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ASUS Tinker Board 2 With Four USB 3.0 Ports

ASUS unveiled the Tinker Board 2 and Tinker Board 2S, its most powerful single-board computer or (SBC) and was designed to challenge the Raspberry Pi. The Tinker Board 2 and Tinker Board 2S have a Rockchip RK3399 processor, and up to 4 GB of dual-channel LPDDR4 RAM in addition to more USB connectivity than before with one USB 3.2 Gen1 Type-C socket and three USB 3.2 Gen1 Type A sockets.

The only thing distinguishing the Tinker Board 2S from the Tinker Board 2 is its 16 GB of eMMC flash storage. The latter relies on a microSD card reader instead, which the Tinker Board 2S also has. All other specifications are identical, though.

Underpinning both SBCs is a Rockchip RK3399 processor that includes two ARM Cortex-A72 cores, four ARM Cortex-A53 cores and an ARM Mali-T860 MP4 GPU. There is also 2 GB or 4 GB of dual-channel LPDDR4 RAM.

Here is a list of the I/Os:

  • 1x HDMI 2.0
  • 1x USB 3.2 Gen1 Type-C (OTG & DisplayPort 1.2)
  • 3x USB 3.2 Gen1 Type-A
  • 1x 22-pin MIPI DSI
  • 1x 15-pin MIPI CSI-2
  • 1x RJ-45 Gigabit LAN
  • 1x Wi-fI 802.11 ac & Bluetooth 5.0
  • 1x 40-pin GPIO header
  • 1x DC fan header
  • 1x RTC battery header
  • 1x Power and recovery headers
  • 1x 12 V – 19 V DC-in barrel connector

Now heres the real question; will ASUS have the same problem with nearly zero support for the board? The thing that keeps the Pi above everyone else, is the support/community behind it.

Asus Tinker Board 2 and Tinker Board 2S

Small at 85 mm x 56 mm supports Debian 9, while ASUS plans to deliver Android 10 by Q1 2021. So it’s heard, the Tinker Board 2 and Tinker Board 2S will offer up to 1.5x the performance of the original Tinker Board. It is unknown when ASUS plans to release either board though, or how much they will cost. However, we expect them to arrive by Q1 2021, going off ASUS’ commitment to delivering Android 10 in that quarter.

Although the Tinker Board 2 isn’t available as of this post (Nov 2020) you can click this Tinker Board 2 link at any time to search it’s availability on Amazon.

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How To: Watch Video, Play Music on PS5 from USB Flash Drive

Like the PS4, the Sony PS5 lets you play music and video from a USB flash drive through the console. The process is easy enough and some reminders on “how to” might speed up the process of getting things to work smoothy.

The PS5 will play MP3 audio and MP4 video from a USB flash drive. Unfortunately the Sony PS5 doesn’t play back all audio format types or video format types, so if you stick with the most common and most universal, which is MP3 for audio and MP4 for video, you shouldn’t have a problem.

Please take note: The PS5 supports all of the same formats as the PS4 family and supports video in max resolutions of 3840 x 2160. Unfortunately, trying 8K videos doesn’t work because the SP5 doesn’t support an 8K output (right now).

Pro tip: Make sure your MP3 audio and MP4 video are organized in folders because the PS5 will make a play list order from the content found within those folders. It’s a manual process, but it’s best if you want to have somewhat of an organized playlist. Maybe make different folders from different artists to play MP3 audio from a USB flash drive on your PS5.

To play back video and audio from a USB stick you’ll have navigate to separate sections.

Don’t go to the Media section. That section is only for streaming content you purchased from the PS Store.

To watch video, long-press the PS Button and select Media Gallery from the main list. Then click USB on the far right. You can only access video this way.

ps5 media gallery usb screen shot

Navigation looks something like this:

PS5 Home -> Media Gallery -> USB

Remember, the files stored in the folder are arranged like a playlist with the PS5 console is indexing the content. You can press R1 or L1 to skip back and forth. Press right and left on the D-Pad to skip ahead in small chapter-style skips.

