Thursday, July 15, 2004

Tech Notes:  If you have any sort of need to have a set of files that you can access from any computer -- for instance, you're working on a novel or a piece of criticism and you travel a lot but your laptop is a pain to bring with you so you occasionally need to work on a strange computer in a hotel somewhere, or say you need to access files at home and at work -- the most important thing you can own is a USB flash drive (also called a pen drive or a key drive).  It's a little 2- inch long plastic gizmo that plugs directly into most modern computers, including Macs, and appears to the computer as a regular drive.  These things come in various capacities.  I have 32 meg, which is pretty much all you need for a bunch of doc files (an entire novel only takes about 500 k), and it cost me all of twenty bucks.  You can get them at any electronics or computer store.  Here's one at Best Buy that's twice the capacity of mine for $25.  Indispensable.
As you may have heard, Google started a mail service a while back similar to Yahoo or Hotmail, except they offered a full gigabyte of storage space.  Effectively, that means if you don’t have any mail with big attachments, you will never have to delete a message again.  Nice, but there's a better way to use it.  A gigabyte of relatively safe online storage is very effective as an off site back-up mechanism.  So what I do is just send any documents or files that I want to have backed up as attachments to messages to my own Gmail account.  I never use it for any other purpose and do not give out the address, so no spam comes in.  Not the purpose Google had in mind, but it's as convenient as can be.  Now I can get to my work if my condo burns to ground and my laptop melts in the file.  Since Yahoo and Hotmail are likely to come close to Google's capacity eventually, you're not limited to Google accounts, which are not available to the general public yet (although you can buy them on eBay).