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Virtually everyone knows what a USB Flash Drive is. First available in 2000, USB drives are data storage devices designed to replace optical discs and magnetic floppy disks. USB drives were smaller, faster, and much more reliable, as they had no moving parts and were immune to electromagnetic interference (unlike floppys) and surface damage (unlike optical disks).

The first USB flash drives sold to the public had (by today’s standards) a laughably small storage capacity at 8MB. Since then, USB flash drives have increased from megabytes to terabytes. With the average person needing more and more space to store their data, older USB flash drives are being abandoned for larger more practical drives.

So what do you do with the old drives? Most folks probably chuck them into a drawer somewhere and forget all about them. We have previously discussed the various things you can do with old USB drives. Here are five more cool things to make good use of an old USB drive.

1. USB Dead Drop

The brainchild of Berlin artist Aram Bartholl, a USB dead drop is guaranteed to make you feel like a spy. Dead drops are a method of espionage in which two parties can exchange information at a secret location without having to meet in person.

A USB dead drop takes this idea and updates it for the digital age. After embedding USB flash drives into walls, curbs, buildings, or other public spaces, anyone can access its data. Users can track down these USB dead drops and share data, anonymously and totally offline. Sound fun? Of course it does, so what are you waiting for? Start making one of your own!

2. Flash Drives for Freedom

The North Korean government controls virtually every aspect of their citizens’ lives. Censorship of the Internet, movies, television, movies, music and books is rampant. Human rights activists have been secretly smuggling contraband material into the country for years, hoping to subvert the regime.

One of the best ways to smuggle media from the outside world into North Korea is via USB. Compact and able to store lots of data, USB drives are providing a window to the outside world. Human Rights Foundation and Forum 280 partnered with North Korean refugee organizations to collect unwanted USBs. After they are filled with censored media, the USBs are smuggled into North Korea where they can educate the suppressed population.

3. Create an Automated Application Installer

The tedious process of downloading and installing your software of choice has become obsolete. Ninite is a package management system for Windows that allows users to create a custom application installer. Simply head to the Ninite website, select the software you wish to install, and Ninite compiles everything into a single executable. Running the Ninite executable will download and install the selected programs to your computer.

Ninite installs all software with default settings and automatically refuses any extra bloatware (like search toolbars) that try to sneak onto your system. Chuck the executable onto a USB, and you’ll never have to waste time downloading and installing programs again.

4. Create a Windows 10 Password Reset Disk

Whether it’s your PC, phone, eBay account, or PayPal, everything requires a password. If you’re anything like me, you probably tend to forget your passwords from time to time. When it’s a website or service you usually have to spend a few minutes resetting the password. It’s an inconvenience for sure but not a complete disaster. If you forget the password on your Windows 10 PC, well, that’s a whole different can of worms. Before it comes to that, grab a spare USB (or SD card) and create a Password Reset Disk.

Note: this tool only works for local accounts and does not recover a Microsoft account password.

5. Create a Modern Day Mix-Tape

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6 Cool Things You Can Do On Android With An Otg Cable

A USB On The Go (OTG) cable is a very useful tool that enables devices to communicate with each other. You can use it to do so many cool things to extend your device’s functionality. It’s also cheap; you can get one for $3 or less.

1. Use a game controller

Playing games with a touchscreen is, in most cases, not as intuitive as using a dedicated gamepad, so it is often necessary to find a way around this especially when playing racing, shooter or sports games.

2. Charge one device with another

One of the most common uses of a USB OTG cable is for charging one device with another one. The process is very simple; all you need to do is plug the OTG cable into the host device and then use a regular USB cord to connect the other device with the OTG cable.

For this to work, though, the host device needs to have a higher battery capacity compared to the secondary device.

3. Connect a USB Flash Drive (or Hard Drive) to your device

You can easily connect a USB flash drive to your Android phone using an OTG cable. All you need to do is plug the flash drive into the secondary port of the cable, and use any of the many file manager apps for Android to access your files and folders.

