Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Travel Gadget: High powered USB charging AC DC Adapter

Category: [Travel Gadget]

For the purpose of continual space and weight reductions for personal and environmental reasons, I have embarked on a focused effort to analyze each parcel which accompanies me when I pack for a trip. This includes both the personal and business trips. I keep a different packing checklist for each to ensure I did not forget to bring anything. The checklist has some clauses within for each season rather than multiply out the number of checklists. For dual purposed trips I just use two checklists.

Today's article will show a decent size and weight reduction for charging USB devices due to a new-ish (is it?) product on the market. The product is an ACDC adapter which converts to dual USB charging ports with each port capable of offering up to 2.1 Amps (2.1A or 2100mA) up to a combined total of 3 Amps (3A or 3000mA) at 5V (5 volts). Wattage is 15W (5V x 3A).

Pictured here:

To calibrate what that verbose description means, usually tablets with their massive batteries are asking for 2.1A x 5V for charging. Especially the new iPad (iPad 3, but unofficially so named) with it's huge battery capacity will want as much juice flowing as possible. Smartphones typically like to see 1A x 5V for charging as they have 1300maH - 1500maH batteries. At 3A, this charger can handle a tablet and a smartphone reasonably well.

Previously I was carrying the items on the left side of these two photos (quarter shown for size comparisons):

The single USB port item shown is the Apple charger which has high wattage charging capability. The two black adapters are 1A x 5V converters. These three have now been replaced by the innergie on the far right, since I don't need to charge the tablet at the same intervals as other devices I carry with me. With a quick look you may observe volume savings exceeding 70% with this new gadget. Quite pleased with that savings alone.

This gives me comfort in enabling me to rapid charge a tablet and a smartphone together using one electrical socket. Many hotels have been short-sighted in providing power strips or multiple charging sockets. Internationally, many have no or limited socket adapters. Packing many space consuming socket adapters is also far from elegant. This device helps to alleviate much of that.

Later posts will show another useful area and weight saving that I was able to attain from this gadget. The only thing I would alter with the innergie, if possible, would be for retractable or fold-able prongs. It's a solid A grade for this contraption, the plus was reserved for making the prongs more compact.

Monday, April 09, 2012

Travel Gadget: USB Charging helper

Category: [Travel Gadget]

Long time since I have seen this blog! Recently I have been coming across some electronics which are charged by USB or it's smaller form factors. I only wish my point and shoot digital camera could also charge by USB to reclaim the space occupied by its charger in my luggage. But I have digressed...

I bought and then re-purposed this device:

The USB spec discusses four pins, one for grounding, one for 5 volts of power, and two data pins. The spec also mandates that charging devices should short the data pins for compliance. Many charging devices do not follow that spec and leave the data pins unshorted. This limits me from charging some devices unless they're plugged into a computer, which can complete the USB host/client discussion.

In order to future-proof myself from misc power sources and also to avoid occupying much space in my luggage, I found a USB extension cord. More accurately it is called a USB flexible adapter. The original purpose for it is to enable someone who couldn't position their USB device horizontally to bend the adapter and have it positioned vertically.

As you have read along, this was not my use case, so I did a little surgery to make it suit my needs. It was successful and now has an unexpected positive new use for me, which will be discussed in a later post.

  1. Soldering Iron (optional)
  2. Wire Cutter (optional)
  3. Hobby Knife
  4. Hot Glue (optional)
  5. Super Glue
  6. Small pliers (optional)
  7. Multimeter (optional for continuity testing)
  8. Electrical tape
  1. Using the hobby knife carefully cut the crevice on the edge of the plastic near the part that reads BELKIN
  2. Cut the other side (One side will be MUCH easier than the other)
  3. Remove the plastic outer casing
  4. Cut the wires which map out to the D+ and D- pins while leaving enough space for splicing or soldering.
  • You can use the multimeter for continuity testing if you're unsure. Alternatively, look at the device and see the four wires that go into the USB connector fixture. It's the middle two wires from that set of four. The fifth wire is connected to the outside of the USB connector fixture.
Continued below the picture.

