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What if you could have a USB flash drive with a special OS for playing GMS games?

Discussion in 'Game Design, Development And Publishing' started by Lord KJWilliams, Sep 25, 2019.

  1. Lord KJWilliams

    Lord KJWilliams Member

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    So I have an idea that you might be interested in.

    For a couple of years I have been playing with the idea of a special OS that runs on PC hardware, from USB flash drives. This is similar to the idea of having a Linux system that you can boot up and run from a USB flash drive. However this system is a special OS that is like windows but is designed for only running games off line or on-line that use the internet.

    How does it work?

    In the native OS of the computer, in this case Windows, all you do is copy or install GMS games to a USB flash drive to a directory where the special OS will recognize them for access when its booted up.

    After copying the files over to the flash drive, you shut down your computer and the windows OS.

    (Your USB flash drive is still connected to the computer.......)

    Now normally ,I will assume this USB flash drive in this case is not connected, but in this case you have the flash drive connected to the computer that is turned off. I am going play the scenario as if your flash drive is not connected to your computer, so your not confused ( because that's how I imagined the operation ).

    Then you plug in your USB flash drive, turn on your computer, and before your computer boots up Windows, you access motherboard's BIOS ( by interrupting the booting process ) to change the default boot drive from the local hard drive to your USB flash drive. Now, some motherboards regardless if they have USB ports might not have this feature. That means this special OS will only work with computers that have a BIOS that you can over ride the normal boot device sequence. Usually on windows it goes from the C: drive , then A: drive ( like in Windows 95 ), or the D: drive ( or whatever device is designated for the DVD reader for installations of new OS, or possibly the device your USB flash drive is. You can tell if your USB flash drive is recognized because the name of the flash drive brand name will be seen shown by the BIOS listing of devices. To continue, you select the USB flash drive device and save the BIOS settings and exit and reboot the computer to reboot with your USB flash drive.

    The operation booting up the special OS on your flash drive, is just like how windows boots up, except its the game OS, with its own GUI windows system.

    You have two game directories, one for your offline games and one for your online games, to access and play. The online games , use a special internet connection that only connects to the online URL location of the website, which uses the online game as its GUI interface online. So when you design a game for this OS system, for playing games online, you also create your web browser interface which is the GUI of your game, which doubles also for the interface of that website. The website is always server based, so it sends commands to your game to que events that change the operation of the game. Your game sends its status to the website of what is happening, when the sever sends the command to receive an update. There are games that have been design to not require the invention of a web browser, that I have seen. If it has been done in the past, it can be done again.

    The advantage of this USB flash drive based OS, is that your native OS ( windows 10 ) and the local hard drive of your computer are protected from any type of malicious attack. This special OS , would be similar to a virtual machine.

    You can use your flash drive to store anything you save to it, such as notes on how to play complicated
    game from this special OS.

    When your done playing games from the special OS, you shut down the OS , like windows. Then you remove your USB flash drive. Turn on your computer again. Interupt your boot process to go to your BIOS settings to change your boot up sequence back to C: again. Now, I believe on some systems, like my ACER netbook, have a BIOS where if does not detect a USB flash drive connected at boot up, it switches to the default boot sequence to C: as well. When your windows OS is running, you can then plug in the USB flash drive and copy over the files, such as the notes, as I mentioned above.

    Windows is complicated OS system which has to manage many things at once, which can draw resources from your game playing. Yes, you can play games on windows, but what if you could have a specialized OS for games to talk to the machine with out windows being in the way - wouldn't your game run faster? Look at all the junk windows is running, when you look at the task manager's list of programs while your program is the only one running. Your GMS game may or may not be using those programs, but I am going err on the side that they don't, in this case.

    You could also take your USB flash drive and use it with any other PC Machine that has a BIOS on its mother board that allows booting of USB flash drive. You don't have to re-instal the game again - just boot it up. Again whoever computer your using is protected because the native OS or the local hard drive of the computer, is not being used. Only the computer knows that there is a USB flash drive exists to read and write information to, but does not know and can not access the local hard drive.

