Everything about the Aegis Secure Key telegraphs that Apricorn is serious about the whole data-security thing. The Secure Key has 256-bit AES full hardware encryption, so it doesn’t require software or drivers—it’s completely platform-independent, and it will even work with USB On-the-Go devices like Android tablets. This is a big deal—many drives ship with software encryption clients, but those rarely include software compatibility beyond Mac and Windows.
Enter the wrong PIN 10 times and the Aegis will shred your data to prevent brute-force attacks.
Microsoft's latest productivity suite's first few weeks on the market have been disappointing, according to Stephen Baker, NPD Group's VP of industry analysis. The market research firm's Weekly Tracking Service found Office 2010 trailing its predecessor, both in terms of unit sales and revenue, when only the first two weeks were considered.
Baker blamed Office 2010's lackluster start to the fact that it was “launched into a saturated market” and that too in the middle of a “seasonally slow period for PC purchases which have, over time, proven to be a have a strong impact on Office sales.” However, Microsoft can take heart from that fact that Office 2010 has improved upon Office 2007's sales pattern so far this year.
“Office 2007 was a radical new design that certainly helped deliver a lot of curious buyers and it was launched nearly parallel with Vista, adding a good deal of promotional activity in the software aisle, both of which likely helped drive initial sales of Office 2007,” Baker wrote in a blog post. “While Office 2010 has many compelling new features, it is always an uphill battle to sell a high installed base product based on new features alone.”
The analyst sees tremendous promise in the key card program, which lets users activate Office 2010 on preloaded machines using a product key (no disc required). Baker revealed that the key card program currently accounts for “about one-third of the unit volume.”
Baker does not foresee web-based productivity applications posing any real threat to Office 2010 in the immediate future: “Over time it is certainly likely that we will see some slowdown in retail sales as consumers alter their productivity software habits, but that time is not now. Mainstream consumers have not embraced the concept of the cloud, nor are they likely in the short to mid-term, making most of the questions around free software moot.”
If you live by the sword, there’s a good chance you’ll die by the sword. So it goes with technology. Once introduced, regardless of how beneficent the intent, there’s always a dark side to be explored, and no shortage of people willing to find out what that dark side holds.
In this case the dark side is really obvious. Alternative Production Solutions (APS) is working on an Electronic Key Impressioner (EKI). The EKI eliminates the “tedious job of manual lock impressioning". Instead, this USB device “electronically maps the inside of a lock” and provides a key code within a matter of seconds. With a key code in hand it’s a simple matter for a locksmith to cut a working key. Whatever was locked becomes unlocked.
The EKI is designed for use on wafter tumbler locks--the type that keep your house secure, and your older model car protected when left unattended. APS says the EKI will only be available to locksmiths and “authorized security professionals”, but, given the way the world seems to work, that’s not a comforting assurance.
Wh...what's this? A piece of open-source software from Microsoft that adds speed and portability to the standard Windows 7 installation process? It almost sounds too good to be true, but it's not! There really is such a utility, and it really has been delivered by the Windows 7 manufacturer itself, and it really is open-source!
I might sound a little too excited about this entire concept, but that's just because this tool--the Windows 7 USB/DVD Download Tool--is actually a great replacement for what is otherwise a semi-complex (and hard to remember) series of console commands. If you think I'm exaggerating just for the sake of fashioning up a fun article to read, you're wrong. I couldn't tell you off-hand how to create a bootable USB drive with a preloaded Windows 7 disc. I usually just turn to this series of steps as a general walkthrough.
While the Microsoft tool isn't perfect, in that it won't automatically rip the contents of your Windows 7 CD and fashion a bootable USB key out of that, it's still an awesome way to automate this entire process using a friendly GUI. But don't think that you can just use this tool to make bootable USB keys of any ol' ISO file sitting around on your hard drive. In fact, you can't even rip the Windows 7 DVD and use the subsequent ISO file as the basis of your bootable USB key. Not without some tweaking, that is...
If you're like me, your USB key should come with its own flame retardant coating. That's because I tend to use my little four-gigabyte device to great excess on a near-daily basis. It's an easy fix for transferring files from a desktop PC to a laptop, and it's great for carrying batches of files I need to access (especially if I'm without an Internet connection, making Dropbox useless). If I'm heading over to a friend's house, I can slap a movie on the drive for us to watch on an attached PC or home theater device. I can throw down a game or two if I'm going to be travelling and don't feel like reading about overpriced devices that will pet my cat for me. USB keys are more than just a geek's trusty friends. They're uber-tools in their own right.
Application suites for USB keys are another popular way of extending the functionality of your desktop into the portable realm. Install these batches of software and you can take your favorite programs along with you wherever you go--perfect for when you're using a computer that isn't yours, yet you would prefer to be able to access to a better range of apps than Windows' default programs. Better still, you can stick these batches of applications on smaller USB keys to extend the life of these sub-gigabyte devices. The storage might stink, but the functionality will rule.
Click the jump to check out five, freeware application suites that will dazzle up your USB key faster than you can say, "universal serial bus."