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Speed up the map updates on a Garmin Etrix 20x

I have a Garmin Etrex 20x GPS handheld. I use it mostly as a GPS tracker. What places did I visit and when? This Wonderfull device is a true turn on and forgets tracker. I turn it on and throw it in my backpack. It will immediately start recording my coordinates. After a trip, I can see exactly what I visited, how long I spend in an area and how far I traveled. I can even use this GPS information to modify my photos I took on my trip with GPS metadata.

What are the advantages of using a GPS tracker above a mobile phone?

  1. Battery life is unbeatable. It can run 24 hours non-stop on two AA batteries. At night I charged the empty batteries with a small USB Eneloop charger I imported from Japan. When I run out of batteries I can buy almost in every convenient store new AA batteries.
  2. It is using a reflective screen. The screen is always active and is viewable in the brightest sunlight.
  3. The build quality is like a tank. Waterproof and super rigid (But the screen plastic is too soft and will easily get scratches.)
  4. It uses three methods of position. GPS, GLONASS and WAAS/EGNOS. So it’s super accurate and has a quick fix.
  5. It works offline. All the maps are stored on an SD card.

I use two different sources for maps. The free updates Garmin is offering for the build-in European maps and the maps I download from openstreetmaps for Asia and America. If you want to update the official Garmin cards you need to connect the Garmin Etrex with a USB cable to the computer and run the Garmin Express application. Unfortunately, Garmin is still using USB 1.0 (Superslow protocol from 1996). This means that uploading a new official Garmin map can take four to eight hours. That’s not acceptable for a device introduced in 2015. Why is Garmin using a 19-year-old protocol in a modern device? Maybe their GPS devices are using a reference design for the last 20 years?

If I put the external memory card of the Etrex in my USB3.0 card-reader I can’t update the maps. Garmin express, the special software updater from Garmin, doesn’t allow me to update to a memorycard. You have to wirte the maps to the internal memory. But that’s so sloooowwwwww.

There has to be a way to speed up the updates to this GPS device. I start searching on the internet for a solution. There is an article on the poi-factory. You can fool the Garmin Express application that a normal SD card is a Garmin device. You have to copy the GarminDevice.xml file from the Etrex’s internal memory to the Garmin folder on an external memory card. Garmin express will now think that the memory card is the Etrex GPS tracker.

Instead of the normal 80KB/s upload speed, Garmin Express can now reach speeds of 7,6 MB/s (I think that it the maximum write speed of this budget Sandisk memory card). The update that normal takes hours is now finished in 20 minutes.

I love my junk folder

I love my junk folder. It’s that part on my computer that is filled with the bullshit stories. Some examples:

  • I won a price, click on the link to receive it;
  • A widow of some death dictator in Africa with a cashflow problem. She wants to share this money with me;
  • Buy extra cheap bitcoins with a special friend price;
  • Some Russian lady with big boobs that feels lonely and want to becomes penpals with me;

Every e-mail is carefully designed to scam me. To rip me off my money.

Every day smart algorithms (or maybe even machine learning) are separating the chaff from the wheat. All the e-mails with a slice of bullshit are moved to my junk folder. Sometimes I take a look in the junk folder to see if the software is not making any mistakes. It’s still software that is making the decision if an e-mail is a spam. So it happens that sometimes that I find an important e-mail in the junk folder. Lucky for me I have 30 days time to save important e-mails before they are sent in oblivion.

Last months I started to receive new gems. A story that my password is leaked from some dating site. That password is used to gain control over some parts of my digital life. I need to pay a big amount of money within 48 hours if I don’t want my personal information to be leaked. To be honest with you. That’s not a lie. I had an account on a dating site and that password is leaked in a big breach. But I’m not that stupid to use the same password everywhere. For every website where I have an account, I use a unique password.

For days now I’m waiting that some compromising pictures and videos to show up. Yes, of course, I’m not going to pay. Like everyone on this planet, I’m naked under my clothes. So if we were recorded. What would it change? We will be just another thumbnail on Youporn. Forgotten in a couple of days after you gave some boys an orgasm. But that’s not the case. I know this e-mail is just another piece of bullshit. But written in a style I like.

You have to admit. This person really put some effort into the story. If I want some proof. No problem. The scammer will send the proof straight to my friends and family. I like this style of writing. Like a person who doesn’t care. But really wants to put some pressure on you. Pay and I won’t ruin your life.

The problem is that everybody can make emails like this. In the last years, data collectors started to collect all the leaked accounts in big databases. You can test yourself if your information was collected in a breach. Type in your e-mail on https://haveibeenpwned.com to check. I can download those lists and start sending random people with the messages that I hacked them and if they don’t pay me I will share their private information. A total bullshit story. But you don’t want to know how many people fall for this.

Believe me. I won’t share that person his Bitcoin address with the world. I changed their bitcoin address.

The scammer is getting a little bit desperate. Every e-mail he sends the money amount he is claiming is lowered. 

First e-mail

I do know one of your passwords. Let’s get directly to purpose. Neither anyone has paid me to check you. You don’t know me and you are probably thinking why you are getting this email?

Actually, I actually installed a software on the adult video clips (sexually graphic) website and do you know what, you visited this website to experience fun (you know what I mean). While you were viewing videos, your web browser initiated working as a Remote Desktop with a keylogger which provided me access to your display screen as well a cam. after that, my software program gathered your complete contacts from your Messenger, social networks, as well as your email account. Next, I created a double-screen video. 1st part shows the video you were watching (you’ve got a nice taste lmao), and next part displays the recording of your cam, yea its u.

