Duck's Tech Blog

Fixing a Barcode Reader Trigger

by on Jun.21, 2014, under Home, How-To Guides, School

A few years ago I bought a barcode reader for use in a school Library. It was a Cino 780BT, Bluetooth, nice base station, glorious battery. It was a really nice unit.
One slight issue: The trigger switch on them sucks.  The first one we warrantied and got a replacement, the second one developed the same fault after a year or so of use too. The first time it happened the switch had come loose from the board, so I resoldered it back on (it’s a SMD switch, so there wasn’t much holding it on).
I contacted the company, they wanted me to send it back to them to fix (and charge me for it), the switch would be $20 + labour to fit it. I figured since it was out of warranty I’d give it a shot and see if I could replace it.

I couldn’t find a decent switch to fit (I tried to repurpose a switch from a mouse, but I couldn’t get it to fit right), so I used a switch from my Mechanical Keyboard sampler kit (it has 4 different types of switches to try out to see which one you like).

So: Little bit of soldering and some hot glue later, I have a working barcode reader again!IMG_1432

Read More to see some in progress pictures!

(continue reading…)

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Traffic Logging with Asus RT-N56U

by on Dec.31, 2013, under Home, How-To Guides

UPDATES! 21/6/14: Use a different interface that does just WAN traffic and made the cron thing actually work. Scroll down for the green bits (padavans firmware only though).

I’ve spent the last few days fiddling around with network traffic monitoring on my modem so I can track downloads for each different computer on my network. This article is a how to guide and a set of notes about getting it working.
If you want to follow this guide, you will need an Asus RT-N56U or one of the similar models. You can also mostly follow this guide using any OpenWRT routers (but you will need to adjust as you go to suit your router). I initially set it up using the stock firmware on the RT-N56U, however I ran into issues where it was reporting the wrong amount of traffic. After I installed the Padavan’s Firmware, I still had the same problem (I later solved it by disabling hardware NAT below). In theory this technique should work with the stock firmware and I’ll detail it below as well as how to get Padavan’s Firmware up and running too.

The final result of this is to be able to see a screen like this:
Screen Shot 2013-12-31 at 11.49.33 am

(continue reading…)

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MacBook Pro Retina Going to Sleep on Battery in Mavericks

by on Dec.30, 2013, under Home, How-To Guides, IT Issues

I recently got myself a MacBook Pro 15″ Retina and noticed that in Mavericks they have removed the option to have separate timers for display sleep and computer sleep.  You can turn off sleep mode  when you’re running on AC power, but not when you’re running on the battery.

The problem with this is that I want the display to turn off to save battery power, but I want all my background processes (eg. Adium/Colloquy) to continue running and for it to stay connected to wifi, but when the display goes blank, it goes straight to sleep and disconnects everything!

The fix for this is to manually set the options via pmset in the terminal. To do this, you’ll need to do the following:
1.    Open Terminal (it’s in the Utilities folder under Applications)
2.    Enter the command:  sudo pmset -b sleep 0
3.    Enter the command:  sudo pmset -b standby 0

You will need to enter your password after running these commands (if it asks for it).
For more information about what this command does, check here:  https://developer.apple.com/library/mac/documentation/Darwin/Reference/ManPages/man1/pmset.1.html

Hope this helps someone :)

Ducky

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How to throttle Skype so it doesn’t use so much bandwidth.

by on Nov.05, 2013, under Home, How-To Guides

I’ve done this as both a Mac and PC guide, the PC way of doing it is actually a little easier (but I use a paid program for it).
I’m on a 100mbit connection with a 720p iSight camera on my MacBook, so it uses about 500KiB/s of uploads (+ whatever the person I’m talking to is sending me back) which turns out to be something like 2gb an hour. This being said, Skype runs just fine on 50-100KiB/s.
When you turn on the speed cap thing, give it a minute or so and Skype will automatically adjust the video quality to suit the bandwidth available to it, so set your limit, then chill for a bit and see if you’re getting the quality you want

Mac
You’ll need a program called Entonnoir (it’s a free one).
Download it, and pop it in your Applications folder.
In Skype, go to Preferences and check the port number under the advanced tab.

