Tuesday, August 30, 2022

So far, one of the unexpectedly nice things about macOS: I can use my Bluetooth keyboard to wake my MacBook Air. No putzing required. I'd like to assume my desktop could pull that off with fiddling with the power management options for the front ports or motherboard root controller, and/or the Bluetooth USB dongle. But my relationship with NT and things USB/BT is one of pain and suffering, so I'm less inclined to putz with that.

Further iterating my Gateway Station concept, I've tossed the Anker 555 in the closet and hooked up a TS4 from CalDigit. Under macOS, I'm finding that this works flawlessly and resolves the "Well, if I just use a second cable for power" issue I observed with the hub.

And then there's windows (>_<).

One reason that I opted to get the newer TS4 is its love for 10 Gbit/s ports versus the older TS3 Plus. Basically the ports are either rated for 10 Gbit/s USB or 40 Gbit/s TB. Another reason is because of the Thunderbolt 4 / USB 4 capability made me wonder if it would be both backwards and forwards compatible with my desktop.

Migrating All The Things (tm) to the CalDigit appears to work well enough for my purposes. I've no need for the DisplayPort or Ethernet port on the desktop side. All the USB ports appear to function when plugged into my ASMedia controller, and the only issue observed is that USB drives won't work. I am unsure if this is due to power negotiation, or drivers. Under macOS, I can basically plug any damn thing in  without issue. Part of me is tempted to swap out the USB 3.1 10 Gbit/s card for a Thunderbolt card, and part of me just does not want to know what the fuck Intel's NT drivers for that are like ^_^.

When I decided to consider a dock, I decided if I was going to spend the big bucks, which my previous solution was meant to avoid, that I was going to make sure it was cable of being the heart of my desk setup. Such that it could be the Single Point of Truth in connectivity instead of just the break out. That way if the desktop side of the coin proved sufficient I could do that, and if not, I could retain the previous configuration for Gateway Station. Compared to the Windows issues my previous arrangement had, it's been a bigger issue finding room for the dock on my desk.

Considering that I can use Rimuru's front panel USB ports when storage drives are required, and have USB-C extension cables that could be routed to the spare port on the ASMedia card, I'm not particularly concerned about my observations so far. My goal with this transition was to have my laptop become the core for the non gaming stuff and relegate my desktop to being focused on gaming. Thus far that's working. The test that remains is to determine how reliable this turns out on the NT side.

And to remember to turn off my speakers so they don't fallback to Bluetooth pairing mode, if I leave it connected to Rimuru instead of Shion.

Sunday, August 21, 2022

Thus far, as Gateway Station has continued to evolve, I've come to the conclusion that the Anker 555 hub needs to die. I posted an earlier entry on it's troubles with Rimuru, and the process of elimination from the NT side of my setup.

Now that Shion the MacBook Air is at the center point, and Stark is officially retired to /dev/closet, the issues of course continue.

What I'm finding is that the hub works great with macOS when connected to Apple's Thunderbolt 3 / USB 4.0 controller. Except when you use the Power Delivery port, in which case it doesn't do jack shit. But otherwise seems to function provided I leave the USB-PD port clear and power Shion directly.

Now part of this may owe to the fact that I'm now using one of Anker's new GaNPrime chargers to drive everything. A downside of Anker's new fancy chargers is they expect intelligent negotiation of power that sometimes causes issues, Anker chargers being heavily marked for compatibility, aside the point ^_^. To eliminate the possibility that my nearest Apple C-to-C cable might not be rated for enough power draw to charge a laptop rather than an iPad, I also opted to try the same configuration using one of Anker's 100W rated PD cables with the exact same result.

Thus, I am reminded that the hub cost about as much as retrofitting Rimuru from my USB 3.2 Gen 2 10 Gbit/s card to a Titan Ridge based Thunderbolt 4 card, which also has a pair of USB-C connections. For now, I think a Thunderbolt dock will be replacing the Anker hub. The question will be whether or not my one cable swap approach remains, using the dock in place of the hub, or move everything through the dock and dare to suffer whatever the state of Thunderbolt drivers are for Windows 11....

Sunday, August 14, 2022

 Random things I blame on Bill and Ted: being able to spell Socrates from memory.