You do have just two solutions. We should explore the solutions in details:

The first choice is to skip this email message. in this scenario, I most certainly will send out your actual video to every single one of your contacts and you can easily imagine about the embarrassment you can get. Not to forget if you happen to be in a relationship, exactly how it would affect?

Another choice should be to compensate me 7000 USD. We are going to think of it as a donation. In such a case, I will instantaneously delete your video footage. You can carry on everyday life like this never occurred and you will not ever hear back again from me.

You will make the payment by Bitcoin (if you don’t know this, search for ‘how to buy bitcoin’ in Google search engine). BTC address to send to https://www.amnesty.org/en/donate-amnesty/
[CaSe-SeNSiTiVe copy & paste it]

Should you are looking at going to the law enforcement, good, this email cannot be traced back to me. I have dealt with my moves. I am just not attempting to demand a whole lot, I just like to be compensated. You now have two days in order to pay. I have a special pixel in this email message, and right now I know that you have read through this e-mail.

if I don’t get the Bitcoins, I will, no doubt send out your video to all of your contacts including members of your family, colleagues, and so on. Having said that, if I do get paid, I will erase the recording right away. This is a non-negotiable offer, and thus please do not waste my personal time and yours by replying to this email message. if you want to have evidence, reply Yes and I definitely will send out your video to your 13 friends.

Second e-mail


So I am a hacker who broke your email address and device several months ago. You typed in your pwd on one of the websites you visited, and I intercepted that. This is the password from rjs@gmx.li upon the time of compromise: some dating site. Clearly one can change it. or already changed it. Then again this won’t really make a difference, my malware updated it each and every time. Do not consider to make contact with me personally or find me. By way of your own email, I uploaded malicious code to your Operation System. I saved all of your current contacts with buddies, acquaintances, relatives plus the comprehensive record of visits to the Web resources. Additionally, I installed a Virus on your system.

You aren’t my only prey. I usually lock computers and ask for a ransom. But I ended up being struck through the websites of passionate content that you frequently visit. I am in the impact of your current fantasies! I’ve never ever observed anything at all like this! Consequently, when you had fun on piquant web pages (you know what I mean!) I created a screenshot with utilizing my program by the camera of your system. After that, I put together them to the content of the particular currently seen website. Now there is going to be giggling when I send these pictures to your friends!

Nonetheless, I know you do not need that. Hence, I expect payment from you for my quiet. I think $6,392 is a satisfactory cost with regard to this! Pay with Bitcoin. My Bitcoin wallet: https://www.amnesty.org/en/donate-amnesty/

If you do not know how to do this – enter into Google ‘how to transfer money to the bitcoin wallet’. It is easy. Right, after receiving the specified amount, all your details will be right away eliminated automatically. My malware will also get rid of itself from your operating system. My Computer virus possesses an auto alert, so I know when this particular email is read. I give you 2 days (Forty-eight hrs) in order to make the payment. In case this does not occur – all of your contacts will get crazy images from your darkish secret life and your system will be blocked as well after 48 hours. Do not end up being silly! Cops or pals won’t assist you for certain … PS I can offer you advice with regard to the future. Do not key in your passwords on risky internet sites. I wish for your wisdom.


Third e-mail.

I know welcome123 is your passwords. Let’s get right to the point. Nobody has compensated me to investigate you. You do not know me and you’re probably wondering why you are getting this e-mail? Well, I set up a software on the 18+ video clips (pornographic material) website and guess what, you visited this website to have fun (you know what I mean).

When you were viewing videos, your browser began working as an RDP having a keylogger which gave me access to your display screen and also a webcam. Right, after that, my software program collected every one of your contacts from your Messenger, FB, and email accounts. Next, I created a double video. The first part shows the video you were watching (you have a nice taste haha . . .), and the next part displays the view of your web camera. yeah, it is u.

You got two different choices. Let’s understand the options in details: Very first solution is to just ignore this email. Consequently, I will send your videotape to every bit of your personal contacts and you can easily imagine concerning the embarrassment you will get. and consequently, if you are in an important relationship, exactly how it is going to affect?

The latter alternative should be to compensate me USD 878. Let’s regard it as a donation. in such a case, I most certainly will instantaneously remove your video recording. You could keep your daily routine like this never took place and you will not hear back again from me.

You will make the payment through Bitcoin (if you don’t know this, search for ‘how to buy bitcoin’ in Google). BTC address: https://www.amnesty.org/en/donate-amnesty/

if you have been looking at going to the law enforcement officials, anyway, this message cannot be traced back to me. I have dealt with my moves. I am just not trying to ask you for a lot, I prefer to be compensated. You have two days to pay. I’ve got a specific pixel in this e-mail, and now I know that you have read this email message. if I don’t get the BitCoins, I will, no doubt send out your video to all of your contacts including friends and family, coworkers, and so forth. Nonetheless, if I do get paid, I’ll destroy the video right away. This is a non-negotiable offer, and so don’t waste my time & yours by replying to this e-mail. if you want to have evidence, reply Yup! and I will send your video to your 7 friends.

Why did I upgrade the SSD in my MacBook PRO retina?

I was running out of space on my hard drive if I didn’t use Apple’s iCloud. But do I trust Apple’s iCloud enough? Or should I upgrade to a bigger SSD?

Since the spring of 2006, I’m a happy user of Apple products. I always tried to keep my machines fast. You don’t have any profit if you have a fast CPU and a lot of memory in your computer when your hard drive is the bottleneck. So I always tried to install the fastest hard drive I could find. In the last decennia, this was the Western Digital Black 7200RPM hard drives. But slowly a new revolution was entering the market. The SSD. Sort for Solid State Disk. No more mechanical pieces with a moving head that only could cover one section of the disk at the time, but flash-memory chips that instant can access every part of information without hardly any wait time.

