TTG 1792 for Saturday 1 May 2021

Beep boop - this is a robot. A new show has been posted to TWiT…

What are your thoughts about today’s show? We’d love to hear from you!

today we saw a perfect illustration of the issues around devices automatically updating themselves. the poor caller was the victim of such an attempt - without permission, HP went in and bricked his device through no fault of the caller. similarly companies including HP have updated their printers to work only with ‘genuine’ ink/toner. so HP most likely will not be willing to compensate such a victim for bricking his10-year old printer yet the damage has been done.

On the USB-C issue, it would be great if you could provide some recommended resources as you have exposed a serious issue we are all bound to run into soon enough. how about it?

Ahoi, everyone!

The caller who said that he’s going from pay check to pay check resonated with me. While I do agree with Leo that you want the machine for around 1500 USD, I think it would be awesome to have some sort of a recommendation for those who cannot afford much, currently. Would be very cognisant of the current situation.

Topics might be:

  • Free tricks to upgrade (e.g., cleaning the fans, defraging a spinning drive, moving to a less demanding OS)
  • Cheap tricks to upgrade (e.g., SSDs, replacing the cooling compound)
  • Tricks and tips when hunting second hand machines (e.g., old Thinkpads)
  • Pragmatic bottom-spec machines (e.g., let’s not say “8GB is to little for today” any more - it’s plenty for most uses)
  • Recommended cheap alternatives gear per category (e.g., old first gen Ryzen)

I know this is not a particularly fancy or shiny perspective, but it might be a great alternative to the consumerist “it has to be new” vibe that comes with the territory of talking news. I think many, many listeners might appreciate it.

Excellent point. I did endorse the two things he did do: buy refurbed and upgrade. That’s one of the reason I like the old Thinkpads - you could upgrade almost everything. Unfortunately these days most laptops and phones are glued together to keep them slim which impairs repairability. It’s a big problem.

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It turns out we have the King of Type-C on the forums. Benson Leung is a Google engineer who took it upon himself to keep people from buying crappy type-c cables. His handle in here is @LaughingMan.

I’ll keep my eye peeled for a decent guide to Type-C cables,

Unfortunately there seem to be two types. The overly technical: Guide to USB-C Pinout and Features - Technical Articles or the overly simplistic: The 16 Best USB-C Cables and Adapters 2021 | Reviews by Wirecutter

The biggest problem isn’t just knowing what you need, it’s figuring out what any particular cable is capable of. Companies are not properly labeling their stuff.

I think the most useful info would be which companies make good cables. So far, I agree with The Wirecutter and stick with Cable Matters. Or anything approved by @LaughingMan!


Identification of USB-C cables is a significant problem right now, I agree.

I wrote about this back in 2019 when the USB-C spec had its last major change.

There are 8 distinct kinds of (passive) cables now with USB-C plugs on both ends. Even more if you start counting active cables.

Lots of manufacturers and OEMs seem to have given up putting any identifying logo at all on the cable to help tell them apart, even if they do a good job of building the cable, and get the cable certified and everything. I get no-label cables (good ones) bundled with expensive monitors and docking stations even!

This causes significant confusion for the user. I’ve heard again and again (even from engineering managers on my team who have worked on USB for years) that they sometimes confuse a USB 2.0 cable that’s mainly used for charging a laptop for one that can drive a display.

There is hope, however. While the number of USB-C cables has ballooned, each and every one of the new kinds of cables are digitally marked with an identification chip called the Electronic Marker.

While the user can’t necessarily tell all the specifics of a cable by looking at it and handling it, a computer or a phone should be able to tell exactly what the manufacturer claimed the cable is in its ID chip.

I’m working on an initiative right now to present that data in a user-facing way, so that hopefully soon you’ll be able to just plug a cable into a computer or phone and it will tell you what the cable is, and what it can and cannot do.

Cable Matters does a good job. I grabbed one of their top of the line USB4/Thunderbolt 4 cables from this thread, and it’s a spec compliant cable. Best USB-C cable to buy for both data and charging - #4 by PHolder


@LaughingMan While I don’t understand half the stuff you are talking about, I find your input very valuable to the community. Welcome aboard.

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Frankly, I’m a little star-struck. Thanks for everything you do, Benson!


I’d like to thank Leo for the tip on, first I’ve heard of it and it includes a jitter measurement.

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