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'[EE] USB Flash Drives with U3 Technology'
2008\01\09@190305 by Bob Axtell

face picon face
I got a 4G SanDisk U3 Smart (USB flash) Drive from Santa Claus this year.
Today, I've been trying it out.

This is truly wonderful. I am able to EXECUTE Windoze Programs directly
from the drive itself. Here's what this gains for me:

1. Eliminates the need for me to drag around a laptop. Instead, I drag
around
a tiny U3 flash drive, and I can carefully dump unprivate files right
back into
my U3 drive. Tidy. I have the flash drive on a cable, securely around my
neck.

2. I am able to carry _MY_ programs when I am working in the field. I prefer
Open Office to any of the infected WINDOZE OFFICE fare. My clients don't.
use OO, so I can't give 'em an invoice from Open Office until after I
get home.
This way, I use my U3 version of OO to whip that invoice right out.

3. I can check MY email on THEIR system without betraying any of MY
passwords.
Mozilla Thunderbird is already U3-ready, and its still free, too. All
the email messages
stays right there on the 4G Flash Drive.


Of course, MPLAB doesn't work on U3, YET. It doesn't appear to be rocket
science to convert it over, though.

Flames appreciated.

--Bob A

2008\01\09@192150 by Timothy J. Weber

face picon face
Bob Axtell wrote:
> I got a 4G SanDisk U3 Smart (USB flash) Drive from Santa Claus this year.
> Today, I've been trying it out.

> 3. I can check MY email on THEIR system without betraying any of MY
> passwords.

Unless they have a hardware keyboard sniffer or a rootkit or a Trojan or...

To me, it's not secure unless you booted to the flash drive.  Which is
also not too hard to do, but may wig out the clients a bit more, might
toast 1% of their machines, etc.

The other cool things are definitely very cool!
--
Timothy J. Weber
http://timothyweber.org

2008\01\09@195728 by Peter van Hoof

face picon face
Bob Axtell spam_OUTengineerTakeThisOuTspamcotse.net wrote
>I got a 4G SanDisk U3 Smart (USB flash) Drive from Santa Claus this year.
>Today, I've been trying it out.

>This is truly wonderful. I am able to EXECUTE Windoze Programs directly
>from the drive itself. Here's what this gains for me:
[snip]

I've been using 4 of the U3 drives for a couple years now.
Two U3 applications I absolutely won't want to do without anymore are:

RoboForm2go a great program for entering info on web forms,
logging in to web locations and keeping password protected notes and
creditcard info handy (all protected with Des 3DES AES BLOWFISH or
RC6 encryption).
The free version is limited but usable but impressed me enough to buy the full version.

XOFTspy portable, I have tried all I could find and have been impressed with none
Except this one! The licence is affordable (not free) and allows you to
clean any pc you plug your U3 drive in. My kids and friends are experts in polluting
all computers they are allowed to use and before I used this program cleaning
spyware would never be complete things would reappear after minutes, hours or days.


Peter van Hoof

2008\01\09@200052 by Bob Axtell

face picon face
Timothy J. Weber wrote:
> Bob Axtell wrote:
>  
>> I got a 4G SanDisk U3 Smart (USB flash) Drive from Santa Claus this year.
>> Today, I've been trying it out.
>>    
>
>  
>> 3. I can check MY email on THEIR system without betraying any of MY
>> passwords.
>>    
>
> Unless they have a hardware keyboard sniffer or a rootkit or a Trojan or...
>
> To me, it's not secure unless you booted to the flash drive.  Which is
> also not too hard to do, but may wig out the clients a bit more, might
> toast 1% of their machines, etc.
>
>  
I never said it was secure. There is NOTHING secure about Windoze,
_ever_. But it is convenient...

--Bob A

> The other cool things are definitely very cool!
>  

2008\01\09@200331 by Dr Skip

picon face
What does this buy you over using PortableOpenOffice and all the other
portable-ized apps (portablethunderbird, portablemfirefox, etc) at
portableapps.com? or portablefreeware.com?

I found the U3 part to be a pain, not to mention it is set as a CDdrive and
therefore not erasable. The only option is to disable it in each machine I use
it in.

For a long time I've used portable apps which are portable-ized from a lot of
open source apps. May I suggest the following:

- Get truecrypt (open source encrypted container - truecrypt.org) <I'm not a
fan of closed source encryption products>
- Make most of the drive a truecrypt container (use the hidden volume feature
too if you need plausable deniability)
- Put the truecrypt exe and sys (dynamically loaded and never installed) in the
root of the jump drive so you can always have it to run.
- Use the above sites to get run-anywhere portable apps.

