Update: This post has been amazing and generated a lot of interest. To make things easier, I have compiled a USB Super Stick for you. If you are interested in a 1GB drive with all the apps [below] for $20 – shoot me an email: gmo<at>getusb.info and I’ll send you more details.
USB flash is not (yet) a portable PC whereby any USB KVM monitor is your work station – but it will get there. In the mean time, making the most of your USB stick and creating a portable software suite isn’t hard – you just need a little guidance. So… for you road-warriors or super geeks the following list of 55 portable applications are worth taking note. With 2GB, 4GB and 8GB drives readily available at extremely cheap prices making a portable software suite and creating a Super Stick is quite easy.
When building your Super Stick there are numerous programs designed to run specifically from a USB drive. Best of all, almost all these programs are free, so put that Amex back in your wallet and lets start downloading. Here’s a list of 55 of the most useful USB programs around.
The guys at Instructables came up with a chest harness to generate power for USB devices. Maybe they’ll give new meaning to the term wonderbra.
Using some high-ratio gear motors this “thorax expansion coupler” uses your body motion for regular breathing. Although the instructions to build such a device are a little taxing, it would be a fun gear-head project.
The goal of the chest USB charger would be generating about 500mW and in the enclosure size of a cell phone. The picture above is only a proof of concept and gets just a little over 50mW of power. At that rate, it would take about a day to charge one AA battary.
I read an article today about the growing concern of worms embedded on USB flash drives. With the popularity of UFDs it’s important to protect yourself so that viruses, worms and identity theft don’t happen to you. This new type of worm is embedded on UFDs, than automatically runs when connected to an operating system.
Computer owners should tread very carefully when plugging an unknown device into their PC as it could have malicious code planted on it.
The best way to prevent a worm or virus from entering your system is disabling the autorun file on your Operating System before connecting the USB thumb drive.
Since memory prices have dropped the USB stick is a hot item for tradeshows, give-aways and direct mailers. For this reason, it’s important to protect yourself from unwanted viruses. In addition, these flash drives could become a big threat to companies as the financial motivation to obtain secure information has big payoffs.
GetUSB.info has reported on several off-the-shelf USB extenders, but they are high priced, at least for the home user. If you have low signal strength and on a tight budget, here is a tutorial on making your own beefed up WiFi USB extender.
Using this home-brew WiFi extender will help pick up dozens more hot-spots in your area; don’t believe it – we’ll you’ll just have to try it – this really works. The premise of this solution is taking a parabolic dish and bouncing all possible waves into the focal point of the “dish” or in this case, the WiFi USB stick.
TrueCrypt has just what you are looking for, provided you are looking for free USB flash drive encryption software utilities.
The best feature of TrueCrypt is the automatic, on-the-fly, real-time encryption process. So it’s completely transparent.
The other great feature is the Plausible Deniability feature which provides two levels for you.
- Level 1: Hidden volumes. This is where a volume is created within another volume by TrueCrypt. The upper level (the one seen by a person forcing you to get the content) is filled with random data, so you can show them “Look man, there’s nothing there!”
- Level 2: A volume appears to consist of nothing more than random data, no signature or typology what-so-ever. Therefore, it is impossible to prove that a file, a partition or a device has been encrypted.
To round out the offerings of this free USB encryption software, TrueCrypt includes a key-log which records the time and date the last time modifications were made. Such as password changes, data access or more concerning information such as last time the device was mounted in an OS, or attempted to be mounted.
The only down side, which I feel
So here’s a guy who took geekness to the next level. After the enclosure broke off Russell’s 1GB UFD Voyager, he decided to up the durability factor by a Thousand.
Russell home brewed an aluminum UFD case to insure breakage never happened again. I’d probably do the same if I had access to this equipment.
Using 1/4″ aluminum stock and some hex head screws he created one master piece enclosure even the indestructible guys would be proud of.