To play audio, simply press the PS Button once to open up the Control Center quick bar. Then select the Music icon. It’s pretty bare-bones right now, but it’s functional.

Music can be played in the background as you do other things/play games. Once music is playing, you can pause it and change tracks right from the Command Center.

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Press Release: Nexcopy Introduces Default State USB Write Protection Flash Drive – Lock License

“The fundamental change towards how our flash drive works should draw attention for those looking for read-only USB flash drives” says Greg Morris, CEO of Nexcopy Inc.

What is unique about the Lock License approach is whenever power is cut to the device, for example disconnection, the USB is automatically write protected. This is the strongest first line defense against malicious software or virus jumping onto a flash drive without the user knowing. It is impossible to infect a USB drive if the device is write protected.

Lock License flash drives require a password upon first use. This password is used to unlock the write protection and make the USB a read/write device. This feature provides a personalized solution for each business which uses the Lock License technology. There is no need to set the write protection after being unlocked because simply cutting power to the device will put the USB into its default state: A read-only device.

The Nexcopy Lock License USB flash drive has the following features:

  • Default state of drive is read-only, a.k.a write protected
  • User assigned password to remove write protection
  • No password is required to read from the drive, acts as normal WORM device
  • Graphical User Interface (GUI) to set password and remove write protection
  • Command line utility for custom integration to remove write protection
  • No back door password or feature from Nexcopy to unlock the drive
  • Available in USB 2.0 and 3.0 technology and ranging from 2GB through 128GB capacities

Stan McCrosky, head of Sales, comments, “System Control manufacturers for waterworks, electrical utility and petroleum companies need a solution like this. The ability to load software or firmware to a hardware based USB read-only device gives system control companies an incredible amount of security for in-field deployment via USB. More importantly, the command line utility gives the manufacturers a secure way to unlock the drive and update the content remotely without the worry of the drive remaining read/write. It’s simply impossible for the drive to remain writable.” McCrosky concludes.

The Lock License USB flash drive is simple to implement. Steps include:

  • Connect USB to a Windows computer
  • Open either GUI or command line utility to remove write protection
  • Assign a password to be used when removing the write protection
  • Data load the drive as needed
  • Eject drive from computer once copy process is complete
  • At this point the USB is write protected at the hardware controller level
  • The Lock License drive can be read (used) by any device on any platform
  • Password not required to read data from the drive
  • Password is only used when removing write protection to make the USB read/write

Nexcopy Lock License media is available in USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 technology and range it capacity from 2GB through 128GB. Nexcopy offers six body styles for the Lock License media with a wide range of body colors available for each stye, all available for custom branding. The six body styles include Oxford; a capless swivel style drive. Newport; a classic rectangular shape with cap. Lexington; a classic rectangular style with rounded edges and cap. Augusta; a shorter style drive with large lanyard loop. Huntington and Geneva which uses an aluminum body for more durability and also better suited for laser etch branding.

The Oxford style swivel drive is the in stock media Nexcopy carries for same day printing and shipping. Nexcopy inventories USB 2.0 media of 2GB and 4GB capacity and in stock USB 3.0 media of 8GB, 16GB, 32Gb, 64GB and 128GB capacities. The in stock Oxford media is a black body with white swivel clip with full color printing via the Nexcopy Logo-EZ USB flash drive printer.

The Lock License utility is available for download off the Nexcopy support page. The utility requires a Nexcopy licensed USB flash drive. The Lock License USB write protection is not a universal solution for any thumb drive, a Nexcopy drive is required in order to take advantage of the increased security the technology offers.

Official press release:

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5 (legit) Reasons a USB Flash Drive Disconnects and Reconnects in Windows

Roll Play Scenario:

  • Windows: Sound of connected a USB flash drive to Windows…
  • User: Ah yes… let’s get to work!
  • Windows: The Windows sound of a disconnected USB device…
  • User: Oh no, what’s happening?

A quick Google search and here we are… let’s take a look:

Here are five legitimate reasons your USB drive might be disconnecting from your Windows computer.

