In 2015 Intel introduced the Compute Stick or Computer Stick – the product has been around ever since. The idea is simple and eligant. Intel wanted to create an HDMI dongle computer which can run Windows 10.
There is no confirmation, but our suspicion is that Intel wanted a ultra-cheap and portable solution to run Windows for embedded applications like set-top boxes (DVRs) and other IoT (Internet of Things) products. If our assumption is correct, it’s a wonderful product and is a great solution for its intended purpose.
PCWorld did a fantastic review of the compute stick back in 2016, and a link to that article is at the footer of this post. The PC World review outlined the specifications and performance levels of the Intel based product. We will let that article do the heavy lifting for the tech people out there, but today we want to talk about the applications one might have for a computer stick.
For only $120 (ish) off Amazon, this is an excellent solution to run Windows 10 for a host of specific applications.
Several quick talking points before we move to examples of usage out in the field:
Yes. Performing an Erase or “full format” shortens the life of the device. The erase function is also very slow.
Here are some additional questions based on the answer above which we will address in today’s post:
Is “erase” and “format” the same thing?
Erasing flash memory (a.k.a. Setting all bits to 0, also called a “full format” by Windows) does more damage. Flash memory has a limited number of times that it can be written, and the more you write to it, the more it degrades. With an erase function, you’re writing to the entire device.
With a format, all that’s happening is changing a few bits at the front of the device to say the rest of the memory space on the flash drive is available to be overwritten. This saves the life of the flash memory because the old data is not being overwritten, just flagged to do it at a later time.
Why would you need to erase a drive?
Since a format is changing just a few bits at the front of the device, it means all the data is still on the drive. The few bits we are talking about which are changed, is related to the file allocation table. The changed bits in the file allocation table, mean there are no longer instructions about the location of the digital files. Recovery software can scan the memory space and retrieve those files even though the file allocation table isn’t giving instructions on where they are located.
Think of the file allocation table as the table of contents of a book. If you tear out the table of contents of a book, but all the pages of the story are still there, it’s the same concept as formatting a device. Sure you can scan the pages to find chapter 12 with the part about Paul getting a bucket of water, it’s just hard. Same thing with formatting a drive, you can use recovery scanning software to find the files, but it’s hard.
Coming back to the original question, why would someone want to erase a USB flash drive? One possible reason could be a security risk of some kind and the operator wants to insure no data is on the drive. For example, you are donating a flash drive and you had financial or medical records on the drive. By performing an erase, that data cannot be recovered.
Why does an erase take longer?
We all spend so much time on our computer, its worth customizing sounds and events we experience while using the computer. Today, we will cover the topic of changing the USB sound when a USB device is connected. You can really have some fun with this, especially if you consider some of the USB jokes mention before, and how those jokes could apply when a USB is shoved into a USB port.
While your mind wonders, I’ll move along to the tutorial part of this post:
In the search field, type in Control Panel and select the Control Panel.
From with in the Control Panel click Hardware and Sound
From the Sounds category, select Change system sounds
The window will pop up on the “Sound” tab and you’ll need to scroll down through the list of “Program Events” to find Device Connect and you will click on that time to highlight it.
For most, the middle of November is when you start thinking about Christmas and the holiday season. With that in mind, if you have an office gift exchange, this USB vacuum could make your short list, if you draw the office IT person as your secret Santa.
What tipped my memory about seeing this USB vacuum several years ago, is a commercial during Sunday night football. Yup, someone actually worked this USB gadget into a prime time commercial. First image is from the commercial, second image is the link to get the USB vacuum from Amazon (or equivalent).
Before you get your hopes up the USB vacuum actually works, it doesn’t. The thing will make a vacuum noise, but doesn’t suck anything up.
I came across an interesting article today from Dr Gough, a tech nerd. and thought it good enough to summarize here:
The USB specifications for power from a port vary from 100mA to 1.5A and up to 100W of power for USB Type C, but the cables and connectors used in a cable might not align with the power specifications of the product being designed and used. Cables are typically rated for about 1.8A of current, which is most common for cables used for charging.
The 1.8A rating is based on safety limits for resistive heating of the cable and connectors. The rating is no guarantee your +5V at 1.5A setup will get you the maximum level of power. The important point here, the cable and connector combination is simply a rating to deal with heat, and ensures nothing melts. Going a step further, most specs ensure nothing gets noticeably warm to the human touch.
Every wire that’s not a superconductor has some finite resistance. Said another way, resistance is transferred into heat. Ohm’s law tells says that E = IR, where E is voltage, I is current, and R is resistance. So when you put power through a wire, the current X resistance gives me the voltage that will be “consumed” across that wire, power that turns into heat, and thus, never makes it to your phone.
