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Our Verdict

If you need a truly portable power bank for daily top ups, you won’t find a better deal than this Intocircuit PowerMini 3000 Power Bank. Cheap, well built, easily pocketable and with enough capacity to fill most smartphones once, the only drawback is in remembering to recharge the power bank itself after each use.

With increasingly powerful processors and larger, higher-resolution screens, keeping your smartphone going all day while away from the mains can be a challenge. If you don’t want to limit your usage, you need a power bank. Also see:  Best power banks 2023.

These come in two varieties. On the one hand you have high-capacity power banks such as the EC Technology 22400mAh High Capacity Power Bank, which can recharge an iPhone 5s 10 times. That’s great if you’re going away for a few days, but for daily use this big, bulky, heavy power bank is OTT. You certainly wouldn’t want to carry it in your pocket.

On the other hand are the smaller 2000- to 3000mAh capacity power banks that will recharge your phone only once, but are cheaper and compact and light enough to slip into a pocket or bag and you won’t notice their presence. Olixar’s PC810 Power Bank and Veho’s Pebble Smartstick+ are two such examples, but this Intocircuit PowerMini 3000 Power Bank is a better one. 

The Intocircuit PowerMini takes the plus points of those two devices, and does away with the cons. While the Veho Pebble Smartstick+ is pricey at £39, this Intocircuit costs just £10.99 from Amazon. That also makes it cheaper than the now-£16 Olixar – and higher in capacity, too. While the 2000mAh Olixar won’t fully charge your smartphone, with its 3000mAh capacity (expect around 2000mAh with some energy lost through heat generated and voltage conversion) the Intocircuit just might. 

It’s also easier to slip into a pocket than either of those two devices. It’s a lipstick-style charger, if a little longer than most at 128x80x28mm, but similarly light at 118g. It even looks a bit like a lipstick, what with its orange printed label on one end noting the model number, capacity, and input- and output ratings. It’s less bulky than the rectangular Olixar, and not as long as the Veho. And while the USB ports aren’t protected with a cap, as is the case with the Veho, that also means there’s no cap to lose. 

Our sample has a matt gunmetal grey aluminium case with rounded corners, a chrome-effect power button and a blue three-LED system that shows how much power remains (each LED represents 1000mAh). The Intocircuit doesn’t support auto-on, so you just plug in your smartphone and tap the button to begin charging. This button also lets you check the device’s capacity when a device is not plugged in, and a rapid double-press activates a tiny but potentially useful LED torch. 

Intocircuit supplies a short Micro-USB cable that is used to recharge the PowerMini 3000 Power Bank. You can either plug this into your PC’s USB port or your regular smartphone USB charger. At this price you shouldn’t expect passthrough charging, which allows you to simultaneously charge both your smartphone and the power bank, but with a 1A input you’ll be able to fill the PowerMini in a few hours, and much faster than you would the also-3000mAh Smartstick+ with its 0.5A input. 

There’s a single USB output, rated at 1A, which is perfectly acceptable for charging a smartphone but for a tablet you might want something faster. That said, we had no problems charging our iPad mini 2 with the Intocircuit PowerMini. 

Pleasingly a soft carry pouch is also supplied in the bag. The device is durable enough to carry around on its own, but it’s handy for keeping together your charging cable and power bank. 

Read next: How to improve smartphone battery life.

Specs Intocircuit PowerMini 3000 Power Bank: Specs

3000mAh power bank

1x 1A Micro-USB input

1x 1A USB output

LED torch

128x80x28mm

118g

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Ocz Vector 180 Ssd Review: Good Performance Plus Power Failure Management

OCZ’s latest solid state drive, the Vector 180, offers the speed of the company’s Radeon R7 SSD, plus power failure protection and less performance degradation over time. It’s hard to argue with those kinds of improvements.

It also employs the same Barefoot 3 M00 controller the company introduced this last year and the Toshiba (OCZ’s parent company) A19 NAND utilized previously in the Vertex 460 series. All good, right? Not quite: The TBW (TeraBytes Written) rating is low for the larger-capacity drives, limiting the drive to a purely consumer audience.

Features and pricing

Probably the most important new feature in the Vector 180 is power failure management—one that will endear it to anyone who lives where the weather occasionally proves cantankerous. When the AC fails, the Vector 180 takes care of any outstanding business (writes in progress, etc.) with the power stored in on-board capacitors.