Screen Shot 2013-11-05 at 9.05.15 am

Now, in Entonnoir, hit the + button, set the port number to the same as the one in your Skype Prefs and set your limits.

Screen Shot 2013-11-05 at 9.05.39 am

PC
I use a program called NetLimiter. It is glorious and I use it a lot for scheduling downloads (like game downloads through Origin/Steam where there’s no scheduling function built in) to run during off-peak download times.
Simply open up NetLimiter, tick the button next to Skype and enter a limit in.
If you know of a free equivalent for NetLimiter, post it in the comments!

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How to Find Good Torrents

by on Jun.19, 2013, under Uncategorized

How Torrents Work

To download a torrent you need a client (ie. uTorrent) and a tracker (ie. thepiratebay.org). The tracker is simply a website that contains links to .torrent files (or the newer magnet links), these are very small files that tell your torrent client where to get the pieces of the file from.
Torrents are known as Peer to Peer (P2P), this means that you are downloading the files off other users (and not off one big server). The tracker serves to link all the users together and doesn’t actually contain any of the files.
Something to note: If a movie has only just hit the cinemas, you won’t always be able to find a good quality version of it (it will probably be mainly CAM/TS rips which aren’t worth downloading).

When searching for a torrent to download, you need to keep in mind a number of things such as how many seeders/leechers there are, comments about the torrent, whether the torrent has been uploaded by a VIP or Trusted Uploader and also the name of the torrent will give you a lot of clues as to what is in it.

VIP/Trusted Uploaders

This differs depending on what tracker you’re using, some torrent sites only allow Trusted Users to upload (these are generally private ones) and other sites can have a lot of untrusted users uploading things like viruses and fakes.  If a file has been uploaded by a Trusted User, you can safely assume that the torrent is a good one (though you should still check the other things as well such as the name of the torrent).
To see if a torrent has been uploaded by a trusted user, you will see a marker on the torrent, for example with thepiratebay.org, you will see a little skull icon.

Torrent Naming

Torrent names are made up the name of the thing you’re downloading as well as a bunch of words to indicate the quality and the group that released it.
These examples are for movies or TV shows, but most other downloads will be similar.
They start with the name of the show, followed by the Season or Episode if it’s a TV show, or the Year if it’s a movie. The season is usually in the format S01E02 (aka. Season 1, Episode 2).
After this they will have the Source of the video, here are a few common ones:
HDTV/PDTV = Ripped straight from the TV, you may notice a TV logo in the corner and sometimes the silly popover ads that you get when you’re normally watching TV.
DVDRip = Ripped straight off a DVD, generally average to good quality.
BDRip = Ripped off a BluRay, very good quality.
WebRip = Ripped off a website, ie. Downloaded from iTunes or another video streaming service.
CAM/TS = Recorded in the Cinema with a camera, avoid these, they’re usually really horrible.
R5/R6 = These are DVD’s obtained by the movie company converting the film from the source onto a DVD, it is generally before any sort of processing is put on it, so quality is comparable to a Screener and a bit less than a DVDRip.
After the source is the format it is in here some of the common ones:
720p/1080p = These are high definition, usually the size of these will be greater and normally only comes from a BDRip or a WebRip.
x264 = A video codec, this is usually used for high definition footage.
XVid = An older video codec, a lot of non-high definition footage uses this.
At the end of the file name will be the release group. For the most case this doesn’t matter, though if you’re getting a series, it’s usually good to get the whole series by the same release group so the quality is the same throughout the whole lot (but really, it doesn’t matter).

Here are a few examples:
Packed To The Rafters S06E07 PDTV x264-FUtV
So you can see that this is Packed to the Rafters, Season 6, Episode 7. It has been ripped off PDTV (Pure Digital TV, aka it’s a rip straight off the TV), it is in x264 format and the group that released it is FUtV (for most people, this doesn’t matter, however some release groups you may see around often and know that they’re a good copy).

