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More Happy Couples Giving Out Their Wedding Photos on A USB Flash Drive

Posted by USB2U on 28th February 2012 | Permalink

In the UK another 275,000 couples are expected to get married this year and in doing so they’ll spend around £5.5 billion on the wedding, the rings, the dresses, the flowers, the venue and the photographer(s).

Once the wedding day is over and the happy couple return from their honeymoon one of the real joys for lots of newly wed couples is sitting down with friends and family and passing around the wedding album and collectively reminiscing about the day, who wore what, who cried, how beautiful the bride looked and how funny the speeches were and how much they are looking forward to their married life together.

But, in an age where we increasingly live out our  lives on-line via social networking sites like Facebook and Flickr it’s useful to have the same photos supplied digitally so that they can be “uploaded” for all of your friends to see, in fact for some couples “digital” images have completely replaced “traditional” printed albums.

One of the benefits of having your Wedding Day portfolio supplied on a USB flash drive is that you can print your photos out at home (as many times as you want), you can attach the photos to emails and send them to friends and family or you can upload them to your favourite blog or social network site(s). Photos supplied in this way give you much more control and flexibility and you’re not sacrificing on the quality of the photographs just how they are delivered.

The USB flash drives don’t have to be standard “shop bought” models either, instead, they can be personalised USB flash drives that are supplied in an attractive gift box and both the flash drive and box can be printed with details of the wedding day and the name of the bride and groom!

USB Flash Drives for Wedding Albums

USB Flash Drives for Wedding Albums

Some couples are now buying enough personalised flash drives to enable them to give them out to all of the guests at the wedding.  Each USB memory stick can be pre-loaded with either the whole wedding portfolio or tailored so that each guest or family member gets a collection of photos that is relevant to them. Loading additional photos of the bride and groom as children and during their courtship as well as photos from the stag and hen nights is something that’s also proving popular.

The move towards digital portfolios is also, in part, being driven by the wedding photographers themselves. Many are now offering highly professional USB flash drive “packages” where the wedding album is loaded onto a top quality USB flash drive and supplied in a gift box. Typically this is an “optional extra” rather than a product that replaces the more traditional prints but for the photographers it’s a great way to differentiate their service and drive more incremental revenue.

If you’re looking for printed USB flash drives and gift boxes for your wedding album(s) then give the team at USB2U a call.

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What’s Putting Customers Off Of Buying Custom USB Flash Drives

Posted by USB2U on 24th February 2012 | Permalink

This year, 2012 was supposed to be the year that businesses really started to catch onto the benefits that fully customised USB flash drives deliver. To be clear here we’re not talking about standard “factory” models that have been printed, engraved and maybe pantone colour matched but rather USB flash drives that are made into a bespoke shape; typically a shape that represents a product or brand.

There are lots of excellent examples around from companies like Orange Mobile, Nike, Disney and other global brands. These companies have all commissioned and purchased fully customised USB flash drives because they know that they really promote their brand, their product and their customer “love them”.

There is no doubting that custom USB flash drive, particularly those that are well designed and reflect a companies product(s) or brand grab people attention and fire their imagination. They become a talking point, they make brilliant “ice breakers” at meetings and events and they help fire the imagination and enthusiasm of journalists at “yet another press event”.

Custom USB Sticks

Custom USB Sticks

Of course they are not a panacea for all sales, marketing, promotional and press “challenges” but, they are a brilliant communication tool that really ought to be used more frequently.

So why aren’t more companies buying them?

There seem to be a few simple reasons that are putting marketers and businesses off custom USB flash drives and these are:

  • Too hard to do – There is a misconception that it’s simply too much effort to design and commission a customised USB stick.  The truth is that it’s actually really easy and you don’t have to use expensive external agencies or designers. Most good suppliers of promotional USB flash drives will have their own in-house designers that will normally come up with some concepts and designs free of charge. Throw the challenge at them and let them do the hard work!
  • It takes too long – The lead time for a custom USB stick is longer than it’s printed counterpart but only by a couple of weeks and the end results are incomparable. The extra couple of weeks are to allow time for a custom mould to be produced, samples made and signed off and then the final version of the USB sticks to be manufactured.
  • They cost too much – Yes, they will costs a little more than “standard” USB sticks but not hugely. As a general rule of thumb expect to pay around 25% more for a custom model but bear in mind you will “own” the design and the end product will be exclusive to you.