OCZ also claims it’s taking the same approach that Intel and most other mainstream vendors do with their enterprise SSDs, i.e., optimizing for real-life read/write scenarios instead of flat-out sequential read or write speed. The company says the Vector 180 will retain the greater part of its performance over time. I’m guessing this means the drive does the necessary maintenance on a more regular schedule instead of deferring it until forced into it (e.g., secure erasing), as many older SSDs did.

Note that while OCZ has added enterprise-class features, the Vector 180 is a consumer drive. Using it in servers is verboten in terms of the warranty.

Though I didn’t experience it, the firmware that shipped with most review drives was prey to slow formats after heavy usage. It seems that the cell maps were updated after every TRIM. If there were stacked TRIM commands, this resulted in a very long wait. To its credit, OCZ killed the release until they had updated firmware that fixed the issue, despite its being of little consequence to the average user. Good job.

Performance

The Vector 180 proved a very good performer, though the CrystalDiskMark results jumped around a bit more than normal on the 480GB version I tested. I saw a relatively normal 472MBps to 495MBps reading the 4MB file, but from 413MBps to 486MBps writing—a fairly large range. The same phenomenon occurred with the 512KB random writes, which ranged from 353MBps to 472MBps, with the reading remaining about 390MBps during all passes.

Software and warranty

The Vector 180 comes bundled with Acronis True Image for cloning your existing drive onto the SSD and an adapter bracket. Those are perks not everyone will need, and most vendors no longer offer, but they’re very handy for those that have the need. Useful to everyone is the OCZ Toolbox utility that lets you upgrade the firmware, manually TRIM the drive, and get info on its status.

After my initial hands-on, OCZ released Toolbox’s replacement—SSD Guru, which ships as Windows and Linux executables, and a bootable ISO. Little seemed new beyond a somewhat classier appearance, and info no longer pops up in a secondary window. Still, it’s a nice improvement on the prior, slightly clunky app.

OCZ touts its ShieldPlus support, which basically says the company won’t hassle you if you want to return a drive that died within the 5-year warranty period. You get a new one, and OCZ pays the shipping cost. However, that supposes a normal consumer/client computer, not server usage. If you’ve exceeded 90 terabytes written (TBW), i.e., the 50GB a day OCZ talks about in the warranty, the company reserves the right to review the case.

The problem with that warranty is that while 50GB a day/90TBW is a good rating for a 120GB drive and okay for the 240GB model, it’s about half what you’d expect for the 480GB and 960GB models, which, with far more cells, should be able to write considerably more data before failing. Most companies promise 175TBW to 180TBW for their larger capacity drives, though that’s also a whichever-comes-first (years/TBW) guarantee. If you want a warranty that’s longer in years or data-writing maximum, spend a bit more and go for a pro-level drive.

Conclusion

The Vector 180 is a nice addition to the OCZ portfolio. It offers good speed, decent pricing, and promises data safety during power outages as well as performance over the long haul. OCZ says it’s never rejected a customer whose drive failed within the warranty period, but I’d say something slightly more legally binding on the 480GB and 960GB models would be nice.

Power Bi Reporting Templates Expanded – Power Bi Visualization Concepts

In this tutorial, I dive into how to customize Power BI reporting templates efficiently. You may watch the full video of this tutorial at the bottom of this blog.

When you create tables inside Power BI, you can’t format or design them exactly the way you want them to be. You can only use the default order or sequential order that Power BI generates within the table, which can be determined by a value, by alphabetical order, or an ascending or descending order.

That’s why I developed Financial Reporting Templates. These are a development concept created by Enterprise DNA. With this technique, you can now create customized financial reporting templates using tables inside Power BI.

This tutorial session is taken from a much longer and more detailed Enterprise DNA member-only workshop. Here, I demonstrate key concepts around how to visualize financial information and data effectively in Power BI.

First, let’s have a look at this template that I made for financial reporting.

Financial reporting is a perfect example for this demonstration. However, there’s a lot of custom templates or custom tables that you might want to create with a variety of information, such as a summary table of your key metrics.

In the past, this was very difficult to do if you wanted to grab specific measures out of different measures and integrate them into one report and put them on top of the other.

Now in this sample template I’ve broken it down by Total Revenue, Cost of Goods Sold, and even more, which is where the true customization comes in. I’ve left a space in the table, then I have Total Gross Profit.