    You could take your game with you without your computer. You could copy your installation of your GMS game that you do have on your local hard drive and copy it to the USB flash drive that has the special OS, and continue playing your game where ever you go. To add, your flash drive automatically acts as a backup device, which can be copied back to your local hard drive while in windows, and update your game save files that you use to play on that computer from the special OS. Therefore your not having to repeat what you did in the game on the Windows OS, from the special OS again.

    This is my idea for a specialized OS that runs from a USB flash drive, or a external USB hard drive. Any size does not matter, because specialized OS when installed will use that space. Consider this a designated USB flash drive strictly for the special OS. You don't want to use it, like any other flash drive you have for general copying of non-game programs and other things that are not related.

    Please note this special OS is just alternate way of playing GMS games on a PC computer.

    Thats it - thats the basics of my idea. I haven't thought of everything or considered any contingencies to regard in this context, so its not perfect.
     
    Toque likes this.
  2. Alexx

    Alexx Member

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    Or you could just use a virtual machine...
    Or install Windows on a USB drive...
     
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  3. Catan

    Catan Member

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    Not sure if you are following this topic, but there's a heated discussion about porting GMS2 to Linux, and why it would be impractical in terms of costs vs returns due to the small user base. This alone is more than enough to dismiss the idea of building an entire operating system (!!!) just for playing games. Why does this sound like a feasible idea to you that is worth the effort, I honestly have no clue.

    I can see what you are trying to achieve, but saying that you are underestimating the complexity of something like this is an understatement.
     
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2019
  4. Toque

    Toque Member

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    Interesting. But I’m not sure I see the advantages. Fixing a problem I don’t have. But if you want transportability....... I can see some use of it.

    That being said. I was talking with my son about making our own console. A raspberry pi and GM games.....
    But not sure how we could achieve that yet.

    It’s interesting to think about these things for sure.
     
  5. Tsa05

    Tsa05 Member

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    You could get ChromeOS onto that flash drive, and have it load up GMS games that were exported with the HTML5 target. Lightweight browser OS.
    Otherwise, making a custom OS will be an issue, as GMS does not export to "customOS."
     
  6. TsukaYuriko

    TsukaYuriko Q&A Spawn Camper Forum Staff Moderator

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    So instead of using...
    • Windows with bare minimum background processes running as a guest VM under KVM on a (insert favorite Linux distro) host with GPU hardware passthrough
    • a virtual machine
    • Windows on a flash drive
    • a sandbox
    • a laptop
    • a (tablet/phone/Raspberry Pi) that connects to your (PC/VM) remotely
    ... you'd rather make an entire portable OS that emulates Windows from scratch in order to achieve mobility and security when playing GM games? Seems rather impractical.

    We should just revive and use the Player if we're at this point.
     
  7. Lord KJWilliams

    Lord KJWilliams Member

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    ( please note : I interchange the use of OS with GUI OS - as the same meaning in my train of thought at this point, in the following text )

    I never said anything about emulating MS windows, all I said is that there is a special OS that is like Windows that is installed on the USB flash drive. Windows is a GUI OS, like Gnome or KDE is a GUI OS on Linux. I came to the idea, that if you can boot a USB flash drive up on a PC motherboard, then you have an isolated environment that does not connect to the native OS or local hard drive system ( this comes into play in my next point ).

    I did some studying, on game consoles like the ones Play Station and X-Box are ( Nintendo does not have this problem with their switch model ). In the context of those types of game consoles ( PS and Xbox ), you have a device that has a OS that runs inside a box, and the game console where you plug in your games via a compact disc ( a DVD or CD - whatever ). In my context were talking a game machine that is more smaller than that, using the same idea of simplistic OS that play station or x-box uses - but runs from a USB flash drive. In my idea, USB flash drives , are significantly smaller and portable and are getting larger in storage space. All you need is a special OS that can recognize the USB devices ( such as a game controller ), the hardware that is part of the PC Motherboard ( such as physical RAM, GPU, CPU, AND all the devices that are connected to PC motherboard ( the monitor, mouse, keyboard, and etc ), but not the local hard drive where the native OS is. Instead of having to carry a large game console, such as a play station ( with all connection cables and games on discs, and etc. ) to your friends place, you just take the USB flash drive ( which has all the games installed and mounted ) and just plug it in to your friends computer and boot it up. Now I was thinking that it would be great for YoYo games or someone else who can, develop this special OS for GMS games.