The reality is that custom USB sticks do cost a little more, they take a little more effort to arrange and you need to allow a little more time to get them BUT they you will ultimately get more brand recognition, brand recall and brand exposure that standard, printed USB sticks

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Excuse the Flash Drive Nostalgia but we’re 10 years old in 2012

Posted by USB2U on 23rd February 2012 | Permalink

We were recovering some data from an old PC hard drive this morning and came across a load of old photographic proofs of promotional USB flash drives we produced almost a decade ago. It’s amazing how quickly the last 10 years have gone and interesting to see how the market for printed and promotional USB flash drives has developed during this time.

In the early years we were selling a range of USB products (including USB flash drives) under the brand name of DirectUSBStore.  In those days flash drives were still relatively new, most of them were USB  1.0 (and then USB 1.1) rather than the faster USB 2.0 standard that is commonly used today. What’s perhaps more interesting is that the typical USB flash drive memory sizes ranged from 16MB to 128MB. Contrast this to today where 4GB is pretty much the de facto standard!

Customers that were buying USB flash drives were typically “early adopters” and although it’s not very PC to say it they were purchased mainly by men, and men who liked to be the first to get their hands on new “tech” – so nothing much has changed there then!

USB Flash drives were pretty slow to take off partly because they were still relatively expensive (the price for a 128MB was around £30 – £50 depending on the model and functionality). In contrast Zip Drives, Floppy Drives and CD’s were much cheaper, they held more data and most PC’s that were shipping around the time still had floppy diskette drives.

The dull design and styling of early flash drives did not help with customer adoption. Most of them were pretty basic and compared to today’s flash drives they were large, “chunky” and not particularly great to print or engrave a logo onto.  What they did have going for them was ease of use, portability and as the memory sizes increased, the ability to carry significantly more data than you could fit onto multiple floppy disk drives. The roll-out of USB ports onto all PC’s also ensured that flash drives could be used on pretty much any PC;  be that at home, work or school.

The high cost of the drives meant that only a handful of companies bought them for promotional use, some would get them printed with their logo on for internal distribution. Occasionally we’d get request from companies that planned to use them to target “early adopter” consumers or clients. Most of these companies were themselves high tech companies that wanted to use a promotional product that illustrated their “high-tech” credentials.

Roll the clock forward 10 years and most people under the age of 20 won’t know what a floppy disk drive or zip drive is! It’s amazing that in just a few short years these once ubiquitous storage products have been consigned to the bin.  Today sales ofCD’s and DVD’s (for data storage)  are in steep decline having been usurped by the king of storage – the USB Flash drive.

Today, USB Flash drives are a common business tool and are on the “kit list” for most schools and universities. They have also become one of the most given and most sought after promotional products with millions given away every year.

Their popularity has been underpinned by falling prices, larger memory sizes and the development of a phenomenal range of styles and designs. USB flash drives are now within financial reach of pretty much everyone and the type of flash drive used by someone can say as much about their style and fashion habits as their clothing.

Around 2006, DirectUSBStore spun off a two separate businesses; USBNow to focus on the supply of USB products and peripherals and USB2U to handle the massive growth in demand for branded and promotional USB sticks.  Today USB2U is widely regarded as the number one supplier in the UK and as a business we are looking forward to seeing what storage technology we’ll all be using in 10 years’ time.

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Top 10 Tips For Buying Promotional USB Memory Sticks

Posted by USB2U on 22nd February 2012 | Permalink

Promotional USB flash drives are one of the big success stories of the promotional sector over the past few years. Given just how good they look when they are printed and how popular they are with anyone they are given to their popularity should come as no surprise.

Of course the ability to pre-load them with sales material, technical files, media files (web links etc.) and press releases makes it possible to offset the cost, or a significant proportion of the costs, of buying them.

Significant savings can be made by dramatically reducing your print and transport cots and loading the information digitally on the memory sticks!

