April 15th, 2020

children of dune - leto 1

portable monitor triumph! part 2

Portable Monitor Triumph


Back in Stock!

Lepow Upgraded 15.6 Inch IPS HDR 1920 x 1080 FHD Computer Display Game Screen is now back in stock! Price: $204.99

Note: camelcamelcamel shows its lowest price as $169.99 on January 3, 2020, well before Coronavirus was a thing in the US, and its highest at $209.98 on Mar 17, 2020, which corresponds with the near beginning of Coronavirus work at home becoming mainstream. In other words, it may go down to that again but probably not very soon.

I will enthusiastically repeat my rec: if you're looking for a second monitor for work that can also be useful for non-work stuff, this one is great, and Lepow is a brand I've never had a bad experience with. However:

ASUS MB169B+ 15.6" Full HD 1920x1080 IPS USB Portable Monitor - this is available like new from Amazon Warehouse for $180.49 and new for $199.99 with Prime Shipping.

The only reason I'm mentioning this one is that it was on my short list originally because greater than two review sites had it on their top ten list for portable monitors and it wasn't available for a while. And it's ASUS; they're extremely well known, and personally, my first tablet came from them and not a few motherboards I've owned or worked on. So if you're considering getting one, that's one you might also look at.

So far, the price range for portable monitors is running about $180 up for those that either appear in rec lists by reputable sites or have a high star + lots of reviews (I personally look for above 200 reviews for portable monitors no matter how high the stars and only go below that if it's a very dependable brand like Asus or Lepow, etc, it show on a rec list for a site I trust, and it's release date is fairly recent. Portable monitors have taken a major upswing due to Coronavirus, so I try to make sure it's one that has reviews pre-February/March.

Note: The only thing I almost regret is it isn't a touchscreen, but only as a matter of convenience for a very few functions. OTOH, portable touchscreen monitors are both more expensive and more fragile than a plain portable monitor of this size and most of what I need the monitor for I need a keyboard at minimum (in the GUI, also a mouse).

Device Compatibility Testing

I confirmed compatibility with both Ubuntu and Raspbian, so the official list plus my testing list are as follows:

Compatibility List
1.) Window PCs
2.) Mac PCs
3.) Android phones/tablets
4.) iPhones/iPads
5.) Nintendo Switch
6.) X-Box
7.) Playstation
8.) Ubuntu (tested in Lubuntu)
9.) Raspbian (Raspberry Pi OS)

This is especially for [personal profile] brownbetty since she also has a Raspberry Pi. I have no idea if you'd be into this or even need a monitor for anything, but boy is it convenient if you're running headless with RDP.

Ubuntu Connection Guide

This is pretty straightforward but I like to be thorough.

1.) HDMI port on the Ubuntu computer
2.) Mini HDMI to HDMI Cable (came with monitor)
3.) USB-C to USB-A Cable + Power Block (came with monitor)

Attach the Mini HDMI to HDMI Cable to the computer and the monitor, plug monitor into outlet for power.

Raspberry Pi running Raspbian

1a.) Micro HDMI to HDMI Cable Male to Female - $8.99 - I bought this one
1b.) Micro HMDI to Mini HDMI Cable - $7.99
1c.) HDMI Adapters Kit (7 Adapters) Mini Hdmi to Micro Hdim Male to Female - $9.99 - the only reason I didn't buy this is that it's not available until May. Then I shall get it, holy shit, there are seven adapters in there. This will use the same steps as 1a, however, as there is not a Mini HDMI to Micro HDMI from the list I read under Product Description. (It does have a T shaped Mini HDMI and Micro HDMI Male to HDMI Female, though. I have no idea how I'd use it but I know i could.)
2.) Mini HDMI to HDMI Cable (came with monitor)
3.) USB-C to USB-A Cable + Power Block (came with monitor)