    Now I said , I didn't consider all the contingencies of this idea - such as incompatibilities, in which your friends computer would have to be tested for. In the native OS ( in this case Windows ) a program that is independent from the special OS which is on the flash drive is used to test your PC for hardware requirements ( except the motherboard BIOS which has to be manually tested for booting the USB flash drive, to see if it works ).

    Now, my idea in the direction computer evolution is that one day we are no longer going to be using hard drives in computers to boot up a native OS, as we do now. In the future, all we are going to need is a PC computer with everything but the hard drive. The native GUI OS ( which could be Windows, Linux, Mac, or even game console GUI OSes ) could be simply booted in a computer using USB flash drives. You just carry your USB flash drive with you to a computer plug it in and boot it up when you turn it on. You turn on the computer with no USB flash drive, it displays the message " no operating system detected ". This a secure way to protect your GUI OS and everything you write to it, by taking it with you on a USB flash drive. Im not just talking about USB flash drives, it can also be USB external hard drives. So when you want to store your USB devices, you can put your USB devices in a fire proof safe that only you have access to. The computer system in this context would be versatile to using any GUI OS system it can run, which means anyone can design a GUI OS any way they want and run it, to run the programs made for it on any PC hardware. It opens the door for versatility, for designing specialized OS used in factories and businesses that use specialized manufacturing machines. Just plug it in and turn on the PC.
     
  8. Rayek

    Rayek Member

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    Nope, the distinction between RAM and SSD/HDD (storage) will disappear. Your thinking is outdated: current research in memory technology already yielded new type(s) of memory which keeps all data intact even when the power is cut off.

    Which means you turn your computer off, turn it back on, and the state of your previous session is restored - within a second.

    And with mini-computers already being so inexpensive, why not go the next step, and integrate an entire computer with OS in the same mini device with a connector to any screen? Which pretty much sums up the WII U, of course. But that one also has a built-in screen.

    The browser is considered the new "OS" - I would not be surprised if in the future the traditional OS is replaced by a browser window. And what you are describing is pretty much a console with a cartridge. Bring the game cartridge to your friend who owns the same console, and fire up the game(s). The additional option for anyone to design a GUI OS is never going to work: most users don't want to think. Ergo the success of mobile devices and simplified GUIs.

    Now, I am not saying it isn't fun to build your own game system/highly optimized OS box. I have built super-optimized MAME boxes with a thin Linux just to run Mame and other emulators, and installed dedicated GUIs for this. I am planning to build an mini arcade machine like a 1-up mini cabinet at home.

    Anyway, what you are describing can already be simply done by installing a thin client on a USB key, and have any computer capable of booting off the USB key into your own thin Linux OS or even a thin WIndows version (a mini version of Windows XP for exactly this purpose exists, google it). Run the browser automatically, and load up a list of the html exported version of your GM game(s). It is simple to create your own GUIs in a browser with html, css, and javascript/any gui JS library.
     
  9. Lord KJWilliams

    Lord KJWilliams Member

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    That's called flash memory - that has nothing to do with what Im talking about in my post.

    Thats the opposite of what I am talking about. My idea is about a computer that has no OS, that allows you to plug in a device such as USB flash drive that has the OS of any kind and it boots it up, and works with whatever PC hardware it is connected to.

    Mobile devices are limited by design and they have to have simplified GUIs, because the hardware is limited for specific uses. In the context of desktop and portable computers, most users dont think outside the box like programmers do, to see that the ability to design a GUI OS, that is not like Windows or a Linux OS is an advantage, that can work in any computer.

    I disagree with your arguments.
     
  10. Lonewolff

    Lonewolff Member

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    Or you could just write a true single executable that has all pre-requisites static linked. :)
     
  11. Rayek

    Rayek Member

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    Incorrect, I am talking about universal memory. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Universal_memory
    http://www.sci-news.com/othersciences/materials/new-type-computer-memory-07314.html

    I mentioned this in regards to your thoughts about how computers in the future might function. With universal memory a USB key sized device could include an entire state of of any OS - a snapshot of any game, software, whichever. A full running state of any console, etc. Basically, the distinction between running an OS and software running on an OS would effectively disappear. And only take a second or less to start. Insert the device in a terminal, and choose your snapshot/state. Similar to running an emulator and saving and loading states. These states can be shared with others.