If you are considering buying promotional USB flash drives then here are our Top 10 tips:

  1. Make sure you choose a style and design of USB memory stick that reflects your company and more importantly will work with your brand: There are literally thousands of different styles of USB memory sticks to choose from; most are manufactured from plastic but they are also available in metal, cardboard, wood and some are trimmed with leather.

    The most popular types tend to be “cap-less” with one particular model – The Rotate (or Twister as it’s sometimes called) dominating the market.

    If you want to go for something a little bit different then you might want to think about Leather USB flash drives (good for VIP and high net worth customers), engraved metal flash drives are a little more rugged/robust so they make a good option for students and silicon USB wristbands are great for the youth market.

  2. Memory capacity: There is a balance between choosing flash memo based on what you can afford and stretching to a larger memory size that might make the USB sticks more attractive to the person you are giving them to.

    If you want people to keep your USB sticks and continue to use them then you need to make sure there is enough memory on the sticks for their daily needs. It’s all about balance – there is little point in paying for memory that you don’t need for your own pre-loaded data but you need to give people something that is useful – a good size to aim for is a 1GB or 2GB.

  3. Choosing the right logo: If you have a complex design or logo that includes graduated colours and/or tints then you will limit the number of USB sticks you can choose. Most USB sticks only have a print area of around 2cm-3cm so unless you are willing to simplify your logo it’s not going to look great on a USB stick.

    If you must print a complicated logo then choose something like a USB credit card because these can take a full colour print to both sides of the card.

    USB Credit Cards

    USB Credit Cards

  4. Print options: Most USB memory sticks used for promotional purposes are spot printed but they can also be laser engraved or embossed. A less well known option is to use “Dome Stickers” – these stickers are not to be confused with “cheap and cheerful” stickers. Dome stickers look fantastic and the print on the sticker is protected under a layer of resin.
  5. Artwork formats: The general rule of thumb is to supply the best (highest resolution) artwork you can lay your hands on. Ideally you need vectorised artwork in .EPS or .AI format.

    If you just “grab” a logo from your web site or PowerPoint slides the final print will look very patchy and blotchy.

  6. Do you need any packaging? Most suppliers of promotional USB sticks will either supply them in bulk in trays or cheap poly/bubble bags. These “protect” the sticks in transit but they need taking out of these before they are handed out. Just as there are lots of different style of USB sticks there are lots of styles and types of gift boxes to put them in – some are offered for free (if you ask for them) but “premium” products that can be printed or engraved will cost.
  7. Think about accessories: Keyrings, and lanyards are a popular option to “add value” to your promotional USB sticks. Lanyards can also be printed to increase your brand exposure and if ordered at the same time as your USB sticks they will be significantly cheaper.
  8. Be very, very clear on your timeframes: It’s critical that you allow enough time for your USB sticks and make it clear to your supplier exactly when you must have the drives delivered – ideally build in a day or so contingency. The typical lead time for printed USB drives is 10 working days so use this as a general rule of thumb.  A few suppliers  offer a “rush” service where they print but you will typically pay more for this and reduce your design options.
  9. Cheapest isn’t always the best: If you get a quote for printed flash drives that seems “cheap” in comparison to others you may have had then make sure make sure the prices you are being quoted are for new, Grade A chips and not re-cycled or Grade B chips. Recycled, Grade B chips tend to be slower and have a much great failure rate which will reflect badly on your brand
  10. Get references: Lots of “suppliers of Promotional USB memory sticks” seem to pop-up overnight and many disappear just as quickly. Before you place any order ideally get some reference from other customers or check out 3rd party review sites like Trustpilot.
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Photographers Wanting Fast Promotional USB Sticks Should Consider USB 3.0

Posted by USB2U on 17th February 2012 | Permalink

Over the last year or so we’ve seen a significant increase in demand for printed USB memory sticks from professional photographers who are finally abandoning CD and DVD drives in favour of USB sticks.

The USB sticks are typically printed with the photographers business details and some form of image or logo that represents what they do. It’s also not unusual for the USB sticks to be supplied in some form of presentation or gift box.

The “packaged” solution looks significantly more professional that a CD or DVD and conveys a more contemporary and stylish image. As a “product” it’s also something that is easier to sell and generate some additional revenue from.

