Tag Archives: computers

Use Your Flash Drive as a Chick Magnet

Remember back in the old days when you actually had a sense of humor?… Try harder… Okay, now remember that old cartoon that you used to laugh your butt off at? You know the ones–Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote; Buggs Bunny; Daffy Duck; those guys. Everybody loves Loony Toons. Those cartoons crack me up and, when they’ll admit it, they still make adults everywhere laugh. Why do I refer to these little fellows from our past?

Oh, What A CUTE Little Flash Drive

These things are better chick magnets than puppies. You can’t take a puppy to the office with you. Now you can have a flash drive with Daffy Duck, Buggs Bunny, Yosemite Sam or Marvin the Martian on the end of it. A company called EMTEC created these beauties in co-operation with Warner Brothers. But those are just the new characters. You could also have the following Loony Toons characters: Taz, Speedy Gonzalez, Sylvester and the greatest chick magnet of all…Tweety. Can’t you just hear it now, “EEEEEK! He’s ADORABLE!!” That’s what I’m talkin’ about. And these USB’s are compatible with Linux, Mac and Windows.

Make a Contribution to your Kid’s School

Schools love charitable contributions. Their budget cuts aren’t any easier for them to deal with than the budget cuts every other business is going through. Want to be a hero? Buy up a bunch of these and make this year’s charitable donation that of Loony Toons (or other types of) USB flash drives. And don’t forget that charitable contributions are tax deductible.

The same company also makes a gadget lover’s dream. The ‘Toaster Hub and Toast USB Drives’ is a real hoot! The hub is in the shape of a real toaster and the little USB flash drives (4) are in the shape of pieces of bread (toast). The drives plug into the top of the toaster and it looks like the real thing. Fun.

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Flash Drives, Flash Drives, Everywhere!!

These days you can’t walk out of a convention without a sack full of those little gimmicky promotional freebies. You know the kinds: post-it notepads, pens, key chains, stickers, temporary tattoos…and now you’re getting your very own collection of USB flash drives. So many in fact that they have taken over one whole drawer of your desk.

So What Do You Do With All Those Extra USB’s?

If you thought that the laptop was the utmost in portability…meet the USB flash drive. Small enough to fit in a shirt pocket yet capable of storing infinite (sort of) pieces of information and files. Now you can use one of your spare USB’s to take your favorite or most used utilities, games and apps with you wherever you go. That’s even more portable than a smartphone. Forgot your laptop? No problem, as long as you have your handy dandy little flash drive.

Paging Doctor Flash Drive

If your laptop has slowed down due to those pesky viruses you can utilize a USB flash drive to revive it. You might be able to breathe new life into your computer with free software offered by AVG. Load the free software on to your USB and use it to scan, track and destroy those wretched viruses. That’ll teach ‘em not to mess with the USB Master.

Finally, if you want to make like a secret agent and skulk around with all sorts of secret agent type cool stuff; get out that spare USB. Secret passwords are great but can sometimes be guessed (especially if you are one of those that use the same one for everything). But through ‘Predator’ you can set up your laptop in such a way that the only way to get into it is with the USB. No USB—NO ACCESS! The action of plugging in and unplugging the flash drive is actually responsible for unlocking and locking your beloved computer.

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HELP! I’m Drowning in Flash Drives

Here’s more on the continuing saga of what to do with all of those extra USB flash drives that many of us can’t seem to avoid. Many professions contain the risk of free promotional doodads excess. That’s all the little pencils, pens, pads of paper, and little ‘gifty’ things that are passed out by vendors at conventions. USB flash drives have become the latest thing in promo gifts. But you can only utilize so many at a time.

Got Flash Drives?

Do you miss your Windows on your MacBook? No worries. Take one of your flash drives and use it to download your old pal Windows right into your Mac. And while we’re on the subject of Windows, you can also use that spare USB to install something called Parted Magic. This will allow you to, through the utilization of that flash drive, to do the following: patrician your hard disk; clone your system and reset your Windows passwords. If you want to protect your files (and you’re just using the thumbdrive as the method of storage) simply remember to encrypt. That way, even if someone finds your USB and plugs it into their computer, they won’t be able to access your stored files.

