You know how it is -- you’re at work, uni, or even at a friend’s house and you can’t get your hands on the application you need because it’s at home. Well you don’t have to be crippled -- why not grab that 512MB USB stick of yours and get yourself portable with some choice applications that run right off the stick? And who knows, if security is particularly lax at your destination, it might even help you to get that IM client running that you previously couldn’t… and let’s face it, it’s always nice to leave a PC without leaving a trace as well.
You’re not an IE fan, that’s fine. Running a browser off a USB key also has the added bonus of not having to clean up your tracks after your done on a machine. Nifty! If you consider yourself more musical, try portable Opera
Webmail can often be banned from the workplace, so running your own email client is quite handy. You may want to set it to leave email on the server, just so your thumb drive doesn’t fill up. If you want to be even sneakier and have access to a command prompt, you could try a combination of SSHing into your home machine and running a text client such as PINE or MUTT -- using a console always makes you look like you’re doing work.
90/512MBCalendar Extension for Thunderbird
So you’re too stingy to buy a PDA, yet you still want a calendar on hand at all times to see how things are progressing. The Thunderbird calendar extension is exactly like Sunbird, just without the executable overhead, and will allow you to stick your USB into any computer and organise your schedule, regardless of where you are. Well, except maybe the bush. Or the moon. Or places without electricity. Or computers for that matter.
98/512MBDeep Burner Portable
‘But… but… it has a DVD burner’ you cry at the terminal, despite the complete lack of burning software available and installation of such programs being locked out at the administrative level. Deep Burner should help you rectify this problem for good, and consequently let you take your work home if you run out of space on your thumb drive.
Okay, so this one highly depends on the size of your ROM collection, but MAME can help wile away a boring lecture whilst having the impression of making you look like you’re working really hard. Just make sure to look up at the lecturer every now and then -- make it part of the game. Robotron is so much harder when you’re not looking at the screen.
50/512MBDamn Small Linux (DSL)
Bootable from your USB key, providing of course that the motherboard supports it and the BIOS can also be accessed. Failing that, there’s also an embedded version that runs from within Windows. A full list of applications included are at the web address above, and you can even roll your own DSL pretty easily to include the applications you want – just be aware of your space budget! If you’re painfully conscious of being tracked at different terminals, this is the way to keep your privacy intact.
Insane compression at the right price: free. 7-zip will let you fit oh so much more on your portable storage if you find yourself running out of space. The usual program is included in an installer, so click on the Downloads link on the left, and download the command line version – this will get you a zip file which you can extract and use independently. Just make sure you have access to the command prompt in the first place!