Kath And Kimderella 2012 1080p BluRay x264-PFa
Kath and Kimderella, the movie was released in 2012, it is a 1080p high definition copy taken from a BluRay and it is in x264 format. It was released by the group PFa.

Torrent-Blog-Picture

Seeds

When downloading a file from BitTorrent, you connect yourself to a swarm of people who either have the file you want, or are currently downloading the file you want. The people who have the file downloaded 100% are called Seeds, and people who are still downloading the file are called Leechers. For torrents to work properly, you need seeders.
The torrent download is split into chunks, as you download chunks that make up the file, you will also seed (upload) them to the other Leechers. Even when you have finished downloading the file, it will continue to do this (so you become a Seeder instead of a Leecher). Common curtesy says you should seed the files you download to a ratio of 1 (this means you have uploaded as much as you have downloaded). Some torrent trackers (websites) will enforce a minimum ratio for your downloads, so you must seed them to a particular ratio or risk being banned from the site.

File Size

You should keep in mind how big the file is before you download it, a full 1-2 hour movie can be anywhere from 300mb (really poor quality) to 10-20gb (really high quality).  Typically an xvid/DVD Rip will be 700mb to 1.2gb, a 720p will will be 3-8gb and a 1080p rip will be 7-20gb.

Comments

Still not sure about a torrent? Go have a look at the comments with it, if it’s a fake, there *should* be a bunch of comments stating this.

Nuked/Repack Torrents

If a torrent has been nuked, it means that there was something wrong with it. The problem can vary from major problems like missing footage or audio out of sync to simple things like being named incorrectly, glitching out for 1/2 second or so.  Usually when a torrent gets nuked, there’s what’s called a repack or a proper. A repack is a fixed version of the torrent and will usually have REPACK or PROPER in the title.

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Measuring Area on a Map with Photoshop

by on Aug.15, 2012, under Home, How-To Guides

Here’s a quick guide I wrote on how to use Photoshop to easily measure an area on a Map using Photoshop.

In this guide I’m using Photoshop CS5 for Mac, most of the concepts will be similar for the other versions.
First up: Scan your map and get it into Photoshop

Working out the Scale

1. If you’ve got a scale marker on your map, use that, otherwise you’ll need to measure a distance that you know, in this case I used a basketball court (marked as 20mx33m).
2. Use the Ruler Tool in Photoshop (hidden under the eyedropper tool) and select the distance for your scale.

3. In the ruler tool options (top of the screen usually), make sure “Use Measurement Scale” is unticked. Then look at the L1 value. Write this number down!

4. In my example I got the value 246.88px. So from this we can work out that there’s 246.88 pixels in 20 meters.
This gives us 12.344 pixels per meter and if we square it we get 152.374px per square meter.

Highlighting the Area

1. Make a new layer, and using a wonderful bright colour, paint over the area you want to calculate the size of. Make sure you set the brush to have a hardness of 100%.

2. Use the Magic Wand Selection Tool to select the area you just painted. Set the tolerance to 1 and untick Antialias and Contiguous (it should select everything you’ve painted).
3. Go to the Window Menu and bring up the Histogram. If it doesn’t have the numbers underneath it, click the drop down box in the top right hand corner of it and go to Expanded View.

4. Change the “Source” dropdown box in the Histogram window to Selected Layer and write down the number under Pixels. I got 157,529px.

Doing the math

So we know that one square meter is 152.374px and our selected area is 157,529px.
So we do some quick division: 157529/152.374 and we get 1033.83meters^2

If you used this or have any corrections, please leave a comment :)

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Papercrafting with Aluminium

by on Jul.11, 2012, under Home, How-To Guides

Papercrafting with aluminium cans

I wanted to see if papercrafting was possible using aluminium cans (ie. Coke cans), I did a bit of a google around and there doesn’t seem to be a lot of information on the subject, so I figured I’d do some research and try a few techniques out to see what I could come up with.  I’ve split this into sections to make it a little easier to read.
If you’ve never made anything out of papercraft before, I suggest you look elsewhere Papercraft Museum and make something out of paper, it takes a significant amount of more effort (and time) to work with aluminium.

