Our mother always used to tell us, "you'd lose your head if wasn't screwed on," but we're sure that had she grown up in this decade she'd say, "you'd lose a USB key carrying sensitive data if Microsoft didn't patent a technology to counteract the problem." Or something like that. As you might've guessed, Microsoft has a new patent, and this one is to help that hapless soul charged with setting up a wireless home network, who, Microsoft admits, "faces a daunting task" at such a prospect. See, Windows can load network set-up details onto a CD or other form of removable storage, but if the user loses the item, they also compromise their network security. We figured this could be solved by some sort of "don't be an airhead" message on the box, but Microsoft put its brain to the task and came up with self-destructing USB memory keys, with enough juice in them to power the key for one hour, after which the data disappears fuhevah. The keys are brightly colored so the user doesn't slap anything important on them, but it seems like an interesting solution to a completely ridiculous interesting problem.

[Via New Scientist]