I want to end this blog post with the above paragraph as that is the real takeaway here. The more inefficient (or cheap) a cable is, the warmer it will get. So if your iPhone cable is warm to the touch, it sucks. If your wire charging your power bank is warm, it sucks. Get a better cable. From what I can tell, there is no rating posted on all these cables you see on Amazon at cheap prices, so word to the wise using your tactile feel!
You’ve connected a USB flash drive, heard the familiar Windows sound of connection, yet no drive letter shows up. You then go into Disk Management for Windows and you can see the device and memory, but no drive letter.
What should you do?
Most times this process is automatic and Windows will asign a drive letter to any storage device connected to your PC, whether it be a USB stick or a USB hard drive, or any other mass storage device.
However; in the event a drive letter isn’t assigned there is a very quick way to get your computer back to working the way it should.
- Open Command Prompt as Administrator
(search for CMD and right click to open as Admin)
- Type ‘diskpart’ and hit Enter.
- Once in the DISKPART type automount enable and click Enter.
If the above doesn’t do the trick, another issue may be at hand. Maybe some conflicting registry entries from past USB devices connected to the PC and for this reason the automount was disable, or no longer working properly.
Nexcopy has a registry cleaning tool specifically design for USB devices connected to your computer. This utility is an exe file that does not require installation and does not have spyware, malware or anything else. It’s from a company you may
The link below is for a zip file which has two batch files to either set the USB write protection, or remove the USB write protection for a Windows 10 computer. This batch file also works for Windows 7 machines.
This solution is ultra-easy and very quick. One click to run the reg edit file and one click to confirm the task. That’s it.
Typically a person will want to lock down the USB ports of a computer to insure a virus doesn’t spread to the computer through a USB device, like a flash drive. The nice thing about this batch file is a very quick and easy way to both lock down your USB ports, and equally easy way to unlock your USB ports.
It’s important to note; do not have a USB flash drive connected to the system when you run either batch file.
For those looking for a bit more detail, the information below is the specific registry edit we are making. Changing the dword to 00000001 sets the device policy for the computer to be write protected. Changing that value back to 00000000 will make the USB ports read/write.
It is also important to understand this USB write protect solution is not specific to the USB stick itself. Nor will this solution work on all Windows machines when you move USB drives from computer to computer. Said another way, this change is PC specific.
If you need USB write protection to be permanent to the device and universal to anything the USB is connected to, you may contact Nexcopy.com and ask for their Lock License drives. This is a solution we have found works very well and is done at the controller level of the USB stick itself. Meaning, the USB is write protected for anything it is connected to. The value of this configuration is no chance for a virus to jump onto the USB stick in the first place. This last solution is really the best solution for universal USB write protection.
Here is a screen shot of the two batch files:
With USB gadgets like this, it’s hare to imagine companies like ADT stay in business for residential customers. This working USB charger includes a miniature camera which acts like a surveillance camera. You can plug any USB gadget into it for charging, all the while record or stream video for what is going on within it’s view.
Use your Android or iPhone you may stream directly to your connected app or stream to a group of people you’ve authorized within the app. The spy camera records 1080p HD footage and will also record that video to the 32GB microSD card (included). Bonus: You can set the surveillance camera to record only when it detects motion.
The camera view is anything directly in front of the plug, so no ability to turn the camera itself, but that is a simple enough problem to solve, just use an outlet that is in-line with the viewing area you want to record.
Here are some noteworthy bullet points about what you will get for the low price of $29USD:
- Motion Detection – Can be set to initiate recording only when motion is detected and then send a notification directly to your phone.
- Loop Recording – Can be set to automatically record over old footage, allowing for uninterrupted video recording.
- Night Mode – Can be set for recording in dim and low light environments.
- Multi-Use – Allows for multiple users to connect to the same device (Supports up to 8 users)
- Multi-View – Allows for multiple cameras to be connected to the same APP / Software. (Supports up to 8 cameras)
The Evela spy camera comes with
Came across an article today, which I thought was a very good read. It’s a niche article, but for anyone who deals with flash drives, I would suggest checking it out.
From the article:
The optical drive is nearly dead – they are no longer found in laptops and rarely found in tower PCs. With that said, the trend for giving out data is shifting to USB flash, not CD or DVD media. Because of this shift, many companies are taking a closer look at buying a USB duplicator.
There are several factors one must consider before spending thousands of dollars on a USB duplicator. We have broken down the most important considerations into four categories. After reviewing these four categories, you should have an excellent idea of which type of duplicator is best for your organization.
USB Duplication Speed
Speed is the first area you should analyze to figure out which direction you should go. When considering speed, we are not simply talking about the copy speed of the USB duplicator, but other factors as well, such as number of USB sockets and the user interface required for feedback during operation. Questions you should ask, include:
# How many USB drives will you need to copy in a day or week?
# How large is the data load in MBs or GBs?
# What kind of turn-around time do you have between a duplication request and when that request should be completed?
# Is there printing, or branding required, on the outside of the USB?
# Do you need proof of performance via a log file?
Answering the above questions will give you an idea of what type of USB duplicator to consider. The type of duplicator will be size, how many USB sockets, copy speed of the duplicator and what type of software, if any, your organization will need.