Flattening the Cans

First up, I used a knife to cut the top and bottom off the can (you can use scissors, but you’ll need to use a knife to get a start to it) and then using scissors to chop the cans into a piece I can flatten. After you’ve cut them into sheets like that, neaten the edges by using a pair of scissors to cut them straight and make sure there’s no little sharp bits.
The method for flattening the cans that I’ve found works best is to use a sandwich maker (an old one, don’t ruin your good sandwich maker!!). Before turning it on, lay down a piece of baking paper on the bottom, put about 4 cans in, then add another layer of baking paper on the top (this should help prevent at least a little bit of damage to the sandwich maker).
Hold the cans down flat as you close the lid, once you’ve done that, turn the sandwich maker on.
I haven’t fully experimented with getting the best efficiency here, but I left it on for 10 minutes with 4 cans in there, then turned it off and let it cool before I opened it.
Taadaa! Flat cans!
Other methods I have tried are:
* Ironing (Does nothing)
* Ironing and bending at the same time. This method works, but you end up with your piece looking a little bit bent as it’s hard to get it as flat as you would in a sandwich maker.
* Clamping it between 2 pieces of wood. This does absolutely nothing, if you leave it for a day or a week, they bend right back to their natural shape.
It seems like heat is very important in getting these things to stay flat.

Cutting the Sheets

I printed my design out on paper first, cut the paper version out then used it to trace onto the sheet. You may end up with pieces that’re bigger than the can, so you’ll have to deal with this by splitting it into 2 pieces.
Also, because the cans are way thicker than paper, you’ll end up with parts that will fall short because the thickness of the paper messes it up. I just dealt with it as I went and it may have resulted in a less than perfect final product, the design would probably have to be altered to give a bit of room in some corners to account for the extra thickness.
Using a knife is practically useless, you just can’t drag a knife through aluminium like you can through paper.
Scissors on the other hand are brilliant, it’s just like cutting through paper. The only issue is the end of the scissors can cause the aluminium to bend a bit. To counter this, I use a knife to piece the corners, then use the scissors to cut up to them. It’s not perfect but does the trick nicely.
You should also score the pieces using whatever you normally use to score, I use a thing that’s a bit like a needle on the end of a knife handle.
Folding is pretty simple, just do as you normally do. Be careful about bending too much though, as the metal will weaken the more you bend it!

Gluing

This part is rather difficult, I tried a whole bunch of glues to work out how to get it to stick properly, I ended up settling on Contact Cement. (Contact Cement is the sort that you apply to both surfaces, let sit for ~20minutes then push them together).
This part is going to take the majority of your time, I suggest you glue 1-2 pieces at a time, put the contact cement on them, let them sit the full 20 minutes, then push together (hold for ~10 seconds or so to make sure it’s solid) before moving onto gluing 2 more pieces. Get a movie out, play some games… It’ll take a while.
The contact cement wasn’t the greatest however, as if the metal is trying to flex against the glue, it’ll pull itself apart unless you sit there holding it for at least 30 seconds, even then it doesn’t feel as strong as one would hope.
I didn’t end up trying Epoxy however, so that would be a good thing to experiment with.
Other glues I tried:
* Aleene’s Original Tacky Glue (the metal surface was too shiny for the glue to stick once it dried). This is the glue of Papercrafting gods that I had to import from the US to Australia. It’s very similar to PVA/Wood Glue, just slightly tackier making it awesome for papercraft. Just not for… Aluminiumcraft :P
* “Hobby Cement” – Same deal as the Tacky Glue above
* Bostik Multi Bond – Same deal as above, it just can’t stick to the metal as well as it should.

Taadaa!

