Tag Archives: data storage

USB Facilitates the Merging of Technology

With each new version of the iPhone or Android that comes out, our smart phones and computers become closer and closer to melding into a single device. This process is well under way; even “dumb phones” can be used to access e-mail now. Smart phones are used to manage social media, to surf the Web, as music players and storage devices, and (with ever-emerging apps) can be both mobile and effective.

“Phone, Meet Computer”

It is no longer a matter of time before our phones interface directly with our computers; that is happening already. It isn’t as easy as it may seem, though, certainly not a “hot swap” that gives us that plug-and-play satisfaction that has to be considered the digital icing on the cake of instant gratification. Still, with a little bit of patience and step-following, you can make your phone as much of an everyday part of your computer usage as the mouse or the keyboard.

Busy Signal

First, you have to locate the mini-USB port on your phone, and then connect a USB cable to it. Upon plugging the phone directly into the USB port on your computer, you will most likely be prompted to seek out and install the pertinent drivers. (You will have to click “Okay” or “Yes” before it will do so.) Your computer should show you the status of the driver installation, and once it is complete, the phone and the computer should be ready to interact. The most obvious sign that the “connection” has been made is that your computer will begin charging your phone.

Which software you will need to download and install depends on which brand of phone you are using. Once the software is located and running, you will be able to transfer files – audio, video, photo, what have you – to and from your computer. This will give you ease of use when managing your Facebook page, for instance, and provide you the opportunity to free up memory on your phone as well. None of this could be easily done without the USB port’s ability to link up your phone and your computer.

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Protecting Your Valuable Information

There are three mindsets when it comes to computer use in the modern age. The first group is comprised of those who don’t use them, who don’t know how to use them, and who don’t want to know. Then comes the casual computer users, who see their machines as entertainment devices. They manage their social media, play games and communicate with others, but don’t use them for anything particularly useful.

Intellectual Property a Priority

Then there are those who take computers very seriously, who understand their potential, and want to max it out. Those folks, whether in the private or government sectors, have a lot to lose in the event of data leaks. That, in and of itself, is nothing new; when a former Coca-Cola employee, Joya Williams, conspired to steal and sell the company’s product formula she was sentenced to 8 years in prison. So the courts also take a keen interest in the protection of intellectual property rights.

Like a Pro-Active Insurance Policy

Of course, Joya Williams didn’t have the benefit of USB ports and flash drives, or she might have gotten away with a lot more than just the “secret formula” (which today sits on public display at a museum in Atlanta). Today’s employers are more worried than ever about their sensitive data being leaked. Competition is fierce enough with having your laundry hanging out the window – or, in some instances, Windows.

USB Block is a dual-purpose data leak prevention & copy protection software that can be installed on company workstations. It will prevent your designated information from being copied onto portable devices such as flash drives, external hard drives, SD cards, iPods, CDs or DVDs, as well as to other computers within the network. It can be operated in “stealth mode”, and is compatible with 32-bit and 64-bit operating systems.

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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?

Nano-Comfort

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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Off-the-Wall (And Off the Shelf) USB Gadgets

The market for quirky USB devices has exploded along with the ingenuity of the good folks who come up with so many innovative ideas. USB ports allow for flash drives and other media devices to run on our computers, but they also allow for power to move in the opposite direction, providing for the operation and charging of all manner of devices. Some of them are downright practical. Others, upon which this article will focus, are quite simply bizarre.

And STILL Heavweight Champion of the World…

Anyone who has been paying attention to the commercial evolution of the George Foreman Grill had to know that a USB-powered version was in the works. The legendary boxer would want you to know that such is now available. We all know someone who has a hard time tearing him- or herself away from their computer; Big George is there for that person. While at $99 the USB iGrill costs a bit more than the usual Foreman grill, it can still cook the same single-portion meals as its traditional cousin.

