Since there is just 2 days before finals begins, of course he has projects due and his only copy is on the thumb drive. I felt so horrible, like a total clumsy oaf. But I am good with electronics and the board wasn't cracked, so I thought I had a good shot at recovering the information.
I took all the parts home. Put together my solder station, scrapped that tough green stuff they put on the mother board traces in 4 spots. The power connection was the weak one, it came up through the board from underneath and only had a tiny little spot left to connect to. It ended up looking like this:
Thumb drive with connector mostly ripped off
and 4 wires soldered in place.
I checked for continuity a dozen times, using 2 different meters, paranoid that I was going to short out something and blow the whole thing up. Just what I needed to do. Not bad enough to destroy the drive, but I had to fry it as well. I would have felt really bad if that happened.
But when I plugged it in the LED turned on, started flashing and the folder popped up. I quickly made a copy of the drive to the hard drive. And an hour after that the power wire popped loose when I handled the drive just a little bit. :D
Emailing my friend the files he needs tonight, and will hand him another thumb drive with everything saved in the morning. I feel better now, even though I am a clumsy oaf, at least I am good with fixing electronic things, at least long enough to save the data.
I found a better point on the back to solder the power connector. I think if I had some more hacker putty I could encase this whole thing and keep it working for good.