TO-Tech Blog Todd Ogasawara’s Tech Blog


SanDisk U3 Launchpad Removal Tool (URL changed again)

SanDisk makes great flash storage products. But, I really hate the U3 flash drive app software they install on every thumb drive. It has the malware-like behavior of installing itself with asking permission. I even noticed it had installed something called U3agent on my Mac that was chewing up processor resources. I must have missed removing U3 from a SanDisk thumb drive some time in the past. Here's the direct link to the:

U3 Launchpad Removal Tool

It is made available by SanDisk itself. The tool only runs under Microsoft Windows. SanDisk has changed the URL for this tool several times in the last few years. So, it may change again in the future.

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Blast from the Past: Hauppauge WinTV 401 (1998)

I find something interesting (and usually old) everytime I decide to clean my work area. I found this Hauppauge WinTV (model 401) board in its original box this time. It could process cable TV and FM signals. It could even serve as a video conferencing system when combined with a video camera and Microsoft NetMeeting (remember that!?).


Quick Test of Windows Vista Touch Interface (video)

Noticed a Dell all-in-one PC with a touchscreen running Windows 7 Vista in a local Costco yesterday. Recorded a bit of me playing with the touch UI. I was very impressed by its responsiveness and ease of use. Was tempted to buy the Dell desktop PC. But, I don't really want an all-in-one desktop PC at the moment. I would like to get a touchscreen LCD display that can be used with existing desktops running Windows 7 though.


Asus ESC 1000 Should Have Been Branded Eee SuperPC :-)

Interesting item from

Asustek teams with Nvidia on 1.1 Teraflop supercomputer

The desktop PC sized supercompter features 960 Nvidia graphic cores with 24GB of DDR3 DRAM. At an estimated US$14,519 this is a very affordable supercomputer.

I think Asus should brand is as the Eee SuperPC :-)


Costco HP Inkjet Cartridge Refill Service: Big Savings Gets a Thumbs Up


I went to Costco earlier this week to buy new HP 56 inkjet cartridges. As usual, I was staggered by the price of a few ounces of ink. And, the package at Costco was a tri-pack. I really didn't want to buy three black ink cartridges because the printer isn't used that heavily. Then, I noticed a sign nearby saying that Costco has an inkjet cartridge refill service for HP and one or two other popular brands.

So, I returned today (Oct. 24) with a nearly empty HP 56 cartridge, walked over to the photo processing area and asked how to use the ink cartridge refill service. The Costco person handed me a 1 Hour Photo envelope. I was told to fill out my contact info and to write in the cartridge name (HP 56) in the "Special Instructions" box on the front of the envelope. The person then told me it would take about an hour and handed me the top receipt from the photo development envelope. I returned a bit over an hour later and paid $7.99 plus a local excise tax (total was $8.37).

I was handed the refilled ink cartridge and a small strip of paper with, presumably, a sample printout from newly refilled cartridge. After returning home, I placed the refilled HP 56 in an aging but functional HP 56 printer, turned it on, and placed the HP 56 back in the printer.

The printer complained that the cartridge only had 10% of fluid left. However, that is to be expected since it is unlikely anyone but HP has access to the information to reset whatever ink level sensor technology is used. I printed a couple of sample test pages to see what the output looks like and am happy to report that everything looks fine. I'm very satisfied with the refilled cartridge and Costco's service so far. lists a single HP 56 cartridge selling for $21.25 (plus shipping). So, the refill service is essentially 62% cheaper. That is quite a savings.

The sign about the service says that refill service for the HP 02 cartridges are coming soon. I'm looking forward to that since that ink system consists of 6 cartridges (5 color and 1 black). Certain colors burn through fast (yellow and magenta for me) and cost about $11 each for the color cartridges.


Costco HP Ink Refill Service

I noticed Costco has a new HP ink cartridge refill service. An HP 56 (black) refill was listed as $8.95. They say it takes about an hour to get the refilled cartridge back to you. I plan to try it out later this week.

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Connectland USB Desk Fan


One of the problems of working in an office with a lot of computers is that they generate a lot of heat. I've found that typical office central air conditioning systems simply aren't designed to siphon off the hot air generated by computers fast enough. I've had a small USB fan/light combo for a while now and decided to look for something slightly bigger to push a bit more air in my direction. The Connectland USB desk fan just arrived yesterday ($13 from Amazon with free shipping).


The fan stands a mere 7 inches tall. And, as you can see from the photos, it is powered by plugging it into a USB port. I just unpacked it and tested it out. It is not exactly silent. But, it is quiet enough for my needs. It pushes out enough air for my needs. And, unlike the USB fan I'm using now, it can rotate on its base.

I'm apparently the first person to give it a rating on And, I gave it 4 out of 5 stars ("I like it").

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AMD Dual Core Better Deal Than Intel for Windows Virtual PC Testing

The still-in-beta Windows XP Mode and Windows Virtual PC for Windows 7 needs hardware virtualization assist. However, many (most) Intel's low-end processors (even quad core models) do not support Intel VT-x. I recall spending a lot of time checking various comparison tables before buying my Dell quad-core PC last year to make sure its CPU supported VT-x.

When I thought my old PC running Windows XP died (or so I thought - see previous blog for its revival) a few weeks ago, I went to Costco and bought the cheapest PC they had - an eMachines (yes, I know I swore off them a while back, but $340 is a good price) PC with an Athlon X2 4050e processor. Generally speaking, none of the sub-$400 PCs with Intel Core Duo or Core 2 Duo processors I looked at a year ago supported Intel VT-x. So, I didn't expect this ultra-cheap AMD based one to provide AMD-V hardware virtualization. But, a quick check of its BIOS configuration shows that it does have that feature and that it is turned on by default.

I still haven't gotten around to installing Microsoft's in-beta virtualization products under Windows 7 RC yet. But, it is nice to know that I can since I didn't expect to do be able to test it for a long while.


CPU Heatsink Fan Died: A First for Me


I've been using PCs for more years than I care to admit. And, while the early PCs didn't need or have cooling systems, I'm fairly sure that most PCs for the last decade have had a combination of heat sinks and fans on the processor to cool it down. An old PC running Windows XP started acting oddly a couple of weeks ago. Then, it started spontaneously rebooting after, I think, less than 10 minutes of use. I assumed it was bad RAM and opened up the cover to do a little diagnostic work. After removing 1 of the 2 DIMMs, I turned on the PC and noticed the fan on top of the CPU heatsink stuttered but didn't spin up. So, I rummaged around the remains of other dead PCs and found a fan that fit reasonably well, screwed it down and plugged it in. The PC seems to be running ok with the replacement fan now. But, I'm still surprised to have seen my very first CPU fan failure after all these years. It is not one of those parts that I expect to see go bad.

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Getting Started with Arduino by Massimo Banzi

YouTube video courtesy of OreillyMedia

I enjoyed Brian Jepson's YouTube video demo of an Arduino based on Massimo Banzi's book (from O'Reilly Media) so much that I ordered the book...

Getting Started with Arduino (Make: Projects)


Various models of the board have been produced over the years. You can see my Arduino Diecimila board in the photo above next to an Apple remote control for size comparison.

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