Review ~ Belkin Thunderbolt 3 Express Dock HD

Listening to the bay of the docks has brought me to a third example, by Belkin, this time in a more traditional silver. This is like previous Belkin iterations, and has a curvy aspect almost all over – it’s in the same case as Belkin’s Thunderbolt and Thunderbolt 2 docks. Four rubberised low-profile feet stop it sliding across your desk.
This also has two practical ports on the front, including a USB 3, but unlike the Kensington, the partner to this is audio stereo minipin rather than another USB-C – dual in-out stereo minipin.
Across the back, this has left to right: Gigabit Ethernet, Audio out, 2x USB 3, 2x Thunderbolt 3 (but not USB-C, note, although they have the same form factor), DisplayPort and the DC power inlet.
Like the Kensington SD5000T, the single USB-C cable that carries all this data and parcels it out through the dock can also carry enough charge (85w) to charge up a MacBook Pro. The cable to connect it to your Mac is supplied (this one a handy 1 metre in length). Of course, this takes up one of the two Thunderbolt 3 ports, leaving only one spare (and three on the 15-inch MacBook Pro, in my case).

I have looked at three USB-C docks recently (click picture to see a bigger file)

Unlike the Kensington and Moshi (left), this can’t as-quickly charge up an iPhone or iPad via USB, but its three USB 3 ports do, of course, support most keyboards, mice, Flash drives and hard drives.
Video-wise, like the Kensington, this support a single 5K display via the DisplayPort or dual displays at up to 4K resolution – on plugged into the other Thunderbolt 3 port with the right adapter, and the other into the DisplayPort.

Speeds — Copying the same 6.05GB movie file I used for the test with the Kensington dock from the very fast internal 1TB SSD in a 2017 MacBook Pro to a USB 3 (traditional, not Solid State) hard drive, took one minute 36 seconds (the Kensington was 1:28). Once again, the real test would be to a USB-C hard drive, unfortunately I don’t have one.

Conclusion — This is another useful configuration for users of MacBooks with USB-C-only ports. It’s a nice shape and the silver goes with some of the MacBook Pros, although I’m guessing the new Space Gray model is the more popular, in which case the Kensington is a better visual match. I’m a little surprised the Belkin is more expensive than the Kensington dock I reviewed last week, since it has one less USB-C port, since this is the way all these devices are headed, but having three (versus the Kensington’s 2) might support people better if they have more legacy USB 3 devices. Being able to charge up to a 15-inch MacBook is a definite plus. But to my eyes, the Kensington, with its possibility of VESA mounting and a lock-slot, is better value. The difference in price is virtually enough to get a decent USB 3 hub if you really need more USB 3 ports. However, Belkin is a very reliable brand too, with a long relationship with Apple.

What’s great — The familiar Belkin look, useful ports

What’s not — Another USB-C port might be handier. Price – it’s possible you may be able to find this cheaper than list after a month or two.

Needs — Anyone with a USB-C Mac right up to the power-sucking 15-inch, especially should you want to use superior Ethernet which is often 3x faster than WiFi.

Belkin Thunderbolt 3 Express Dock HD, NZ RRP $579.95 (US$349)

System — 2016, 2017 MacBook Pro, other USB-C Macs

More information — Belkin (note this is an Australian site so prices will differ). Here’s the link for it at the NZ Apple Store online.


The Apocalypticon ~ The Data Wars, airlines, animals, ice, carbon …

Moscow is adding facial-recognition technology to its network of 170,000 surveillance cameras across the city in a move to identify criminals and boost security. Since 2012, CCTV recordings have been held for five days after they’re captured, with about 20 million hours of video stored at any one time. This quickly became almost impossible to process by police officers alone, so they’re automating the process.
Are, Russia, so security conscious … The ‘secure messaging app’ Telegram has employees in Saint Petersburg in the same building as Kremlin-influenced social network VK, which is owned by the oligarch and Putin ally Alisher Usmanov. Doesn’t that make us feel secure?
Meanwhile, Russian hacktivist group Fancy Bear (also referred to as APT28, Sofacy, and Strontium) has been using a flaw in Google’s caching of Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) to phish targets, Salon reports. To make matters worse, Google has been aware of the bug for almost a year but has refused to fix it…