In 2009 I bought for my MacBook Pro an Intel SSD with the size of 160GB. Wow. Wow. My machine felt so fast and snappy. I was infected with the SSD virus. From now on I will never have a computer again with a conventional hard drive. Every time I touched a normal computer with a mechanical hard drive it felt old fashion and nail-biting slow. After the MacBook Pro, I used a MacBook Air for years. This machine was built around a fast SSD. The slow CPU and low amount of memory didn’t matter because the SSD pushed the machine through the years.

My old MacBook Pro with an Intel 160GB SSD

In 2014 I bought the machine I still use today. A MacBook Pro retina with an Intel I5 CPU, 8GB of ram and a 256GB SSD. I’m not a hardcore graphic designer. Otherwise, I should choose for the I7 with 16GB of ram. In 2018 the machine still feels fast. But I can sense it has some problems to keep up when I’m doing video editing (O really). In 2014 I was storing my media on my NAS (Network Attached Storage). But the introduction of Apple Photos decided to collect all my digital memories together in one program.

Apple Photos offers a great solution for bringing all my memories in one place. Videos and photos are stored in a chronically ordered timeline. The software is doing face recognizing on every face it can find and is using the GPS metadata in the photos and videos to put it on a map. It improved the way of finding pictures back. No more searching in folders on a NAS. But I just type in the name or a location. Looking back at old memories is fun again.

Slowly my Apple Photos Library was growing. But on my small 256Gb SSD, this was not a problem. Apple offers iCloud so you can synchronize all your photos and videos to the cloud. The original pictures and videos are stored in the iCloud. When you want to watch the high-quality version Apple Photos quickly downloads this file from the iCloud. My local Photos Library is really small. So why do I need more hard drive space?

Apple Photos iCloud photo library optimize Mac storage

Because I already paid every month for my iCloud storage I also start using the iCloud Drive to store my normal files. I couldn’t fit all my files anymore in my free account of Dropbox. paying for both iCloud and for Dropbox sound a little overkill. In iCloud I can also choose to optimize Mac storage. So more free space on my hard drive when needed.

The first problem I encounter is that Apple’s optimize storage algorithm is way too aggressive and unpredictable. You can read in the above screenshot “The full content of iCloud Drive will be stored on this Mac if you have enough space. Older Documents will be stored only in iCloud when space is needed”. This is not true. I had enough free space. But the algorithm already removed the original pictures from my hard drive that I imported one day before. I could not quickly edit my vacation photos because the originals were already removed from my hard drive. For every edit, I had to wait seconds (or even minutes) when iCloud was downloading the picture in the background. I can tell you that the internet in Asia can suck big time. The same problem also happened with my files. Some files I worked on a couple days ago where already removed. I had to wait till iCloud had downloaded the files again. But some other files I hadn’t touched in months where still on the hard drive. Apple’s iCloud algorithm doesn’t make any sense.

The second problem was with Time Machine. I realized that Time Machine only makes a backup of my files that are psychical on your disk. Every file that’s in the cloud isn’t stored in your Time Machine backup. I have to give Apple my trust that they are taking care of my digital life. This is a big problem. I don’t trust Apple. I trust them that they are capable of respecting my privacy. But with their hardware, software, and management I have a hard time to trust them. The last year to many things happened that give me a feeling in my gut that I have to take care for my own data. I can already hear Apple’s mantra to their customers “You are doing it wrong”.

  1. What do we know about Apple Datacenter? How are they secured and how do they keep my data backed-up?
  2. What happens if Apple disagrees with a customer and disable their account. We now live in a world where big companies with a finger snap disable accounts. Even in the country of the free speech.
  3. What happens if my monthly iCloud payment to Apple has a hiccup and Apple deletes your extra storage space.
  4. What happens if I die and my family asks Apple access to my digital memories?
  5. What happens if the country where I live is blocking all Apple services?

So I decided that I want to take care of my whole complete digital life. I still will use Apple iCloud. But I need and want a complete (offline) backup of my data on my hard drive and on my Time Machine backup. But those last years I’m so spoiled with iCloud optimize storage that I never can store all my data on my hard drive. I need a bigger hard drive in my MacBook Pro.

Apple’s SSD’s are that fast because they use their own proprietary connection. The advantage is that they can offer their customers higher read and write speeds. But the disadvantaged is that you can only use Apple SSD’s with this connector. This article can tell you more in details about the connectors. I can’t go to a normal computer store and buy a M2 SSD. I could use a converter that makes it possible to install a M2 form SSD in an Apple computer. But this gives a lot of compatibility problems. I can’t use the sleep-mode for example. So I want to install an original Apple SSD. But that’s something you can’t buy straight from Apple.

On Ebay a lot of sellers are offering secondhand SSD’s for the MacBook Pro. But they are too expensive. I don’t want to buy a secondhand SSD from the other side of the world without knowing if it’s working and I have a good return policy. It turns out that in Saigon is a shop specialized in solid state drives. So I visited this shop lagihitech. They had a box filled with secondhand SSD’s for every kind of Apple computer. They offer two things that decided in deciding to buy an SSD from this shop. They offer a warranty and they want to buy my old 256GB SSD.

To be ready for the future I choose a 1TB SSD. The shop offers two edition of this SSD. A fast one and a really faster one. I choose the fast one. Back home I could not get this one to run. It was detected by OSX and by Windows. But after a couple minutes, it disappeared. This is exactly the reason I didn’t want to buy an SSD online. Can you imagine the work I have to do if this SSD had to be sent back and I had to wait to get my money back? If you get your money back at all. The next day I returned to the shop. Without any problems, I could swap the failed SSD for another one. This time I choose the really fast one. It works without any problems. And it’s fast. Really fast. Take a look at the benchmark.