  1. Strip enough wire to solder or splice
  2. Solder or splice these two wires on the side of the USB fixture together
  3. Cover with electrical tape and/or hot glue
  4. Cover the unconnected leads of the other side with electical tape individually
  5. Affix them to something somewhat stationary
  6. Test out the contraption is working as intended. Use something you don't care about in case you messed up and somehow connected a hot wire to an unintentional place.
  7. When satisfied, snap the fixture back together and add super glue to secure it
Now with this between my non compliant USB charging device and the USB cable attached to my electronic device I am able to guarantee a charge. This guarantee also does not use much space in my luggage. When I am no longer tired you will find out another great use case I was able to get out of it.

Final Result:

Friday, September 01, 2006

Airplane carry-on baggage success!

Category: [Travel Business]

Well, I am here and back from business travel safely. My experiment here was a success and I was able to shave baggage check/claim time off from the trip. Thanks go to this product:

A side secret, I had gotten a short haircut and had no need for hair gel. How I will overcome this with a due haircut and in humid places like Taiwan, Tokyo, and Seoul during summertime remains to be seen. I'll cross that bridge when I get there and let you know!

Even with laxed travel restrictions, I may use the dry toothpaste to mix it up a little. I am comfortable with using it and enjoy the effervesce sometimes!

Writing Hangeul | Writing Hangul | Writing Korean order [Part 3]

Category: [Learning Language Korean]

This lesson introduces you to the combined Korean vowels. With the animations, you can learn the proper way to write these characters. This is the last part of 3 lessons. After these three lessons, you will learn what each character is, so those 3 will correlate closely with these. Please place your mouse cursor over each character to learn the stroke order of each Korean character.

If characters are in perpetual motion even without the cursor hovering over them, you can click here ( in order to view them on a page by itself and correct the problem.

Writing Hangeul | Writing Hangul | Writing Korean order [Part 2]

Category: [Learning Language Korean]

This lesson introduces you to the Korean vowels. With the animations, you can learn the proper way to write these characters. This is the second part of 3 lessons. After these three lessons, you will learn what each character is, so those 3 will correlate closely with these. Please place your mouse cursor over each character to learn the stroke order of each Korean character.

If characters are in perpetual motion even without the cursor hovering over them, you can click here ( in order to view them on a page by itself and correct the problem.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Writing Hangeul | Writing Hangul | Writing Korean order [Part 1]

Category: [Learning Language Korean]

This lesson introduces you to the Korean consonants. With the animations, you can learn the proper way to write these characters. This is the first part of 3 lessons. After these three lessons, you will learn what each character is, so those 3 will correlate closely with these. Please place your mouse cursor over each character to learn the stroke order of each Korean character.

If characters are in perpetual motion even without the cursor hovering over them, you can click here ( in order to view them on a page by itself and correct the problem.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Using the Korean Language Bar [AKA Windows Language Bar IME]

Category: [Learning Language Korean]

This lesson is intended to dive into typing Korean into your computer, even if it seems a little pre-mature as the letters and vocabulary have yet to be discussed. If you want, you can skip ahead to more modern articles (as they are posted) and return when you want to write a comment or email. This builds off the last lesson where the Korean Language was set up on your computer. If you've not done that, please check here and follow the instructions to prepare for this lesson.

As I alluded to before, I have the keyboard layout memorized, so don't be alarmed if you don't understand why I say to type what we'll type just humor me and go along with it. I recommend purchasing Korean character stickers to put on your laptop or desktop keyboard. These Korean Keyboard Stickers will speed your learning and always be there for reference. Separately, I'll diagram out what the Korean keyboard layout looks like as an image on this website in case you want to do a homemade style or do some Alt-Tabbing...

Now it's time to begin typing. Open Notepad using one of the following two methods (1. Start -> All Programs -> Accessories -> Notepad, You may need to click on the arrows if Windows automatically hid it on you) [2. Start -> Run -> Type Notepad and click OK].

You may find on your screen the language bar. It may be in a minimized state, so check whether you have the appearance similar to the first or second picture below.

english_bar     english_button

You may find the first near the top of the screen or in a different language. You may also find the second at the bottom of the screen near the clock. If you see the second, you should click on it and choose "Show the language bar" from the menu.