Of course, things are much better in the United States of America. The Department of Homeland Security plans to expand the files it collects on immigrants, as well as some citizens, by including more online data – most notably search results and social media information – about each individual. The plan is set out in the Federal Register, where the government publishes forthcoming regulations. A final version is set to go into effect on October 18th.
But here, lax security can be incredibly rewarding. The CEO of Equifax is retiring from the credit reporting bureau with a pay day worth as much as US$90 million – or roughly 63 cents for every customer whose data was potentially exposed in its recent security breach. Nice one, good job there Dick, love your work.
Data is the new oil, or so the saying goes. So why are we giving it away for nothing more than ostensibly free email, better movie recommendations and more accurate search results? It’s an important question to ask in a world where the accumulation and scraping of data is worth billions of dollars..

Airlines worldwide were forced to delay flights as a global flight-bookings system operated by Amadeus IT Group SA suffered what the company called a “network issue.” Major carriers including British Airways, Deutsche Lufthansa AG, Cathay Pacific Airways and Qantas Airways were among those reportedly impacted by the outage. At least their planes still had fuel.

While we’re back in the analogue world, humans are changing animal migrate routes in ways you may not expect. White storks in Europe typically fly to southern Africa for the winter. Yet when researchers at Germany’s Max Plank Institute for Ornithology tracked a bird’s path using a GPS logger in 2016, they found it and a few others had skipped the grueling migration across the Sahara Desert. That year, the birds stopped, instead, in cities like Madrid, Spain, and Rabat, Morocco. Apparently, they had developed a taste for junk food, in particular the stuff that piles up in landfills along the migration route.

But hey, there’s a new rat, and it’s a biggun! The Solomon Islands is a nation comprised of nearly one thousand islands located northeast of Australia. Dense, lush rainforest blankets the majority of the islands, and the country’s coral reef biodiversity is among the richest in the world. Many of the plants and animals in the Solomon Islands have evolved in splendid isolation, and now, one of these animals has emerged from its idyllic surroundings, revealing itself to science for the first time: the vika (Uromys vika), a big-arse rat four times the size of even the heftiest of the familiar, city-slicker variety.

If you want an unusual but punchy telling of the world’s explosion of climate-warping gases, look no further than this visualisation of CO2 levels over the past centuries soaring like skyscrapers into space.


Satellite images taken last weekend show a new 267km2 iceberg emerging from Antarctica’s Pine Island Glacier. The calving event did not come as a complete surprise, but it’s a troubling sign with regards to future sea level rise.

And in good news … OK, I’m struggling. How about this mirrored train ride through Tokyo?

Futurology ~ 4th wave, Pluto’s ice shards, low-tech for Venus, EVs, bot builders, McLaren body armour

NASA is going low-tech for an attempt at a usable rover for the inhospitable surface of Venus. It has built in wind turbines that distributes power to the treads

A fourth gravitational wave has been detected  — Astronomers have made a new detection of gravitational waves and for the first time have been able to trace the shape of ripples sent through spacetime when black holes collide. The announcement, made at a meeting of the G7 science ministers in Turin, marks the fourth cataclysmic black-hole merger that astronomers have spotted using Ligo, the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory.
The latest detection is the first to have also been picked up by the Virgo detector, located near Pisa, Italy, providing a new layer of detail on the three dimensional pattern of warping that occurs during some of the most violent and energetic events in the universe.
~ Can’t think of a smart-arse thing to say about this, so I will leave that up to the researchers: “Overall, the volume of universe that is likely to contain the source shrinks by more than a factor of 20 when moving from a two-detector network to a three-detector network.” So there. 