4. Connect a USB Mouse or Keyboard

Writing on an Android device is really tedious, as on-screen keyboards can barely achieve the same level of speed and accuracy that people have been accustomed to on their computers. But, with an OTG cable, you can easily connect a keyboard to your device and configure it using Android’s built-in settings for external controllers. Connecting a USB mouse is also possible which could be handy if you have calibration issues with your device.

5. Using a Modem

If you think your WiFi-only device is useless for browsing the Internet without a WiFi connection, think again. With a USB OTG cable, there’s a decent chance that your modem may just work with your device.

6. Record audio on your smartphone with an external microphone

While your phone’s built-in mic is sufficient in most cases, a real microphone is essential if you want to deliver a high quality recording. There are many microphone models which have a USB cord, and with an OTG cable coupled with a dedicated app (such as USB Audio Recorder PRO), you can easily make your external mic work with your Android device.

Bottom Line

A USB OTG cable can greatly extend your Android device’s functionality to a large extent. There is much more you can do with it apart from those uses highlighted above, but those six are a good place to start.

Image credit: N800 Packet Injector

Ayo Isaiah

Ayo Isaiah is a freelance writer from Lagos who loves everything technology with a particular interest in open-source software. Follow him on Twitter.

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5 Ways Google Drive Desktop Can Keep You More Productive

Google Drive is already an incredibly useful service in its own right, but once you bring the power of its desktop components into play you’ll be more productive than ever. 

If you’re using a desktop computer then there really is no reason not to install the Google Drive desktop components. If you still need convincing, these are the best reasons according to us why you should give Google Drive Desktop a chance.

Table of Contents

What Is Google Drive “Desktop”?

There isn’t actually a specific product called Google Drive “Desktop”. Rather, there are several methods you can use to get Google Drive to work without an active internet connection.

The first is the Google Docs Offline Extension for Chrome. This official Google extension, once activated, lets you work on your Google Drive documents whether you have internet or not. It’s quite frankly an essential feature and you should absolutely enable this.

The second part of the desktop component suite is Google Backup and Sync. This syncs copies of certain key folders, such as photos and videos, to your Google Drive automatically. It also creates a DropBox-style folder on your computer where your Google Drive contents are synced to. Anything you copy into that folder will be synced to the cloud!

You Can Keep Working When The Internet Is Down

Cloud-based productivity suites are incredibly useful in a world where people need to work from multiple devices and in collaboration with a team of remote colleagues. However, as soon as the internet goes down for any reason, you lose access to your work! While internet connection losses may be relatively rare at home, it’s a frequent problem for mobile internet users.

It’s also a major issue if you need to travel a lot. On airplanes you can’t use WiFi. On trains and in the subway there may be no reception. Not to mention that you may not have internet access for a while in a different country. So having your work files available at all times is absolutely needed to stay productive.

Sharing Large Files Is Easy

Even in the age of broadband, most email services have some pretty severe limits on the size a file attachment can be. Not a great situation when you need to share high-quality images, audio, or other large media.

With a synced Google Drive folder on your computer, you can easily share large files by simply storing them on a designated folder on your computer. Anyone you’ve given permission to can sync it to their own computer or access it in the cloud. Google Drive handles all the rest.

Storing Your Backups Can Keep You In Business

If you’re using Backup and Sync, you can save just about anything you want in your local folder and have it synced. Assuming that you have enough storage. That can include any type of file. 

For example, you can sync hard drive backup images and simply set your backup software to target a synced folder on your drive. Since you can specify which folders to sync on each of your Windows or macOS computers, you don’t have to worry about having irrelevant files on each machine. So if your computer is stolen or your hard drive is wiped, you can get your data back no matter what.

It Makes Collaboration Dead Easy

Speaking of which, Google Drive has robust sharing settings, which means you and your co-workers can share content only with individuals who need access.

Scan And Archive Documents As a Team

The dream of a paperless office is still just that  – a dream. Which means that plenty of paper documentation still needs to be digitized. There’s actually a pretty cool way you can get your team to collectively digitize paper documentation using this Google technology.

The Google Drive mobile app has a built-in document scanner. Each member of your team simply needs a smartphone, the Google Drive app and access to a shared Google Drive folder. Then they can create scans of documents in the field and save it to that folder.