Obviously most professional photographers (wedding photographers, portrait photographers, commercial photographers etc.) are using the USB sticks to copy their clients portfolio onto and then although some are using them as part of a sales and marketing campaign to bring life to their work, The pre-loaded images are often supplemented with links to their web site, “special offers” and details of any forthcoming events or shows that they might be taking part in.

When photographers do make the move from CD/DVD to USB Stick one of the things that can take them by surprise is how much slower it is to transfer their photos onto the USB sticks. The primary reason for this is that the typical read/write speed of promotional USB stick is only around 4-8MB per second. This is fine if the sticks are being used by a company as a promotional “giveaway” but if you’re a photographer and you’ve got hundreds of large, high resolution images to copy onto the sticks it could take you a while!

Professional Photographers and USB 3.0

Professional Photographers and USB 3.0

There are a couple of solutions to this:

  1. Specify faster read/write speeds to your supplier – you can get (for a cost) faster USB 2.0 memory sticks but even these “faster” sticks are still going to take a while to load several gigabytes of data onto.
  2. Buy SuperSpeed USB 3.0 memory sticks – they’ll cost more but here’s why they are worth considering:

USB 3.0 has a theoretical data transfer speed of 4.8 gigabytes per second making them ideal for handling large file formats like videos, music and digital photos. USB 3.0 delivers a 10 fold increase in data transfer speed over USB 2.0

Although support for USB 3.0 has been sluggish you don’t have to dump your existing PC or Mac to benefit from the performance improvements but you will have to install a new PCI card to upgrade it to USB 3.0 – this is normally pretty easy to do and the cards will be relatively cheap.

If you’re customer does not have USB 3.0 on their PC or Mac the sticks will still work they’ll just work at reasonably fast USB 2.0 speeds.

In the short term the only drawback of using USB 3.0 memory sticks is cost. For the next year or so expect to pay a premium for USB 3.0 sticks.

The real value of USB 3.0 is the reduction in time it will take professional photographers to load up their branded USB sticks with their client portfolios but these time savings have to be set against the higher costs of buying USB 3.0 drives.

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Lucked Out On Valentine’s Day? Try Adopting A Zombie Instead

Posted by USB2U on 15th February 2012 | Permalink

Did you spend yesterday waiting for the postman to call or perhaps you had your phone glued to your hand waiting for a special message to arrive in your inbox. Maybe in your most optimistic moment you had visions of a florists van pulling up outside or at work and delivering a fantastic bouquet.

If none of this happened and you just ended the day feeling flat and disappointed by the whole Valentine’s Day “thing” then perhaps you should consider taking some decisive action that puts you in control of your life and love. It’s a bit radical but what about adopting a Zombie?

The Zombie Adoption Centre has been set up to rescue lost souls from a bleak future, rehabilitate them and then integrate them back into society. By adopting a Zombie you can play a positive part in their rehabilitation program and you build a relationship that with your Zombie that should help you deal with loveless Valentine’s Days in future years.

When sign up to adopt a Zombie at the Zombie Adoption Centre you’ll be sent a Sponsor’s Pack that includes a Printed USB Memory Stick, an adoption certificate, an A3 poster, some stickers and Your adopted Zombie’s case file – you’ll also get an update every month from your adopted Zombie so that you can track his/her progress.

Zombie Adoption Centre Pack

Zombie Adoption Centre Pack

A large chunk of your Zombie Sponsorship fee will be shared with one of three major charities; Friends of the Earth, MediaTrust or The Prostrate Cancer Charity (you decide as part of the adoption process)

Of course adopting a Zombie is a little different and it certainly won’t be everyones idea of how to fill that “romantic void” in their life. If it’s not your thing then you could always get yourself a cat or dog but remember they are for life and not just to help you get over the trauma of a Valentine’s Day “no-show”

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Are Your Suppliers Of Custom USB Sticks All Heart

Posted by USB2U on 14th February 2012 | Permalink

Custom USB memory sticks are available in all sorts of different shapes and sizes and if you can’t find exactly what you’re looking for you can always get your own design commissioned. But, before you rush to get your own custom USB sticks designed and manufactured it’s worth spending some time researching what is already available.