For 1a - Attach 1a to the micro HDMI port on the Pi, then attach female HDMI side of 1a to the HDMI of the Mini HDMI to HDMI cable that came with the monitor. Then plug in monitor to outlet.
For 1b - Attach 1b to the micro HDMI port on the Pi and the mini HDMI port on the monitor. Then plug in monitor to outlet.
For 1c - see 1a

How To Get Them Working Together

For both Ubuntu and Pi, do the following:
1.) Hook them up to the Ubuntu/Pi system while they're running.
2.) Nothing happens, the monitor says no output, you're afraid.
3.) Breathe, I got you.
4.) Run Update/Upgrade from command line. If you don't know command line, open a terminal and type sudo apt update, let it run until done, then sudo apt upgrade.
5.) Reboot

Reason to Add Monitor While Live
So, it was stressful.

I tried adding live first, then adding at reboot and those didn't work. It did work, however, if I ran update/upgrade/reboot while the monitor was still attached, and I left it attached during reboot. After reboot, the monitor came up in the BIOS (for Ubuntu) and with the rainbow screen (pre-GUI on the Pi). Go figure.

My utterly no idea guess: it needs to be detected by the machine first to trigger the drivers or to tell Ubuntu/Raspbian to download them. Then you update/upgrade to download them. To be fair, I had downloads pending already for both so I can't really be sure; a couple looked vaguely like they might be for a display, but can't lie, I do not even pretend to recognize most of packages on site unless I manually downloaded the packages myself from the web and manually installed them from command line. It's possible if either one had ever been attached to an actual monitor instead of a TV, it would already have those drivers or packages, I have no idea, so YMMV.

If it doesn't work the first time; do not unplug the monitor, just update/upgrade/reboot again. I'm using a standard Lubuntu and standard Raspbian install with no unique configurations so pretty much any system running an Ubuntu flavor should get it done. I can't see how it'd be incompatible with any Linux distro or any Raspbian-based OS flavor, so don't borrow trouble if you're running a different Ubuntu, different Linux type, or a Raspbian-based derivative and it doesn't work the first or second time; it's most likely that whatever is needed to run the display is not in that distro's standard packages and you'd just need to google a bit.

Cables, Adapters, and Hubs

While we're talking about alternate ways to connect things with cables, a story.

When I got this laptop, it was apparenty one of the first USB-C only and I was excited as hell. Perhaps too excited. Despite my (usually) much better judgement, instead of calmly collecting USB-C to X adapters for ethernet, HDMI, and a couple more USB-C to USB-A (the computer came with two), I eagerly purchased one of those all in one USB-C Hub multiport adapters.

It was so pretty and so gloriously functional: it had three USB-A 3.0 ports, an HDMI port, a gigabyte Ethernet port, an SD card port, and even a USB-C power port so I could also power my laptop through it. With it, I would only need one thing attached to my laptop and it could do everything./

That...was a mistake. Or at least, a mistake of that being the only thing I purchased.

It was fine for about a year, right up until it tried to overload one of my USB-C ports and died messily. When I tossed it, though, I lost all my adapters, as I hadn't bought any other adapters. Which was a really incredibly stupid mistake just from the perspective of always have a goddamn backup.

I'm not saying those all in one hubs aren't useful: they are! They're great! But always have at least one backup adapter per type--HDMI, USB, ethernet, card reader, etc--that you use only at home and never, ever leaves your house. For the hub as well as that group of single cable adapters, don't short on price; get the one with the highest stars/most reviews combo with a name you at least recognize. For the hub this goes double and triple; if it's less than $35-$40 and not a sale, double check everything, because you need a hub that's extremely well configured for that USB-C port, which can carry enough power to run your laptop. A bad hub can indeed damage the USB-C port on your laptop or even your computer if it decides to die when you're using it, especially if you're using several of those hub ports at the same time. It can also make your laptop make a terrifying sound you will hear until the day you die.

Yes, get one of course, but be prudent in picking it, and pay attention if even one port on it starts acting sketchy.