1. Running on Battery

Windows OS is set at default to power down USB ports when running from a battery. The power down process usually doesn’t happen until 10-15 into a stalled USB port, but maybe your setting is different. So worth checking… but first… plug in your laptop and see if the problem is resolved.

To check your USB power setting do this:

Search for Control Panel and click Enter

control panel

In the Control Panel click the Hardware and Sound link

hardware and sound

From here (might be slightly different for everyone) click the Change battery settings and further click Change plan settings and then you’ll see an Change advanced power settings option. Click the Change advanced power settings you can scroll around to find the USB devices and adjust your power there.

USB power setting

2. Faulty USB Port

The number one reason for why a USB device doesn’t work is the physical USB port on the host computer. A laptop generally has only 3 or 4 ports and those ports get a lot of action. With a tower PC, the front USB ports on the bezel also get most the action. Question: When you insert the USB device can you wiggle it around? Was there very little tension or pressure when connecting the USB device? If the device wiggles, or extremely easy to insert… you might have a physically bad USB socket.

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How To – View Linux Files on USB Flash Drive

This article will help you view Linux files on a flash drive when connected to a Windows 10 computer. This is a more common problem than you might think. In 2020, the percentage of computer users who use Linux is just above 25% of all computer users? This implies you will eventually receive a USB flash drive which was formatted and used in Linux to save files. If you are a Windows user and currently in this situation, here is your help.

Linux may use FAT32 or exFAT to format a flash drive, but the default would be either ext2, ext3 or ext4.

In Windows, when a USB is formatted as the ext type, Windows will ask to format the drive. Do not do this if there is data on the drive you are trying to access. (Previous article on best way to format USB drives)

The solution to resolve the Windows request to format the drive, and see the Linux files on the drive is do the following:

This first tip might not be “required” but it is highly recommended.

In the Search field of Windows type Control Panel and click Enter

This will take you to the Control Panel.

Click Programs and then click Turn Windows features on and off

In the dialog box which pops up, you’ll need to scroll down most of the way when locking for

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The Swiss Army Knife of USB-C Hubs

Did you buy one of those ultra-thin laptops and fall in love with the light weight, sleek size and powerful processor? Yet, sit there not be able to use all its power because you don’t have the ports to connect what you want? The 9 in 1 USB-C hub will solve your problems. You can do almost anything with it, just like your desktop.

The USB-C hub allows you to connect a monitor, speakers, headphones, SD card and 10BseT network cable at home (very useful). The hardwired Ethernet cable connection is clutch, but the other thing which is valuable to me is connecting a spare VGA monitor for a second screen.

USB-C hub

The 9 in 1 hub is compact, lightweight (like my laptop) and well built. The hub consists of wedged shaped aluminum tube with the taller side featuring the video ports. A circuit board is suspended inside by plastic inserts that also serve to align and cover the gaps in each port. The two end caps are press fitted into the tube without any additional adhesive. I doubt the device will fall apart if dropped, but if it does, easy enough to snap back together.

USB-C hub 9-in-1

Understanding the quality of a product requires one to take it apart and see how it’s manufacturer. The hub disassembles easily by popping off the plastic cap over the Ethernet port. The board inside then slides out without effort. The cap on the cable end can be removed to complete disassembly but is not required to full access the board. The USB-C cable is wired to the board through some form of displacement connector and secured with adhesive. The shielding on the cable is also ungrounded thus add minimal functional. Fortunately the cable is short enough it should have minimal effect on signal reliability.

All major components, other than the DAC, are older but from recognized manufacturers. The hub is wired with 2 of the 4 USB-C high speed lanes assigned to USB and the remaining lanes assigned to Display Port. This means USB operates without compromise while DP is limited to 2 lanes. This means higher bandwidth operation such as 4K 60Hz is not possible. The on-board 3A DC converter should supply ample power to all components. There should be no issues operating all ports simultaneously assuming low power USB devices are used.