    That would be pretty neat.

    But how would you deal with all the multitudes and variants of hardware? Even a USB keyed Ubuntu with most drivers locally available will run into hardware compatibility issues in my experience. Or should everyone purchase the same kind of hardware then? I think it would be much easier and effective to have most of the required hardware built-in.

    Already we may purchase $5 mini single-board computers the size of two quarters. At the size of a small USB HDD casing the somewhat larger versions like raspberry PIs can run 2d games. This mitigates the requirement of any hardware at home, excepting a screen, keyboard, mouse, joystick.

    I think you have to make it as simple as it can be for users to adopt an idea. Your idea, while having interesting thinking behind it, just makes things too difficult for most users, in my opinion.

    And this is aside from almost everyone owning a tablet or phone and already running around with a full OS in their back pocket...

    Anyway, a thin Linux client on a bootable USB drive is easy to do right now. Even choose your own OS GUI with many themes to choose from. Of course, GM games won't run on Linux, so if you want to create games for it, you would have to opt for another game engine...

    Mobile hardware limited for specific uses? I can run Blender on Android, emulate most older consoles at full speed on my cheap $60 Android tablet. If anything, I think your idea would be very compatible with creating some kind of device which can boot up an OS on any Android device the way you envision it for a desktop-like device at home. Then add a screen output like the WII U.

    That would be something interesting, I feel. Like and open source WII U variant. Universal memory based, and cartridges with snapshots of OSs, software and games.

    Anyway, my intention here is not to criticize your ideas. As I said, original ideas are by themselves a merit, and your ideas have provided fertile soil today for me to come up with new ideas here. That's the point of creative ideation, I think, and it works best when bouncing off ideas against another person.
     
  12. Catan

    Catan Member

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    I still don’t get why you think that creating a dedicated OS from scratch is a better idea than, say, using a custom linux build or something like like ChromeOS.

    I think as already said above that you seem to be oversimplifying the technical challenges of your idea.
     
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  13. Rayek

    Rayek Member

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    I've thought about similar ideas in the past when dealing with DOS: why the need for an OS at all? Why not run the app/game directly on the base hardware? I suppose consoles do this, up to a point.

    Later I realized there are just too many variables (in hardware/software) for this to be practical. A modern game would become huge.

    But an instant snapshot universal memory system would circumvent many of these issues.

    We are probably already beyond the point of practical implementations at this point ;)
     
  14. Lonewolff

    Lonewolff Member

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  15. Lonewolff

    Lonewolff Member

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    A good idea on the surface. But when the OS starts looking for hardware that is no longer physically there (i.e. USB is moved from the snapshot hardware to the next device), things get ugly pretty quickly.
     
  16. Rayek

    Rayek Member

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    That is why I noted that the essential hardware components become part of the device, seeing that prices of single board computers are falling and improving in performance.

    Or even better, the hardware becomes completely agnostic, meaning a CPU, even a computer's entire hardware is "imprinted" temporarily. Comparable to what an emulator does, but at a (much) lower level.
     
  17. Catan

    Catan Member

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    Just to add something to the fire: if the broad idea is to enable gaming on any kind of computer, in a portable way, regardless of the operating system, preventing games from altering the contents of your hard drive, there’s already something like this being proposed as the next big thing in the gaming industry: it’s cloud gaming.
    Google stadia comes to mind, and while I still have to see what the drawbacks will be in practice, I find the idea to be sound, and not too far from what has been suggested in the open post in its core
     
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  18. Lonewolff

    Lonewolff Member

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    That's the thing though, you are back to carrying a whole computer around, as small as it might be.
     
  19. Rayek

    Rayek Member

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    Remember, we are at the threshold of printing electronics. It doesn't take much imagination to take this further, and having a device which would be capable to imprint entire computer architectures on a whim and in a split second. Sometime (far?) in the future... Who knows.

    With "hardware" becoming "software", boundaries between the two shift and disappear, and are maintained in name only. So what is in a name? Besides, who would have predicted only three decades ago that just about anyone passing you on the streets today has a portable mini super computer in their pocket/bag? One which allows you to do pretty much anything on the go?
     