You should see the bar along the top of the screen and saying English. Please click on where it says English and you will see a list of the languages installed before. Click on Korean and you will see a bar similar to the image below (A shortcut for doing that is to hold down the left Shift key and press the left ALT key).


This bar consists of eight parts and they'll be discussed from the elft side to the right. The first part of those alternating dots is an area you can click and drag to move the bar. If you want to reposition it, please do so now. The second part is the current language selected. In this case it is Korean. The third part is the current entry method. By default Windows will install only one for this language, so clicking it is not an exciting feat. The fourth part is the current language entry. it will say A for english and 가 for Korean. The fifth part where it says Hanja is a conversion tool to change a Korean word to a traditional Chinese character. The sixth part is a pad where you can draw the character and select it from a list to type. A later lesson will teach you the drawing order for Korean characters. The seventh part with the '?' is the help system. The last part allows you to minimize the bar to the task bar near the system clock or to access the control panel language settings easily.

Now in notepad and using the Korean language bar, make sure it says 가 near the Han/Eng. If it does not you can click on it or use the hotkey to change the language quickly by pressing the ALT key to the right of the spacebar. I recommend using a larger font in notepad to see clearly, you can access that from the format menu and the font item in that menu.

Type r then type n then type r. As you type you will notice the character stays highlighted. This enables you to combine the characters, usually Korean uses 3 but other common configurations are 2 and 4. If you followed the above closely you will see 국 and it is still highlighted. This is pronounced "Gook" and means Country.

To see the Traditional Chinese version of the word Country you can now click the Hanja area of the bar and it will show a bar with choices to select. The first one, 國, is the Chinese character for Country. Please select it.

Now you can play around on the keyboard to see which characters are where, until I give a later lesson on what the Korean keyboard layout looks like. Additionally, to simplify your Korean typing life, you may wish to use these Korean Keyboard Stickers. Take care!

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Carry on Baggage and my compliance struggles with TSA

Category: [Travel Business]

Well, here it is, it is time to do some business travel again. This is the first for me since the 8/10/06 London incident and I have to alter my plans. A little background, if you will.

I am a fairly frequent business and personal airplane passenger and have had to alter my routines, as every does, to overcome the TSA restrictions that keep adding up like a 5th grader cramming for his math tables exam. Carry on baggage is the way to go for the multiple city stops (not connecting flights, but actual de-airport and have meetings and return), because it shaves an hour or two off per travel instance. Additionally, you don't have the stress of lost luggage, late luggage, mis-routed luggage, man-handled luggage, and stolen luggage. These stresses are replaced by a single 'will-there-be-enough-overhead-space?' related mental anguish. Being a high grade in my airline miles program, I can board first and do not have that last stress, but it may be something you need to consider when trying to pack light and utilize the carry-on only playbook.

Back to point, the TSA restrictions are held here. Basically, no liquids or gels. This translates to shampoo, toothpaste, cream based chapstick (airlines will give you chapstick even when going between Hawaii and Singapore [humid places]), and etc. Shampoo is provided in hotels, I use solid deodorant and solid chapstick, but the toothpaste thing baffled me. I set my mind in motion to overcome this restriction and keep in line with my carry-on only policy.

The first thoughts put me in a terrorist camp and gave my ethical mind a problem. They were to attempt to hide a little gel within a non-metal container on my person. However, if I had been noticed, it may have incurred additional problems when extra-screened by the TSA. The first excuse of smuggling toothpaste may fall on deaf ears and I'd be an immediate suspect. I do not recommend this course and urge you to keep reading.

The next thought was 'How about using my ronco beef jerky machine to dry out my toothpaste and add water?'. Instant Toothpaste, sounds like an ACME corp. product straight out of the road-runner cartoons. I liked the thought, and the idea that my thoughts are not original and set out on a web search to find a dry toothpaste "Just Add Water!".

Finding it would be half the battle, the other half is that I set out tomorrow and mail order would not suffice. The last ditch effort would be to skip the packaging of the toothpaste and buy a sample size at my destination. However, I stumbled across a Tooth Powder product by Eco-Dent online. Continuing searching, I found multiple places where it could be mail ordered. Amazon for instance:

However, at the manufacturer's website they are short on details of where a person may walk into a mainstream store and purchase. I did notice a natural food store and queued up the ideas: Whole Foods, Henry's Marketplace, and possibly Trader Joe's. I Set out on my way to shop in thar order and had found the product in Whole Foods for about 6$.