USB-C hub internal pcb

  • The USB hub supports 2.4A fast charging; thus charging a single device quickly maybe possible. However, the hub itself is limited to 3A so charging multiple devices at high speeds will not work.
  • The HDMI output is limited to HDMI 1.4. But all non-3D HDMI display modes within the spec should be supported.
  • VGA output works in both widescreen (16:9) 1080p and 4:3 UXGA
  • Card reader functions simultaneously with both Micro SD and full size
  • 2-Ch DAC functions requires output from HDMI. It converts HDMI audio to analog 2-ch output.
  • Ethernet uses both link detection and EEE to conserve power both when idle and while operating. Shorter Ethernet cables/connection should result in less heat generated. Ethernet also supports various wake functions.

When compared to the OEM Microsoft branded Surface dock that sits around $200.00, there really isn’t a choice for most users. This dock is certainly worth it’s money at $30 (time of this post).

View all articles related to USB hub products posted by GetUSB.info.

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How To: Check if My USB Flash Drive is Bootable?

The following article will explain how to check your USB flash drive for if it’s bootable. There is no software needed, no download, just a couple of simple commands in your Windows 10 operating system.

A master boot record (MBR) is a special type of boot sector at the very beginning of a partition storage device like a fixed disk (hard drive) or removable drive (USB thumb drive). The MBR contains executable code to function as a loader for the installed operating system. This loader turns over the functions of the hardware (mother board bios) and passes that loading responsibility off to the operating system (Windows).

This is how you check if your USB is bootable, or not:

First, please have only the one USB stick connected which you want to check if it’s bootable. It’s not required to do this, but will my the instructions below a bit easier to follow, that’s all.

Using the Windows search function copy and paste this into the search field and click Enter

compmgmt.msc

The screen shot below will pop up after you click Enter. Using the image as a reference, select “Disk Management” under the “Storage” folder“. In the middle of the dialogue box you will see the drive letter associated with your USB flash drive. In the middle of the box you will probably see the USB listed two different times. The top portion of the box, the USB will be listed along with other devices, like your hard drive and optical drive. The bottom portion of the box, the USB will be shown as “Removable

Once you’ve determined which drive letter is your USB drive, you may Right Click on the drive letter and select Properties.

A Properties dialogue box appears giving you the option to select any one of the devices show in the previous window (the Disk Management window). From this dialogue box, click the Hardware tab and select the “Mass Storage USB Device” by a single click. Then click the Properties button at the bottom.

The last dialogue box are the Properties of your specific flash drive.

Click the Volumes tab at the top, you then must click “Populate” to get the device information. . The “Partition Style” will read either Master Boot Record (MBR) or the field will be empty.

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What Is The Lifespan of a USB Flash Drive?

The lifespan of a USB flash drive relates to three factors. In general terms, a flash drive will last much longer than you think and here are some details to help you understand the answer.

The three factors related to the life span of a USB flash drive are:

  • How the drive is made
  • Wear leveling technology
  • How the drive is treated

Flash drives are a commodity product and (generally) driven by lowest price. With that in mind there are plenty of shortcuts a manufacturer can use to save time and money. What is important to understand, is knowing the quality of product you are going to use.

How the drive is made

A flash drive is made up of five primary components: The PCB (printed circuit board) the flash memory, the USB controller, the components and the soldering which holds everything together.

Printed Circuit Board (PCB)

Most promotional memory products (flash drives given away at trade shows) will use a two layer printed circuit board. Two layer boards are bad for use with any USB device, including a flash drive. The USB specification requires four layers for a product to be made to specification. A four layer board will include the, much needed, grounding plane of the PCB to insure transmission without interference from the trace lines. A two layer board is at a much greater risk of not performing as it should. If you received a USB at a trade show, don’t consider that device for “long term” or “important” storage options.