The advantages are:

- you can run the portable app from any drive, including the home hard disk,
for better performance. All settings are just as private too.

- If you lose the jump drive, no worries

- Moving to a new drive or backing up is just a matter of copying the truecrypt
container, which is just a large file.

- You can even copy the truecrypt container to the hard drive and mount it from
there for better performance or as a mirror.

- And there are no mods or dependencies on U3 or their spec, and a greater
number of apps are available.


Finally, get "total uninstaller" (google for it) which will tell you what is
done to the filesystem and the registry as you install something. I've found
most smaller apps and utilities, etc (not Microsoft, Adobe, etc) do nothing
more than register an uninstaller and only put files somewhere. Check your
favorite apps this way and you will probably find most are really 'portable'
and once uncompressed into a dir during its 'install' can be moved about fine.

99%+ of my new system is based on portable apps and installed-moved-uninstalled
apps that become portable, and that's about 30GB worth...

-Skip



Bob Axtell wrote:
{Quote hidden}

2008\01\09@200808 by Peter van Hoof

face picon face
A thing to look at for a regular flashdrive are portable applications
These basically do the same thing without U3 drive, they run without installation,
leave no trace behind on the host after eject.

If you use a so called suite it even has an integrated menu very similar to the U3
menu

Take a look at
http://portableapps.com/
http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/portable-software-usb/


Peter van Hoof

2008\01\10@001258 by Nate Duehr

face
flavicon
face

On Jan 9, 2008, at 5:02 PM, Bob Axtell wrote:

> 3. I can check MY email on THEIR system without betraying any of MY
> passwords.

Hey, Bob's coming over!

Did you guys remember to put that embedded keystroke logger inside the  
keyboard on that machine?

 :-)

--
Nate Duehr
.....nateKILLspamspam@spam@natetech.com



2008\01\10@031916 by SM Ling

picon face
On Jan 10, 2008 9:03 AM, Dr Skip <drskipspamKILLspamgmail.com> wrote:

> What does this buy you over using PortableOpenOffice and all the other
> portable-ized apps (portablethunderbird, portablemfirefox, etc) at
> portableapps.com? or portablefreeware.com?
>

Have not played with U3 yet, I was using portable thunderbird on a 1GB
imation flashkey, but a while the flashkey failed.  I doubt I had beached
the 100K cycle, I got a 1-to-1 exchange that was when 1GB was at US150 time.

I am settled on Gmail for now.  Anyone can make gdrive and gspace  work
productively for him?  Guess, nothing much can be done to the upload time,
is there one that have better file/folder structure support?

Cheers, Ling SM

2008\01\10@070213 by Xiaofan Chen

face picon face
On Jan 10, 2008 9:03 AM, Dr Skip <.....drskipKILLspamspam.....gmail.com> wrote:
> What does this buy you over using PortableOpenOffice and all the other
> portable-ized apps (portablethunderbird, portablemfirefox, etc) at
> portableapps.com? or portablefreeware.com?
>
> I found the U3 part to be a pain, not to mention it is set as a CDdrive and
> therefore not erasable. The only option is to disable it in each machine I use
> it in.
>

>From what I read, U3  is going to be obsolete soon.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/U3
www.sandisk.com/Corporate/PressRoom/PressReleases/PressRelease.aspx?ID=3782

2008\01\10@092333 by Bob Axtell

face picon face
Xiaofan Chen wrote:
> On Jan 10, 2008 9:03 AM, Dr Skip <EraseMEdrskipspam_OUTspamTakeThisOuTgmail.com> wrote:
>  
>> What does this buy you over using PortableOpenOffice and all the other
>> portable-ized apps (portablethunderbird, portablemfirefox, etc) at
>> portableapps.com? or portablefreeware.com?
>>
>> I found the U3 part to be a pain, not to mention it is set as a CDdrive and
>> therefore not erasable. The only option is to disable it in each machine I use
>> it in.
>>
>>    
>
> >From what I read, U3  is going to be obsolete soon.
> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/U3
> www.sandisk.com/Corporate/PressRoom/PressReleases/PressRelease.aspx?ID=3782
>  
Good catch.

--Bob A

2008\01\10@113457 by William \Chops\ Westfield

face picon face

>>> From what I read, U3  is going to be obsolete soon.

My impression was that the increased support for flash
files systems in general (ie in Vista, particularly) would
make U3 irrelevant.  The wiki description makes the whole
thing seem pretty trivial, and certain aspects:
>
> A partition with the U3 Launchpad pretends to be a CD/DVD-ROM  
> device in order to add USB mass storage device autoplay  
> functionality on pre-Windows XP SP2 systems, or systems whose USB  
> autoplay has been intentionally disabled.