If you have that folder synced to a computer, that means that all that scanned data will automatically download and accumulate on that machine. Ready to be used for whatever purpose you have for it.

Storage Upgrades With Google One

While anyone can use these productivity tricks for free, a standard Google Drive account only comes with 15GB of storage. A storage pool is shared across services like Google Drive and Gmail. Which means one of the most impactful ways to get a productivity boost from Google Drive desktop is to upgrade your total storage using Google One. 

While this will cost you a few bucks, it’s actually some of the cheapest cloud storage you can get. For $1.99 a month, you can get an additional 100GB of storage all the way up to $299.99 a month for 30TB of storage. 

5 Cool New Android Launchers You Should Try

When it comes to custom launchers for Android, the first option that comes in mind for a lot of people is Nova Launcher. While that is quite natural as the launcher has been there for a long time providing a lot of features and customizations, many of you might be looking for new launchers with more new cool features which inspired us to compile this list of 5 new Android launchers you should totally check out.

1. Lawnchair

The first pick in this list is Lawnchair, which is my favorite launcher ever since I found it. There are a lot of customizations in the launcher which lets you dive deep into details to make your phone just as you want. And speaking of attention to detail, I must mention the eye-candy Settings of the launcher which is total bliss to look at. You can customize everything from themes, desktop icons, home widget, dock, and app drawer. It also allows a few handy Gestures like Double tap to sleep the device.

I have been personally using the launcher ever since it got released and I would totally recommend it. If you need to be one of the first ones to receive and test the latest update, do join their Telegram Channel here and download the latest version of the launcher. You can also install the Play Store version if you need completely stable builds.

2. Hyperion Launcher

Hyperion Launcher is another great launcher if you need a few more in-demand customization features. The launcher is developed by the team behind popular theme engine Substratum.

The launcher can be downloaded from the Google Play Store for free. However, you will have to make an in-app purchase of Rs.159 or buy Hyperion Supreme unlocker app for the same cost to get access to more features like Gestures, disabling app suggestions, smart widgets and much more. One of the unique features Hyperion launcher has over other launchers is the support for locking apps using fingerprint but you will get that only when you buy the app.

Download Hyperion (Free, In-app Purchases)

3. Niagara Launcher

Download Niagara (Free)

4. Customized Pixel Launcher

If you are someone who loves the Pixel launcher and want to make a few customizations, Customized Pixel Launcher would be your best bet. Also, the fingerprint lock feature I was talking about in Hyperion launcher is available here for free. The app is available for free and you can buy the donate app if you would like to support the developer.

5. Before Launcher

Before Launcher is the launcher you should choose if you want a minimalistic experience from your Android device. The app has a filtered notification tray that shows notifications from the apps you select. It also allows you to select the apps you need on the home screen. Swiping right will give you access to the entire list of apps. The most recent apps will be displayed on the top of the app list for quick access. You can also turn on incognito mode in settings to stop the app from tracking recently used apps.

Download Before Launcher (Free)

Four Things You Can Do To Stop Donald Trump From Making Climate Change Worse

Many people are uneasy about what the next administration will mean for the future of our planet. NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

The next president of the United States is not likely to prioritize environmental protection. President-elect Trump has claimed that human-caused climate change is a hoax. During his campaign he’s threatened to “cancel” United States participation in the Paris Agreement, which aims to limit global warming to within two degrees Celsius of pre-industrial levels. He has said he would dismantle President Obama’s signature Clean Power Plan to cut carbon emissions from power plants. He has named a climate change skeptic to lead the EPA transition team.

We don’t know yet which plans Trump will stick to, and he cannot undo all of the regulations and agreements made during the Obama administration overnight. It would take years to withdraw from the Paris Agreement, although Trump could refuse to enforce it.

Here’s the good news: regardless of what the next administration does (or refuses to do), global action to thwart climate change will continue. And you can help. If you’re worried about the environment, here are a few things you can do:

Speak out

Show the government how desperately the public wants to slow climate change. Find your elected representatives. Send them a message about the impacts of climate change, and the actions you support.