Don’t think you’re going to be restricted to a range of pretty basic rectangular shaped plastic sticks because the range now is vast – off the shelf options include square drives, round drives, drives made from wood, leather and metal, flash drives that “glow”, bamboo drives that are 100% recyclable, flash drives that are made to wear like a wristband and flash drives that are in the shape of a heart.

The list is almost endless and then add to this colour variations within each model, the fact that some come “trimmed” with leather or metal and you start to get a feel for just how overwhelming it can be to narrow it down to a suitable drive.

If you do struggle or you’re not the most decisive of people when it comes to making a decision about these sort of things you could ask your supplier to work up a few examples for you – most will do this and most have in-house designers that over the years will have developed an “eye” for what works and what doesn’t. Push the problem (or challenge) at them and get them to apply some creativity to the sales process.

Remember that whichever Custom USB sticks you finally choose you should get your suppliers to pre-load your sales material, press release information etc. onto the sticks – and don’t expect to pay for this service unless you are loading huge amounts of data onto the sticks. It’s not a question of the suppliers being “all heart” and doing this for the love of it but instead it’s a reflection of just how competitive things are in the market at the moment.

Heart Shaped USB Memory Sticks

Heart Shaped USB Memory Sticks

Other things to expect from your supplier as part of the “standard service” are; free delivery (in country anyway), free print and payment with the order should be a “no no”. It’s fair enough if you’ve not traded with them before to expect paying as they ship your order to you but not as you place your order which could be up to 2-3 weeks before they ship them out. You might even be able to squeeze out a free “rush service” if you’re in a hurry and they have spare capacity – it’s certainly worth asking the question.

If you’re suppliers are not able to supply the above core services and/or are not prepared to negotiate on some of the things they would normally charge for them be prepared to walk away or at the very least shop around for competitive quotes.

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Here’s What’s Trending In The Promotional USB Memory Stick Market

Posted by USB2U on 13th February 2012 | Permalink

A few weeks into 2012 it’s worth taking a quick look at what the emerging trends are in the promotional USB memory stick market. Apart from the continued explosion in the sale of promotional USB sticks there are some interesting new sectors that are now adopting these products with gusto:

  • Professional Photographers have been surprising slow to make the move from supplying their clients with their photographs on CD/DVD to the now ubiquitous USB stick, but, it looks like this is all about to change in 2012.

    Towards the end of 2011 sales of printed USB flash drives to photographers started to gather pace and just a few weeks into 2012 what was a small trickle has become more of a steady stream – expectations are that this stream will become more of a torrent by late 2012.

  • The increasing adoption and falling prices of USB 3.0 flash drives with their much enhanced read/write speeds are also likely to contribute to the migration to flash drives.

    Photographers USB Memory Sticks

    Photographers USB Memory Sticks

  • The current memory size of choice is 1GB because this represents the best value/memory size combination but most flash memory chip manufacturers will stop production of 1GB and 2GB flash chips in 2012 leaving 4GB as the de facto choice. The good news is that prices of 4GB sticks are falling fast so we’ll pretty soon see 4GB sticks at the price you can buy 1GB’s today.
  • More “niche” uses for printed USB memory sticks will continue to emerge. We’ve already seen them used to celebrate birthdays, weddings and funerals, to store 4-D images of babies in the womb, to capture car and engine statistics from track days and to raise funds for charities and World Challenge days. Expect 2012 to deliver more surprise uses for flash drives.
  • In the face of growing supplier competition prices and lead times for printed USB memory sticks are likely to come under increasing pressure. Typical lead times at the end of 2011 and entering 2012 (excluding Chinese New Year holiday issues) were around 10-14 days. With growing demand for printed USB sticks in a 48hrs or less suppliers are being forced to react and consequently turnaround times are expected to reduce dramatically. We’re already seeing some suppliers now offer printed solutions in under 24hrs!
  • Fully customised USB sticks in the shape of a product or logo are finally expected to take off during 2012. For the past few years bespoke USB sticks have been on the cusp of breaking though into the mainstream but lengthy lead-times and high set-up costs have held them back. Custom USB sticks make a much bigger impact so as more companies discover them (and plan for them) they will take a bigger share of the overall USB market.