Make me pretty uncomfortable.  It sounds like the applications STILL  
have to be specifically designed to run from the flash/cd environment  
and clean up after themselves...

BillW

2008\01\10@123221 by Bob Axtell

face picon face
William "Chops" Westfield wrote:
{Quote hidden}

Yes, maybe so....I will try the container scheme...

BTW, do you consider wiki to be a reliable source of PC & Windows
information? I was pretty
disappointed in the past, some info was really bulls***...

--Bob

2008\01\10@145322 by Dr Skip

picon face
Some neat hacks there too... I noticed one that uses the U3 technique to
install malware that will copy any subsequently inserted jump drive and open an
ssl connection to gmail and mail off its contents. Another good reason to only
have an encrypted container on the drive... ;-)  Probably used to 'seed' public
PCs...

I did some looking at my registry, having once inserted a Verbatim U3 drive,
and under this heading where USB drive info is kept:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Enum\USBSTOR

there are entries for the CD looking half and the normal flash half of the
device. HOWEVER, there are many protected keys under it that can't be deleted!!
I can see them but not their value in RegistrarLite, but they don't even show
as existing in Window's regedt32.

Illegitimate techniques... Any ideas on how to remove such entries? I know
enough to mod the registry and what and where to go, but not enough on all
these efforts to keep me out of MY machine! I get only "access denied" on my
best tools.

-Skip


Xiaofan Chen wrote:
> On Jan 10, 2008 9:03 AM, Dr Skip <drskipspamspam_OUTgmail.com> wrote:
>
> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/U3
> www.sandisk.com/Corporate/PressRoom/PressReleases/PressRelease.aspx?ID=3782

2008\01\10@185302 by Xiaofan Chen

face picon face
On Jan 11, 2008 3:52 AM, Dr Skip <@spam@drskipKILLspamspamgmail.com> wrote:
{Quote hidden}

Not so sure if you are running Vista or XP. If it is Vista, try to run
is as admin.
I remember under XP you may need to modify one registry setting to be able
to edit certain protected settings even if you are the admin. But I
could not find
the links now. I came to know this in one Microchip forum discussion.

Xiaofan

2008\01\10@190702 by Xiaofan Chen

face picon face
On Jan 11, 2008 7:53 AM, Xiaofan Chen <KILLspamxiaofancKILLspamspamgmail.com> wrote:
{Quote hidden}

The following link may help.
http://support.microsoft.com/kb/873148
Even if you are the admin, some of the registry settings can be set up
to give no permission to be editable without first changing the permission.

Xiaofan

2008\01\10@192805 by Dr Skip

picon face
Good idea. I'm doing this under Vista, and just tried it and still getting
"access denied". More negatives than worth the positives so far, and that's
WITH my running as admin, turning stuff off, etc. While the compatibility
feature seems to make older stuff run nice (more than XP was able to do),
junction points will break any copy software you have and drive you nuts!

There are a lot of cases where I as admin don't even have control over my
machine, and settings and dirs one can't get into, even with the various take
ownership scripts and commands. One can only go so far, then one must trust the
Master I guess....

Any other registry ideas?

Here is an interesting piece to read. First few lines are about why his company
won't produce Vista software, then some interesting reading on the future,
which follow my estimate as well, but well written.

http://www.jsware.net/jsware/ditips.php3#vist

Thanks.

Xiaofan Chen wrote:
> On Jan 11, 2008 3:52 AM, Dr Skip <spamBeGonedrskipspamBeGonespamgmail.com> wrote:
>
> Not so sure if you are running Vista or XP. If it is Vista, try to run
> is as admin.
> I remember under XP you may need to modify one registry setting to be able
> to edit certain protected settings even if you are the admin. But I
> could not find
> the links now. I came to know this in one Microchip forum discussion.
>
> Xiaofan

2008\01\10@195708 by Dr Skip

picon face
Thanks! You're on to something, but let me tell you what this has uncovered.
First, each subkey has to be changed. After run as admin, I'm not allowed to
see the permissions. However, I can add myself (I am an admin remember) to the
list after many clicks and dialogs, then I can set new permissions for me. I
then pop back a try to delete it and it says no, then it displays a whole new
set of subkeys under it! Even though I select to change the permissions on
subkeys too, they don't change, only they become visible. I've followed one key
down 3 levels doing this for each (applying to invisible subkeys doesn't hold)
and in the fourth level down finally got to data values and after changing its
permissions too, can delete that one key. I'm beat, and I only have a hundred
more to go I'd guess.... ARG!

