I happened on this free download which claims to diagnose flash drives:
This or something like it might be useful to a lot of people. (ie I happened on reviews for TrueCrypt, found two warring groups- like they were from different planets: 'it ate my data grrr!' & 'works wonderful for me, you idjit!'
(I don't know enough about hardware issues, but it seemed many had pulled the drives while still writing.)
Anyroads, Happy 2009, (just in time!)