Pluto’s skyscraper ice shards — When NASA’s New Horizons space probe zipped past Pluto in 2015, it revealed portions of the dwarf planet’s surface were strewn with what could only be described as gigantic blades of ice, many of which extended into the Plutonian sky for hundreds of metres. Finally, after nearly two years of research, a team of scientists think they have figured out the nature of these odd features and how they came to appear on the surface.
~ I would have picked something to do with temperature …

Low-tech rover destined for Venus — The surface of Venus is, at approximately 450°C (850° Fahrenheit), hot enough for paper to spontaneously combust. Its atmosphere, an oppressive mix of carbon dioxide, nitrogen, and sulfur dioxide, is dense enough to crush a submarine. While certainly inhospitable to humans, is almost just as rough for robots. The last time a bot visited the surface of Venus was in the mid-’80s, when the Soviet Union sent its Vega lander to capture data about the planet’s soil. It lasted for less than an hour.
So NASA is going low-tech and is working on a boxy, tank-like bot that rolls around on treads (main picture, above), making it impervious to Venus’ rough terrain. Those treads are powered via a wind turbine that captures the planet’s whipping wind gusts and stores that power inside springs before distributing to the various systems on the rover.
~ It’s also using light refectors rather than fragile radio. 

Chinese researchers carry out Base Editing  to correct  mutation — Chinese researchers have taken tissue from a beta-thallasemia patient, created cloned embryos from that patient’s cells, and used a genetic editing technique known as Base Editing to correct the gene mutation that causes beta-thallasemia. The embryos were not implanted in a womb, so no actual babies were created during the procedure.
~ “Precise chemical surgery” indeed. 

Toyota, Mazda and, ah, Denso collaborate for electric cars — With governments around the world increasingly mandating some percentage of their countries’ car companies’ sales be of electric vehicles, the onus is on those brands to find more efficient and cost-effective ways to develop new models. Toyota is spearheading a new enterprise with the help of Japanese partner Mazda [which gives Ford a look-in, with it’s 33% stake in Mazda] and electronics powerhouse Denso to create standardised technology for EVs that the car brands can share in the future.
~ One suggestion: Denso should maybe consider changing its name to Clevero. 

Vacuum company Dyson aims to build a radically different electric car — The billionaire who revolutionized the vacuum cleaner said 400 engineers in Wiltshire had been working since 2015 on the £2.5 billion project.  Dyson says the car’s electric motor is ready, while two different battery types were under development that he claimed were already more efficient than in existing electric cars. Dyson said consumers would have to “wait and see” what the car would look like.
~ Going by Dyson’s other products, the mind boggles. And unlike most of their other products, they’ll hope it doesn’t suck. 

Bot armies that build things — At SRI International in Silicon Valley, researchers have developed perhaps the most impressive microbot army yet: the MicroFactory. It’s an ant colony made robotic, with half-millimeter machines zipping around to construct truly impressive structures. It could well be a glimpse at a future where 3-D printers give way to swarms of robots that cooperatively build stronger, more complex structures. The setup of the MicroFactory is fairly straightforward. The foundation is a circuit board that generates a magnetic field. The little robots themselves are magnets
~ I will really start to worry when their evolution passes from human direction. 

McLaren body armour — Developed by McLaren Applied Technologies for a “client X”, the armour is designed to “help protect vital organs after surgery”. The fully wearable composite shield does the job of the rib cage — protecting vital organs including the heart and the lungs, with the garment providing further protection from unexpected low energy impact.
According to McLaren, it’s designed to conform precisely to the client’s physique and is manufactured from a combination of materials, including carbon, Zylon and Dyneemafibres, as well as “highly-toughened resin”.
~ I guess this is really throwing down the Zylon and Dyneemafibre gauntlet to the other supercar companies …


Five Tip Friday ~ For those other Apple devices (AirPods, Apple TV, Watch)

1/ Set separate controls for left and right AirPods in Apple’s iOS 11 — Installing iOS 11 also updates the functionality of connected AirPods, giving users the ability to set separate, customisable controls for each wireless earpiece. Apple’s AirPods are more functional in iOS 11, thanks to new options found in the Settings app.
Open Settings on a connected iPhone or iPad, then choose Bluetooth. Find your AirPods in the list and tap the ‘i’ button to the right while connected. There you’ll find new control options, including the ability to set different controls for the left and right AirPod. For example, the left AirPod could be set to play or pause a track, while the right one could invoke Siri.