“Start acting locally when you run into a roadblock globally,” recommends Debbie Sease, the Sierra Club’s Senior Director of Advocacy. “You can say ‘no’ to Mr. Trump in terms of, ‘please don’t attack the environment,’ and then you can work with your local city council to try to get your city to adopt things that are moving toward a…clean energy future.”

The benefits to working locally will spread beyond your own city and state. “It’s not just a consolation prize,” Sease says. One example of how this has played out, she says, is the fuel efficiency standards that President Obama set for cars and trucks (although they might take a beating in the next four years).

“What made it possible for him as president to come in and successfully do that was the fact that…states including California, which is a huge auto market, had adopted state standards,” she says. This made auto manufacturers more willing to agree to a national standard. “That work at the state level…set the stage for major progress at the federal level,” Sease says.

Get involved

If you’re feeling disheartened, read a few of the statements nonprofit groups such as American Rivers, Defenders of Wild Life, and Earthjustice have released in the wake of the election, promising to fight harder than ever to defend the environment.

Then donate to an environmental organization, or find out which groups have state or local chapters near you and volunteer (you can also find opportunities to pitch in at

Here are a few environmental organizations to check out:

Natural Resources Defense Council

Sierra Club

Environmental Defense Fund

Ocean Conservancy

Another way to help: support environmentally friendly businesses and cleaner energy sources such as wind and solar. President-elect Trump may support the coal industry, but, “If the marketplace is saying, we want clean energy, we want to get off of fossil fuels, and we find clean energy cheaper, it ties his hands,” Sease says.

Shrink your carbon footprint

There a plenty of ways to cut down on greenhouse gas emissions related to everyday activities like traveling to work and using electricity.

For starters, unplug your electronics when you’re not using them. And when your smartphone, laptop or television bites the dust, recycle it. Also, if you weren’t already recycling paper or glass and plastic containers, start doing that too.

When you can, try to walk, bike, carpool with others, or take public transportation.

A lot of energy goes into producing and transporting food, so try to buy locally grown food, plan how much food you actually need to avoid waste, and cut down on red meats (which require more energy than other foods).

You can find more tips here.

Take care of yourself

So sign up to clean a river, plant trees, or monitor how clean the water is in your community. And don’t lose hope. “It can seem very daunting,” Sease says, but, “people should not say, well there’s nothing we can do.”

What Is An Xss Attack And What Can You Do About It?

What Is XSS?

The definition is in its name. An XSS attack is executed by modifying a URL in a way that can allow certain scripts to be injected into it. For example, you can make an entirely different website show up within a frame of the URL’s destination.

Look at an example of the modified URL:

How Does XSS Affect You?

XSS can be used in a variety of ways. Some may just post a link on Twitter containing the malicious URL. Twitter does half the work for them by covering up the URL partially. Contextual links within untrustworthy blogs and websites may contain URLs that are masked by the “anchor text” (which is another fancy way of describing text that’s underlined and blue).

XSS can also be used to trace you by installing cookies on your computer without your consent. Gathering this data could allow hackers to better understand a “digital demographic” of the people they are targeting for future malware infections. In such a case, you might not even notice anything going on in your computer or mobile device at all.

How Dangerous Is XSS?

All things considered, XSS isn’t usually very dangerous. It may be annoying, but it won’t present any long term consequences, at least not in the short term. However, beware of combinations between XSS attacks and other sorts of malicious behavior!

For example, let’s say that Facebook is vulnerable to XSS. A hacker can easily inject a fake log-in page to Facebook’s URL. You’d log in successfully (since the fake page can send your credentials to both Facebook and its own database), but the hacker will now have your username and password. This is where the true danger of XSS presents itself.

How To Protect Yourself Against XSS

If you have a website you’re developing yourself, read this cheat sheet. This will protect you and your visitors from XSS. Be sure to mail the cheat sheet to any web developers you know. They’d appreciate it.

Miguel Leiva-Gomez

Miguel has been a business growth and technology expert for more than a decade and has written software for even longer. From his little castle in Romania, he presents cold and analytical perspectives to things that affect the tech world.

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