Gadgets & Apps

Five Alternate Uses For Extraneous USB Drives

Introducing the USB bookmark! Photo by Omar L. Gallaga / NPR.

Don't toss that USB drive. Make it a high-tech bookmark! Omar L. Gallaga/NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Omar L. Gallaga/NPR

USB drives (or "Flash drives" as we used to call them) made transporting data so easy so quickly that we've already skipped the part where we mourn that we are in a new era in which we take them for granted.

They became cheap and roomier in storage space at a breakneck pace. Now, they are carelessly attached to keychains; they litter our desk. We only ever care about them when data we need is stored in one of them and and the device is misplaced.

If you're like me, you have at least five or six of them, of varying capacities, in junk drawers or in work bags. It's silly to throw them away. But it's even sillier to let them sit around, unused. Here's five things you can do to get more use out of these devices than simply using them to schlep data around or back up your files (BO-RING!).

(Five great ideas after the jump!)

  1. 21st-century bookmark — You read about technology, but you're still using that two-dimensional Harry Potter bookmark from Barnes & Noble. The one with yarn. Ugh. No. USB your place in style. Add a lanyard to your USB drive if you really want that old-world-meets-new-bookmark appeal.Lego
  2. 2.0 — B—ld a fort. Build a spaceship! USB drives are infinitely stackable. You are only bound by your own (potentially lacking) imagination!Wher
  3. e books end and technology begins — I—you have a collection of very tiny books, USB drives can serve as very functional and attractive tiny bookends.The
  4. future of uneven tables is USB — G— a table that wobbles? USB drives are the perfect thickness to wedge under a short table leg to get the even, level surface you so richly deserve. (Warning: may crack your USB drive.)Emer
  5. gency utensil — I—on't carry around a fork and butter knife all the time, but I do carry USB drives with me wherever I go. What if there's some delicious spreadable cheese on offer with fancy crackers, but no utensil to slather that savory dairy in sight? Properly disinfected, a USB drive can easily apply that Laughing Cow to your water cracker. Not that I've ever done that. Not yet, anyway.

    Got more USB drive uses? Post them in the comments.

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