2/ Arrange, hide and delete Apple TV apps in tvOS 11 — If you’ve downloaded an app to your Apple TV, but don’t use it any more and are tired of seeing it take up space on the tvOS interface, you can move and hide apps with ease.
On your Siri Remote or Apple TV Remote, hold down the Touch surface until the app starts to jiggle.
To move the app on Siri Remote or Apple TV Remote, swipe left, right, up, or down.
When you’re finished, press the Touch surface or press Select.
Repeat these steps to move other apps.
To delete an app: Highlight the app you want to delete.
Hold down the Touch surface or Select until the app starts to jiggle.
Then press the Play/Pause button and choose Delete or Hide.
Repeat these steps to delete other apps.

3/ Create folders in tvOS 11 — With a fourth or fifth generation Apple TV and tvOS 11, you can create folders in which you can collect similar apps. To create a folder:
Navigate to one app that you want in the folder.
Press down and hold the Siri Remote or Apple Remote to select the app. It will jiggle when selected.
Drag your finger lightly on the trackpad to move the app and hover over a second app that you wish to place in the same folder. A new folder will automatically appear.
Press the trackpad on the Siri or Apple remote to drop it into the newly created folder.
Press the Home button on the Siri Remote to go back to the Home screen in tvOS.

4/ Adjust your Move goal on the fly — Open the Activity app on the Watch itself and press with a little force on the screen shown at left, and you’ll see a couple of new options. Weekly Summary is pretty cool in and of itself, but the choice we need here is Change Move Goal.
Touch that, and you can use the plus and minus buttons to move your calorie target around.
When you’re satisfied, touch “Update,” and your new move goal will be applied. So you can start reaching for the stars! Or reaching for the couch, I guess, depending on which way you adjusted your goal.

5/ Activate the Flashlight Strobe and Red Light Modes —  Bring up the control panel as usual by swiping upwards from the bottom of the watch face. Look for the flashlight icon. Tap it. The first pane is the normal flashlight mode. It will pause briefly at low brightness, then change to a higher brightness. Swipe to the left on the watch face to get to the strobe mode. This is useful when you want to be noticed. For example, walking or running in the evening. Swipe one more time to the left to get to the red light mode. This is most useful when you need some light but want to retain your nighttime dark adaption. (Red light doesn’t affect your dark adaption.)
As usual, the three dots at the bottom of the display indicate where you are in the three modes.
The red light mode also has two levels of brightness. Thightfully shows the time of day. To change between two brightness levels in any mode, tap the center of the watch face. To exit, just press the Digital Crown.


iPhone FM, 30m Music subscribers, Dino Park, Face ID white paper and privacy, HomeKit gains complexity

Fun AR puts dinosaurs into your scenes

FCC chairman urges Apple to activate FM radios in iPhones in light of recent disasters — The chairman of the US Federal Communications Commission, Ajit Pai, has renewed pressure on Apple to turn on the FM radios hidden inside every iPhone, citing how useful that might have been during Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria. [What? Then we’d get ‘free streaming music’ – ie, ‘radio’ – on our iPhones, can’t see Apple supporting that! Because …]

Apple Music breaks through to 30 million subscribers — Apple Music has topped 30 million paid subscribers, Apple confirmed on Thursday, supplying background for an interview with executives Jimmy Iovine and Larry Jackson, and Beats 1 DJ Zane Lowe.

Monster Park Dino World is a fun introduction to AR on iOS 11 — The game lets you “see” and move dinosaurs with a compatible iDevice’s camera. Using tracking and light detection, you can, for instance, make a tyrannosaurus rex walk around a room and watch pterodactyls fly around (and zoom toward you). You can also open and enter a portal to take a look at the world of dinosaurs, which packs one impressive waterfall.
For US$2.99, it’s a fun way to dip into the AR world of iOS 11. Monster Park – Dino World is available at the Apple App Store. But it won’t work on iPhones before the 6s, so not even the 6. Dang.

