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tech: Fixes for Cable Matters 201388 and LG, Thunderbolt vs USB 3.2 cable, Alienware R8 problems, ASUS ROG X13 works, Windows 11 Updates and Winget

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Potential solution to the blanking of the screen

I think I found that the Cable Matters model 201388 Cable Matters needs a firmware update to work. But basically long story short the adapter has V 6.03 in it and the new update is 6.05 and so it's updated. I also found a host of other problems see below

Do not be me and use a USB 3.2 cable instead of Thunderbolt to the Mac

Well, I did get the new CalDigit TS4 and replaced the Razer Thunderbolt 4 Dock. I have to say having so many more interconnects seem right and hopefully more reliable (more on that but I think it was the Cable Matters, not the Dock). One thing that I immediately noticed is that I didn't have the right cable because not all USB C cables are the same, they can differ dramatically in data speed and power delivery. It was a nice USB 3.2 cable, but not a Thunderbolt-rated cable. So a quick replacement and I hope it works better. The easy way to tell this is that all Thunderbolt cables should have a little ⚡️next to it. You need this because otherwise, you are going to be getting just 10Gbps rather than the full 40Gbps for a short 0.7 cable or 20Gbps for a longer one. It is super confusing because cables that range from 5 to 40Gbps all look the same although they are different internally.

Cable Matters 201388 Needs an update

The second thing though was a little google-fu led me to the Cable Matters site for the 48 Gbps USB-C Video Adapter with 8K support, model 201388 and it turns out there is a firmware update that says it fixes incompatibilities with LG displays. To really understand this, you have to know that a USB-C connector has a bunch of wires, and what it transmits varies. It could be all data so then it is USB 3.1 Gen 2 (10Gbps), or it you can flip it into DisplayPort Alternative mode and you can get 48Gbps out of it. Or it could be Thunderbolt 3 or 4 where you get 20Gbps or 40Gbps. Confused yet? In any case much depends on what is in the computer itself as to whether it recognizes the cable and if you can download it.

Nightmare of Windows USB on Alienware Aurora R8

But, the problem is that you need a Windows machine to be able to download the firmware and update the dongle. I know, I know, what, dongles and connectors have firmware. Well, I guess that's the 21st century.

Basically, you have to download a piece of software, plug the connector in, and then hope it sees it. I have a 2019 Alienware Aurora R8 and strangely when I download the firmware downloader it said Synaptics not found. You have to know that it says Cable Matters on the outside, but internally there is a Synaptics controller that is running it. I tried both USB C ports. They both seem to work with cameras and so forth and the light goes on, but nothing happens. i could not get the HDMI to work. This is supposed to be an HDMI 2.1 compatible system and it says it is a USB C adapter.

But it works on a ASUS ROG X13

So I got out an ASUS ROG X13 model GV301QE which is an AMD Ryzer 9 5900HS processor and has two USB 3.1 Gen 2 with USB-C connectors and a single USB 3.1 Gen 2 with USB-A -A connector with Power Delivery and amazingly this actually seemed to work. This is actually last year's model, the current one is the VG301RE with a 6900HS, 3050 Ti, and a WQUXGA 3840x2400 display.

And miraculously this seems to work, so if you have issues it might come down to the problem of drivers. I also see that my USB ports on the Alienware seem to work sometimes and not others, the Device Manager shows they are working well.

Doing the Update

Well, this is pretty primitive. You start the firmware downloader and then you click on the button at the bottom to force it to read the firmware data. The cable has to be plugged in and on. Then you run the install new firmware and select the firmware data you get with the download. Then pray that it installs correctly. You restart by unplugging the cable and plugging it back in. At least for me, this works and I now have 6.05!

Windows Updates and Updates and Updates

Well, I rarely use my three Windows machines so it was quite a long time, like most of a day, once I started them to get all the updates loaded and running. It is incredible the amount of manual work that it takes, but here are some notes:

  1. Alienware R8. There are three separate updates to be run, there is the Windows Update, then Alienware has its own updater and nVidia GeForce Experience is the final one. The Windows Update took forever because it went through all the Windows 10 Updates which took an hour or so and then did a Windows 11 Update. The worst part though was that the Alienware one just hung, it installed one BIOS update and then failed. The GeForce Experience was the same. It just hung, so I had to manually update the latest nVidia drivers from their site.
  2. I still have a bunch of issues though with USB support, some of the ports seem to work and then fail. I can't quite figure out why. The device manager looks good, so I guess I'm down to installing and reinstalling USB drivers. Literally, when I'm typing, the keyboard will suddenly stop working. Sigh.
  3. The ASUS ROG X13 did its Windows Update, but even though it is Windows 11 ready the update would not show up, so I downloaded the PC Health application to confirm it was ready and then the manual Windows 11 loader. Wish me luck. The ASUS updater needs lots of logins, but I need to get to Windows 11 so I can get Winget which gets me to 1Password, argh bootstrapping is hard.

WinGet rules them all over Scoop and Choco

I've been looking for three years for something that works as well as Homebrew and MAS for downloading things and it looks like Winget is the winner. It supports the Microsoft Store and has most of the applications. So off to spend a few hours unloading from the Scoop and Choco which I had been using for scripting to Winget and it is even Microsoft Open Source. One complexity is that Winget is only available in late versions of Windows 10 and 11 so you have to install it manually. Overall maintaining windows machines is still not super easy unless you like Powershell scripting. My kingdom for a Bash environment that allowed all this. Oh well. It appears that you have to load a Microsoft Insider build to get or with late builds of Windows 10 or Windows 11, but I didn't find it, I had to install it at the Microsoft Store.

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