The Geeks Have It

All those nerdy friends of your keep talking about the operating system that is open-source called Linux but you don’t want to overwrite your system in order to try it out. If you truly want to find out what all the fuss is about, just take your spare flash drive and utilize it to boot Linux (there are tutorials on ‘how to…’) and you will be able to explore the depths of OS to your heart’s content.

And if you’re curious about Windows 8 there is a similar tutorial that will allow you to give it a test run of sorts while not affecting the system you all ready use.

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Flash Drives Rule the World

Everyone knows by now that the Almighty USB Flash Drive is a little computer/laptop accessory that, though no bigger than a man’s thumb, can store and transfer incredible amounts of data. But are there other uses for this little device as well? Amazingly…there are.

Some Things You Might Consider Doing With Your USB

When it all comes down, you may find yourself stuck with more flash drives lying around the house than one person ever truly needs. After all, businesses give them away as promotional gifts, you can pick them up relatively inexpensively, and for whatever reason they seem to multiply when left alone in the dark to their own devices. So what do you do with all those USB’s lying around your house? Well first, you empty them. Nobody needs to know what it was that you had stored in there, really. Schools love these things. Kids come home from school these days knowing more about computers than I’ll ever be able to comprehend and those school’s budgets are as tight as the rest of ours. Donate your old, extra USB’s.

Someone Gifted You, Now You Can Gift Back

Sometimes you’ll have so many of these little guys spread throughout the house that you’ll actually consider throwing them away. STOP! Not everybody goes to all of the conventions (and such) like you maybe do. Not everyone gets these things thrust in their faces like gangbusters from eager vendors. Some people actually have to pay for their flash drives. Do you know anyone like that? Why not spread the wealth by giving them one or two of your unused (or emptied) USB flash drives for their own use?

With any luck they can use one for their laptop and close the other one away to see if it too multiplies when no one is looking.

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USB Bladeless Fan Keeps You Cool at Your Workstation

When Dyson first created the “bladeless fan”, it caused quite a stir among consumers, who were as intriqued by the futuristic engineering and design of the things as they were in its highly-touted safety aspects. No blades, after all, means no potential for cut fingers. The bladeless fan also ran quietly, directing air as if by magic through a ring toward the person who wanted to keep cool. It also cost a small fortune, well over $400, compared to a typical box or oscillating fan, which cost a fraction of that.

Truth in Advertising – NOT

The fact of the matter is that the Dyson fan, and its inevitable competitors, is not “bladeless” at all. A brushless motor inside the housing of the base of the fan – inside the column so to speak – turns a series of fan blades, which are funneled through slits in the ring. The fan actually has no exposed blades, and so is certainly safer in that aspect, but has there ever really been an epidemic of people sticking their body parts into fan blades?


However practical a bladeless fan might be, or however novel (assuming it can be squeezed into your budget at all), the good news is that there are miniature versions of the same creature. For years, people have gotten themselves through the hot summer months with portable, hand-held, battery-powered fans. Today’s mini-bladeless fans, in addition to being safer, can be powered by way of a USB port.

There’s something comforting and pleasant about a gently breeze wafting across your  work area, and if it can be managed quietly (and with no risk of welts), the USB bladeless fan can greatly enhance your plugged-in time. And, unlike its full-size technological forebear, it can be acquired from online retailers for as little as $15. At 8.5″ tall, it takes up very little precious desk space. At work or at home, there is no better way to keep your cool.

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Plug and Play; Unplug and Lose

As technology has continued to assist in our daily lives, the words “plug and play” have become synonymous with digital advancement. Gone are the days of having to turn off programs in order to scan a photograph, or having to work through several steps to get an application to work each time. However, as simplistic as we like things to be (and as hard as digital device-makers try to meet our lofty, if unrealistic, expectations), there are still right ways and wrong ways to do certain things on our computers.