And here’s my end result! Would I do it again? Nope, it took me about 3 days to get the whole thing done when the paper version took closer to a couple hours….

The design I got from: Tenpepakura Translated
And thanks to: Build Totodile  for showing me where to get it :D

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Scanning into Microsoft Office 2010

by on Apr.30, 2012, under How-To Guides

So it appears that Microsoft removed the ability to scan directly into a document in Office 2007.

It’s a pretty silly move I suppose, so I tried to work out a way to bring the functionality back, first of all, here’s how Microsoft suggests you should do it: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/924462
Step 1: Use the software that was included with your scanner to scan and save the image to your computer.

… Yeah, no thanks.

Here’s two actual solutions to the problem:

Option 1: Using a Key Combo

Install your scanner drivers as per normal.
In Word, press the alt key and type ips (note: don’t hold them down or it won’t work, just type out ips).

Word will then pop up asking you what scanner you want to use. It didn’t bring up the scanner interface on the machine I was working with, it just went right ahead and scanned the whole document, so this may not be the best solution for some. Note that the next solution is more difficult and does exactly the same thing as this one.

Source: Comments on this page: http://www.pcpro.co.uk/realworld/360373/how-to-scan-into-word-2010

Option 2: Creating a button on the Ribbon

This option is a lot more complicated, make sure you get all the steps right and in order! When you’re done you’ll have a button on your Insert tab of the Ribbon.

  1. Open Word and go to the View Tab then click on Macros.
  2. Give the macro a name (eg. Scan)
  3. Enter the following text EXACTLY:  Application.WordBasic.InsertImagerScan
  4. Save and Close the Window
  5. Right click anywhere on the Ribbon and Select “Customise the Ribbon”
  6. On the right hand pane, click on the Insert category and click New Group.
  7. Rename the Group to anything you like (eg. Scan)
  8. On the Left Hand Pane, Change the drop down box at the top to Macros then select the Macro you made in step 2-4 and click the Add button (so it appears underneath the scan group you made in Step 6.
  9. Rename it to something better like “Scan Document” and pick a pretty picture for it.
  10. Click Okay and you’re done!

Now you can just click the button to Scan a document. It’s exactly the same as the alt-ips option above though, but might be easier for people to remember so they can click the button.

Source: http://www.pcpro.co.uk/realworld/360373/how-to-scan-into-word-2010

If this helped you, please leave a comment to say thanks :D

Ducky

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Xerox Phaser 3123 and 3124 Drivers for Mac Lion

by on Aug.30, 2011, under How-To Guides

Here’s a link to a little article I found about getting the Xerox Phaser 3123, 3124 and Xerox Docuprint 203/204a’s working on a Mac (including Lion).
http://www.macuser.my/strange-tale-compatible-incompatible-printers-mac

Basically: the Xerox printers are just rebranded Brother/Samsung printers, so you can go to the Brother/Samsung website and download the drivers to make it work.
The Xerox Phaser 3123 and 3124 are the same as the Samsung ML 2510.
If you’re using the network on the 3124, then it just works as a generic postscript printer.
http://www.samsung.com/ca/support/search/supportSearchModelResult.do?menu=SP01&searchWord=ml2510&default_searchInputBox_value=Enter+model+number+or+keywords&searchInputBox=ml2510&find_button=

The Xerox DocuPrint 203a/204a use the Brother HL-2040 driver.
http://welcome.solutions.brother.com/BSC/public/us/us/en/model_top/monolaserpri/hl2040_all.html?reg=us&c=us&lang=en&prod=hl2040_all

EDIT: If you’re looking for a qualified driver for the Xerox 204A, use the Brother HL-2040 driver linked above. The driver on the the Xerox site for the 204A is not a Windows Qualified driver and was having issues with iPrint for us.

Another Edit: If you’re having issues with the Xerox 204A printers, you can do a full factory reset on them by doing the following:

1. Turn the printer off
2. Hold down the Go button and turn the printer on. The lights will go solid after a few seconds with the Ready light off.
3. Let go of the go button, then press it 6 times. The printer will then start normally and be reset.

