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Three cool things you can do with your flash drive

Flash drives are all kinds of awesome, little storage warehouses you can attach to your keychain or slip into your pocket.

And cheap, too. I've routinely seen 16-gigabyte drives for as little as $10 and 32-gigabyte drives for around $20. That's enough room for a smattering of movies, a giant photo or music collection, or all the Word documents you care to carry.

Ah, but did you know you can use a flash drive for more than just transporting data?

Those little marvels can actually perform a variety of handy tasks; below I've rounded up three of my favorites.

1. Install an operating system When the time came to install Windows 8 on one of my PCs, I didn't go the usual route and pop in a DVD. In fact, I couldn't: the machine lacks an optical drive. Thankfully, I'd purchased my Windows 8 upgrade as a download, then used Microsoft's incorrectly namedWindows 7 USB/DVD Download Tool to copy the installation files to my flash drive. Then I simply booted the laptop from that drive and proceeded to install Windows (and much faster than usual, might I add).

You can also do this with most versions of Linux, and in fact you can actually run Linux right from your flash drive--a great way to see if you like a particular distribution before installing it. I recommend checking outZorin OS, which looks and operates a lot like Windows.

2. Lock down a PC Whether you're working in an office, a coffee shop, or even your own house, there may be times when you want to lock your PC, to keep others from using it without having to actually power it down. Freeware utility Predator turns your flash drive into a lock and key. When the drive is inserted, your computer operates normally. Remove it and it's locked up tighter than Fort Knox. (Just don't lose the drive, okay?)

It can even send alert messages (with pictures!) via e-mail when someone attempts to access your PC.

3. Rescue a virus-infected PC Is your computer acting crazy all of sudden? Hijacked browser? Slow performance? Scary pop-ups? Yep, you've probably got a virus, spyware, or some other kind of infection.

Your flash drive to the rescue! Just load the free AVG Rescue CD (for USB sticks) onto your drive and keep it at the ready. The only downside is that it kind of takes over your drive, or at least reformats it in order to make it bootable.

You can add other kinds of files and data after the fact, but initially you'll need to sacrifice the drive for rescue purposes.

Indeed, I would recommend throwing a couple other rescue utilities on there (just in case AVG doesn't get the job done), including Malwarebytes Anti-Malware Free and SuperAntiSpyware Portable Scanner. Have you found any other cool uses for flash drives? Tell me about them in the comments!


Veteran technology writer Rick Broida is the author of numerous books, blogs, and features. He lends his money-saving expertise to CNET and Savings.com, and also writes for PC World and Wired.

(Source: Savings.com)

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  • ATHENS – It’s a picture that if anyone actually sells it will make a killing. The four seniors who stayed, with the postgame hoopla of a 42-13 blowout swirling around them, pulled over to have someone capture the moment. No one would have blamed Nick Chubb and Sony Michel for taking the NFL’s money. Running backs live short lives. College running back is a pretty tough way to earn a scholarship. Lorenzo Carter and Davin Bellamy had to consider if another uncertain season was the best move. Because guys who hit NFL quarterbacks have nice houses too. This was one of the moments they thought was more valuable than turning pro. Those four players standing together for a photograph that will probably be on their walls forever. They don’t have senior days in the league. Tonight was the proper end for the Class of 2017 that very much deserve it. “What a great honor it is for these guys to go out on top,” said coach Kirby Smart. “To do something no Georgia team has done before. Win the SEC East and go undefeated in the East.” It hardly seems like it was four years ago when this class walked into Sanford Stadium for the first time. We were more focused on guys like Gurley, Mason, Wilson and Herrera. But it was that night we saw a few glimpses. There was Aaron Davis, playing as a walk-on because, well there wasn’t many options, getting an interception in his first game against Clemson. He had another interception in his last game. Michel was the best running back in his class. He was the speedster from Florida with the cool name. The backfield was loaded then. But Michel was actually the Dawgs second leading receiver that night. This night, he scored three times. And of course, Chubb. Remember this. And this. This kid had a point to make and we took notice. Now Nick Chubb is a soon-to-be Georgia legend (or maybe he already is, but there’s games to go. “He’s won the hearts over of a fan base that will never leave,” said coach Kirby Smart. “What he’s given to this place through injury and toughness, it’s just tremendous.” It cannot be overstated for Chubb has accomplished here. There is only one back that’s had more yards and more touchdowns than this kid from Cedartown. He’s the clear second best to Herschel Walker and that’s about all anybody can be. “Man you hope that you have many more as good as (Chubb),” said Smart. “But you know these guys don’t come around very often.” With the talent in this backfield, Chubb hasn’t been the workhorse that he had to be when Todd Gurley got busted four years ago. Remember his first starter? 38 carries. That’s still his career high. A week later it was 30 more against Arkansas. Whatever has been needed, Chubb has delivered. With no flash. No style. Just stud. Yeah, Nick probably could be a Heisman contender but that’s not what’s best for this team. And frankly Chubb running the ball for free 30 times a night is not what’s best for him either. So instead he and his buddy Sony split the load (with another freshman chipping in) and everybody is a star “They complement each other so well and they get along so well,” said Smart. “It will be a long time before you coach a pair like that again.” I don’t know any of these players personally. They are college kids and I’m a guy that sticks a microphone in their face. But I don’t think I’ve ever rooted harder for a player on any team that I have for Nick Chubb. I thought his career was over that afternoon in Knoxville three years ago. It was bad. Last year, I thought the old Chubb was never coming back. Knee injuries are no joke. But there’s never been any complaining. Any showboating. Anything that would take attention away from everyone in Red and Black. Tonight, Chubb got his reward. His best performance of the season (151 rushing yards) and two more TDs. Despite the reduced workload, Chubb is over 1,000 yards for the year. The only season he didn’t do, his knee nearly blew up. There’s only one other UGA back that can say that and he goes by one name. It’s a fitting send off for this entire senior class, but man am I going miss watching No. 27 in red. “What a great honor it is for these guys to go out on top,” said Smart. “It’s their leadership that’s led us to this point.” A lot has happened in this football program since that muggy September night against Clemson four years ago. A couple of head coaches, a bunch of coordinators, some bad losses and lots of doubt. Tonight, there is little doubt that this Georgia team is very, very good and can do some special things. So hopefully for these 21 and 22 year old, there will be more pictures to put on their walls with some nice trophies next to them. But at least tonight, they have the moment they have rightfully earned.  
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