Saturday, December 30, 2006

U3

If you've been reading this blog for a while, you know I have a quest for an easy to use password tool. For a program/database, I've settled on KeePass from SourceForge. Then the challenge was how to make KeePass easy to use. I found a Hagiwara USB drive that faked being a CD-ROM drive. But, the honeymoon didn't last long. I gave an update here.

Then one night while working my RSS feeds on Bloglines, I came across a bargain from Dell. They had a 1 GB SanDisk Micro Cruzer U3 for $9 with free shipping. I bought 2!

I jumped on it because of the size and only realized that it was U3 after I had ordered it.

When it arrived, I started playing with the U3 capability. It is very similar to the capability of the Hagiwara but was "closed" (more on that later). Even with this "closed" architecture, it seemed like it was hackable in that all the control information was on the writable side in XML files.

A session with Google turned up loads of information. Here're several sources:

http://newmw.wordpress.com/2006/08/16/create-your-own-u3-applications/
http://www.elitenews.org/2006/05/installing-programs-on-u3-smart-drive.html
http://www.u3community.com/
http://www.eure.ca/
http://www.everythingusb.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?s=&forumid=142
http://usb.smithtech.us/u3/
But let me just net it out. I used the Shortcut Creator 4U3 from SmithTech above and it worked like a charm.

Actually, once I saw how easy it really was, I've built more just by hand. It seems to me like the U3 folks just make it look complicated.

Now briefly on the "hackable" angle of U3. Obviously there has to be a way to write to the CD-ROM side of the U3 drive. John Smith (and certainly others) has figured this out. Smith has AutoLauncher 4U3 that will let you run whatever you want via the CD-ROM's autorun.inf.

So far, I've found SanDisk's LaunchPad satisfactory.

1 comment:

newmw said...

Nice addition/links on the hackable angle of U3, interesting reading. Still enjoying the Launchpad too, it's okay.
Although an open-source version would of course be better than the 'selective developers' approach that U3 is taking now.

Still hoping more interesting programs will appear for the U3 format.