Mobile Computing
Chuck Horowitz

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is now letting you leave your computer and its hardware inside your carryon luggage. That is, providing that you have a "checkpoint friendly" bag.

These “checkpoint friendly” bags or cases must have a laptop-only section that completely unfolds to lie flat on the x-ray screening machine belt. There can be no metal snaps, zippers, or buckles on top or underneath the laptop section. There can be no pockets on the inside or outside of the laptop-only part of the case. The TSA says that some existing bags meet its rules, but most of the acceptable bags will be new designs. There is no guarantee that you will not be subject to rescreening, though. These cases are expected to sell for $100.00 to $200.00. The briefcase type will be the less-expensive model and the wheeled version will be the most expensive. That’s ok though; you can always leave the notebook/laptop home and take your iPod.
By the time you read this column, Intel’s new Nehalen micro architecture chips should be available. Your machine (a new one for sure) should be “faster and more power-efficient.” The initial release will be for power desktops and workstations. Scaled-down versions of this “Core17” will appear sometime later for consumer desktops and notebooks. Nehalen will be an upgrade from the current Core 2 chips. Also on the horizon is the integration of graphic capabilities with the CPU. The result of this upgrade should be more power efficiency, making an integrated graphics chip no longer necessary. Sorry gamers, you will still need a separate graphics card to get the best graphics performance. This integration could also result in lower power consumption.
There’s a new thumb drive in town, and it’s the toughest around. The IronKey USB flash drive (made by a company called IronKey) encrypts data to the degree that it has achieved government certification as tamper-resistant. There is a secure version of FireFox preloaded on the drive which gives you complete “anonymized” Web browsing. The advantage of this kind of venue is that none of the computers you use the drive on retain any of the data. Data stays on the flash drive, along with your applications. By providing hardware AES encryption, all encryption occurs on the drive. The encryption keys are kept on the drive only and are unlocked when you put in the password that you created when you initialized the drive. You can even back up the password on IronKey’s secure Web servers in case you forget it. If you put in the password wrong ten times, the hardware wipes itself. The drive comes in a 1 Gigabyte drive to an 8 Gigabyte drive. The 1 Gigabyte drive sells for $79.00 and the 8 gigabyte drive sells for $299.00.
There’s a good article on choosing a number of electronic devices in the October 2008 issue of PCWorld. It covers “the specs that matter;” including Desktop, Laptop, HDTV, Digital Photography, Networking and Equipment. The article begins on page 118 and continues to page 124.
PC Magazine’s November 2008 issue also has an article on the “Hottest New PCs” that covers: Mainstream Desktops, Gaming Desktops, Desktop Replacements, Laptops, Ultra-portable Laptops and Mainstream Laptops. This article begins on page 57.
Take a look at Maxtor’s OneTouch 4 Mini external hard drive by Seagate Technologies ( They make quite a few drives in varying capacities. These 5 inch by 3 1/4 inch by 5/8 inch drives are very handy. They don’t weigh much and pack nicely in a computer carrying case. I’ve been using a 120 Megabyte drive for a while now, and it’s quite handy. However, I have had a problem accessing one file on a drive with many files. I can’t blame it on the drive though, because I’m not sure what corrupted the file. I can’t access the file no matter which computer I plug it into. I’m inclined to think that one of the computers used to access the drive corrupted the file. All of the other files that I have on that drive are accessible. This includes Outlook, Excel and Word files. Of course, I’m sure you know that the corrupted file is the most important file on the drive, and that it will take me many hours to recreate it. Fortunately, I can recreate it. I think it’s become a way of life in the computer world that you have to backup your backup.
I’m not going to tell you my Christmas wish list this year. In all of the previous years that I’ve written about my wish list, the New Year brought many advances beyond my wishes (I was sometimes way ahead of the advances though). I don’t want to settle for less than is available (considering cost, of course) so, when I need something new, I’ll do the same thing most people do. I’ll just buy the best that I can afford at the time, considering my needs and my finances. You do have to plan ahead though. You need to buy the technology that will do what you need for the period of time that you consider to be the product’s productive life cycle and the availability of finances. In effect, buy the technology that you feel will fill your needs until they change or you can afford more advanced technology.
I hope that you all have a good holiday season and that everything turns out great for you. I’ll settle for a very, very large market turnaround.
Chuck Horowitz, a HAL-PC member, can be reached at for questions or comments.