NWA-PCUG Newsletter Article, March 2009
Flash Drives a substitutive program for February 2009 meeting
Written by John R. Clark, WebMaster, NWA-PCUG
rcmahq@nwark.com (click to email author)

Flash Drives a substitutive program for February 2009 meeting

Since the February NWAPCUG newsletter had two great articles about flash drives, the presenter placed his emphasis on two areas.

1. What is memory: what is stored in memory

The program started with a small block of Ferrite Core memory developed by An Wang being passed around complete with a magnification glass to show the 4 wires that had to pass through each little donut. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magnetic_core_memory.

Stress was placed on the fact that memory of any type in general use today can only be of two states which corresponds to 0 or 1 in the binary number system. Anything stored in memory, hard drive, CD, DVD or Flash Drive is really a string of binary values.

Irfanview was used to visually present photos & play music while Servant Salamander was used to display the actual data stored in a file. A was used to show the general information about a file. The information was then shown in hex format embedded in the file.

Having established that a Flash Drive was just another form of memory the program moved to what may be its main potential use beyond the simple storage of files.

2. Portable Programs : Software application designed to run from the Flash Drive.

Today there is a growing list of applications that are supposed to run from your flash drive http://portableapps.com/apps These applications are either self contained or if they use the C drive of the computer, they are supposed to remove all traces when they are closed.

The browser Mozilla Firefox Portable was demonstrated. Ccleaner was first ran to clear out all the temporary file. Firefox was demonstrated and at the termination of the browser, Ccleaner was exectued and no tracks were found on the C drive.

The presenter who spent several years working with PCs which had only floppy drives has found that many of the old DOS applications will function from a flash drive. He demonstrated a game which used the mouse and color, the most advanced DOS version of APL and a very old word processor.

The session ended with questions and answers pertain to the life expectency of data on a flash drive, the number of times they can be rewritten, etc

The future of these little pocket drives may be very very interesting.

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