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USB Steampunk – Tesla Generator V1.2

Who doesn’t love a steampunk flash drive? Or a steampunk anything for that matter.

Over the next couple of weeks, this website will post some outrageous steampunk USB products.

First up, the Tesla Generator by Megan Kening from Israel. Made from materials such as copper, brass, glass and paper, this is a hand crafted USB drive you will not get anywhere else. Megan has excellent reviews from the buyers.

A handmade product like this is only available at Etsy, link below.

Additional pictures after the jump…

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Microsoft Finally Capitulated the USB Safe Removal

In a battle that is so ancient most no longer consider it an issue, Microsoft has gone away with the safe removal for USB flash drives. The original suggestion by Microsoft was to eliminate data lose if a user removed the drive before properly ejecting it.

Nine out of ten times you wouldn’t lose data, unless a large file was being transferred, but it’s nice to see Microsoft adjust to user habits.

The update which includes this change is Windows 10 v v1809. If you are not sure the Windows version you have, simply right click the Windows icon in the bottom left of your screen and select “System

From the resultant page, you can view the version of your OS.

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USB4, The Royalty Free Thunderbolt from Intel

In the news, Intel has given their specification for its high-speed Thunderbolt technology to the USB-IF implementers forum.  This is the group which creates and manages USB technology.

The USB4 specification will follow the current USB 3.2 specification, yet an exact date of release has not been defined.

USB4 will double the bandwidth of USB 3.2 and provide transfer rates at a theoretical maximum of 40Gb/s. 

USB4 Flash Drive

USB4 will also enable the use of multiple data and display protocols simultaneously.  This implies you will be able to transfer data, run your monitor and power your devices through a single connection.

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TiSTICK – The Over Kill USB Flash Drive

The TiSTICK is currently available on Kickstarter. Here is your summary update if interested:

The flash drive has a titanium case, made of very durable material, has 256AES hardware encryption, available in several large GB capacities and is getting near full funding on Kickstarter.

We like the shape, we like the magnet on the tail of the drive, and we like the look. Great marketing and certainly sets itself apart from the rest of the “durable” flash drives. So well done Jörg Lingg.

In our humble opinion a bit over kill, but that is only our opinion. The following drive is made of aluminum, has been ran over multiple times with a car, and still works fine with it’s Alcor controller with encryption functionality.

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Harmonization Code for USB Flash Drives

HS Code for USB Flash Drives

When importing or exporting USB flash drives in the United States you will want to use this Harmonization Code to help with customs paperwork.

The Harmonization Code is tariff nomenclature for internationally trade which defines names and numbers assigned to traded products. The HS Code System came into effect in 1988 and has since been developed and maintained by the World Customs Organization (WCO), based in Brussels, Belgium. There are over 200 countries which participate in this program.

The HS Code for a USB flash drive is: 8523.51.0000

In the event your freight forwarder or delivery service tells you that an ECCN is needed to ship USB flash drives and is required to complete the Automated Export System (AES) or other documentation then please give them the above information and it should all work out.

ECCN stands for Export Control Classification Number. An ECCN is an alpha-numeric classification used in the Commerce Control List to identify items for export control purposes.

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Look What 10 Years Does for Lexar and SD Cards

Almost ten years ago Lexar announced it’s first 1GB SD card. Today Lexar announces their first 1TB SD card. My, how times have changed. A one GB card ten years ago cost about $125 and difficult to find at that capacity. The 1TB card announced today is $499. Doing a quick calculation means the price per Megabyte went from $0.12 cents all the way down to $0.0005 per Megabyte. Awesome!

If the price difference isn’t a big enough shock to you, consider the storage capacity increased this much, yet the form factor of the SD card has not changed.

Lexard 1TB SD Card

This new Lexar card is a Class 10 device with transfer speeds over 95MB per second. Ideal for newer cameras capturing video in 4K.
Lexard 1TB SD Card

About Lexar:

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Pocket Sized USB DNA Reader

I won’t claim to be a science expert, but found this article very interesting about a DNA Reader just a little larger than a USB drive.

For years, Illumina Technology has the lead in genome sequencing. Their gear is good and from what I understand their gear is expensive. The MinION (from Oxford Nanopore ) is an inexpensive alternative with some great upsides.

The DNA sequencer is just over $1,000 at the time of this post. Traditionally, a DNA sequencer could only read about 200 basis. A “basis” is a nucleobasis which is a collection of biologicial compounds that make up the basic building blocks of nucleic acid… or DNA.

The MinION is impressive with the ability to read 900,000 basis. Also called “long reads.” With the long reads you get a better idea of the compounds making up the DNA. Although the longer reads are not as accurate as short reads, the trade-off isn’t bad. The amount of time and effort to construct a long read from a collection of short reads is considerable. The less accurate long reads from MinION and not that far off base, thus a bit of a break through.

It is simply amazing that 15 years ago the human genome was a global effort, yet today it can be done in a device no larger than a flash drive.

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Could USB 3.x See 40Gbps?

It could be said the top five topics for CES 2018 were robots, driverless cars, virtual reality, internet of things and drones; however, we should keep our eye on less flashy topics like our beloved USB.

We learned at CES the USB Implementer Forum is looking at the capability to increase data transfer rates up to 40Gbits/second. Translated into a more common term, that is about 5,000 MB/second.

It was reported Jeff Ravencraft, president of the USB Implementers Forum, was said this is a real possibility and the wiring currently used, is capable of such speeds.

chart of all USB connectors

Those who favor Thunderbolt because it’s speed capability will no longer have a debatable advantage over USB, because once this new specification is released the speed between USB 3.x and Thunderbolt would be the same, maxing out at 40Gbps.

It’s always nice to appreciate our past before looking into the future. With that said, here is a chart of the USB ports currently available:

USB speeds

…

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How Man’s Best Friend Can Sniff Out Electronics

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.

USB Dog

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.

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How Can I Delete the “System Volume Information” Folder?

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?

Nexcopy Erase

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.

Nexcopy Erase

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.

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Microsoft’s Future USB-C Surface Connector

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.

USB Connector
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