Follow the Directions

Following the proper protocols for installing – and, more important, uninstalling – USB flash drives is of tantamount importance for several reasons. Before getting into all of that, it may be useful for readers to review the right way to remove a USB flash drive. With regard to PC, the Windows “Safely Remove Hardware” function isn’t just window dressing. Even if those few extra clicks and seconds are painstaking, they are well worth the “effort” when one realized the potential consequences for being lackadaisical.

How Much Risk?

Some experts will advise us not to ever plug in or unplug a USB flash drive while the computer is turned on. That stands to reason, since the USB drive will then automatically show up as a removable disk on your computer. It is the process of “write caching” that can cause file loss or corruption when unplugging a flash drive. Anything you are attempting to store on the drive gets cached first and then transferred. Unplugging the device prior to the data being “written” on the device can not only cause unwanted file issues, it can also cause your OS to crash.

There are, in fact, quick settings that can shorten the tedium for those who realize how important it is to safely remove flash drives from their USB ports. Right click on the USB icon, select the Hardware tab and then the drive you are using. If you click on Properties, you will see the Policies tab, under which you can “Optimize for Quick Removal”. Then, hopefully, you’ll find a constructive way to use the 20 seconds you’ll have saved.

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Power Bean to the Rescue

Scant few technology mavens have remained on the sidelines as the iPhone and Android smart phone platforms have duked it out in the marketplace. There is no single metric by which to accurately compare the two competitors, so when they are judged side by side, most studies (scientific or otherwise) will measure the most commonly used (or needed) functions of each phone. That gives both experts and consumers a comprehensive check list to determine which platform will best suit their needs.

Tug of War

Apple’s iPhone gets high marks for software keyboards, ease of use and battery life. Voice-to-text, notification systems and “syncing” with other devices are areas in which Android is generally regarded as having an edge over the iPhone. The quality of both phones’ browsing and apps are pretty much a draw, although music and games are an iPhone strength. Android also wins out when it comes to implementing Google apps, which are devouring more and more market share.

Exclusively Useful

Just as Google’s fortunes have an impact on the Android platform, so do the fortunes of other outside player looking to ride its digital coattails. The Power Bean, made by Mili, is one such player. The USB device offers Android users to recharge their batteries without having access to a charger or a power outlet. The Power Bean only works with Micro USB ports, meaning it can also charge your Blackberry, Samsung or HTC. The little device pushes out 2000mAh, which should be sufficient to bring any battery all the way up to full strength.

The iPhone is not equipped for Micro USB, so the Power Bean’s advantage goes solely to Android users, helping to negate the battery-life advantage that iPhone has heretofore enjoyed (and boasted about). It can be found at the usual online stores for under $70, making it a versatile addition that certainly seems more sensible than carrying around an extra battery for your Android smart phone.

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Pointlessly Expensive USB Gadgets

Big things, it has been said, come in small packages. Prior generations looked forward to receiving small, velvety boxes, hoping for precious gems. Today’s little gifts are more likely to plug into the USB port on your computer, and will be just as appreciated. Many of the USB-powered devices on the market are of the promotional variety, meaning they fill an everyday need (such as a flash drive for data storage and transfer), but come in the form of a quirky design.

Desktop Fun

Other USB gadgets are just outright toys, such as the desktop rocket launcher, which has become the scourge of office cubicles worldwide. The fact that they can draw power from your computer is what makes them so novel and appealing. If they happen to serve an actual purpose as well, then that’s just the icing on the techno-cake, but there are other USB devices out there that have a price tag that would make bulk-buying prohibitive to most folks.

