If you’ve ever misplaced a phone or USB drive in your house and wished for a way to find it, a dog with a keen nose and a playful attitude could have helped you out. Fortunately, with skills like that, our canine friends are finding a much higher calling working with police, the FBI, and homeland security.
As devices improve, a tiny microSD the size of a fingernail and less than a millimeter thick can hold hundreds of gigabytes of data. With this advancement comes the tools for criminals to hide and transfer enormous amounts of information without even lifting a finger. Where does that leave the fine men and women tasked with staying one step ahead? In Ogden, Utah and across the United States, they are getting the edge with their friendly Labrador companions. Ogden is home to one of fewer than two dozen “Electronic Sniffing” dogs in the nation’s police force and his name is URL (pronounced “Earl”). URL sniffs out electronic media like flash drives, memory cards, and cell phones. While they’re not exactly cryptography experts, they are consistently able to find devices that humans might otherwise miss.
Starting around 2015 with a K-9 named Bear, investigations involving trafficking, pornography, and counterterrorism have had success with the sharp noses of the dogs alongside them. The dog’s expertise comes from playful, but rigorous training exercises and are on a food-reward diet. Dogs could be led to search an office piled to the ceiling with boxes, or an open field with evidence buried underground, and within minutes they will lead their handlers to the prize. What’s the secret? The common element between all these eletric devices is a circuitboard. Compounds are added to the board to help them deal with overheating and it’s this compound that officers train their K-9 partners with. Initially using large amounts and then all the way down to a standard thumb drive, the dogs familiarize the scent and the training to be able to search houses, vents, cars, and people if deemed necessary.
From detecting drugs, to explosives, and now to electronics, the utility of a canine’s senses can’t be understated. Craig Angle the co-director of the Canine Performance Sciences program at Auburn University said he’s seen dogs identify very small targets from incredible distances. “I’ve seen them detect two ounces of explosives from more than 300 yards away,” he said. “They can detect through barriers and masking agents. We see a lot of natural instincts in a dog’s ability to detect innate behaviors like understanding and utilizing wind currents and scent plume.” From a researcher perspective and from the law enforcement officers working with these animals, it’s clear that the full potential of cooperation like this has immense potential for evidence gathering in the future.
If you have a drive formatted from a Windows system, and you have your settings showing hidden files and folders, then a “System Volume Information” folder will appear with unclear contents and purpose. Why is it there? And how much space on your drive is it actually consuming?
The System Volume Information folder is set with strict permissions to prevent user access, even for administrators. This is to keep the settings inside untouched because they contain protocols for how Windows wants to interact with the USB device. As we tested, however, our drives functioned just fine without it, even with varying types of data stored on them.
According to the Windows documentation, this folder is where certain behaviors are stored when creating a System Restore point but that doesn’t apply to all users and furthers the confusion as to why it would be located on a drive that is being used for other purposes. To minimize the useless space taken up on our drives, the first attempt was to shrink it through the Control Panel. Through the Control Panel > System and Security > System > System Protection, there are Protection Settings which can enable System Restore and control how much disk space Windows uses.
Unfortunately shrinking it did not free up as much space as we were looking for so the next step was to find a way to get rid of it. Now since this is a Windows file, and Windows isn’t even too keen on letting us access the file, it doesn’t like the idea of deletion at all. After trying to find ways within the operating system to allow us to remove the file, we ended up looking at an outside option from Nexcopy whom we had worked with in the past. Their tool wasn’t built for deleting a single file but since we could just move our desired content back onto the drive after using their “Erase” function, and since it’s free, it ended up being a solid workaround. The end result? No more unruly folder and a useful software to keep around in case we find other unwanted files that our operating system won’t let us get rid of.
Microsoft is creating a new connection for their tablet and laptop devices but as revealed in their newest patent filing, the working version of its Surface connector port will resemble the magnetic snap of past Apple devices while maintaining current USB-C compatibility standards.
With all the gadgets and devices we post about, there’s plenty of merit in veering a little closer to some USB hardware fundamentals and how it communicates with your computer. To highlight this importance, a UDISK Drive and its internal functionality will serve as a comparison.
Simply put, a UDISK is a hard drive in USB form. With magnetic hard drive platters spinning inside an enclosure, UDISKs have a bridge chip regulating the way the drive mounts to an operating system. This chip changes the hard from from IDE protocols, to USB. Standard USB drives don’t use rotating disks to store data, but use flash memory instead, which enjoys faster speeds as well as increased reliability against shock, pressure, and temperature. Why then do these UDISK drives exist? Because those spinning disks are cheaper to manufacture but they can be sold at the same price as standard flash memory USB drives and the difference may not be clear to users.
The world’s largest disk drive maker, with revenues exceeding $13 billion annually, has moved its headquarters to San Jose from Irvine.
According to the OC Business Council, the company has 1400 employees in Irvine and 200 in Santa Ana so while the designation of headquarters has changed, much of their operations for business management, engineering, and functional support will remain at the Irvine location. Additionally, the Enterprise SSD team, previously in Santa Ana, and teams like it will be moving to Irvine. The reason is said to be a prioritization of Orange County jobs as stated by Lucy Dunn, the president and chief executive of the Orange County Business Council but some aren’t sure of this.
With the 10th anniversary of the iPhone approaching, features and design for the celebratory version of the device have been leaked or rumored in the last week. According to various reports, at least one new model will be available with a curved OLED screen similar to that of the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge. This high end model, however, is estimated to sell for just over $1,000 and to be marketed as a premium option alongside the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus.