d certainly like to test the claims, but I’m not going to order one. But we can certainly do some math.

Let’s start with how large is the PV panel on the device itself? We’ll be generous here, and use its outer dimensions, disregarding the bezel around the edge: 7 cm x 15 cm = 105 cm sq.

Next, a typical photovoltaic (PV) panel has an output of about 200W per square meter in direct sun. The theoretical collection is 1KW per square meter, but panels are only about 20% efficient. (20% of 1000W = 200W). Again, we’ll be generous and assume it’s the most-efficient solar panel possible under current technology.

So, that’s 1.05% of the 200W panel size (0.0105 x 200): 2.1W.

That’s the open circuit output.

And you want to fully charge a 20,000mah battery in an hour? What was its state of charge before you began your test?

</rant>

At USD$110 (!), it’s simply not cost-effective. Not even if I find myself in need of replacement or addition to my USD$18 10,000mah Anker battery that I’ve had for about three years. There are far better and less expensive solar charging and power solutions available.

* Not quite everyone has caught on, but Qi is pronounced | CHē | (Chinese: 气). I’m only adding this brief rant to the rant because I’ve observed many people stumble and pronounce it | kē |, | kwē |, | kwī | and simply say the name of the letters as Q-I. Maybe products of American public education have a fear of the letter Q and the many uses it can have.

OnVUE

Taking an online test from home using Pearson VUE?

Is it possible? Perhaps.

Is it frustrating? Yep.

First, do not turn on Do Not Disturb before you do the preliminary test. Yes, I know, “but I don’t want to be disturbed!” You can’t even run the test itself unless you get the system notifications asking for changes to Accessibility and Notifications.

**sigh**

nUSB

USB – Universal Serial Bus.

Why do they have the word “Universal” in there?

Because it most certainly isn’t. It’s perhaps better written nUSB and perhaps pronounced “new ess bea” rather than “yoo ess bea”… and we all know that n is short for “not”, as in, Not Universal Serial Bus.

Here’s the thing… for being “universal”, it has a bewildering combination of protocols, data delivery speeds, physical connector types, power usage and delivery. Thankfully (ha!) there are only two cable lengths.

How so?

Let’s see, there USB v1.0, v1.1, v2.0, v3.0, then v3.1

There’s low-speed, full-speed, hi-speed, SuperSpeed, and a version of SuperSpeed that’s available for v3.1.

You have USB-A connectors, which is reasonable, then there’s USB-B connectors along with mini-B and micro-B. Complicating things a bit further, you’ve 3.x B and 3.x micro-B. Let’s not forget USB-C

For power availability, thankfully, v1.0 and v1.1 didn’t provide any, but everything else can provide 500mA, 900mA, 1.5A, and even 3.0A (at 5V in all cases).

I know, I’m just being dramatic. It’s not really 875 different combinations. No, no, of course not. It has been narrowed-down — refined a bit.

But when you go out to buy a nUSB cable, choose carefully.

EDIT: See? I was probably overreacting. I stand corrected.

But I’m still gonna refer to it as nUSB.

ADS-B Receivers

And now for something completely different…

I’ve been hosting ADS-B receivers from FlightAware and FlightRadar24 for a few years now. Living in ML, I had an optimal location. Sure, there were limitations from mountains 100 miles away, but in general, I could pick up aircraft broadcasts above Portland, Seattle, Spokane, Richland.

Before we’d sold the house, I started receiving regular alerts from FlightAware that my receiver was offline. Checked everything, of course: it’s connected, nothing’s changed, device is plugged into the network, DHCP service is showing the device is alive. Even its own onboard diagnostics are even showing that it’s fine… except…

I sent an email to FlightAware to let them know it was offline and suggested that perhaps its 1090 radio was faulty.

They were rather dismissive. “No. Just double check it’s plugged in and connected to the network.”

It is. It’s reporting an error with the 1090 receiver.

“No. Just make sure it’s plugged in.”

Time passed. Moved house. And finally got round to taking a closer look…

I don’t have a prime location now. I can’t even get the antenna atop the rental’s roof. But, I can improvise a bit.

Right, so my FlightRadar24 receiver continues to work just fine. Well, limited receive range of course, but still fine.

But the FlightAware receiver…

It has an “internal” USB receiver. Just a simplistic RTL dongle from the looks of things.

I have a few spare RTL SDRs. Soooo… plug it in, power it up and it reports that everything is normal. Works fine. Still rather annoyed that FlightAware was dismissive of the issue I was reporting. But it works now.

Someday, I’ll see about having the receive antennas as high as possible. Perhaps I’ll have an antenna tower installed at the “next house”.

Adding to the Stable?

I will never again buy a new or used petrol/gasoline or diesel-powered car or truck… but I will quite happily add all manner of petrol-powered bike after bike to my rather small stable.

Top slot on that list is a Vaquero to replace my V Star. Or add to it.

Maybe a 250-class bike — I have fond memories of the adventures that I had on the baby Ninja many years ago. Maybe even the 150cc-class Honda ADV.

But this one will be quite high on the list if it ever comes to the US.

And, yes, the world is in complete uproar at the moment. No idea if there will be many tomorrows left — but Living means more than just “Walking and Breathing”.

One of my goals, having survived the whole death thing a few years ago and continuing to endure this astoundingly-prolonged recovery, adding a few bikes to the stable seems a worthwhile goal.

You gotta have goals.