I’m integrating a percentage with dollar amounts as well, which is again with a customization.

Let’s get to how I created it…

To get to this point of having to customize Power BI templates, it requires a lot of re-configuring in the background, the model set up, and the technique to grab revenues and costs, and then integrate them into one.

The first thing to do is to actually create the template – a unique table that looks somewhat like this – but of course you can customize in whatever way you want. You can put different columns or have some items indented in a different way.

You also need a Normalized Column, where we’re going to run a logic through. We’re going to identify which line we’re on in our custom template based on this normalized column. 

So this is the set up of a customized template, but then you need to find a way to integrate this into your report. This is where the data model comes in.

The structure of the data model is key to integrating your customize template into your table. As you can see in my data model, the Financials Template is right at the bottom and it has no relationship to any other tables.

This is where I put my template column and use a formula to work it out at every row in the table.

So let’s have a look at the DAX formula I created to solve this.

I used the SWITCH TRUE logic in the formula, which enables me to integrate the customized template that I made into the table. It works out at each row in the table, identifying the items.

This is what the SWITCH TRUE does. For instance, if I’m on the Total Revenues row, the calculation DIVIDE Revenues by 1,000 is applied. If I’m on the Total Cost of Goods Sold row (COGS), it will show DIVIDE Revenues by 1,000 etc.

It’s the SWITCH TRUE logic that enables the allocation of results to the rows in the table.

The final piece of the puzzle for this Power BI template technique is the Row Index, which sorts out the template in the table.

If you don’t have this, it’ll get confusing and won’t sort the items in a unique way. And what I did was, I hid it so you can’t see it in the table, but it’s actually there.

If you look closely, you can see that I have the Row Index and I’m able to sort 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and so on. That’s how I get the exact template set up as I want.

This tutorial is a breakout session from a members-only Enterprise DNA workshop around financial insights. Here I focused on the technique that I developed to customize Power BI reporting templates. The technique involves the integration of data model, DAX formula, and template creation.

I hope you able to understand how valuable this concept is and implement it in your own business. You will find it helps a lot with your financial reports and any accounting presentations you might have.

Cheers!

Sam

Handling Http Errors In Power Query And Power Bi

If you are working with web servers, either because you are trying to scrape data or you are using a web based API, you will be sending and receiving data via HTTP.

HTTP is the Hypertext Transport Protocol – it’s just the name of the system used by web sites to transfer data. You use it every time you visit a web site

If your request results in an error, the web server (or API) will generate an error which is returned to Power Query.

The default behaviour is for Power Query to then spit out a message like this

If you are not familiar with HTTP or this type of error then this can be confusing. What exactly is the problem?

This Works In Power BI and Power Query in Excel

I’m going to do this in Excel but you can do the same in Power BI. The main query uses exactly the same code in Excel and PBI. But the method to create the static data table of HTTP Error Codes is different.

In Excel I use #table and in Power BI I use the Enter Data button on the Ribbon. To read more about the different ways to enter static data check out this blog post Static Tables in Power Query, Power Pivot and Power BI.

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If you could handle this type of error in your code and provide a little more information to the end user, perhaps that would help them troubleshoot the issue and resolve the problem.

What if your error message was this

The message gives the user some idea of things to check (spelling) and tells them a way to confirm the URL is correct (type it into the browser).

Looking at the query, the URL it’s trying to access is

Typing this URL into my browser gives this error

You may have already spotted that the URL is incorrect. It should end with microsoft-365 not microsoft-356

By giving a more informative error message and some steps the user can take to troubleshoot, we can help them fix, or at least understand problems that may occur.

Manual Status Handling

Manual status handling means you are going to write your own code to deal with errors. You have to tell Power Query you’re going to handle them and you do this by specifying the ManualStatusHandling value when you make the Web.Contents request.

Web.Contents

Only Web.Contents allows you to manually handle HTTP responses. Neither chúng tôi or Web.BrowserContents support this ability.

For example to tell Power Query that you will deal with 400 (Bad Request) and 404 (Not Found) errors the request would look like this

Where the list of error codes you’ll handle are specified as a list of numbers {400, 404}

Handling errors means that you need to write you own error messages. To store these I’ve created a static data table that stores the error codes and the messages I want to display should the associated error occur.

The table is stored in a query called HTTP_Errors and looks like this

The ErrorCode column is a list of the error codes I’m handling so I can change the Web.Contents request to reflect this by replacing the { 400, 404 } list.

To check if an error has occurred you can use the Value.Metadata function

This gives you data like this, and I’m interested in the Response.Status

You can see the web server has responded with a 404 error. To access this value directly you can do so like this

Now that we can get the response code from the web server, we need to check if it is an error we want to handle. To do this you can use List.Contains to check if the ResponseCode is in the ErrorCodes column of the HTTP_Errors table.

If the web server’s response code is an error we want to handle then the code needs to display the associated error message.

To access the error message, first I’ll use List.PositionOf to get the row number for the error code.

Because table columns are lists you can use list functions on them. Lists are indexed from 0 so error code 404 is on row 3.

If the web server’s response is not an error I want to handle then the code will just return the response as it is.

Putting this all together the code looks like this

If an error occurs that isn’t listed in my HTTP_Errors table then Power Query will deal with that in the default way.

If no error occurs then the Response step contains the web server’s response and further transformations can be carried out on it.

Should You Buy The New Amd Ryzen 3000 Cpus Or Stick With Intel?

AMD just shocked the consumer PC space with a powerful lineup of new AMD Ryzen 3000 CPUs, which I recently covered on HDG. Is it finally time to make the switch from Intel to AMD?

In this article, I take a look at AMD’s new Ryzen processors and offer some tips on which processor brand you should go for in 2023 and 2023 when building a new computer.

Table of Contents

Keep in mind that because the AMD Ryzen 3000 chips are so new, we can’t offer precise benchmarking comparisons yet, but we can still provide a rough price to performance comparison between AMD’s new Ryzen 3000 CPUs versus Intel’s equivalent offerings.

For low-end budget builds, make sure to read my post on Intel vs AMD (Ryzen 5 and Ryzen 7 CPUs). This article will focus on the higher-end CPUs from both companies.

AMD Ryzen 9 3900X vs. Intel i9-9900K

We will start at the very top because we think this is where the biggest attention will be drawn. If you’re a serious gamer or content creator, the best CPU available was the Intel i9-9900K, by a long shot. But the AMD Ryzen 9 3900X has the potential to completely change that.

First, let’s talk about pricing. The AMD Ryzen 9 3900X will cost $499, whilst the i9-9900K is sitting at around $485 right now. The pricing for Intel’s best gaming CPU may drop in an attempt to compete against the new Ryzen lineup, but for now, the prices are very comparable.

At a glance, the AMD Ryzen 9 3900X has enough power to outperform the i9 9900K. We are still waiting for benchmarks, but there’s a lot to get excited about. Firstly, AMD’s new Ryzen 9 3900X is using a 7 nanometer process. Smaller transistors mean that CPUs can be more power efficient, pushing out more calculations without hitting temperature limits.

So, a jump to 7 nanometer from 14 nanometer is already a big thing for Ryzen, and it should mean better single threaded performance. The base clock speed is 3.8GHz, bigger than the 3.6GHz base clock of the i9 9900K, and you also get a much larger cache of 6MB/64MB versus 2MB/16MB. For multi-threaded performance, things are looking pretty spectacular

Ultimately, the Ryzen 9 3900X easily has the potential to be a more powerful alternative to the i9 9900K at basically the same price. And, if you need even more computing power, the AMD Ryzen 9 3950X cache and a base clock of 3.8GHz. Intel is definitely worried right now.

AMD Ryzen 7 3800X vs Intel i7-9700K

A slight step down from the i9-9900K is the i7-9700K, usually retailing for around $400. AMD’s new competitor at this price point is the AMD Ryzen 7 3800X.

a cache of 12MB of L3. Once again, I won’t be surprised if AMD knocks the ball out of the park in terms of performance if you put the AMD Ryzen 7 3800X against the i7-9700K

AMD Ryzen 5 3600 vs i5-9600K

But what about the low end? All of a sudden, AMD may just have beat Intel in performance for gaming at the high end, but can they still hold onto their title for best low end CPU? Well, the best way to find out is to compare the new AMD Ryzen 5 3600 vs the i5-9600K.

Firstly, the i5-9600K sits at $230 right now, and the AMD Ryzen 5 3600 will launch for $199. I would be very shocked if Intel doesn’t drop the price of the i5-9600K to compete with the new Ryzen 5 3600, so let’s just assume price points will be the same.