Apple publishes white paper explaining usage and security of iPhone X Face ID — Apple has taken steps to educate potential owners of the iPhone X about Face ID ahead of its release on Nov. 3, releasing a white paper alongside a support document that explains how the biometric authentication technology works to keep the user’s data secure. You can read more about Apple’s privacy stance at the Mac Observer.

Inside iOS 11: HomeKit gains multi-person geofencing, conditional triggers — With iOS 11, Apple has enabled more complexity in the triggers for HomeKit scenes and events, making them adaptable to a wider variety of circumstances —such as only turning off the lights in your home when everyone has left.

First look: New Radio app for Apple Watch featuring Beats 1 — Wednesday’s developer preview of watchOS 4.1 provided the first look at a new dedicated Radio app for Apple Watch, allowing users to stream Beats 1, Apple Music stations, and news channels directly to their wrist, without the need for an iPhone.


13m in relief, High Sierra NVIDIA drivers, RAM deal, video wars, big Aurora update, Trump tax, data encryptor

macOS High Sierra drivers for Nvidia PCI-E video cards are now available for Mac Pro, eGPU

‘Apple community’ pulls in $13M for disaster relief in US, Mexico & Caribbean — The Apple community, including workers and customers, has raised over $13 million for the relief of recent hurricanes hitting the US and the Caribbean, and earthquakes in Mexico, Apple said on Thursday.

macOS High Sierra drivers for Nvidia PCI-E video cards now available for Mac Pro, eGPU — After skipping the assorted High Sierra betas, Nvidia has rolled out drivers for its line of PCI-E graphics cards, all suitable for use in the 5,1 Mac Pro, and in a Thunderbolt 3 external graphics card enclosure.

Declaration of Apple and Bain Capital’s $18B deal for Toshiba’s chip business imminent — Apple has reportedly finished negotiation of its financial arrangement with Bain Capital and other investors, with a possible announcement of terms of the consortium’s deal for Toshiba’s chip foundry to be made public as soon as Thursday.

Apple not only company fighting Google over video, as YouTube is cut from Amazon Echo Show — On Tuesday afternoon, Google withdrew YouTube service from the Echo Show personal video device, and the two companies have issued dueling statements about the matter.

Aurora HDR 2018 for Mac — Today the completely new and redesigned Aurora HDR 2018 for Mac (and Windows) is finally shipping at Aurora HDR brings many options to create perfect HDR photos, from one-click presets and advanced tone-mapping, to layers, noise reduction and powerful luminosity masking controls. Here’s a What’s New video. And the new Aurora HDR 2018 delivers realistic tone-mapping, new tools, and an efficient user interface. US$5 from every Aurora HDR 2018 sale in September will be donated to support people affected by Harvey, Irma & José hurricanes. It’s not cheap though – upgrade for existing users is NZ$82, new it’s NZ$138.

Apple revamps ‘Privacy’ site to sell customers on benefits of tech like encryption & differential privacy — Apple has updated its Privacy minisite, reorganising it to better communicate what the company does to safeguard personal data on its various hardware and software platforms.

Trump’s proposed tax cuts could be a big deal for Apple — Tax cuts proposed by President Trump and the Republicans could be huge for tech companies such as Apple, notes The Mercury News.

B-Eng introduces a drag ’n drop encryption app for the Mac — B-Eng has introduces Data Vault 1.0, a utility for automated encryption and decryption on any Mac. With its dual panel layout files can be dropped on the left panel to encrypt and on the right panel to decrypt. Data Vault requires macOS 10.11 or later and costs NZ$12.99/US$8.99. It’s available at the Mac App Store.


MagBytes 91 is here with tips, tricks, news and views

Crikey, MagBytes 91 already!

MagBytes 91 is here, with all the news about Apple’s new iPhone 8s, the iPhone X, iOS 11, macOS High Sierra, new Apple TV, new Watch Series 3 and Apple TV, new operating systems for Watch and TV and more.
With a host of handy tips and three new products, this handy PDF reference should make your day.

Download it from this link ——>> Issue91September17