Your Production Crew
Your next step is to consider the production crew who will be running the equipment. Will there be non-technical people running the equipment, or will a more hands-on approach be required? Is the IT department looking to restrict user access to the equipment or restrict access to the data content during the duplication process?
Much of the above depends on how the data is received before copied to the USB flash drive. For example, a duplication company might receive a physical master from a client; where-as a fulfillment house may get content delivered from a server from an on-line order submission process.
Will the organization require multiple USB duplicators located in different parts of the world? Said another way, many global companies standardize on one manufacturer so the user experience is the same across multiple locations. This also makes production easier as both support and experience can be shared between divisions to streamline processes on a global scale.
Knowing the production crew, their capabilities and responsibilities will help narrow the search for the right piece of equipment.
Read-Only or Read-Write
The third category worth investigating is asking the state of what the USB should be once sent delivered. Is the organization looking to ship out a read-only flash drive? By default all flash drives are read-write. Because of this, many organizations fear a virus could jump onto the drive and spreading to other computers. With that fear in mind, most companies are looking for a USB duplicator which creates a read-only drive product. This means the USB drive is locked, or write protected. The files cannot be deleted or formatted off the drive, and more importantly, files cannot jump onto the drive.
Nexcopy is world leader in read-only flash drive duplicators and therefore used as an example of a duplicator system worth considering.
The most common reason why only one flash drive is usble when multiple USBs are connected is due to a device signature collision.
If you are dealing with bootable devices and seeing this problem, we are confident a collision is the issue. If you are not dealing with a bootable device, then our information below will, probably, not help.
What is a USB signature collision?
A signature collision can happen on any bootable device, so Compact Flash cards, SD cards, microSD cards and USB flash drives. A disk signature is a unique identifier number (UID). It is a unique identifier stored as part of the MBR (Master Boot Record) for an operating system loaded on the device. The operating system will use the UID to identify and distinguish between storage devices. It is commonly made up of eight alphanumeric characters. A disk collision occurs when your operating system (Windows) detects that there are two disks with identical signatures.
For Windows 7, 8, 8.1 and 10, these versions of Windows will disable the second drive and will not allow that second volume to mount until the disk collision has been rectified. If you are reading this article, chances are, this is exactly what is happening to you.
The first thing to do is navigate to the Disk Management tool with in Windows. To do this, use the search tool and type in Disk Management. This will take you to the utility that Windows offers. Here you can see your multiple devices connected. If you click or hover over the device not working you will see one of two messages:
Legrand now offers the XSOLARCS USB charging station for public works, schools, parks and transportation centers.
With the Legrand solution, there is no construction required in order to install the charging station. The unit is a self contained solar panel tower, with six USB charging ports pulling from the solar panel. There are three shelves which can mount in adjustable locations to the panel tower poll. Each shelf containes two USB ports with up to 3.1A of shared power between them. There is no trenching required or other expensive construction projects in order to get the EXSOLARCS going.
USB sockets are protected from the eliments with a sliding door in front of the two port socket assembly. Not only is there protection, but LED illumination at each port for after-dark identification and ease-of-use. If the light is illuminating, the station can provide a charge. This implies there is some type of battery inside the station, which we’ve emailed Legrand to find out exactly what.
The XSOLARCS was designed with the elimints in mind. The USB charging station is designed to withstand hurricane-force winds and has the full RoHS certificate compliance.
Source: Legrand .
Japan has been a long time supplier for three key elements used in the manufacturing of NAND memory and semiconductors. Because of recent trade war issues between Japan and South Korea, these elements are getting very hard to obtain.
Japan produces about 90% of the world’s supply of flurinated polyimide and resists, and about 70% of the world’s supply for hydrogen fluoride. This puts everyone at risk if Japan will not supply those demanding it.
Those chemicals are used by Korean manufacturers to produce semiconductors, and are crucial for making components — including memory chips, microprocessors and integrated circuits.
We have seen the direct impact already. For the first time in over eight months, the price of NAND memory for flash drives have gone up. For each GB capacity the percentage increase is different, but most notably are the 32GB and 64GB wafers. They have jumped nearly 25% from the previous week ( this article was posted on July 25th).
Japan has sited inadequate management of those chemicals by purchasing countries. Said another way, these chemicals can also be used to manufacturer military weapons and Japan is claiming those supplies have been diverted to do just that. Japan’s response; restrictions on the chemicals.
Who will lose from this trade war? None other than any person who uses technology. Cell phones, processors, flash memory, circuit boards, the list goes on.
For a more dry version of this report, and our source visit: here
To learn more about the polyimide chemicals a quick read on this wiki page is fairly interesting.