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Testing HDMI Cables

I recently helped set up a new house with cables including long HDMI cables that would not be easily replaceable after drywall went up. We wanted the latest HDMI 2.1 cables, which are capable of at least 40Gbps bandwidth. To do this for long cable runs, we needed expensive optical cables. Since these cables needed to work, we had to test them. To do so, we purchased a receiver that we planned to buy later anyway, the Denon AVR-X6700H.

Denon AVR-x6700h HDMI Cable Diagnostic

If you press the back button (below and left of the circle) and up cursor button (part of the circle) on this receiver, an “installer” secret menu item appears, a diagnostics mode. This can test cables and show the throughput achieved by the cable.

We’re glad that we ran those tests. Two of the cables we purchased failed the full HDMI 2.1 spec by not achieving 40Gbps:

There are a couple of tells for which cables fail in this list. First, the failing cables are 50-60% the cost of the passing cables. Second, the failing cables have the word “con” in their name.

We were able to switch out the failing cables before the drywall arrived. If you’re looking to test cables and you need a receiver, the new Denon lineup does an impressive job.

Uninstalling Apps in Windows 10

Windows often fills with malware and junk when kids are trying to install games. These are often “browser helpers,” alternative browsers, or other search tools. To fix these junked up computers, many users install more malware that is pretending to be helpful software.

Much of the software can not be removed using the standard “Add or remove programs” tool built into Windows. That’s when I turn to Geek Uninstaller, a lightweight tool that can force the removal of pernicious software and related traces left in the operating system registry.

Upgrading to macOS Catalina

Before you upgrade to macOS Catalina, which just came out, check to see if your apps will work. Old 32-bit apps don’t work in Catalina. So run Go64 to see what apps are still 32-bit.

It’s also a good idea to have backups. In addition to Time Machine backups, I like to have SuperDuper backups. That means I’m going to wait until SuperDuper software working in Catalina.

iPhone 11 day

It’s Christmas Day for iPhone fans.

Should you upgrade? To me and for most people, it depends on the camera. If getting the best quality pictures matters a lot to you, then yes. Otherwise, you could be on a 6S from 2015 and still get the latest iOS 13 features.

Apple Store Clarendon in Arlington, VA

Upgrade iMac to Fusion SSD for Speed

TechDC iMac 27” 2017  HDD to SSD (should work if there’s no fusion too)

I recently upgraded a 2017 iMac with a Fusion drive (SSD plus hard drive) to an SSD only Fusion drive by replacing the hard drive (HDD) with an SSD. While the idea of a fusion SSD may sound weird, it works great. The SSD in iMacs (especially 2017 and beyond) are much faster than a standard SSD, so you still get the fusion benefit of combining a faster and slower drive. And replacing a HDD with SSD is a huge speed improvement that can make a computer feel much more responsive.

Parts List

Crucial 2TB SSD ($207) – this is a hair faster than the Samsung.  

Or

Samsung 4TB SSD ($400) – not a lot of 4TB options on amazon

iMac adhesive strips + opening wheel

Generic phone and iMac work kit (has the necessary plastic cards and scraping tools and many other parts not used)

3M pads to adhere SSD inside iMac

Preparation Steps (note that a colon on a step means its a terminal command)

Step – Backup via Time Machine (to be restored later)

Step – Create a macOS (Mojave) boot usb drive (9to5Mac Article)

Step – Boot off usb drive (hold option key) and secure erase the HDD.  Since the HDD will be left inside the iMac, best to be safe and securely erase it.

Step – Launch Terminal from top menu Utilities 

Step -: diskutil list (to determine the name of the synthesized fusion disk drive such as /dev/disk2)

Step -: diskutil secureErase 0 /dev/diskX (where diskX is the name of the disk to HDD) (This can take hours depending on your drive size) (this does a single pass of zeros written for security, there are options to do more)

Installing SSD Steps 

Based on https://www.ifixit.com/Guide/iMac+Intel+27-Inch+Retina+5K+Display+Hard+Drive+Replacement/30522

& https://www.ifixit.com/Guide/How+to+Add+An+SSD+To+The+27-Inch+iMac+(Late+2015)/67309

Step 1 – Lay iMac on its back 

Step 2 – use roller tool to cut thru glue

Step 3 – use plastic cards to separate remaining glue (takes time and work)

Plastic Cards

Step 4 – lift up screen ad prop up with boxes

Step 5 – unplug old HDD

Step 6 – plug in new SSD

Step 7 – attach adhesive strips to SSD and stick to iMac wall, as near HDD as possible.  Slight angle is needed for opposite corners of SSD to touch curved wall.  I only put adhesive strips on opposite corners of the SSD.

Step 8 – move prop up boxes to inside the iMac so you can do the next step

Step 9 – remove all adhesive that held screen in place (takes the most time)

Step 10 – use alcohol wipes to clean up where the strips go

Step 11 – apply new strips

Step 12 – lower screen back down to adhere to new adhesive strips

Step 13 – Boot up iMac and begin post install steps

Post Install Setup Steps (colons refer to terminal commands)

Step 14 – Boot off macOS usb drive by holding down Option

Step 15 – Launch Terminal from top menus

Step 16 -: diskutil list (to determine the names of the old internal SSD and new added SSD)

Step 17 -: diskutil coreStorage create fusion /dev/disk1s1 /dev/disk0s1 (where disk1s is the faster internal SSD and disk0s1 is the new SSD

Step 18 – a unique UUID will be displayed identifying the new volume group.  Copy this to clipboard.

Step 19 -: disktuil coreStorage createVolume UUID-FROM-PREV-STEP jhfs+ “Macintosh HD” 100% (This note is likely changing those quotes to evil quotes, you’ll want to type this up with non-evil quotes so a reader can copy them)

Step 20 – open disk utility

Step 21 – Erase the new Macintosh HD with the APFS option

Step 22 – Restore from Time Machine

Step 23 – Open Photos (does restoration for a long time)

Step 24 – Open Mail (does some migration)