Plain USB cables for when you leave the house or extras you keep on hand are a different story. One, they're ubiquitous, so yeah, get a lot, and those you should get cheap. Go for the $10 for ten USB-A 3.0 to whatever when you see them (I do, a lot), because lets face it, even if they were made to last forever you're going to lose them in like, three months or some shit (do you still have the cable that came with your phone? When's the last time you saw it?). As long as reviews don't say "WILL BLOW UP YOUR COMPUTER" a small performance hit is worth the trade off of not feeling guilty you don't remember where you left your phone cable last night/last week.

Now, An Amusing But Relevant Anecdote

Why am I digressing into adapter cable purchase theory? Well, at work, we just upgraded our test phones for the second time. And as of the first time we upgraded, I buy discount cable packs for work for my co-workers to use; I have a desk drawer with nothing but USBs and lightning cables and power blocks. How are these related, you're probably asking yourself if you're still reading in sheer fascination with why on earth I am so into cables? Let me explain.

Among the programs we test are two apps for mobile phones, and so we have several Android and iPhones to use to do that. I'm primary tester, but sometimes I get a team together, and we all use those phones. You can guess what happens, every time. I mean, to those test phones' cables.

1.) We all use either Samsung, a rare flavor of Android, or iPhones for our personal phones and all the test phone cords do indeed look exactly like our cords. So yeah, they vanish pretty fast. Not because anyone is slyly stealing them for a free USB cable here: they look exactly like the cables we are charging our phones with at our desks. Like most people, when it's time to leave, we pack up the phones quickly, take them to our manager's office (or my desk), grab our stuff, and go home...including our (we think) cables that due to rush, we probably forgot to put back in the box.

Me? I have brought home work phone Samsung cables thinking they were mine greater than two times, and during mobile testing, I check the phones every day before I leave. And yet, I still grabbed that white cable and tossed it in my purse before taking all the phones back to my manager's office. So yeah, everyone does it and it will happen.

2.) Everyone borrows them to charge their phones. They always mean to bring them back, always. But see 1 and the fact a USB/lightning cable's job is to get lost. It will happen. And saying "You can't" would be utterly ridiculous; there was no way to enforce it, no way to know who did it unless thy did it right in front of one of us, and literally no one--me, my manager, or the assistant manager--had any goddamn interest in even trying. I, for one, would fucking buy a replacement at full price and pretend it was under my desk first, and frankly, my manager and the assistant manager would probably pay for half because seriously? And that assumes it' a tester that does it; there are other groups that use our phone to for testing and oh hell no am I ever wandering through that building hunting down a goddamn cable.

(Everyone borrowed those cables. It's just fucking reflex.)

However, this does lead to having testing phones and no cables with which to charge them, so: I had an idea.

When we were getting ready for the very first phone upgrade from Galaxy 5's/iPhones some very low number to Galaxy 8s and iPhone 7s, we had two (2) USB cables and one (1) broken lightning cable left between ten phones. Obviously, I did not email frantically asking for cables or accuse people of stealing because I am neither an idiot nor someone who even knows how to fucking care about that (honestly, I can't be sure I wasn't an offender. Or possibly it was my manager, everyone borrows them). I did not talk earnestly to my manager or the other testers about USB Cords Mysteriously Missing Must Stop (though God I kind of wish I had, it would have been hilarious to see their faces until I burst into laughter); instead, I made a case for extra cables being purchased--they break, I told my boss seriously, who nodded back just as seriously and both of us did not look at our mobile phones, so fragile!--and with permission, wrote up a request for extra USB-A to microUSB, USB-A to USB-C, and lightning cables, and a few of the single piece microUSB to USB-C and USB-A to USB-C cable converter pieces. I was given the Official Work Catalog (Office Depot is one of our suppliers!) to price everything. I was reasonable--about three for each phone we'd get (4 Galaxy, 5-6 iPhones), and a few adapters to make a micro USB into a USB-C. Price: under $30 probably.