I've tried ignoring inheritance, and forcing keys below to inherit my new
settings, and they refuse. It may be because they are initially hidden too, so
only after I unhide the parent do I get to even see what's there, and then they
have hidden keys in them too........

That U3 press release said they're partnering with Microsoft for the next
version. This can't be good if they can be this obnoxious on their own!!!



Xiaofan Chen wrote:
> On Jan 11, 2008 7:53 AM, Xiaofan Chen <TakeThisOuTxiaofancEraseMEspamspam_OUTgmail.com> wrote:
>
> The following link may help.
> http://support.microsoft.com/kb/873148
> Even if you are the admin, some of the registry settings can be set up
> to give no permission to be editable without first changing the permission.
>
> Xiaofan

2008\01\10@203122 by Xiaofan Chen

face picon face
On 1/11/08, Dr Skip <RemoveMEdrskipspamTakeThisOuTgmail.com> wrote:
{Quote hidden}

In this case, I will say U3 is kind of evil in terms of registry protection.
And this combined with Vista makes the problem worse.

On the other hand, you are doing something that end user will not
normally do. So it could be expected in a way.


Xiaofan

2008\01\10@204321 by Xiaofan Chen

face picon face
On 1/11/08, Dr Skip <drskipEraseMEspam.....gmail.com> wrote:
> Good idea. I'm doing this under Vista, and just tried it and still getting
> "access denied". More negatives than worth the positives so far, and that's
> WITH my running as admin, turning stuff off, etc. While the compatibility
> feature seems to make older stuff run nice (more than XP was able to do),
> junction points will break any copy software you have and drive you nuts!
>
> There are a lot of cases where I as admin don't even have control over my
> machine, and settings and dirs one can't get into, even with the various take
> ownership scripts and commands. One can only go so far, then one must
> trust the Master I guess....
>

I am interested to know which version of Vista you are running.
I was preparing the worst and borrowed some heavy books to deal with
Vista. Unfortunately (or fortunately) it was less challenging (much
more smooth) than I expected. But I understand that I have only
dealt Vista for a while and I am not using it daily (my wife is using
it). The version we have is Vista Home Premium. And a lot of the
tricks in the heavy books do not apply to the Home versions. Maybe
you are runing the Business edition which seems to have more
fine/detailed control and more settings to deal with.

Xiaofan

2008\01\10@234352 by Dr Skip

picon face
I'm running Home Premium. The difference is we get Media Center and we lose a
bunch of management tools like the security and group policy editors. It has
some good points, but they really should have a way for single user-owner-power
user to disable all this BS. It's gotten worse since Win 2k. XP had some, but
it was a few hours to reset everything. I don't know if I'll ever have it on Vista.

I did finally reset ownership on those keys and deleted them. I found a tool
called regDECL that I could batch file it with. Then each reseted layer of keys
revealed another and I could go in and write a script to reset those, etc.
Otherwise I would have put miles on my mouse... Then I could delete. I did
CurrentControlSet, but it also appears in 001 and 002, so I hope Vista doesn't
see fit to reuse one of those copies before they get shadowed...

Turning off UAC, quite a few services, using 'takeownershipof' on the
filesystem and using robocopy for backup to avoid junction point recursion have
 made it more XP-like and personal. On XP every little try-it then
uninstall-it made registry entries, as well as any hardware I used once, added
registry entries. I saw it grow like crazy, which then slowed the system down
too. I started hand crafting it later on, but it was too much to go back and
take over again. I am trying to not have all that leftover garbage on this one.

The boot process is different too, and there's a BCD section in the reg now
that affects it. I've seen some installers change things there and it worries
me. This new boot/BCD system seem to not be too robust from what I've read.

-Skip


Xiaofan Chen wrote:
{Quote hidden}

2008\01\11@055923 by William \Chops\ Westfield

face picon face

On Jan 10, 2008, at 9:31 AM, Bob Axtell wrote:

> do you consider wiki[pedia] to be a reliable source of PC & Windows  
> information? I was pretty disappointed in the past, some info was  
> really bulls***

Reliable?  I dunno.  But I don't know where else I'm going to find a  
concise summary of what something technical is and how it works.  The  
"popular press" is too full of marketing hype, and the details  
usually concealed by hundreds of pages of specifications requiring  
you to be a licensee.  For instance, I don't know how accurate the  
wikipedia article on U3 is, but it would be an interesting challenge  
to try to find a similarly concise description of how it works ("a U3  
drive emulates a CD drive containing an ISO filesystem") anywhere  
else...

There is an awful lot of technology where it is nearly impossible to  
get the sort of "internal high-level description" that wikipedia  
articles seem to supply.

