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Chromebook Gets a USBGuard

Anyone in tech has seen the reports and news about USB sticks with a virus ruined a company network or infect computers.  Google built a small and affective feature into their latest Chromebooks.

USBGuard, Chromebook

The USBGuard is a feature which blocks interaction between the mass storage device and the Chrome operating system.  The OS will give power to the device, but not let data transmit.

The USBGuard blocks this activity when the Chromebook is in locked mode.  When the Chromebook is not in lock mode, the USB will interact as expected as a read/write device.

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USB Condom – Power But No Data

For those in a situation where you plug devices into unknown USB ports, a USB data blocker is a good thing to have around. Or some call it the USB condom!

This is a physical device that sits between the USB host connection and your device. The data blocker enables the power pings of a USB socket, but not the data lines. This means your device will get the power it needs, but without the possibility of infection via data transfers.

For example, if you are at a client’s office and need to connect your device to a USB port and don’t want to risk anything, use the USB data blocker. You’ll get the power, but without the risk of spreading or getting a virus.

USB condom

Not much use for those who surround themselves with a trusted environment, but for those on the move, I think it’s a great product.

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Snap Power USB Charger

You know a product is a great idea when a couple of pictures describe the entire product. With that in mind, we’ve all seen wall outlet USB charges, but the Snap Power, in my opinion, will rule them all. The design is clever. Installation is ultra-easy. Accessibility supersedes all others. Take a second and just look at it: In my mind there are three things which make this a brilliant wall charger. If you don’t mind me walking you through the obvious, here we go. Or skip the highlights and jump right over to their website: The design is brilliant. The User keeps both outlets available for normal use while a sleek looking USB port is added underneath. At the time of this article there is one USB socket, but visiting their website you can see two sockets, one on either side. They are constantly improving. Installation is very easy. Simply unscrew your current face-plate and replace it with Continue Reading

USB Water Cooled Fan

Get ready for summer with this water based USB fan. This is a small, portable fan houses a sponge so when air is drawing over it, cooler air comes out.

I’ve seen on the web some call this a portable air-conditioner, and I think that is unrealistic. However; if you want cooler air than what is in your office or room, this will do the trick.

I’ve read a couple of reviews from Amazon about the fan it people say it’s quite and does a good job of sending a stream of cool air.

You can run the fan directly from USB, or charge the battery for portable use. For example, on a hot summer day watching your kid play travel soccer or softball.

The USB water cooled fan comes in three different colors and is available now, before the heat of summer hits! At the time of this writing the USB fan was only $15. Almost a no-brain-er just as a try.

Inside look:

Theory behind the USB water cooled fan:

Source: Amazon (click to see product)

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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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Satechi USB-C Hub for New 2018 iPad

Satechi, a company based in San Diego California unveils a new USB hub for the 2018 iPad Pro.

Designed specifically for 2018 iPad Pro to conveniently access peripheral devices while on the go.

Satechi USB hub

Featuring stunning 4K 30Hz HDMI display (2K 60Hz limitation for iPad Pro), USB-C PD 3.0 charging, USB 3.0 (up to 5 Gb/s) and 3.5mm headphone jack, all over a single USB-C connection. The USB 3.0 socket is the only USB port which transmits data, the USB-C socket sends only power. It’s worth noting the power features USB-C Power Delivery 3.0 charging, so it will deliver optimal power to the connected device while your iPad is churning through 4K video on some other application.

The hub is well designed an in-line with Apple’s design standards. This isn’t a chunking add on to your new iPad.

Satechi is offering the USB hub at $59 and you have the option of two colors while ordering: Silver or Space Grey.

Satechi USB hub
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USB Two Factor Authentication Dongle

Yubico YubiKey 4 appears to be an excellent device for a two-factor authentication solution. Two factor authentication means you need two things before gaining access. In this case, one piece of information is your password and the other piece is your finger print.

If you are using a password manager right now, (ie. Last Pass, Dashlane, etc) I would recommend getting this. The benefit of this device with a password manager is you can enable two factor authentication to add a new device capable of signing into your account.

YubiKey

This means if someone knows your password, it doesn’t really matter because they would also need your finger print. Understand that nearly all password managers conform to some sort of security protocol like FIDO U2F, smart card (PIV), OpenPGP, etc which in turn works with Yubikey.

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Why is my USB name always CAPS?

Why is my USB name always CAPS?

The reason is fairly simple. You also have the option to make your USB name or USB volume name upper and lower case.

The all CAPS of a USB name is due to your flash drive being formatted as FAT or FAT32. Windows will not allow FAT or FAT32 devices to use lower case letters.

To use lower case letters, or upper and lower case letters, simply format the drive as exFAT or NTFS. Note; we do not recommend formatting a USB as NTFS … so better to stick with exFAT.

Here are some screen shots to help better understand exactly what to do.

# Right click your USB drive letter, select Format, and do as the images below show

USB name all CAPS

##

USB name upper lower case
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How To: Partition a USB Flash Drive in Windows

Using Windows 10, you can partition a USB flash drive into multiple partitions. The process is not difficult, you simply follow some easy steps. This tutorial will partition the drive so that your device is assigned multiple drive letters when connected to the computer.

This partition process is not done at the USB controller level; or said another way, done at the hardware level. This USB partition process, for a lack of better terms, is done at the software level. What does this mean for you? It means the partitions can be wiped off the drive and full capacity of the USB flash drive can be restored.

When a USB stick is partitioned at the controller level, or at the hardware level, there is no way to reverse the partition. The multi-partition drive is permanent. At the end of this tutorial is the solution for a hardware based partition solution.

So let’s get started.

How to partition a USB flash drive in Windows 10:

Connect the USB flash drive to your Windows 10 machine. Be sure there is nothing valuable on the USB as this process will remove all content from the drive.

Right Click the Windows icon and select Disk Management.

The Disk Management window will appear with all the connected devices. Select your USB flash drive by clicking one time. By selecting your flash drive, it will allow Windows to apply the partition to that device.

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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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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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