Even at this price point, AMD still wins with the better architecture – their cheapest new AMD Ryzen 5, the 3600, is still using a 7nm processor, leaving the 14nm i5-9600K in the dust. Both processors can be boosted, but the i5-9600K starts at 3.7GHz, versus the 3.6GHz base clock of the Ryzen 5 3600.

That extra 100mHz isn’t going to mean anything against the single threaded six cores on the i5 gives the Ryzen 5 3600 so much more room for better performance.

I’d suggest that the AMD Ryzen 5 3600 will hit far, far better benchmark results against the i5-9600K.

AMD vs Intel in 2023 – Who Will Win?

Ultimately, at every single price point, AMD has completely beaten Intel’s offering. So what will Intel do to compete? For now, Intel may drop their pricing a little to offer a better deal for customers, but even then, AMD is still likely to win the price/performance game.

Intel are of course working to launch their own 7nm CPU range. When they do, we wouldn’t be surprised if things look up for Intel again, but that may not be until 2023 or beyond. If you’re in the market for a good gaming CPU, the new AMD Ryzen lineup is an excellent place to start.

If you are a gamer or a content creator, I absolutely cannot recommend AMD more than Intel at this point. The new lineup will launch on July 7, so I’d suggest waiting a few months after that date to make sure there aren’t any major manufacturing issues that come up. This would make a new AMD Ryzen 3000 CPU the perfect gift around the holiday period.

Summary

In summary, should you switch to the new AMD Ryzen 3000 lineup? Well, if you are in the market for a new CPU, absolutely. If you already have the i9-9900K, it may not make sense to upgrade unless you’re absolutely after a new PC within the next 6 months.

If you are on anything less powerful, then a CPU upgrade to a new AMD Ryzen 3000 CPU will definitely bring you enough performance improvements to make the investment worth it.

A Quick Overview On Different Power Query Tools In Power Bi

Power Query is a powerful tool in data transformation. After understanding about the ribbons and panes found in the Query Editor, the next step is getting acquainted with its various features.

Under the Home tab, you can see the Advanced Editor option.

At the top left corner of this window, opposite to the query name, you’ll find the Display Options drop-down menu and the question mark.

If you choose to display line numbers, for example, the M code generated by the Advanced Editor will be written in a single line.

However, this display option will require you to scroll frequently unless you enable the word wrap option. When you enable this, the M code will be automatically indented and split into multiple lines.

You can’t adjust the font size in the Advanced Editor window. However, you can zoom in and out by pressing Ctrl+Shift together with either the plus sign to zoom in or the minus sign to zoom out. Press Ctrl+0 to restore the default zoom percent. These zoom options also work in the Query Editor.

Go to the View tab and focus on the Data Preview section.

By default, column profiling is only performed on the top one thousand rows. In this example, even if the profile options are disabled, you can already see a snippet of the column quality using the green line directly under the column header.

If you enable the Column Quality option, a new row appears under the column headers. This row shows the same information as when you hover over the green line.

If you enable the Column Distribution option, another row will appear.

This shows the number of distinct and unique values per column. It can also help determine the consistency of the data.

At a quick glance, you can see if the data is evenly distributed. This makes it easier to identify problems within your data that you need to sort before proceeding with your work.

Next, if you enable the Column Profile option, you’ll see the column statistics and value distribution of your data found at the bottom.

Aside from the figures you’ve already seen so far, this option offers a more detailed explanation depending on your data type.

Again, the options of the ellipsis menu change depending on the data type. If you select a text column, you’ll get a different set of group by options.

A new window then appears showing the flow of data from one query to the next.

This makes it easier to follow through errors in your report. You can also see the load destination of your queries.

If you want to delete a query with dependencies, you’ll get a notification listing all the downstream queries of the one you want to delete.

Power Query will never allow you to delete a query with dependencies.

However, if you do need to delete a query with dependencies, you have two options. First, you can delete the downstream queries. Second, you can change their data source so that they’re no longer dependent on the query you want to delete.

Before learning about queries and M codes, it’s important to first be acquainted with the features in the Query Editor and how they work.

By understanding how the query editor is organized along with its features, it will be easier for you to navigate the program as you work. The shortcuts and quick access options will also help you work more efficiently.

Melissa

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