Plug and Play

Thanks to Dale, I’ve found something to keep Damn Small Linux company on my USB key (there is a lot of space left after all!) – like Dale, I have an interest in mobile computing (unlike Dale, I have less gadgets, so PortableApps sounds great to me) and I’ve posted a couple of times before on the subject. At the risk of this weblog turning in to Dave, here’s a repeat:

It sounds like, between them, Scott McNealy and Dan Gillmor have got the right idea about access to my data. Hopefully not actually my data though! Scott wants it on the network, Dan wants it with him, and I just want it.

For years, I’ve quite liked the idea that I could have some sort of rfid tag with me (on my key-ring, in my watch, or somewhere I don’t have to worry about it) that would just log me on to my PC (and phone!) when I’m nearby, locking it again when I move away. It would be even better if it worked with any computer, giving me access to the same desktop where-ever I go. Scott seems to agree, although what’s with having to get out a “smart card” to plug it in? Sounds more like a “daft card” to me.

More recently, with the amount of data I can carry around with me (I suspect I’m actually behind the times here with a meagre 1Gb split between a tiny USB key and an MP3 player!) I’ve been leaning towards Dan’s point of view although, again, fumbling around to find something to plug in is just annoying. This is the 21st century! (Isn’t it?!)

The solution should be simple; I have a nice large lump of storage with me, that can wirelessly connect with any computing device (my desktop, thinkpad, PDA, phone, public kiosk, etc. etc.) giving me access to the same data everywhere. The data is also on the network too, luckily for Scott by the sound of it, so the two copies can be synchronised automatically, allowing me to work when I can’t, or don’t want to (it might be slow, insecure or expensive), connect to a network but providing access when I don’t have my storage with me (I could have left it somewhere deliberately or, not for the first time, lost it!). Even better if my storage is on some existing format expansion card so that I can physically plug it in to a) save having to carry around yet another gadget (just plug it in to a phone/PDA) and b) get faster access to the data if the wireless link is too slow.

(Originally posted 29 June 2005)

SoulPad looks pretty interesting too.


2 thoughts on “Plug and Play

  1. I share my workspace and computers at my job so I practically live on my flash drive when I’m there. I seem to be gravitating toward syncing through my web browser though.

    I have Portable Firefox and I keep my home and portable browsers synced with Google Browser Sync. I also like the portable FF option because when I close my browser on the shared computer, I don’t have to worry about wiping the computer clean of my information or passwords. I’m still able to install the extensions and tools that I’m already used to using on my home computer as well.

    For files, I’ve been using Google Docs both to have files at work that are on my home computer or collaborating with co-workers. I keep all of my work files on a separate flash drive (which never really leaves with me), but I only use for centralized backup. For new files I noticed that I’ve been going to Google Docs more these days.

    I guess when you don’t have the benefit of your own space or computer at your job, going online seems to be more convenient.

  2. Ah yes, Google Docs are great. Only recently discovered how useful they are after using a Google spreadsheet to organise my team Christmas meal. I’ll definitely be using them again.

    I hadn’t thought about it before but I think I’d be much more likely to use Firefox extensions if I start using portable Firefox. I just couldn’t be bothered installing the same set of extensions on all the computers I use, so I avoided the problem by not installing any! Might be interesting seeing what I’ve been missing out on.

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