The SSD is secondhand. In the SMART health information table, I could read that this SSD in his lifetime had written 40TB of data. This is nothing. Basically, the SSD was almost brand new. Six months later the SSD is still running fast.

For my daily workflow I have now enough free space on my hard drive. I don’t need to wait anymore for iCloud to download files that were removed because the Apple algorithm decided I didn’t have enough space.  I can work and stay in my flow. What I really like. I have enough space left that I don’t need an external drive again for my virtual machines.

In my opinion this was a good investment for my computer. I’m also super glad about the fact that I can still upgrade the SSD in this machine. The latest MacBook Pro’s from 2017 and 2018 have there SSD soldered to the mainboard. You can’t upgrade it anymore. So when you buy your MacBook Pro you have to decide the amount of space you need. You can’t change this in the future.

How to make your Apple Photos library smaller. Use H265 (HEVC) for your videos.

After many trips and vacations, my Apple Photos library was more than 500 gigabytes big. What can I do to make my library smaller? I start to use H265 (HEVC) for my videos.

My big Apple Photos Library

Apple Photos is my main media storage application where I store all my videos and photos. All my media is synced to the Apple cloud with iCloud. If I make a picture with my iPhone it will automatically appear on my MacBook Pro. But it also happens vice versa. If I import the photo’s and videos from my DSLR and pocket camera on my Macbook those files will also appear on my iPhone. If I delete a file on one machine, its also automatic delete from the other machine. Also, the trash is synced on my devices. If I delete a picture on my MacBook I can use my iPhone to recover that picture. Even the edits I make are synchronized. Those are features of iCloud I really appreciate.

Slowly my Apple Photos library is growing bigger and bigger. You go on a trip and shoot a lot of videos. You found an old folder filled with old vacation photos and videos on an external drive. Your parents send you old pictures they scanned. All those media files I collect in Apple Photos. Before you know the library is around 550 gigabytes big. The library contains 38 years of my life in digital form.

My Apple photos Library is big
My Apple photos Library is big

A couple of months ago I decided that its time to take control of my media collection. I did every day a Pomodoro. This is a productivity trick that you focus 25 minutes on one task. For every day I focus 25 minutes on my library. I started to delete pictures that had no meaning anymore. When I just got my DLSR I made without a problem 600 pictures at a party. As a reminder, I only kept 10 pictures of that party. I used my phones as a memory. In a couple of weeks, I managed to delete 15.000 pictures.  I’m still not at the end of the library. Every day I do a small chunk of work. But still, my library is big. I found out that in this 550GB big library around 400GB is video. That’s a lot.


In the autumn of 2017, Apple released their new operating systems. OSX 10.13 for the Apple computers and IOS 11 for the mobile devices. In this software, Apple introduced a new codec for video and photos. Let’s talk about this new codec for video. HEVC. What stands for High-Efficiency-Video-Coding. Its a way better compression for storing video. Apple claims that it can make your video twice as small as the previous video codec they used: H264. I can tell you this is true. But videos I shot with my Canon, Sony and SJCAM camera’s even become smaller.

I made a short youtube video to show the difference in quality between H264 and HEVC. You see the change in quality is negligible. But the saving in disk space is huge!!!

The original video is a 34 seconds long and is 224MB big. Its recorded with a 50Mbit bitrate on a Sony Cybershot RX100 mark 3 camera. After I encoded the video to HEVC it’s only 17MB big. That’s only 7,5 percent of the original.  You will lose some color and sharpness. But for private videos, I don’t have a problem to encode it to HEVC.

I started to encode all my old videos in HEVC format. In the table, you can see some examples of video clips I encoded.

H264 to HEVC compression rate

CameraLength of the videoclipSize in H264 formatSize in H265 formatPercentage
SJCAM SJ4000WIFI31 seconds64.8 MB15.1 MB23.3 percent
Apple iPhone 718 seconds195.1 MB8.9 MB4.6 percent
Canon Powershot S100160 seconds702.5 MB85.5 MB12.2 percent
Sony Cybershot RX100 Mark 337 seconds242.8 MB20 MB8.2 percent

Why would I want to make my videos smaller? It will take less space at my harddisk. I need less space in the iCloud. The video will load faster if I want to stream it to my iPhone. Because my Apple Photo Library is getting smaller I have more space for other files on my hard disk.

Using Permute to encode the videos

When I wrote this blog post there are two good video encoders for making HEVC files for OSX. Handbrake and Permute. Handbrake is free, faster and offers way more settings than Permute. But I choose to use Permute because of a better workflow. Plus Permute conserve the metadata of the video file. I can tell you that this is super important. Apple Photos is using the date and time metadata in the video for the correct place in the timeline. If your video is shot on 04 January 2013. And you encode it with Handbrake at 08 August 2018. Than Apple Photos will not place that video in the timeline on 04 January 2013 but on 08 August 2018. So your timeline will be messed up. Permute keeps the correct recording date in the encoded video file. Using Permute is too simple to fail. With Handbrake, you can make easy a mistake. There are just too many settings in that program. Permute cost only 10 dollars. But you can also find it in the Setapp subscription.

How did I configured Permute?

I made a custom preset for my encoding work. I want to keep the same video and audio quality as the source video. If a video is 4K it will be downscaled to 1080P.

The preset that I made in Permute
The preset that I made in Permute

I have a folder on my desktop with the name “IMPORT APPLE PHOTOS” where Permute automatically saves the encoded videos. I put CPU usage on low so I can use my computer when Permute is busy. Disable previews is also a good advice. Otherwise, Permute can spend minutes on making small previews of the videos. For me, that’s not important. It only cost a lot of time.

The general preference in Permute
The general preference in Permute

This is important. You need to tell Permute that you want to preserve the creation date of your video. Otherwise, the encoded video file will get the date of the day you encoded it. If you import the video back to Apple Photos it will have the wrong place in the timeline. So turn it on.

Important. Preserve the creation date
Important. Preserve the creation date

My workflow

In Apple Photos I made an album with the name “To Permute”. When I’m doing my Pomodoro and I find a video which I want to encode to HEVC I just drag that video to the “To Permute album. Before I will sleep or I don’t want to use the computer for a long time  I will select all the videos files in the “To Permute” album and do right-click on the files. I choose then edit with Permute.

Choose the video's you want to encode and edit with permute
Choose the videos you want to encode and edit with permute

Apple Photos will prepare all the selected videos and send them to Permute. Check in the left-top bar if you choose the correct preset.  The only thing you then need to do is press the start button. Now you need to wait. Some videos are encoded in a couple of minutes. But I also had some long videos that took two days. My MacBook is not that fast. Read my blogpost about keeping a MacBook cool.

Encoding videos with Permute from H264 to H265
Encoding videos with Permute from H264 to H265

When Permute is done with encoding I just drag all the video files in the “IMPORT APPLE PHOTOS” to Apple Photos. Do a quick check if the videos are oke. After that, I just delete the videos in the “To Permute” album.  When I do my next Pomodoro I just start over with a new batch of videos.

In the near future, I want to use an Apple Script that will import the videos automatically after Permute encoded it. I found this thread at the Apple forum how to do that.

Three weeks later

In three weeks time, my Apple Photo library shrunk from 550 GB to 300 GB.  It’s still a work in progress. I hope to get my library under 200 GB. I also hope to find an easy workflow to convert some raw photo’s to JPG format, or even to HEIC photo format. I will share this on my blog if I find a good method.

Happy encoding.

Three weeks later made my Apple Photos library 250 GB smaller
Three weeks later my Apple Photos library is 250 GB smaller

Thermal design in the Apple MacBook Pro is a disaster?

This blog post describes my steps to make my old Apple MacBook Pro run cooler in a warm climate under constant processor load.

When my Macbook turns older. Its somehow starts to feel slower. It’s weird because its still the same computer I bought four years ago. With every OSX version that Apple releases it makes my computer feels faster and it makes it feel slower. I have to explain this. My computer feels faster after the release of METAL for handling the graphics parts. But its feels slower of all the new software features that are integrated into every new OSX release. I also have that gut feeling that Apple isn’t giving OSX any priority anymore. The big money is made with the IOS devices. Why spent a lot of resources on OSX? Most things that are now coming to OSX and the Apple computers are innovations that are first made for the IOS devices. IOS get the optimization and new features first, OSX gets it later.

My late 2013 MacBook Pro 13 inch has an Intel 2.4Ghz I5 mobile processor with a TDP of 28 watts. This means that the processor can produce up to 28 watts of heat energy. The i5-4258U processor is a combined CPU and a GPU in one packaging. So the CPU and the GPU share the same footprint and share the same heat pipe that transports the heat from the processor to the heatsink. The fan is blowing this thermal energy out of the enclosure.

The cooling system in my Macbook Pro retina
The cooling system in my Macbook Pro retina

The i5-4258U has the base frequency of 2.4 GHz. But can use the Intel® Turbo Boost Technology to push the frequency up to 2.9 GHz if there is enough cooling. Lately, I’m using the Macbook day and night for the encoding of videos. So the processor is pushed to the limit. Because its here around 30 degrees Celsius the Macbook could not reach the full 2.9 GHz. It was hopping between 2.4 GHz and 2.7 GHz.  There has to be a way to improve this.

Every day its around 30 degrees celcius
Every day its around 30 degrees celcius

I start to search for a solution. On blogs and on Youtube videos the advice was to replace the thermal paste between the processor and the heat pipe. Thermal paste is a sticky solution that helps to transfer the heat from the processor to the heat pipe.  Apple doesn’t make their own laptops. They hire a company in China to do that work. The problem is that this company is using a low-quality cool paste that’s too thick, has bad thermal performance and it will lose it thermal conductivity over time. It’s total garbage. The solution is to replace the thermal paste with a high-quality brand. I searched for what kind of high-quality thermal pasta is available in the city. For around ten dollars I bought a small tube of Arctic Silver 5.

Arctic silver 5 on a Macbook Pro retina
Arctic silver 5 on a Macbook Pro retina

I removed the heat pipe and with alcohol, I cleaned the old thermal paste off the processor. There was indeed too much crappy thermal paste. It was everywhere. After everything was cleaned I applied a small drop of Arctic Silver on the processor and put the heat pipe back. It was a disaster. The MacBook was running awful. I removed the heat pipe again and saw the problem. I did not apply enough Thermal Paste. There was a big part of the processor not covered. I applied some more of the Arctic Silver and put the heat pipe back.

Wow. That was is big different. The MacBook feels snappier. With the old thermal paste, the laptop had hiccups when it had to do heavy graphics. But now it’s fluent. Lets put the MacBook to the test. Let’s encode some videos. My video encoding software only uses the CPU for its task. The GPU is almost running idle. This little adjustment is a big success.

The Macbook Retina can now run continues at 2.9 Ghz
The Macbook Retina can now run continues at 2.9 Ghz

One of the advanced of having a unibody computer is that the whole enclosure is a heatsink. This is also a disadvantage. Sticky sweaty palms. The whole laptop was feeling like a small backing plate. Not comfortable.  So I was looking for a solution to make the complete Macbook feel cooler and more comfortable at the hands.  In the local hardware store, I bought for one dollar a 12CM fan and hooked it up on the most worthless power supply ever. Don’t understand me wrong. The laptop was running great with the new thermal paste. It could run at full power. But it wasn’t comfortable to put your palms on the Macbook. So the fan was keeping the enclosure cool.