  20. Lonewolff

    Lonewolff Member

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    That's exactly right. We already have what the OP is proposing, which makes this whole topic pretty null and void.

    This whole topic is a "solution in need of a problem".
     
  21. Samuel Venable

    Samuel Venable Time Killer

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    There is software available that can take the current state of a Linux distro and turn that into a disc image file, with all software and settings on it when the disk image is made set to be installed on the target machine out of the box.
     
  22. Mert

    Mert Member

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    This is actually what OUYA was!

    Currently, in order to create your "own gaming device", you need some sort of Open Source operating system and that can be used with one of the Game Maker's exports too. Currently, you can only get: Ubuntu, HTML5 and Android exports.

    Ubuntu : If you could cook your own Ubuntu distro, or a linux distro with Game Maker requested packages, then you get yourself an OS that can run GM games. (Good Option)
    Android : Simply modify the Android Kernel and trim down the default applications to make the OS lighter, and the rest is handled by Android OS. (Bad Option)
    HTML5 : Use a WEB applications based OS to run your games. Chromium OS is one of the good choices here. The bad side is you have to run HTML5 games, which have lesser performance than native applications. (Good & Bad Option)

    For me: I'd go for a Ubuntu alike/or itself OS with Raspberry Pi 4 as my device.
     
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  23. Toque

    Toque Member

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    So it would be possible to run GM games on a pi? Difficult for an old dad to do?
     
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  24. Lonewolff

    Lonewolff Member

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    Rayek and Mert like this.
  25. Toque

    Toque Member

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    I missed that thread. Pretty cool. My games are pretty basic. No shaders or 3d stuff.

    I will start looking at it.

    Thanks.
     
  26. curato

    curato Member

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    Booting from an OS is something that is done all the time. The only hang up would be some people lock that out on the bios because it is a great way to hack a computer.

    A side from that, I don't think it would be marketable. It would be kind of like those consoles that were basically for running windows games on it. No one bought them because if you are going to throw that much money out you might as well get the whole PC.
     
  27. Lord KJWilliams

    Lord KJWilliams Member

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    Sorry for the late reply... .

    Let me get back to my original post idea, and restate the two ideas I had in mind .....

    The first idea :

    .... for a game OS, which I call a special OS, is based of the idea of the OS of a Xbox or Playstation which is , software embedded hardware. Its not a big piece of software that would be complicated to implement compared to the OS It runs from a USB flashdrive ( or from USB external hard drive ), which you put into the computer when its turned off and turn on. The motherboard has a BIOS. which you need to interupt before it boots up the native OS ( whatever OS that runs from the internal hard drive storage ) so that it runs the USB flashdrive. Everything I wrote in my original post comes here involving the GMS games... so I am not repeating that here.

    The second idea as I called the future evolution of computers

    ( btw, Universal Memory is not the solution for the future evolution of computers, its a good idea, but not the correct one.)

    From the first idea I derived another idea that is separate , a computer system that does not have a native OS, no internal hard drive. Instead it works like your game machine where you plug in cartridges ( as you stated ), but their not cartridges their USB flash drives which have the OS written to a chip, and the part that you read and write to is the storage device in which that OS depends on for its physical RAM ( not the computer ). So you need another USB flash drive / external hard drive to connect to the system. Now lets say the computer does have a native OS with a hard drive, instead of interupting the BIOS at bootup, the BIOS gives you a menu option to use the native OS, or the OS that is on the USB flash drive.

    And this brings me to my next problem, which is something for a game I am designing to program in GMS, which is part of this idea.

    I am inventing a multi-user game where players use their own USB flash drive to write their save data for their player account - if this is possible from GMS sandbox . The game uses user id and password accounts any number players on the installed game of the administrator who is the licensed owner of the game copy. So that way you share your game with your friends and family. What I need is a way for the game to identify the USB flash drive by its volume label, and read the information about its storage size, free space, and used space on that device. There is no way to do this from GML, C, or C++ , but its a function that is part of Windows that exists. When I click on properties for my USB flash drive in Windows, I get the the volume label, storage size ( capacity ), free space, and used space.