Taking the Plunge

One very expensive item with a USB application is the Victorinox Swiss Army Knife. With a full terabyte of eSATA II SSD storage capacity, it puts most computer hard drives to shame. It also includes a 96×48 megapixel monochrome LCD display screen, as well as the latest (256 AES) in security encryption for both hardware and software. Of course, it also comes complete with a pocket knife with a blade, a nail file and a tiny pair of scissors. If that’s all you want for your $3,000 then take the plunge.

Or, if you want something that’s expensive for the sake of being expensive, you could splurge on the Cartier USB Key. It’s just a flash drive that bears the Cartier logo, not encrusted in jewels as one might expect, but painted on. It holds about 4GB of storage, nothing special about that, and has an LED light that glows when plugged into your computer. The only thing that is noteworthy about it is the price, $800, roughly the cost of a new Apple i-Pad. Opulence surely must be its own reward.

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Control Your Humidor with CigarAlert’s USB Monitor

By the time a person has acquired his or her own cigar humidor, many people may assume that he or she has everything, and is therefore impossible to shop for when it comes to those gift-giving occasions. While a humidor is as much of a statement about one’s status as it is a practical device, there are still ways in which the overall cigar experience can be improved or enhanced. With its USB-connected humidor monitor, CigarAlert has come up with just such a way.

High Tech Smokes

With a digital sensor attached via a thin USB cable, which plugs into the port on your computer, vital humidor information is collected without ever opening the lid. Temperature and humidity readings are taken every four seconds, and are relayed to the accompanying software program. Your computer will alert you (via e-mail or text message) whenever the conditions of your humidor fall below optimal levels.

Control and Monitor

Humidity levels in a humidor are best at around 70 percent, with temperatures being ideal in the range of 77 degrees. Electronic humidors are easy to set to those standards, but their calibrations can suffer over time. CigarAlert will help you to correct any faulty settings, taking all of the guessing out of the game. It almost goes without saying that optimal humidor levels make for the best cigar smoking experience, and if you’ve gone so far as to ensure those levels, proper monitoring will be of great value to you.

Of course, in our mobile society, many people rely on their smart phones for just about everything. CigarAlert’s free mobile app puts people more in touch with their cigar lifestyle even when they’re far away from their favorite smokes. With the cost of fine tobacco products outpacing inflation on a regular basis, it makes dollars and sense to control and monitor their condition, with CigarAlert making things that much easier.

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USB Turns the Tables Again

While the earliest recorded sounds date back to the late 1850s, and Thomas Edison’s phonograph was invented in 1877, it was only before the turn of the century that flat discs replaced wax cylinders as the medium of sound replication. Those first records were five to seven inches in diameter, and were played on Emile Berliner’s “gramophone”. In 1901 they were increased to 10 inches, with better sound quality, and more than three minutes’ worth of playing time. By 1920, microphones and vacuum tubes were used to capture sound electronically. An industry had stopped crawling and started walking.

Longtime Champion

From the 1920s to the 1960s, vinyl records dominated the music recording industry. Even though magnetic tape had long before been experimented with by Edison and others, and was extremely useful in studio recording sessions, cassette tapes and eight-tracks were not particularly impressive compared to vinly records (even if they were portable). When compact discs came into the market in the 1980s, though, vinyl was swept away in the digital tide.

A Matter of Opinion?

While not many people made preservation of their cassette tapes a priority, an entire culture of vinyl collectors sprang up. They became valuable collectors’ items, even more so than they had already been. Even single 45 rpm records becamse desirable. And, no matter what the scientists said, many people continued to swear that the sound quality of vinyl records remained superior to their modern, binary-code based cousins. The popularity of MP3 files has only deepened the skepticism of vinyl mavens.

Fortunately, the digital age has reached a crossroads in this regard, with USB turntables capable of playing and recording vinyl records. The user will be able to save the files any way they like. This enables collectors to preserve their old records (many of which are  unavailable on CD), much like making a color copy of an old photograph so as to keep the original from fading in the frame. So far, even those who have dismissed digital recording seem to be pleased with this ability to have one foot in each world.

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