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Run iTunes on a USB Drive or USB Stick

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Today I put together all the information needed to run a mobile Library from Apple iTunes on a USB stick or USB drive. This method will run the entire iTunes application from the storage device, making it easy to manage iTunes libraries from a single location. I believe this is how iTunes should have be developed – as having a library specific for each computer is a frustrating way to enjoy your music.

What pushed me over the edge is my wife wanting to purchase music from iTunes at work and sync them up with the iTunes computer at home. Typically this is done by purchasing the music and downloading directly to the iPod, but she’s a CPA and travels from location to location for audits and doesn’t even use the same computer all the time – yet she loves her music. The solution was to run iTunes from a USB flash drive to manage a single Library.

This tutorial includes installing iTunes on a flash drive, creating autorun files for auto-launching iTunes from the flash drive and how to set-up iTunes on different computers to run a music library from the single flash drive. Of course this method also works for larger storage hard drives – basically anything that appears as a Mass Storage Device on your system. If you are looking for a long term strategy for managing your iTunes music, I strongly recommend doing this process to an external hard drive that is, at least, 120GBs. So here we go:

Here is a quick summary so you know what we are getting into:

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AppleTV Hack: External Storage via USB

The good folks at AppleTVHacks just released a way to use an external drive via USB for additional storage. Here comes the 1TB AppleTV! So here’s the high-level summary, the AppleTV hack allows the system to boot normally from the internal drive of the AppleTV then allows for digital content to be stored, pulled and played from an external drive. Unfortunately this AppleTV hack is only working on Max OSX at the moment, but a community call to action has been made to incorporate this hack to support other opperating systems. Ahh, how nice.
appletv hack usb storage
If interested visit the other side of this link for all the gritty detail. Continue Reading

Problem Ejecting USB Mass Storage Device

On more occasions that I’d like to admit, Windows will not eject a USB device from my operating system when using the Safely Remove Hardware in the icon tray. The annoying error message Windows displays “The device cannot be stopped right now. Try stopping the device again later” usually appears in a time sensitive situation. So what is the work around?
usb device locked
Try using a freeware software utility I found while reading FreewareGenius.com called Unlocker. Unlocker is a utility that frees a file or folder which is being used by another program or process. Albeit there are situations that a file should remain tied to it’s process or program but other times you need to force the release. Continue Reading

USB and DOS – Does It Work?

USB on DOS, does it work? Sometimes. At least that’s the answer Ed gave me from BootDisk.com.
dos usb
USB was never meant to run from DOS, yet there are situations you want a USB device to run from DOS. For those elite select few check out BootDisk to homebrew your own solution. Unfortunately there isn’t one disc or zip file you can unpack, load and mount a USB device and for that reason BootDisk gives you several options to figure things out. I would say BootDisk has the most complete collection of USB drivers around if you are one in need of USB on DOS. Continue Reading

WordPress On a USB Stick

You can run WordPress, or any blog platform, from a USB stick. It’s easy and useful. If you are anything like me, you are probably laughing while asking the question “Why would anyone need to run WordPress from a USB drive?” I laughed too, until recently.

About two months ago I received a notice for jury duty. Just a couple days ago I served for jury duty. I wasn’t called into a trial, but I did make the most of my day. All thanks to my WordPress on a stick. I didn’t know if the court house had internet access and didn’t feel like reading a book all day, so I dove into a little project to run WordPress from a stick. After all I had a long list of website tweaks I wanted to perform and this could be the perfect day to do them.

After a day of working with my remote blog platform I came to realize there are many reasons why this is valuable…here is a short list I came up with:

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Mac On A USB Stick

GetUSB reported on running Linux on a USB key, we even reported on a full running PC shaped like a key. Today we found Mac-On-A-Stick. A prebuilt package to run that ever so classic Mac 128K and Mac Plus.
mac on usb stick
You’ll need several utilities to build the Mac package and some time on your hands. I opt for the quick download… So what could you do with this Mac-on-a-stick, well maybe show your kids what the original Mac OS looked like (good timing with the iPhone launch and show them where Apple began), play with some old system software to re-live the good-ol-days or possibly use a Mac on Windows or Linux machine. You can download the zip and build everything on a flash drive as small as 32MBs (if you still have one that small) just make the jump over to Nothickmanuals.info. Continue Reading

55 Portable Apps for Making a USB Super Stick

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.

55 portable usb apps

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.

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Deep Breath Please

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.
usb breath charger
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.
gear ratio usb charger
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Beware of Freebie USB Sticks; Could Have Worms

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. Continue Reading

Home Brew USB WiFi Extender – Dozens of New Access Points

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.
USB wifi 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. Continue Reading

Free Open Source USB Encryption Software Utility: TrueCrypt

TrueCrypt has just what you are looking for, provided you are looking for free USB flash drive encryption software utilities.
usb encryption software
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 Continue Reading

Home Brew Aluminum USB Flash Case

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.
aluminum USB case
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.
aluminum USB case 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. Continue Reading

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