But the bottom plate of the MacBook Pro was still running super hot. I want the airflow of the 12 cm fan also to flow under the laptop. So I started to put things under the Macbook: Little blocks of plastic, a Bluetooth speaker or a coffee cup. It didn’t work. I had a cool laptop. But every time I moved the laptop it fell off its temporary plateau. When I was typing the whole laptop was wobbling. Let’s search for what kind of solutions exist to lift the laptop higher, but that I’m still capable to use the laptop without an external keyboard.

I will spare you the time I spend in searching for a solution. I read blog posts. I watched the videos. All the collected information I processed for a week. After that, I made the decision to buy the Xuenair MacBook Stand. A massive block of aluminum with a hinge. I paid 20 dollars for it.

Xuenair Macbook Pro laptop stand
Xuenair Macbook Pro laptop stand

The hinge makes the stand portable. You can fold it flat and put the stand in your bag. You can also fold the hinge up and use it as an iPad stand. The hinge is moving stiff so you can adjust the angle.

Xuenair Macbook stand open
Xuenair Macbook stand open

Now there is enough space under the Macbook for a good airflow. The hole at the back of the Xuenair helps with the cable management.

Xuenair Macbook Pro stand with a Macbook Pro retina on top
Xuenair Macbook Pro stand with a Macbook Pro retina on top

The chin of the laptop is close to the table. So I can use the trackpad and the keyboard while my arms are resting at the table. Not only does the Macbook got a better airflow under the enclosure. But the screen is now higher. It’s much more comfortable to work for a long time. I can hold my neck in a more natural position.  The stand is rock solid. I can type for hours and the MacBook is not wobbling. I think the Xuenair is a great product. I don’t have yet any experience with traveling. The stand is around 400 grams. Did I ever tell you that working with the combination of a trackpad and a mouse at the same time is god-like?

Xuenair Macbook Pro stand - Laptop is rock solid stable. Screen is higher
Xuenair Macbook Pro stand – Laptop is rock solid stable. Screen is higher

In the history, the GPU was mostly used only for games, acceleration of video playback and doing the graphical user interface.  Nowadays the GPU also responsible for heavy calculations. Take a look at the video editing software Final Cut Pro. It’s using the GPU to do the rendering of the videos, the analysis of the stabilization and the encoding of the final video. The CPU and the GPU are both used to give you a better experience. More and more the GPU is responsible for heavy repeating calculation task. In the first years under OSX OpenCL was responsible for this. Last years Apple is shifting to Metal for this GPU supporting calculations. The arrival of a Machine Learning Module in Mojave OSX 12 will accelerate the use of the GPU in your computer. The GPU will help the Apple Photos application for recognizing faces and objects in your pictures.

Let do some quick tests. This is not a hardware website where reviewers are doing hours of testing. Those are my own quick tests. I’m doing this for fun.

The Macbook is doing

  1. Final cut pro 4K export. This is using the CPU and the GPU;
  2. Permute HEVC encoding. This program is only using the CPU. The story is that ffmpeg isn’t using the GPU because of the low video quality in HEVC;
  3. Quicktime screen recording. This program always pushes the GPU frequency up to the maximum 1.1Ghz.

You can see that the processor is using around 30 watts. The GPU is running at 1.1 GHz and the CPU is running around 2.7 Ghz. Still in Turbo boost mode. I still get more CPU processing power than I paid for. But I don’t get the full 2.9 GHz.

Macbook Pro 13 inch running Final cut pro export. Permute HEVC encoding and screenrecord
Macbook Pro 13 inch running Final cut pro export. Permute HEVC encoding and screenrecord

Furmark is known as the GPU killer. It pushes the limit of your GPU. If your GPU can run a long time at a high load and a high temperature. Then you can assume it’s a stable and good GPU. It will be not the first time that a GPU is killed by the Furmark. So be careful.

  1. Final cut pro 4K export. This is using the CPU and the GPU
  2. Permute HEVC CPU encoding.
  3. Furmark running at 1024×640

This is interesting to see. The CPU is running now at 2.1 GHz. That’s under the base clock speed of 2.4 GHz. The GPU is running at 0.95 GHz. Lower than the maximum speed of 1.1 GHz. Is the processor throttling?  And that is something I want to know. Why is the processor not running at full clock speed? The total power consumption of the processor is 26 watt. Lower than the previous test.

Is there another reason why the processor is running slower. Is Furmark using all the memory bandwidth and the processor forced to run slower to keep up with the memory requests? But nobody will run Furmark in real life. So this is not an honest test.

Macbook Pro 13 inch running Final cut pro export. Permute HEVC encoding and furmark
Macbook Pro 13 inch running Final cut pro export. Permute HEVC encoding and furmark

After four years I have to realize that my MacBook Pro is an old machine. Its a great machine for my daily life. But for hardcore calculations, I can feel the machine is sludgy. If I do one task at the time the machine can keep up with my needs. Most video encoding I’m doing when I’m at sleep or when I’m not behind the computer. It takes some time. But I will get there.

The small adjustments I did to let the machine runs cooler is helping. The machine feels snappier because I replaced the thermal paste. The machine feels cooler because of the fan and the stand. The stand also improved in handling the machine better.

How can you update the firmware of the ZOOM H1N audio recorder

One of the best and cheapest stereo audio recorder is the ZOOM H1. This little device is now for many years on the market. It didn’t need a refresh because it was almost perfect. But the Japanese company Zoom surprised everybody when they released its successor. The Zoom H1N. But before the H1N is almost as perfect as his big brother the H1 the last bugs need to be crushed. Zoom released firmware version 1.19.  I made a video which helps you to update the firmware on your Zoom H1N. What I found out is that you need a good formatted memory card or the update doesn’t start. I highly recommend that you use the SD Memory Card Formatter to format your memory card.

After the update, I noticed that the Zoom H1N was also faster with booting up. I like to get a free performance boost.

Arriva. De menselijke maat is weg. Die boete moet je betalen

Meerdere malen per maand reis ik met de trein tussen Leeuwarden en Sneek. Dit gaat altijd goed. In de 25 jaar dat ik gebruik maak van deze lijn heb ik nog nooit een boete gehad. Arriva is een bedrijf met een winstoogmerk. Er moet efficient gewerkt worden. Gaat dit ten koste van de menselijkheid dan gebeurt dit maar. Arriva is de monopolist tussen Sneek en Leeuwarden. Zowel op bus als op trein gebied. Ik heb een fout gemaakt. Maar ik geloof in de goedheid van de mens. Helaas is deze menselijke maat niet aanwezig bij Arriva.

Ik check in bij een paal van Arriva
Ik check in bij een paal van Arriva

Ik ben de trein ingestapt omdat ik niet kon in checken. Het alternatief was een uur wachten op de volgende trein. Ik ben meteen naar de conducteur gegaan om mijn verhaal te vertellen. De conducteur heeft mij meteen een boete gegeven. Met de instructies als ik meteen betaal en bezwaar maak dat de kans groot is dat Arrive de boete kwijt scheldt. Ik heb daarom dezelfde dag de boete betaald en Arriva een brief gestuurd met daarin een uitleg van de situatie.

Brief richting Arriva

Rienk Jan Schurer
Beatrixstraat 8

Sneek, 12 juni 2017

Arriva personenvervoer BV

Betreft: Bezwaar tegen proces-verbaal met kenmerk 9658 1721 4400 6355 – Weekendvrij 3528040007181582

Geachte mevrouw, meneer,

Woensdagavond 7 juni 2017 heb ik op het traject Sneek – Leeuwarden een proces-verbaal ontvangen omdat ik niet een geldig check-in kon tonen aan de conducteur. Graag wil ik tegen dit proces-verbaal bezwaar maken.

Woensdagavond liep ik naar station Sneek. Ik dacht dat het 19:40 was. Mooi op tijd voor de 19:48 trein richting Leeuwarden. Bij het oplopen van het station met mijn OV-chipkaart ingecheckt. Maar op het station kwam ik erachter dat het 20:50 was. De trein van 20:40 was al vertrokken. Omdat de volgende trein een uur later vertrekt ben ik naar een supermarkt gelopen voor een flesje fris en ben ik door een heerlijke zomerse avond naar station Sneek-noord gelopen.

Op station Sneek-noord was ik geconcentreerd een boek aan het lezen toen ik opmerkte dat de trein richting Leeuwarden er aan kwam rijden. In mijn gedachten pak ik mijn OV-chipkaart en hou deze tegen de terminal. “U bent uitgecheckt”. Dit klopt niet. Ik hou mijn OV-chipkaart weer tegen de terminal. “U kunt niet opnieuw in/uit checken”. Gelukkig is hier een oplossing voor. Tenminste. Bij de incheck palen van de NS werkt het wel. Dus ik ren naar een andere incheck paal. Helaas dezelfde melding. Ik kan niet inchecken.

De machinist steekt zijn hoofd al uit het raam. Wat kan ik doen vraag ik. Hij zegt. Ja. Je moet twee minuten wachten. Maar ik ga nu weg. Je kan ook instappen. De conducteur is achterin in de trein. Ik ben meteen naar de conducteur gelopen. Omdat ik geen geldige checkin heb krijg ik wel een proces-verbaal. Hier kan ik tegen in bezwaar.

Afbeelding: U ziet hierboven het bewijs vanaf www.ov-chipkaart.nl dat ik was ingecheckt en dat ik ben uitgecheckt op het moment dat de trein op station Sneek-noord kwam binnenrijden.
Afbeelding: U ziet hierboven het bewijs vanaf www.ov-chipkaart.nl dat ik was ingecheckt en dat ik ben uitgecheckt op het moment dat de trein op station Sneek-noord kwam binnenrijden.

Maandag 12 juni 2017 heb ik vanaf de ASN BANK het proces-verbaal betaald. Ik wil graag bezwaar maken tegen dit proces verbaal omdat het systeem van Arriva mij niet de mogelijkheid gaf opnieuw in te checken. Ik wilde graag met een geldig vervoersbewijs reizen. Maar ik wilde hiervoor niet nog een uur wachten op station Sneek-noord. Daarnaast vind ik het jammer dat Arriva niet mijn dalkorting heeft verrekend. Ik betaal voor kortingsproduct waar ik graag gebruik van wil maken.

Tot 9 juni 2017 was ik woonde ik op het adres:

Rienk Jan Schurer
Grote Kerkstraat 170

sinds 10 juni 2017 woon ik op het adres:

Rienk Jan Schurer
Beatrixstraat 8

Bank gegevens: ASN bank NL45 ASNB 0707 3727 55 tav Rienk Jan Schurer te Leeuwarden

Ik vertrouw erop dat Arriva de menselijke maat betrekt in het besluit om dit proces-verbaal ongeldig te verklaren. Ik ben meteen naar de conducteur gegaan en heb zonder protest het proces-verbaal aanvaart omdat ik erop vertrouw dat dit in orde komt.

