What to look for in a USB flash drive

What to look for in a USB flash drive

USB flash drives are pretty much a necessity these days. They’re far more convenient for moving files around than optical discs, and they make good backup devices. But not all USB flash drives are created equal. Here’s what to look for in a USB flash drive.

Here’s a tip: I don’t just use USB flash drives for transporting data and backups. I like to keep a modest-sized USB flash drive plugged into my router, turning it into a small NAS. It gives me a convenient, reliable place to back up data from any of my computers.

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What can I do to improve the security of my digital information?

On Monday, March 13 at approximately 10:30 AM CST, I will be appearing on KFUO Radio’s Faith and Family program to discuss home computer security with host Andy Bates. One of the questions he’s planning to ask: “What can I do to improve the security of my digital information?”

This, fortunately, may be the easiest question to answer and the easiest step to implement.

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A DVR without a subscription or monthly fees

What if I told you that you could have a DVR without a subscription that worked with free over-the-air antenna-based TV, and it cost less than $35, saving those monthly subscription fees month after month?

It’s called the Mediasonic Homeworx HW180STB. If you want to record and time-shift television without loss of quality and without paying a fortune in subscription fees, it’s a tremendous value. You have to provide an antenna–which you can even make yourself–and USB-based storage, but it means you can get whatever capacity you want, and if you fill up a drive, just get another one.

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Upgrading an HP Mini 110 to Linux Mint 17

Upgrading an HP Mini 110 to Linux Mint 17

Over the Labor Day weekend I decided to upgrade my HP Mini 110 netbook to Linux Mint 17. The Mini 110 can handle Windows 7, but Linux Mint doesn’t cost any money and I figure a Linux box is more useful to me than yet another Windows box. There are some things I do that are easier to accomplish in Linux than in Windows. Plus, I’m curious how my two young sons will react to Linux.

Linux Mint, if you’re not familiar with it, is a Ubuntu derivative that includes a lot of consumer-friendly features, like including drivers and codecs and other common software that aren’t completely open source. It’s not a Linux distribution for the Free Software purist, but having options is one of the nice things about Linux in 2014.

Linux Mint includes a lot of useful software, so once you get it installed, you’re up and running with a useful computer with minimal effort.

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Why the government (and others) still deal in floppy disks

The revelation that the Federal Government still relies on floppy disks for some of its business is making it the butt of some jokes this week. And although that will serve as confirmation for some people that the government is completely backward, there are actually multiple good explanations for it.

From a security standpoint, using floppy disks isn’t a bad idea at all. Read more

How to build bootable Debian installation USB media from Windows

How to build bootable Debian installation USB media from Windows

Debian 7.0 (Wheezy) came out this weekend, and I want to mess with it. Here’s how I wrote the installation media to a USB thumb drive for it using a Windows box. Because sometimes that’s all you have available to work with. If you prefer another Linux distribution, like Ubuntu or CentOS or Fedora, the same trick will work for them too.

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Cleaning USB drives with Linux

A longtime reader sent me a really good question today. If I had a USB flash drive and I didn’t know where it’s been or what it’s done, how would I clean it to make it safe to use? He said using Linux was fair game, so that made the answer a lot easier.

Note that as of 2015, a knowledgeable attacker can make a USB drive that will survive this cleaning method, so I only recommend this 90% of the time, and the problem is, it’s impossible to know which 90%.

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The origins of Prince of Persia unearthed

Prince of Persia isn’t just a recent movie. It’s based on a video game series, the first of which was first released all the way back in 1989 for the venerable Apple II series of 8-bit computers. That original game, extremely simple by today’s standards, is a classic today.

The author, Jordan Mechner, had given up on looking for the 6502 assembly language source code behind the game until his dad found a box of disks buried in a closet. Among them were several hand-labeled disks claiming to contain the long-lost code. Read more

I need a hair dryer, some nail polish, and two clothespins

At least it looked like a clean break.

I commonly run errands mid-evening because strapping my two kids into seat belts is a good way to keep them from tripping over their own shadows and hurting themselves. So we did that one night, and when we got home, my wife logged onto Facebook, where a picture of my sister’s USB flash drive greeted her. It was in pieces.

“Have her call me,” I said.

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