On the Road, Again by Chuck Horowitz

No! It’s not a Thumb Drive! It’s a “GigaBank 8.0.”

I think it would be great if this USB drive was the size of a Thumb Drive but, it’s not. The dimensions are 2 x 0.5 x 2.5 inches and it holds 8 Gigabytes. The drive is powered through your USB port and it weighs less than 2 ounces. I have no information on the price of this gadget; however, you can check it out at I/O Magic Corporation’s web site at www.iomagic.com.
For all you Road Warriors out there, especially those of you who recommend or buy notebooks, be aware that Vista (Longhorn) is coming. Sometime between now and early 2007 the replacement for Windows SP will be out. I’m hearing that Vista will require major redesign of the hardware to take advantage of the benefits included in this system. It’s in your best interest to find out about these changes to insure that your new machine purchases will take advantage of these benefits.
Mouse Solutions Plus (www.msplususa.com) makes a mouse table that mounts to the arm of office chairs (wheelchairs included). It’s ergonomically designed to improve posture (and there are some of us who need that), thereby decreasing fatigue and stress (to backs, shoulders, and necks) while it allows the arm and wrist to be supported by the chair arm. You can call Mouse Solutions Plus at 1-800-213-2313 for more information if you have an interest in this product.
Imation (www.imation.com) has the Micro Hard Drive that looks like a rubber covered padlock. Weighing only 1.8 ounces, the device has a 4 Gigabyte capacity. The drive is a USB 2.0 type and sells for $189.
Shades of Mission Impossible! Various companies are selling products that will wipe your hard drive clean if your notebook is used by the wrong person. Some of these hard drives have a “so-called poison pill to physically destroy the drive if it has been tampered with.” Absolute Software (www.absolute.com) makes Lojack for notebooks and will add a remote-kill feature to the next version of their program. If the notebook is stolen, they can send a command to wipe-out specific files or the entire hard drive. Bluefish Wireless (www.bluefishwireless.com) has a $15 program called Central. This program can do for the Palm Trio what Absolute Software’s does for the notebook. Also, if you Windows Smartphone you can check out PDAKill Software at (SPCSoft.com) for their product that costs $10. Ensconce Data Technology (www.ensconcedata.com) makes external and internal hard drives that have “Dead on Demand” technology. If necessary, these drives can commit suicide. They have a small container that has a corrosive chemical that can make the platters useless. Software on the computer will trigger the release of the chemical if tampering is detected, or you can press a set of keys to destroy their data.
The June 2006 edition of PC World Magazine has an article by Jeff Bertolucci called “Never Call Tech Support Again!” Be calm my beating heart! Is this a dream come true or what? For some of us the answer is yes, and for others the answer is no. He can’t solve everyone’s problems, or can he? I haven’t asked him so, I don’t know. Here’s a list of the situations he covers: “Do strange sounds emanate from your PC?”; “Does the noise persist even with the hard drive disconnected?”; “Got Beeps?”; “Could a hardware problem be the source of your boot-up woes?’; “Does some text appear on screen, after which the PC stops responding>”; “Does your screen go entirely blue and display a few lines of text at the top?”: “Does Windows, or an application crash frequently?”; “Does your software seem to have a mind of its own?”; “Do your input devices flake out?”; and “Has the PC gone silent?” I haven’t seen my most frequent problem solved in this article. Fortunately (or unfortunately) my problem is a desktop one and my notebook is not affected.
San Disk (www.sandisk.com) makes the microSD removable flash memory card. This card is 1mm x 11mm and only 1 mm thick. By the end of March San Disk will have a 1 Gigabyte version of the microSD available for $75. The card will come with an adapter that allows it to fit into a standard SD card slot.
Chuck Horowitz, a HAL-PC member, can be reached at chuckh@hal-pc.org for questions or comments.