Met vriendelijke groet,

Rienk Jan Schurer

Voorlopig proces-verbaal
Ironie. Voorlopig proces-verbaal

De boete bedroeg het bedrag van 50 euro en 4.53 euro voor de treinrit. Ja. Ook al betaal ik elke maand 40 euro voor een kortingskaart. Ik moet Arriva het volledige ritprijs betalen. Als je ‘zwart’ rijdt kom je niet eens in aanmerking voor je 40 procent korting. Ik voel me net een robotje.

Op 27 juni 2017 kwam het antwoord

Onderwerp: Behandeling van uw boete bezwaar
Onze referentie: KLS / W.B. / 121617
Doorkiesnummer: 0900-202 202 2 (0,02/min.)

Geachte heer Schurer,

Op 12 juni 2017 hebben wij een bezwaar van u ontvangen voor een verkregen boete.

Wij hebben uw bezwaar in behandeling genomen en laten u hierop het volgende weten.

U hebt op 7 juni 2017 een boete opgelegd gekregen door een van onze medewerkers voor het reizen zonder geldig vervoerbewijs in een van onze treinen. U geeft in uw reactie aan het hiermee niet eens te zijn. Met uw reactie verzoekt u ons om deze boete in te trekken.

Wij hebben de aan u uitgeschreven boete niet beoordeeld als onterecht opgelegd. Als gebruiker van de OV chipkaart bent u zelf verantwoordelijk voor het correct in- en uitchecken. Aan uw verzoek om de boete te laten vervallen kunnen wij dan ook niet voldoen.

Wij vertrouwen erop u hiermee voldoende te hebben geïnformeerd.

Met vriendelijke groet,
Arriva Personenvervoer Nederland B.V.

Hilda Schat
Manager afdeling Klantenservice

Het Arriva robotje heeft het besluit genomen. Ik ben verantwoordelijk voor het in en uitchecken. Sorry schat. Maar dan heb je de hele context van de brief niet gesnapt. Ik kon niet inchecken. Bij de NS hebben zij een failsafe ingebouwd voor dat soort vergissingen. Maar Arriva heeft dat niet. Arriva laat liever mensen een uur wachten op de volgende trein dan een beetje coulant te zijn. Ik trap er nooit meer in dat ik eerst de boete betaal en daarna pas bezwaar ga indienen.  Ik kan boos zijn. Maar ik kan ook een mooie afbeelding van een trein tonen. Die arme trein kan het niet helpen dat zijn eigenaren een beetje niet sporen.

De Arriva trein tussen Leeuwarden en Stavoren. Deze stopt ook in Sneek
De Arriva trein tussen Leeuwarden en Stavoren. Deze stopt ook in Sneek

Een siliconen sok voor jouw 3D printer.

De eerste 3D printers maakten gebruik van ABS. Deze op oliebasis gebaseerde kunststof was ingewikkeld te printen. Je moet gebruik maken van een verwarmd printbed om te voorkomen dat jouw print kromtrekt. Daarnaast komen er giftige stoffen vrij bij het printen van ABS.

Als ik ABS print gooi ik de ramen helemaal open en sluit ik de deur naar mijn print ruimte. Ik wil niet in de buurt zijn. Natuurlijk heb ik de fout gemaakt dat ik bleef kijken bij een ABS print. Dit heb ik moeten bekopen met een heftige hoofdpijn voor de rest van de dag.

PLA is een kunststof die wordt gemaakt van plantaardige grondstoffen. Ze zeggen wel eens als je met PLA print dat het ruikt naar popcorn. Ik vind dit onzin. Maar het stink niet. PLA heeft als nadeel dat je het meteen wilt koelen. Daarom hebben de goede 3D printers allemaal een filament cooler. De Kodamo trinus 3D printer heeft zelfs een 360 graden cooler. De koele lucht wordt rondom op het object geblazen. En laat hier nu het probleem zitten. De cooler is zo goed dat de printkop ook afkoelt. Soms koelt het wel af tot 20 graden onder de ingestelde temperatuur. Dit kan problemen geven met de stevigheid van het geprinte object. De nieuwe laag heeft door de lage temperatuur niet goed kunnen hechten aan de onderliggende laag.

Dit probleem kan je oplossen door de printkop te voorzien van een siliconen kapje wat rondom te printkop gaat. Mijn printer heeft geen problemen meer om de printkop op de juiste temperatuur te houden. Een tweede voordeel is dat de printkop schoner blijft. Verdwaalde print filament blijft niet meer plakken aan de printkop.

Ik heb drie siliconen sokjes van E3D (LINK) voor een paar euro gekocht vanuit Engeland. Voor mij nu al één van de beste aankopen voor mijn 3D printer. 

Test je kleuren laserprinter

Een normale laserprinter die alleen in het zwart kan afdrukken is een apparaat wat altijd werkt. Maar een kleurenlaserprinter is een verhaal apart. In dit apparaat is bijna alles in viervoud gebouwd. De drie kleuren en zwart hebben alle vier een eigen afdruk gedeelte. Een eigen toner en een eigen drum. Vier keer zo veel kans op een storing. Vier keer de aanschaf van een toner als deze leeg is. Deze vier componenten moeten precies op elkaar afgestemd zijn. Anders heb je al een afwijking in jouw drukwerk.

Deze vier moeten heel goed op elkaar zijn afgestemd.  Dit is voor mij de reden dat ik mijn kleurenlaserprinter heb omgeruild voor een normale laserprinter. Vier keer zo klein.

Wil je toch kijken of jouw kleuren laser printer goed werkt? Dan kan je de volgende PDF downloaden en gebruiken. Je kan zien of de vlakken egaal zijn. Of de printer randloos kan afdrukken en of de printer niet overlapt in de kleuren.