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Archive for March, 2013

Flash Memory – Supply and Demand

In recent weeks the cost of flash memory has increased substantially.  The commodity product, is for the most part, a stable consumable with pricing that fluctuations in single digit percentages.  However, lately the prices have increased between 10-30%.  As with any product there are variables which contribute to price and the following information might help explain why flash memory is getting more expensive. The two largest manufacturers of flash memory (NAND memory) are Samsung and Toshiba.  Together they account for about 70% of the world’s flash.  These companies produce a wide variety of flash memory models and the factories have various levels of quality for the output of their product. Typically the high performance memory that gets the best test ratings is sold to large consumers like Apple, Nokia and Sony.  As the ratings for the speed of the memory drop, these variants get pushed into the low-end market segments, such as USB drives and inexpensive MP3 players and other promotional gadgets. In Q3 2012 Toshiba made an announcement they will reduce world wide production by 30%.  Since this time, flash pricing has remained stable and has not decreased in cost. With the on-going patent battles between Apple and Samsung the Cupertino based company made a decision Continue Reading

Microsoft Foils USB Hack In Latest Windows Update

When a USB stick is connected to a PC the Windows operating system enumerates the device.  In simple terms, this means Windows will check to see what type of device was just connected, a HID device, Mass Storage Devicet etc, it will also check the speed of the device. During the enumeration process some registry entries are made into the Windows registry…this is where a hacker could get into your system and take control.  This is the update Microsoft issues earlier this week to fix the security flaw. Since the vulnerability is triggered during USB enumeration, no user intervention is required. In fact, the vulnerability can be triggered when the workstation is locked or when no user is logged in, making this an unauthenticated elevation of privilege for an attacker with casual physical access to the machine. Other software that enables low-level pass-through of USB device enumeration may open additional avenues of exploitation that do not require direct physical access to the system. So be sure to update your PC with the update notification comes through – it’s in your best interest. Full Microsoft article Continue Reading

USB 3.0 Trouble with Intel Haswell Processor

Intel has reported a problem between the Haswell processor, the next-generation microprocessor that uses 8-series cor-logic sets. Intel says when a PC system with Core i-series Haswell inside wakes from S3 sleep mode, it experiences issues with devices connected through USB 3.0. Intel defines the issue only as a nuisance for end users, but who will be the real judge of that? Continue Reading

Clean Windows Registry of USB Drives

Here is a great tool for cleaning Windows Registry of USB drive entries. The program runs in the Windows console and removes all devices that are not currently connected.

To clean up the Windows registry of a USB flash drive, or other USB devices can make your system boot faster and run faster.

For example, each time you connect a USB printer to a different USB port on your PC there are registry entries made which associate the device with the drivers. Windows is trying to be smart and log this information so the next time you connect the device, Windows will know exactly what to do. Meaning when you connect the printer a second time, you don’t see the balloon from Windows saying “Installing Brother driver” or something, it’s just connected and ready to go.

But, for example, lets say you connect your Nikon camera to your PC and you use a different USB port each time, now you have a bunch of registry entries that can make your PC boot slower, run slower or possible give you trouble with that external device.

With all this said, if you are having trouble with a USB drive, or a USB camera, printer or scanner, the first thing you’ll probably want to do is run this Windows registry cleaner utility. Good chance it will solve your problems.

Download Now

System Requirements:
WinXP / Vista / Win7
Writes settings to:
Does not write files to host computer
Dependencies:
Administrator rights
License:
Freeware
How to extract:
Download the ZIP package and extract to a folder of your choice. Launch drivecleanup.exe either in the ‘Win32’ folder or ‘x64’ folder.

Continue Reading

Flash Memory Puts Mars Curiosity into Safe Mode

As with any good project, there should always be a back up plan.  The Curiosity for Mars is no different.  The system has a B-Side computer in the event the A-Side computer went down…well guess what, it went down. There is a theory that cosmic rays affected some of the flash memory on Curiosity causing the A-Side computer to shut down and reboot into Safe Mode. JPL is currently backup up the A-Side data to the B-Side computer and should reboot by weeks end.  Configuration and data transfer can take a while, then of course the verification process of everything done right. JPL states:
“The hardware that we fly is radiation tolerant, but there’s a limit to how hardened it can be, you can still get high-energy particles that can cause the memory to be corrupted. It certainly is a possibility and that’s what we’re looking into.”
For updates please visit the NASA website. Continue Reading

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