I got this info from the Brother HL-2040 tech manual here (this doubles as the Xerox 204A Tech Manual too): http://welcome.solutions.brother.com/BSC/Public/files/dlf/doc000360/HL2070N_NUG_ENG_1.pdf

If any of this has helped you, please leave a comment with how things worked out for you!

:D

Ducky

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USB Sticks – Everything you need to know

by on Jun.17, 2011, under How-To Guides, Reviews

There’s a surprising amount of information that people don’t know about USB Sticks, a lot of people have wrong information about it. I’d like to write this post to explain to everyone some common misconceptions about USB sticks, what to look for when buying a USB stick and some cool tips for making them better.
Also, I just bought myself a new USB Stick and it took me a few days to find the one I wanted (yes, days, days of hunting to find the best one for me).

Common Misconceptions about USB Sticks

You don’t need to Safely Remove (or Eject) a USB Stick.

False, technically…

When you go to Safely Remove a USB Stick, your computer will make sure that nothing is doing anything with the drive. If you’re copying data to the USB Stick, it could corrupt files that are transferring to it. But here’s the big one: USB Drives typically use a thing called FAT32 to store their data, this is so the drive will work on both Macs and PCs. 99% of the time when you don’t safely eject, everything is fine, but there’s a special part of the drive that stores where all the files on your drive are, if this gets corrupted (by unplugging it at just the wrong moment), all your data will be lost.

USB Sticks have no moving parts, so they can’t break.

False.
I’ve seen many USB Sticks fail, sometimes it’s quite sudden and your drive will simply just stop working. There’s nothing you can do to save the data. If you’re really lucky and have a lot of money, you could get a professional to try to recover the data (costing you upwards of $10,000).
If you notice your USB Stick doing something odd like not being recognised by the computer or suddenly dropping out and not working until you unplug/replug it in, stop using it and buy a new one.

USB Sticks can’t survive a trip through the washing machine

False
They totally can (usually). If yours ends up through the wash, let it dry out for at least a few days (don’t even dare plugging it in until it’s 100% dry, inside and out). If you’ve got some silica gel (those little anti moisture packets), put it in an air tight tupperware container with it. Rice works too.
You can also get waterproof USB Sticks.

Buying a USB Stick

There’s a lot of different USB Sticks you can buy. Try to steer clear of the novelty ones firstly, they’re pretty much the cheapest USB Stick whacked into a fancy case.

Speed

USB Sticks range from very slow (2-3MB/s transfer speed) to really quick (over 100MB/s). Most USB Drives on the market are USB2, this means they’ve got a theoretical maximum speed of about 60MB/s (480mbit USB2), but you’ll most likely never see any over 35MB/s. The latest USB sticks coming out now are USB3 sticks, these ones have speeds of over 100MB/s (in theory) but you must have USB3 on your computer to use it (not all new computers even have this yet, so it’s unlikely you would have USB3).
Does the speed really matter?   Yes.  Take one of the better Kingston USB Sticks for example, it has 20MB/s read and 10MB/s Write. To copy a 1gb Movie onto the drive, it will take you almost 2 minutes. On the other hand, the Patriot SuperSonic at 70MB/s Write speed: 15 seconds (or, at USB2 speeds: 31seconds).
Basically: There are a lot of really slow drives out there, ones that make you want to tear your eyes out as it trudges along at 2-3MB/s (yes, there are a lot of drives this slow out there).

Size (Memory)

At the moment (June 2011), USB Drives go up to 128GB, this is pretty cool, but really expensive at the same time. The sweet spot is around 16gb ($35) or if you need something a bit bigger, 32gb to 64gb ($100 and $200).

Size (Physical)

This one is more important than you think. The USB Drive has to fit with other USB devices plugged in next to it (this is really, really important). There’s nothing more annoying than having to unplug a bunch of other devices so you can plug in your USB Drive.
Keep an eye out for the USB3 drives, I’ve only seen one that has a small enough footprint to fit next to other drives (the Patriot Supersonic Drive – See Image on Right).