    Custom USB Sticks

    Custom USB Sticks

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Football, Football, Football and USB Memory Sticks

Posted by USB2U on 9th February 2012 | Permalink

If you’re not a follower of the “beautiful game” then you might be best to turn off your TV and radio and avoid buying a newspaper for a few days. The resignation of Fabio Capello as the England Manager combined with the timely ending of the court case against Harry Redknapp has led to a bit of a media frenzy!

With Euro 2012 looming large and with England players already coming forward and calling for Harry Redknapp to be given the England Managers job this is a story that’s going to run and run. So if you want to avoid wall to wall speculation and conjecture over the next few days or weeks you might be best to take a long vacation to a deserted island.

We have a bit of a vested interest in following what happens in the world of football because we supply printed USB memory sticks to a number of top flight clubs and the English FA.

Football USB Memory Sticks

Football USB Memory Sticks

Ironically lots of the USB sticks we supply are to help businesses raise their profile and to generate consumer interest in what they sell or do. Clearly “raising their profile” is not an issue in the world of football has to worry about!

If your business does not benefit from the level of media coverage that that football seems to attract then you might want to consider buying and distributing USB memory sticks printed with your brand or logo on. Make sure if you do that you pre-load the USB sticks with your sales material, web site details, media files (video clips etc.) and anything else that you think your customers or the press (if you are targeting them) might appreciate.

Don’t think promotional USB sticks are just for large companies or football clubs. The minimum order quantity for printed USB sticks is typically only 25 which bring them into the reach of small start-up companies and local “little league” football clubs!

There are lots of different styles and designs to choose from and they come in a range of different memory sizes (typically ranging from 1GB all the way up to 32GB). Pricing is rarely quoted on-line because it changes daily as a result of changes in currency (flash is traded in USB $’s) and daily changes in the price of the core flash components. As a broad rule of thumb expect to pay around £2-£4 per UBS drive (subject to quantity, memory size and design).

Perhaps if you’re bored with all the football talk you could start planning your own marketing or PR initiative with USB memory sticks at the heart of any plan.

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USB Flash Drives Used To Celebrate The Life of Relative Who Passed Away

Posted by USB2U on 8th February 2012 | Permalink

In the ten years we’ve been supplying printed USB flash drives we thought we’d pretty much seen or been asked for everything but a recent request took us by surprise.

In our time we’ve produced custom USB drives in the shape of floor heaters, rubbers, tampons and eggs, we’ve printed USB flash drives for football clubs, schools, companies that sell 4-D images of babies in the womb, theme parks, charities, photographic studios and lots more besides.

We’ve even done plenty of printed USB sticks for people celebrating the birth of their child, lots of engagements and milestone birthdays (40th’s 50th etc.) and we do our fair share of USB sticks for wedding photographers but, until last week we’d never been asked to supply USB sticks for a funeral!

Our customer, whose father had died, purchased the sticks to hand out to mourners attending the funeral. The sticks were printed with a photograph of his father and personal memorabilia was pre-loaded onto each stick including photographs of his father throughout his life, extracts from books and poems he enjoyed reading and music that he loved to listen to.

The general thrust of the idea was that the funeral was to be a celebration of his fathers life and he wanted to give every mourner something that gave them a real insight into the man that his father was. Lanyards were attached to each USB stick and the mourners were actively encouraged to wear them during the funeral service and then to take them home, plug them in and use the images and files loaded on the sticks to remind themselves of the man they knew and loved.

It’s a great idea, not one we’d have thought of and probably not an idea that will appeal to many but it does demonstrate the diversity of use that USB memory sticks (printed and pre-loaded) are being put to these days.

Today not only are large elements of lives shared on-line through Social Networks like Facebook and Twitter, but we also post photographs on services like Flickr, we share out thoughts on blogs and we share endless amounts of information via our smartphones.

As such it should have come as no surprise that even in death, images and information about continues to be distributed.

Consider this, we now capture and store on USB sticks images of babies whilst still in the womb, images of birthdays throughout our lives, our engagement, our weddings and now our death – the “circle of life” now stored and distributed on a USB Flash Drive.

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