BillW

2008\01\11@071617 by Peter van Hoof

face picon face
William "Chops" Westfield wrote:

[snip]
>it would be an interesting challenge  
>to try to find a similarly concise description of how it works ("a U3  
>drive emulates a CD drive containing an ISO filesystem") anywhere  
>else...
[snip]

That's easy

You go to the u3 website and download the U3 deployment kit


Peter van Hoof

2008\01\11@082105 by Alan B. Pearce

face picon face
>> do you consider wiki[pedia] to be a reliable source of PC & Windows
>> information? I was pretty disappointed in the past, some info was
>> really bulls***
>
>Reliable?  I dunno.  But I don't know where else I'm going to find a
>concise summary of what something technical is and how it works.

I don't know about reliable, but at least it had reference links to other
places that have reasonable likelihood of reliability.

2008\01\11@112134 by William \Chops\ Westfield

face picon face

On Jan 11, 2008, at 4:16 AM, Peter van Hoof wrote:

>> it would be an interesting challenge to try to find a similarly  
>> concise description of how it works ("a U3 drive emulates a CD  
>> drive containing an ISO filesystem") anywhere else...
>
> That's easy
> You go to the u3 website and download the U3 deployment kit

You'd think so, wouldn't you?  So, I registered my  
"company" (actually, better than average: "Hobbyist", "student", and  
"shareware developer" were among choices provided for "organization  
type") and downloaded the 1.6MB, 130+page document.  It doesn't once  
mention "CD" (except as "change directory") or ISO, nor did a quick  
scan provide ANY insightful paragraph on "how this is accomplished."

BillW

2008\01\11@122700 by Dr Skip

picon face
I'm not sticking my U3 drive in again after all I did to remove it, but I would
guess that the INF file present on it writes that info to the registry through
the usual mechanisms. It shows up as a USB CD device. A look at properties when
connected shows it to be a CD.

If I remember, since most USB drives translate to FAT numbering, etc., it
shouldn't be too difficult to do the same but set the bits for CDFS (I think
that's the right acronym) and send data out in that order.

It might be useful to put it in a Linux box to probe it. I think there are
tools for that there...


William "Chops" Westfield wrote:
{Quote hidden}

2008\01\11@135534 by Bob Blick

face picon face
I bought a U3 drive once, and ran their utility to remove all the U3
bits from it.

Luckily "autorun" is disabled on my computer, so when I first inserted
it, nothing installed.

Now when I buy a thumb drive, I read the package carefully enough to
make sure I never get another one with U3.

Cheerful regards,

Bob


Dr Skip wrote:
{Quote hidden}

2008\01\11@153944 by alan smith

picon face
Interesting....I've been running Eurdora from a flash drive for quite a while.  Can't recall if there are other apps that I am...but it works quite nice.

     
---------------------------------
Be a better friend, newshound, and know-it-all with Yahoo! Mobile.  Try it now.

2008\01\23@230727 by Vitaliy

flavicon
face
Dr Skip wrote:
> Finally, get "total uninstaller" (google for it) which will tell you what
> is
> done to the filesystem and the registry as you install something. I've
> found
> most smaller apps and utilities, etc (not Microsoft, Adobe, etc) do
> nothing
> more than register an uninstaller and only put files somewhere. Check your
> favorite apps this way and you will probably find most are really
> 'portable'
> and once uncompressed into a dir during its 'install' can be moved about
> fine.

IIRC, not too long ago someone on this list reported being able to install
EAGLE on a thumbdrive.

The Total Uninstaller is awesome, I've been wishing for something like this,
for a long time. I hate it when apps leave stuff behind.

BTW, do you know by any chance, if (and I don't mean to suggest anything
illegal (the thought just popped into my mind out of the blue (sorry))) the
TU can be used to circumvent certain programs' protection, for example --  
could it allow you to use a limited 30-day demo *indefinitely*, by
reinstalling said demo once a month?

Thanks!

Vitaliy

2008\01\24@020845 by Dr Skip

picon face
Hmmm, that should work in most cases...

I would guess that one could take a snapshot after any customizations and such
as well and turn it into a reg file for use after "reinstalling" too, to
simplify the second time around...

Here's a command line tool that may be of interest, although I haven't used it
yet. Seems very versatile:  http://smithii.com/regdelta


Vitaliy wrote:

> BTW, do you know by any chance, if (and I don't mean to suggest anything
> illegal (the thought just popped into my mind out of the blue (sorry))) the
> TU can be used to circumvent certain programs' protection, for example --  
> could it allow you to use a limited 30-day demo *indefinitely*, by
> reinstalling said demo once a month?
>
> Thanks!
>
> Vitaliy
>

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