Now I leave tomorrow with some hopes... I hope the toothpaste is an acceptable quality. I hope I didn't forget any other cream, liquid, or gel based product that is in my ritual. Finally, I hope that this restriction is lifted soon, because the lack of hair gel may get problematic when my hair grows a bit more and I step into a humid place like Singapore.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Setting up Korean on Your Computer

Category: [Learning Language Korean]

This assumes you are using Windows XP, for help with other Operating Systems please consult your help system or favorite neighborhood computer whiz.

In summary what this lesson will bring is the ability to view the Korean language on your own computer and the ability to type in Korean on your own computer. This is all included in Windows and is free of charge, so we will go through the steps that follow to activate these features.

The first step will be to find the area where the settings are held, then to allow the Korean language to be viewable on your computer, and finally to activate the option to type in Korean. Don't worry, you will still be able to type with English with much less work than what is outlined below.

Now, find your Control Panel. In Windows XP it should be in the Start Menu. Please click on it and check if it resembles the first screen or the second.

Step 1a:
First Screen

Second Screen

If you found the second screen, you can double click the area highlighted with the yellow circle and scroll below this next picture to step 2, the area captioned "Languages Settings".

If you found the first screen, you can double click the area highlighted with the yellow circle and follow the next instruction at step 1b.

Step 1b
Regional Setting Language

Now you can double click the area highlighted in yellow and continue to step 2 titled "Languages Settings".

Step 2
Languages Settings

Part A
First, on your computer, find the area along the top that is highlighted with a yellow circle in the picture above that says "Languages" and click on it. Your screen should resemble that picture now.

Part B
In this part you will install the fonts, so the Korean language will be viewable on your own computer. See the area in the picture above that is highlighted with a green circle? Please click on the box to the left of the sentence "Install files for East Asian languages" and ensure there is a checkmark in it as shown above.

After there is a check mark in there, the "Apply" button that is highlighted with a blue circle in the picture above will activate. Please click on it. Now you will be able to view Korean writing in documents and webpages.

Part C
In this part you will go to a new settings area, where you can install the package to allow you to type the Korean language. See the area in the image above labelled "Text services and input languages". Please click the button highlighted in purple called "Details" and proceed to the next step, step 3.

Step 3

Please click the button titled "Add" that is highlighted in yellow in the picture above and proceed to step 4.

Step 4

Locate the word Korean in the area highlighted in yellow according to the image above. The lower box will also now display Korean. Choose OK to dismiss this box. Choose OK on any other remaining boxes that were left on the screen that you have seen in this lesson.

Finish Line

You have now added the ability to read and type Korean on your own computer. This will come in handy on the future lessons. One more tip, and you may see this as a consistent theme on this series, is that the Korean language does not use an alphabetical character set such as you see on your keyboard. You may find it worthwhile to purchase these Korean Keyboard Stickers and affix them to your keyboard until you have the layout memorized. In a later lesson I will share with you what the Korean keyboard layout looks like and how to activate and use the new settings you have just activated.

Learning Language Korean Background

Category: [Learning Language Korean]

A little background on what will be covered in this category is due, so you can have a good perspective on some of the assumptions I may make/mistake.

My familiarity with the langues stems from having been to Korea many times over the past five years, purchasing and hearing Pimsleur's Comprehensive Korean over the past year, and having watched many Korean dramas and movies (with English subtitles on). I'll send out some recommendations as this unfolds.

My familiarity with Korean on computers stems from a project at work in 2002 that typed using a Korean keyboard to translate some specifications and technical information. As a result of that, I had memorized the keyboard layout and can freely type without the external Korean keyboard. I will show a Korean Keyboard layout in a separate post, but if you don't feel like purchasing an external keyboard these Korean Keyboard Stickers can be affixed to your existing laptop/external keyboard.

Since the medium of a blog isn't very audio-centric; the focus will be on history, culture, written/typed Korean, and vocabulary. Hope it is useful, I will expect to update the vocabulary rapidly because I already know many words thanks to Pimsleur's lessons, but do not know how to spell them.