Portable Digitial Life

Pretty good article which mentions a mainstay of the WWWAC lists, John Haller.

Portable apps get a thumbs-up — Newsday.com

[John] Haller … is involved in an industry initiative that’s being supported by most major USB drive manufacturers under the rubric of U3. U3 is for pen/USB drives only, but it incorporates additional user-friendly features: When you insert the pen drive into your computer, it automatically brings up a menu of available applications, and it incorporates an installer to manage things. This has spawned some commercial software, particularly for encryption and virus removal. The definitive site for U3 software and hardware is www.u3.com.

There are two main reasons for the increasing popularity of portable apps. The obvious one is convenience. You can use the same programs on every computer, not just move your data around. You keep your settings, your bookmarks, your address book, all correspondence and files on a 1-gigabyte pen drive, or even on your iPod. Work at home, work in the office, work at grandma’s – any place there’s a computer, you’re able to function.

Less obviously, your data is more secure. As we saw a few weeks back, programs that break Windows security on-site are widely available and increasingly user-friendly. If your programs and data are in your pocket, you’re not about to be compromised by your boss, a co-worker, spouse, child or parent.

Its funny this article starts off talking about how great the floppies were pre-hard drives. One put in the floppy and ran everything from it. Those were great times. However, the “data is more secure” is not so true. Computer viruses were spread far and wide by these floppies. Our 8088 contracted more than a few computer viruses by getting infected stuff from friends. Updated anti-virus software should be more common than it is. People are not all that concerned about contracting a computer virus until it wipes out everything.

Keyloggers are all the rage, right? What about a program that looks for your USB key and copies off everything in the background to send to a third party? Oh… you kept your credit card information in a Word document on the USB key? What if a pickpocket takes your USB key? What if you leave it in a restaurant or a cab? Oops.

Portable Firefox is awesome. I will have to update it to a more current version. Portable OpenOffice, Anti-Virus, and others do look to have much usefulness, especially when the computer may not have an Internet connection. My low-tech method has really been to keep a “PC Rescue” section on my flash drive and update it before I go visit someone to help.