 

Design

There’s a whole heap of different ways they build these things, fancy caps on the end, flip out covers, cool clicky bits to make it click into place… Most of them suck though.
The ones that click (you push the end until the USB bit is clicked into place) seem fine at first, but if you’re trying to get it into a tight USB port, it’ll click back.

Caps can (and will) get lost.

The swivel USB sticks are good because you can’t lose the cap, but I’m yet to see a decent USB stick (according to other attributes) in this style.

The screw cap USB Sticks take FOREVER to unscrew.

One of the best ones I’ve got has a normal removable cap, but the lanyard bit for it goes through the cap as well as the USB, so they can’t get separated.

The other thing to look at is the physical toughness of the drive, most of them are plastic, but you can buy rubber ones that are more shock proof and waterproof and metal ones as well.

Encryption

You can get some USB Sticks that use Hardware Encryption to encrypt the data on the drive.
In short: Don’t bother, unless you’re a crazy encryption nuthead, the encryption will only slow the drive down and increase the cost. I would suggest getting any USB drive and using something like Truecrypt (http://www.truecrypt.org/) to encrypt the data on the drive.

Warranty

If you’re going to spend over $100 on a USB drive, check the warranty! Most come with 3-5 year warranties.

Special “Bonuses”

Some USB Sticks ship with a thing called the U3 System (or something else, there’s a couple different ones), supposedly trying to make your life easier. 95% of the time it slows you down and annoys the crap out of you. If you’ve got U3 installed on the drive, go here for instructions on how to remove it (http://kb.sandisk.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/2550/~/removing-u3-launchpad-on-a-pc). If it’s not U3 and something else, google something like: Remove <insert name of thing here>
There should be some results on how to get rid of it :)

Where to buy

I typically get my USB drives online from places like PC Case Gear (http://www.pccasegear.com/) or UMart (http://www.umart.com.au).
Avoid getting ones from eBay, especially if they’re strangely cheaper than the other ones. There has been a lot of scams where they will sell you a USB stick saying 128gb, when it’s actually a 128mb drive with 128gb written on it (and some crazy tricks to even make the computer think it’s 128gb). See this page for more details on the scam (http://reviews.ebay.com.au/BEWARE-of-FAKE-1GB-2GB-4GB-8GB-USB-Flash-Drives-on-eBay_W0QQugidZ10000000000706427)

Cool Tricks for USB Sticks

Contact Info!

USB Sticks are really easy to lose and very hard to work out who owns it. Make a text file called “If Lost Open Me!.txt” and leave it on the USB Drive, include your contact details and phone number so whoever finds the stick can return it to you!

Autorun File Trickery

On Windows Machines, they will read a file called autorun.inf when you plug a USB Stick in, inside this file you can include details like the default action (Windows XP only), the icon and the name of the USB Stick (this is separate from the name of the drive and lets you give it longer, case sensitive names).
Note that this doesn’t work on fully up to date machines as Microsoft have disabled the functionality (what a buzz kill).
This has the added bonus of working as an indication that a virus is on your USB Stick: If you notice that your fancy icon and all that is missing, it’s likely that a virus has replaced your autorun.inf file. Go check it and make sure it’s not trying to run something else!
Also: If you don’t use this trick and you see a file on your USB called autorun.inf, get rid of it. Alternately, a folder called “System” is also a part of a virus, delete that too!
To make an autorun file for yourself, download this file and edit the autorun.inf file in your favourite text editor (leave a comment if you need help!).

BACK UP YOUR USB STICK

Seriously, if your only copy of your thesis, photos or any other important documents is on your USB Stick BACK IT UP NOW.
Always Always Always keep multiple copies of your data.
Things will fail, you are not an exception to the rule. If you’ve never had a data failure before, that doesn’t make you immune to them later.

 

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Ducky

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