Whoever read my request was a realist of the first order and did the appropriate math. When the new phones came, so did a large separate box of mysterious purpose, and in there, I found boxes of cables. Boxes of one, boxes of three, fancy bags of three, boxes of those tiny one piece cable adapter. Roughly, we received thirty cables per phone when I stopped counting breathlessly as my manager looked on, starting to get worried.

Me: *star eyes as I unpack the box* AREN'T THEY BEAUTIFUL?
Boss: Are you...okay?

Would people borrow those cables? Oh yeah, of course, if they could, but I had a plan that unlike None May Borrow or Death, would actually work.

1.) All extra cables weren't hidden, but simply stored in the least likely part of my boss's office. His office has this nifty cabinet that includes a narrow coat closet to hang up his coat; I put the big box--containing all the little boxes--in there on top of a stack of binders. (His coat is very short.)

Now, it wasn't hidden, I didn't do it late at night under the cover of darkness, everyone could look in and see me doing it, and if you open that cabinet, the box is right there.

However, the steps required are:
a.) go to that cabinet where the phones are not located at all (so no excuse of just grabbing a phone to test with in case someone asked though nobody ever did or even care)
b.) pulling out that giant box and transferring it to the floor to open it (not a lot of room in that tiny closet)
c.) sifting through the many many many many small boxes to find a compatible cable. For after I finished swooning and checked and labeled them all, I fully closed each one and put it back in there. Some are one cable; some are three cables; some are connectors: no way to know unless you read the tiny print on the box, because I didn't label them with type and in fact used the label to cover the relevant information. (Me, I could identify the boxes by sight; I'd spent enough time opening them and checking them.)
d.) no way to get it back subtly into the little box inside the big box in its original coils.

All those extra steps did the job for me. The only missing cables are ones I used to replace the ones missing from the phones and vanished into the ether, but again, cables get lost.

2.) I bought cables myself. Lots and lots of cables.

Amazon's ten for fifteen, five for eight, whatever, I grabbed some of each kind my coworkers used for their phones, tossed them in that drawer, and sent out an email that if you need a cable for your phone, grab one here, no need to ask or wait until I'm there. I never checked or cared if they came back, just every so often did a count to see if I needed to buy more. And oddly, only two or three haven't come back (as opposed to the one I left outside, one I accidentally took home with me, and a couple died and were buried at trash). Possibly because they look nothing like the cables that come in the boxes; no whites or blacks, either bright colors or cloth textures or grey or something. Anything visibly or texturely different, basically. I also--for myself--purchased a USB charging cradle with four USB slots so I could charge my tablet and headphones; anyone was welcome to leave their phone or headphones or whatever there to charge, just don't take it off my desk.

And they did.

We still lost mot of the cables that came with the regular phones, but that was always going to happen. No one--especially me--was going to dole out cables like gruel to Oliver fucking Twist and company. It happened a lot slower, though, and for a surprise, three lightning cables and one USB survived this time.

(Literally the only reason I don't take home cables by accident anymore is that I bought a wireless charging cradle for work, since with my last phone, charging by usb (and jerking it out too many times by accident and sometimes on purpose) wore the port down badly, so I only usb charge at home when it's really, really necessary and wireless cradle it overnight. Even if I forgot to charge overnight (happens, but not often, since I have the wireless cradle right by the bed, too) and it's like at 5%, I put it in power saving and put it on the cradle; it's usually fully charged by lunch or very close.)

We just got the upgrade to new phones: one Galaxy S10, two Galaxy Note 10s (!!!!), and a split between the latest iPhones and iPhone Pros(!!!!!!). One Galaxy is on backorder, but a couple of weeks ago, I went to the office to take the delivery of the others and gloat.

I still need to go back and check, configure, and label them, but that must wait until a.) I'm not taking muscle relaxants, b.)I can walk half a mile over not always sidewalks and back without my back spasming, and c.) I can find somewhere that delivers face masks since Austin requires if you are over ten and in public you need to wear one.

(I do not disagree with this rule--I very much approve--but it is a little inconvenient. My sister cleverly already ordered some super cool ones from a coworker, so she's sending me one soon.)

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