    I need this information so that I can develop a volume registry program for storage devices, so that the computer knows where the data is and knows that is reading it from the correct USB flash drive. It also knows how much space is available for writing on from its registry program. Every time the game writes or erases data from the USB flash drive it updates the data. But if the user, uses the USB flash drive to store files outside of the game, then when the game is ran again, it has to update that information again. Volume registry program in the game , keeps a independent record on the Administrator's side, and also another record on the user's USB flash drive with user/player save game data and etc. This program would allow the user to keep track of where they put their written data on multiple USB flash drives, so that the registry program can tell them where it is, and identify USB flash drives as the correct storage device that the game will be needing.

    This idea of a volume registry program that uses that information, is necessary invention for my two ideas using a special OS.

    But I cant invent a program that automatically identifies the volume label, capacity size, free space, and used space by reading it. Instead, I have to manually input those three sizes and I have to invent a dog tag system, in which a .ini file has at a made up identification by the user, and the capacity size. The free space and used space has to be manually entered, and that means if the USB flash drive is used outside of the game those sizes have to be manually entered again. The problem with this is that, when I write a file to the USB flash drive, I also need to have the size of the file that is written, to be subtracted from the free space, and when a file is erased that file size value is subtracted from the used space value.

    The functions for what I am trying to do, do not exist as a portable function in C or C++, or even as a platform specific function for Windows/MS-DOS or Linux ( Unix ). Its not available in MSVC as a function.

    So if a Special OS is developed it has to have the ability to recognize and remember these four different pieces of data when dealing with removable storage devices.
     
  28. Lord KJWilliams

    Lord KJWilliams Member

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    Heres another idea for USB flash drive that I was inspired by, from my ex-boss.

    I used to work for a sister or survived company from Dick Cheney's Halliburton, where we build components for the U.S. Department of Defense, which are used in weapons, specifically ICBM missiles with nuclear warheads. ICBM missiles are still being made in parts to be assembled, but that info is NOT being told to the public.

    My ex-boss who is a computer science major, also works with electronics. So he came up with an idea where the missiles have a built in USB interface that connects to storage device, not using semi-conductors for the memory, but magnetic memory core that is shaped in a cone shaped cylindrical form that fits inside the insulation that is between the missile manifold of the fitted warhead to save space.

    Again, my ex-boss brought to our office, a used large refrigerator that was modified inside to build the magnetic memory core stack of panels. Magnetic memory core uses magnetic doughnuts and copper wire weavings, that run inside and out, of each doughnut, of each panel. The outside of the refrigerator was modified with paneling made out of quarter inch lead that was bolted in, to protect the memory core from radiation from the supposed nuclear warhead if it was used in a ICBM missile and ECM ( electronic counter measure ) signals from the enemy. In the context of the refrigerator, four large wheels were mounted on the bottom so that the refrigerator could be moved without a dolly. Well, my ex-boss managed to make a USB flash drive out of the refrigerator magnetic memory core, that stored at least 10 MB. He used it with another computer in the office running an old version of windows 2000 for temporarily backing up floppy disks. Each magnetic memory core panel was insulated with fiberglass and that moisture absorbing material they put in beef jerky packages to absorb moisture, sealed in heavy plastic inside the refrigerator.

    Btw, the refrigerator system still worked, as well as the ice maker when it was connected to a water supply. My ex-boss would make the joke about getting ice for the soda from the nuclear warhead refrigerator, which he called this. It still worked , and the magnetic memory core functioned independently without a problem.

    Well in the application of the ICBM missile, the use of the magnetic memory core was to provide memory storage for the missile guidance system which communicated with satellites to update where it was when it was in flight. The use of magnetic memory core, was so that the enemy could not reverse engineer the magnetic memory core to obtain any useful information to use against us. If the ICBM missile failed and did not explode, the collision of the falling missile would destroy the magnetic memory core as usual, as it would as if did detonated on contact. The enemy cant do anything with roasted magnetic donuts and burnt copper wire, and since its old technology being used, it offers no advantage to the enemy to reverse engineer, unlike the new technology we are using now in our current technology.

    I do not know if my ex-boss got this idea sold to the US DoD, at all - but the discussion of USB flash drives lead me to his invention.

    Magnetic Memory Core is a far long ago precursor idea to the Universal Memory that was mentioned, which does not forget when its turned off. I remember watching my ex-boss play Zork which was written to the nuclear warhead refrigerator.
     

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