This is an image of a four layer USB flash drive by Nexcopy with Micron memory with write speeds of 12MB/s

USB flash drive PCB with NAND memory

Flash Memory

Flash memory used in the production of USB drives stems from a sea of unknown factors. Flash drives are the bottom of the barrel when it comes to NAND memory as part of the BOM (bill of material). All the good quality NAND memory is used for more expensive products like phones, set-top boxes, communications hardware, etc… and the manufacturer of USB flash drives, is typically, the last tier of manufacturing consumption. With that in mind, one trick the flash manufacturers use, is down-sizing the memory wafer (NAND chip). Let us provide an example: Toshiba is the world’s largest memory manufacturer, and after production of say a 64GB chip, they test it. If the quality of the silicon cells in the chip are below a certain percentage, the chip gets downgraded to a 32GB chip. They test it. If the memory is still failing QC, it gets downgraded again. The process continues. So if you are dealing with a 512MB USB stick, you are dealing with the worst part of NAND memory chip. Very unreliable. The quickest way to test the quality of flash memory is test the write speed. For USB 2.0 product, if you see a write speed of 9-10MB/second or better… its’ good quality. For USB 3.0 if you see a write speed of 18-20MB/second or better you are dealing with good quality. A slow write speed means the silicon of the chip is having a harder time making the phase change (positive or negative) to save data to the memory chip.

USB Controller

The USB controller is the chip on the flash drive with all the brains. The USB controller is the gate keeper between the host computer and the USB stick. The chip allows the host computer to read or write data to and from the flash memory on the flash drive. Because the USB controller is the brain of the flash drive, it’s important to have a controller that performs well and is reliable. One of the most important features of the USB controller is wear leveling. This is also one of the most important aspects for defining the lifespan of a USB flash drive. More about wear leveling in a bit. For now, the important point is understanding the compatibility of the USB controller to that of the flash memory. The NAND memory market is very fast pasted. New technology is always developing. For this reason, the firmware inside the USB controller is very important. The firmware “marries” the flash memory to the device and creates a usable flash drive. There are many flavors of firmware for a single controller and it all boils down to how often the USB manufacturer updates those firmware tools. It is very possible to load firmware that is not optimized for the NAND memory used in the production of the flash drive. It’s also very possible the firmware is set for a different objective, for example, the firmware was set to be optimized for capacity rather than read/write speeds. The amount of control the USB factory has with these firmware tools is mind-blowing. The firmware tools are used to configure the USB stick to exactly what they want. In summary, there is no real way to test the quality of the USB controller and it’s firmware other than having an intimate knowledge and relationship with the actual manufacturer of the USB flash drive. The point to explaining the function of a USB controller is to show what a large impact it has on the overall performance of the drive.

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How Does USB Copy Protection Work?

In this article we will detail how the Nexcopy USB copy protection solution works. Before we start there are important definitions we must all agree upon. As in today’s market place there are multiple vendors using the wrong definitions to explain copy protection.

Copy protection is different than encryption; although copy protection does use a form of encryption in the overall solution.

Encryption is scrambling up data and requiring a password to piece all the data together and display it. Once the password is entered the data can be viewed. The potential security issue is the user who entered the password can now do anything they wish with the files, print, save, share, etc.

Copy protection is different in two ways. First, there is no password required to view the data. Second, the files cannot be saved, printed, shared, streamed when viewed by even the most trusted user.

The later, copy protection, is what most people want when it comes to multi-media files like PDF, video, audio and HTML pages. Most users want the data to be seen by as many people as possible, yet the data cannot be saved, shared, streamed, printed or screen captured.

So with that in mind, let us review how the Nexcopy solution works for USB copy protection.

Here are six bullet points regarding features Nexcopy provides which others do not:

  • Copy protected content plays on both Mac and Windows computers
  • There are no Admin rights required to play the content
  • There is no installation required on the host computer
  • The content runs 100% from the flash drive
  • The USB stick is write protect, so files cannot be deleted or changed
  • The solution is both hardware and software, ultra-secure

The Nexcopy USB copy protection solution runs with the assumption the content owner does not want to share the data with even duplication service companies. It is assumed the content owner wants total control of the data before, during and after the USB duplication process.

Here are the steps for using the Copy Secure drives as the content owner:

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USB Enumeration Fingerprint

Does the title of this article even make sense? Yes, but not to most.

USB enumeration is the process a host computer goes through to identify the type of USB device connected and what the operating system should do with the newly detected device.

