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    Wednesday, January 05, 2005

    USB Flash Drives, AKA Keychain Doo-hickies

    My gift of choice to give this year was a USB flash drive. Geeky, huh? I never thought I'd have use for one until it saved my life in early November while finishing up a project.

    I needed to get about 80MB of files from one computer to another in order to burn them to CD. It was one of those things that the computer that *did* have network access did not have a burner, and the computer that *did* have a burner did not have network access. Anyway, a colleague had a flash drive (or as I called it at the time "a key fob doo-hicky"). He saved the day because the vendor was about to show up asking for the files, and without that little gadget I would've had to rip my desktop PC out of the wall to hand over my hard drive. Not too slick.

    Now that I know these little toys can be very helpful, I gave away a few to friends this year as gifts. My choice was the SanDisk Cruzer Mini. I'm a big fan. They're not just good for saving the day when you need to get files from one machine to another. They're also quite handy when you load them up with tiny apps which can get you out of a bind.

    There are tons of sites dedicated to listing out popular apps for keychain drives. So I won't bore you with the details here. Instead, I've made a short list of the contents of my own drive. If you have one, maybe these will come in handy?

    Portable Firefox - The kids call this the bomb-diggity. Unlike the rest of the apps on this list, Portable Firefox (and there's Portable Thunderbird too) is a condensed version of the browser that actually runs *on* the flash drive itself. This was very useful when I needed to see something in Firefox on a company PC that was locked down with all kinds of user restrictions and I couldn't install Firefox.

    Ad-Aware - One of the best spyware cleaners.

    AdMuncher - For eating away ads while you browse the web.

    AVG - A nice light-weight anti-virus tool.

    HTML-Kit - My code editor of choice for Windows. If I ever move to Mac, I'm jumping all over BBEdit v8 like pants on a mannequin.

    Printkey - A terrific little screen-grabber.

    Snood - What I spent senior year playing.

    SpaceMonger - Visual tool for keeping track of free space on your computer.

    Spybot - One of the best spyware cleaners.

    WinPatrol - Keeps an eye on spyware, startup items, file associations and other helpful bric-a-brac.

    WiseFTP - One of a zillion FTP clients available for free on the web. Maybe you prefer SmartFTP or CuteFTP? I tried WiseFTP first and it's what I've stuck with ever since.

    ZoneAlarm - I love this firewall.

    Oh yeah - and my resumé. Never know when I'll need it.

    Even if you don't have a USB drive, maybe you'll find these little apps helpful. Enjoy! We're off to Key Largo for a week-long vacation. See you next week when the countdown of my 2004 top ten list of CDs will begin. Stay tuned.