All posts in “usb”

Surge protectors now have USB ports and we’re never going back

You already use surge protectors to increase your outlet options, but it’s time you thought outside the three-prong plug. This USB-enabled surge protector is a great option and it’s on sale via Amazon today for less than $10.

This surge protector includes three outlets and two USB ports so you can charge more of your USB devices at once. According to the product page, the surge protector also has Dual Smart USB charging, which can detect your devices to deliver a faster charge.

This USB surge protector is usually $16, but you can get it now for $7.20 — a 55% savings.

Muse is a simple dedicated Amazon Alexa add-on for the car


Want to bring Alexa into your vehicle? You now have a few options, including a new $49.99 accessory from voice tech company Speak Music, which is launching Muse, essentially a Bluetooth-enabled Amazon Echo for the car. The small device allows you to access Alexa skills while on the go, using voice commands and the “Alexa” wake word, while connecting to your in-car stereo system via Bluetooth, aux input or USB.

Muse uses your smartphone’s data connection to connect to the Alexa service, which in turn provides you the ability to stream music, listen to live streaming radio stations, command your smart home gadgets while you’re away or even make hands-free calls. You can also get news briefings, listen to audiobooks, add to your shopping list, check the weather and more.

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The Muse ships with a dual socket car USB charger for power, and a magnetic mounting kit. It’s a small, circular gadget which should be relatively easy to stick somewhere on your dash, and it has back and forward buttons as well as a microphone button for physical activation (though it passively listens for the Alexa wake word, too).

There are other methods for getting Amazon’s voice assistant in your car, including first-party support from some manufacturers, but also via accessories like the Garmin Speak with Alexa, which became available just last month. The Speak also has full access to Amazon’s skill library, but builds in Garmin voice-based turn-by-turn navigation and a small, simple OLED screen too for $150, too. You could also plug an Echo Dot into power and connect it to your Smartphone via hotspot.

Muse is the same price as an Echo Dot, however, and offers all the same Alexa functionality, with a form factor and features designed for the car. It seems like the best and most affordable way to bring Alexa into your vehicle at the moment, but we’ll see how well it performs in the real world when it ships starting in December. Those interested can pre-order now for pre-Holiday shipping.

This reversible micro USB cable plugs in properly 100% of the time

Image: Winnergear

Ever notice how it seems to be physically impossible to plug in a micro USB cable correctly on the first try? You’ve got a 50/50 chance of getting it right, and yet the technology gods seem to revel in watching us get it wrong, every single time.

The MicFlip Fully Reversible Micro USB Cable solves this problem so simply, you’ll wonder why it took this long for someone to figure it out. Grab one for all your devices and end your USB-related gripes for good, right here and now. The world’s first fully reversible USB cable features Micro USB and USB-A plugs that are designed to fit perfectly in their respective ports, whether inserted upside-down or right-side-up. 

Its gold-coated connections resist corrosion, and its incredibly tough aluminum housing and nylon braided cable help MicFlip resist tangling and maintain a solid connection under even the most rigorous conditions. And with 6 feet of length, this cable gives you lots of freedom to move around or charge devices from afar. Grab this zero-hassle accessory now for $13.99, or 44 percent off the regular $24.99 price tag.

Hackers just gave you another reason to hate vaping

It turns out vaping may be bad for more than just your look. 

With a few tweaks of the pen, a security researcher has demonstrated that vaporizers can be modified in such a way as to pass code to your computer. 

The problem, as with many things security related, comes down to the USB port. Used for both charging and data transfer, the port is a convenient place to plug in phones or other devices that need a battery boost—devices like vape pens. 

In a video demonstrating his work, the researcher, who goes by FourOctets, plugs an e-cigarette into a computer’s USB and the device immediately lights up as if to charge. A few seconds go by and the computer starts to react. 

“DO U EVEN VAPE BRO!!!!!,” reads a message that pops up on the screen. 

Essentially, the vaporizer issued a custom command to the computer, and the computer was all too happy to oblige. 

Take this as the weirdest example yet that you should never plug random devices into your USB ports.

While FourOctets has no ill-intent, it is easy to imagine someone less scrupulous loading a computer with something not quite as funny. Like, say, a keylogger. Or ransomware

So how did he make this happen? Thankfully for people worried about their e-cigs catching a virus, it required some hands-on work. 

“It started as more of a joke than anything,” FourOctets elaborated over Twitter direct message (he declined to give his real name). “This is done with extra hardware and a little bit of code.”

As to the point of the demonstration, other than the fact that it is legitimately hilarious? 

“Another goal usually when doing dumb stuff like this is that stuff is not always what it seems and that random stuff that can plug into a computer can be dangerous,” he explained. “A lot of folks aren’t aware that something like this is even possible whether it be with firmware or added hardware and a tiny bit of code found online.” 

So should you be worried that your vape pen is delivering malicious code to your laptop? 

“It’s probably pretty unlikely to ever get something like this from the factory that would do this,” FourOctets noted, “but the possibility is there and people need to be mindful of that.”

So, you know, something to maybe consider the next time you’re ripping that sweet cotton. 

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