Fingerprint would simply imply the different steps a computer operating system goes through when determine the USB device type.

For 99.7% of the people who visit this site, this information doesn’t matter, but for others it does. The security industry would be the prime candidate for wanting this information. If a security expert, team or programmer knows the exact steps an operating system goes through to mount a USB device, it will help them keep programs secure.

Andrea Barisani, a security expert based out of Italy, put together some open source code which compares the USB enumeration fingerprint for the MacOS, Windows and Linux. The open source code is available on Github.com (here).

This bit of code is probably valuable to software programmers who deal with USB flash drives and portable applications.

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How To: Scan USB Flash Drive With Windows Defender (Automatically)

You never know where a flash drive has been.

It’s always best to scan a USB flash drive.

Did you know Windows Defender can be setup to scan a USB stick automatically, when it’s plugged in? Below are the steps to make that configuration setup.

By default, Windows 10 does not have this setting configured. We are not sure why, as USB sticks and downloads from internet sites are probably the two most vunerable ways to get a computer infected. Our only guess, is the scan process of a USB stick can take some time, and for a user to have that step done with each connection, could reduce the user experience.

This tutorial will take about three minutes to setup. I would suggest read the rest of this article and when done, go back and perform the few steps required to make the Windows Defender scan for USB flash drives.

We are going to make a Group Policy to scan USB flash drives using Windows Defender.

Let us run the Group Policy editor.

Press the Windows Key + R

Type gpedit.msc and press Enter or OK.

Look for the Administrative Templates under the top Computer Configuration directory, expand this directory (folder)

Scroll down to Windows Components, expand it

In that directory scroll down more and look for Windows Defender Antivirus, expand it

Finally, look for the Scan folder and click that folder.

On the right side of the dialogue box you will see additional settings, search for the Scan removable drives and double click that setting

This setting is disabled by default. Please click the radial enable button to enable this setting for your Windows computer.

Click Apply in the bottom right and then click OK.

That is it. Your Windows computer will now automatically scan USB flash drives using Windows Defender.

Alternatively, you can insert a USB stick and right click the drive letter and select Scan with Windows Defender but the problem here, is the USB could have already done it’s virus work before you had a chance to scan for malicious code.

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USB Firewall For Connecting USB Devices

The average user inserts a USB stick into their computer from a trusted source. However, there are companies and situations who receive USB flash drives or USB hard drives and they are not certain if the device is infected.

Globotron is a company based in New Zealand who designed the product. The product is called Armadillo and is an open-source USB firewall.

Some research has shown, as many as 29 different types of USB attacks can happen from plugging in mass storage devices (like USB flash drives and USB hard drives) or also HID devices (human input devices like keyboards and mouse).

The USB stack which is the low level code used in the host computer, is very complex and over time researchers and hackers have discovered ways to compromise a computer system through these vulnerabilities.

The Armadillo is an open-source device which is a firewall between a USB device and computer. The firewall isolates the firmware of the USB device so as not to infect your PC if the device has been infected with malicious firmware. You just need to plug in Armadillo between your computer and the USB device using the provided micro-USB cable. Armadillo is an upgrade over USG, the original or first-generation USB hardware firewall device.

The Armadillo has bot detection. This means if the USB firewall device detects malicious codes are being entered via keyboard or mouse (HID devices) the device will block transmission and a red LED indicator light will turn on.

The Armadillo has the ability to temporarily make your USB read only. This is valuable if the computer is infected and you need pull information (recovery software) from the USB stick and want to insure virus’ do not infect the flash drive. The USB is read-only, but it is read/write when not connected to the Armadillo.

Note: If you need a USB stick that is always write protected at the controller level, yet need to temporarily turn off the write protection for data changes, the Lock License drive from Nexcopy is your solution.

This last point about the Armadillo is a bit strange, but we like it. The body is sealed with glitter epoxy so it is easy to identify if the box itself was tampered with. Very creative!

The Armadillo USB Firewall is available from Globotron for $150 USD and ships from New Zealand.

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