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Posts Tagged ‘ usb ’

The USB stick that thinks it’s a keyboard

Tuesday, December 4th, 2012


To Covent Garden, where James Lyne – director of technology strategy at Sophos – has been presenting a review of the security landscape during 2012, and a look forward to next year’s threats. The review is an annual event, and always entertaining thanks to Lyne’s bona fide geek credentials: this year’s talk included references to Anonymous masks, the obligatory Gangnam Style allusion and several exhortations to “[verb] all the things”.

Predictions for 2013 include increasingly sophisticated and targeted attacks, on mobile platforms as well as PCs. No surprises there. More interestingly, Lyne also expects to see a rise in ransomware, which locks away your files and provides the decryption key only on payment of a fee. So far, malware ransoms have typically been around the £200 mark, but Lyne reckons criminals will soon start to recognise high value targets (such as company CEOs) and demand much higher fees for the return of sensitive documents. He describes this type of attack as “irreversible”, as there’s nothing third-party software can do to recover your files if they’ve been strongly encrypted: the only defence is to keep backups. You’ve been warned.

The part of the talk that particularly struck me, however, relates to the little device pictured above, which Lyne demonstrated with glee. Fully assembled, it looks just like a regular USB flash drive. Or, from the internal microSD slot, you might assume it was some sort of card reader. In fact – believe it or not – it’s a keyboard. (more…)

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Windows 8’s “Windows To Go” feature: hands-on

Thursday, June 28th, 2012

Windows To Go

This morning I’ve been playing with a Windows To Go system, as helpfully provided by Microsoft at yesterday’s TechEd event. In some ways it’s almost a disappointment: running off a 32GB Kingston DataTraveler Ultimate USB 3 drive it looks, feels and runs exactly like a local Windows 8 installation. All the hardware in our test laptop – an Asus N55S originally designed for Windows 7 – was picked up perfectly on first boot and subsequently remembered, giving us a slick startup time of under 20 seconds.

We haven’t had a chance to benchmark it fully, but when connected via a USB 3 port it feels perfectly responsive: Windows’ built-in benchmarks gave our system a respectable Windows Experience Index of 4.5, dragged down not by the primary hard disk – which received a score of 5.8 – but by our mediocre desktop graphics hardware. Microsoft doesn’t recommend using a USB 2 port, but we gave this a try and found the system was still perfectly usable, with a Primary Hard Disk performance rating of 4.7. (more…)

Light Peak’s dazzling potential

Wednesday, June 30th, 2010


Light Peak, in case you didn’t know, is a new universal interconnect being developed by Intel. It’s a bit like USB, but it conveys information via laser light rather than electric current. Intel plans for consumer PCs and laptops to be available with integrated Light Peak ports by the end of the year.

Is there much demand for a new interconnect? It’s notable that Intel hasn’t felt the need to build native USB 3 support into its chipsets – though that, admittedly, may be a chicken and egg scenario.

But Light Peak is a more capable technology than USB 3. It’s faster: the standard bandwidth is 10Gb/sec, with 100Gb/sec hardware already in the pipeline. And it’s more flexible, supporting not only peripherals like keyboards and printers, but also displays and direct network links between PCs. (more…)

A tiny drive that holds billions of bits

Tuesday, June 15th, 2010


“Dude, someone’s snapped the end off your USB stick.” That’s what you’d probably say if you saw the new Lexar Echo ZE flash drive sitting on my desk.

Yet I can assure you, as one dude to another, that no one has. What you see above is the whole thing. Somehow, while I was briefly looking the other way, flash drives have become so compact that the entire device is now basically the size of the plug. (more…)

USB 3 first benchmark – it’s here, and it’s fast

Wednesday, November 4th, 2009


The first USB 3 external hard disk has arrived in the PC Pro Labs – a pre-production sample courtesy of our friends at Asus – and initial impressions are simply excellent.

The chart above may need a little explaining. The first two groups of results show how long it took, in seconds, to copy a folder of 3,000 small files, totalling 300MB in size, back and forth between a RAM disk and an external hard drive using various connections. The 650MB results are based on the same process using a single 650MB file.

The USB 2 and USB 3 figures were obtained by simply connecting the external drive first to a USB 2 port and then to a USB 3 one. The eSATA figures are from the A-Listed Iomega Professional External Hard Drive. (more…)

The worst movie tie-in ever

Tuesday, December 2nd, 2008

The Godfather

Francis Ford Coppolla’s masterpiece, The Godfather; one of the finest films ever produced, a tale of family, power and betrayal back in 1940s New York and Sicily; Marlon Brando’s finest hour, Al Pacino’s defining moment, one of the most celebrated movies of all time.

Paramount Pictures is understandably proud of The Godfather, and its flawless sequel (we’ll ignore the third). So proud that it’s very selective with movie tie-ins – we can’t have any old tat sullying the Godfather brand, now. Can we?


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The mini Flash marvel

Friday, May 30th, 2008

Corsair Flash Voyager MiniWhen a Corsair rep turned up at Dennis Towers yesterday he told us he’d brought something pretty special to show off. We were therefore distinctly underwhelmed when he said it was…a flash drive.

But this flash drive needs seeing to be believed. It’s been passed all round the office, where it’s invariably been greeted with ooohs and aaaahs of grinning appreciation, and it’s already been suggested that we buy up a job lot of them to use in the Labs.

The reason for all the fuss?


T-Mobile’s magic stick

Thursday, May 15th, 2008

This past fortnight, I have been mostly testing USB mobile broadband modems. Testing them until my eyes bleed.

T-Mobile USB dongles

Until yesterday, T-Mobile had provided us with the larger Huawei E220 USB modem you can see at the top of the photo here. And to be honest, it was pretty ropey. Tim Danton described last week the trouble he had installing the device and the download speeds we recorded – even when sat upon the 6th floor balcony here at Dennis Towers – were distinctly underwhelming. Speeds were typically hovering around 300-400Kb/sec, placing T-Mobile well behind rivals such as Vodafone and 3.







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