From Hotfoot to Foot Rub

Hunters have long understood the importance of keeping their feet warm, and have used battery-powered socks for decades, but what about web surfers? Heated slippers that plug into your computer via a USB port will have warm feet – as long as they stay connected with a cord that measures two meters in length. There are USB heated gloves as well, complete with mitten attachments to cover the fingerless gloves when not busy typing.

That same goal, of comfort at the console, is met by the USB vibrating massager ball, easing tension from your muscles as you do the heavy lifting with your keyboard and mouse. There are also other, shall we say, vibrating devices that draw their power through the USB port. But those aren’t nearly as strange as the USB Ghost Radar, which uses an array of lights and sounds to notify the user when ghosts are present. All together now: O-kayyyy…

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MAME: USB Joystick Brings Video Game History to Life

MAME is short for Multiple Arcade Machine Emulation. It is a digitization of the physical properties that made up the very first video games – the kind that cost kids a quarter for every three lives. The engineers behind MAME did this with an eye on the historical preservation of the evolution of the video game phenomenon, which today pulls down billions of dollars’ worth of entertainment market share.

Check Out the Graphics on Memory Lane

Perusing a MAME folder is a major trip down memory lane for people who grew up in the arcade environment. The games provide the colors, the scores, the excitement, the hand-eye coordination exercise, and the sounds (those most especially, as they can be blasted through your computer speakers). With HDMI, the arcade classics can be played on your big-screen HDTV. Best of all, you won’t need 25 cents to play, ever.

Some Equipment Required

The emulators mimic every aspect of the game, right there on your computer, with the 32- and 64-bit systems taking up so little memory (in today’s terms) that hundreds of arcade game emulations can be stored in a single folder on one’s desktop. The fact that these games can actually be played are simply icing on the cake to the creators of MAME. It can be done, however, only not with a keyboard and a mouse. What is required is a USB universal gaming joystick.

The USB joystick is a good platform for gaming, in that they generally possess as many as 8 action buttons, but some things are lost in translation, as in such games that used a trac-ball instead of a joystick (such as Reactor or Track and Field). But it truly brings back to life many of the games in all of their glory, including the first vector artwork games (like Asteroids or Star Castle). From Space Invaders on up, those halcyon pre-console days will jump off the screen, perhaps more vivid today than they ever were before.

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Ready, Aim, Fire: USB-Controlled Airsoft BB Guns

Gone are the days when youngsters would conduct BB gun wars, skulking their neighborhoods in search of each other, promising not to shoot for the head and to keep their rifle power down to two pumps. Today’s “helicopter parents” would never allow their offspring to harm each other in such ways, so instead they use airsoft weapons, replicas that fire plastic pellets at non-lethal velocities (400-700 feet per second) using compressed gas or air as a propellant.

Full-Auto

Airsoft BB guns have become very popular among adults as well as kids, as they closely resemble the real firearms after which they are modeled (such as the M-16 or the AK-47). High-capacity magazines can hold as many as 800 projectiles. Some models can be fired at “full-auto” – as many as 1,500 rounds per minute – with battery-assisted actions and firing mechanisms. They quickly supplanted such recreational activities as paintball and laser tag; you know when you’ve hit someone, because they tend to elicit a yelp.

Make My Digital Day

Naturally, it was only a matter of time before the gearheads of the world figured out a way to digitize their electonically-controlled airsoft guns, and the results are now all over YouTube. Mounting their weapon of choice to a mobile camera turret, which is easily controlled by a USB-joystick, gives you the ability to remotely direct your fire. Adding a camera gives you the ability to do so through the use of a computer monitor. Wiring up the trigger to the joystick, then, provides you with the ability to cover every square foot of your living room from the safety of your bedroom.

This will require quite a bit of USB cable, at least until someone figures out how to rig up a wireless trigger mechanism (if they haven’t already). While the airsoft weaponry isn’t going to kill an intruder, it would give him as many as 800 stinging little reasons to vacate the premises. And anyone in the household can have a great time doing it. Consider the USB-controlled airsoft bb gun to be an extra layer of defense in a comprehensive household security strategy.

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