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Portable Apps

I have a “thumb drive” attached to my keychain. That way, I always have information with me and I don’t leave my drive behind when I leave (since I can’t go anywhere without my keys). I keep two sets of files included on the keychain.

First is a set of personal files that are encrypted with TrueCrypt – a free encryption program. I can decrypt them on any computer I want just by running the Portable Mode of the program.

The second set of files is my computer geek recommendation for the day: PortableApps.com

With this platform, you can run a set of applications from your portable USB drive without ever installing the programs to a computer. When you surf the internet, all the cookies and site information stay on your USB drive. If you want to use a program and it isn’t installed on the computer you are using, you can plug in the USB drive and use the PortableApp application.

There is a long list of applications you can use with the platform and all of them are free.

I like using Firefox as a browser, but our hospital computer only uses Internet Explorer. So I plug in my USB drive and I’m running Firefox in no time. I can also run Google Chrome if I want.

There are also several games you can run, including Sudoku, poker, and a Wolfenstein-like game called AssaultCube.

Comes in very handy … and it’s free.

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  1. Not sure if PortableApps has NeoSafe, but you should use it if you work on public wifi ever, and who doesn’t? Get it here: http://goo.gl/fblw

    Also, make sure you carry KeePass to store passwords in and also to generate very strong passwords. Here: http://goo.gl/oILn

    Handy stuff, all of this, and the true mark of a geek.

  2. Our facility bans the use of personal thumb drives. If you want to use one it has to be issued by the IT department and encoded.

  3. Another tip is you can install portable apps on your normal computer if you don’t want to bother installing something or you want to make that program easily synchronized with another computer (just copy the folder over and you’re done).

    And as a terminology heads up, they’re called flash drives because they use flash memory. Thumb drives, usb drives, thumb sticks, etc are terms that lost out a few years ago.

  4. Yeah, I was looking forweard to this a few years ago. But, IT isn’t stupid: they disabled all the USB interfaces.

  5. There are many Linux distributions that run solely off of CDs. I have used Ubuntu off of a CD distro. Haven’t delved into them enough to determine where the preferences/bookmarks/etc go, but perhaps these might help if hospital USB sockets are disabled.
    Don’t know the effect this would have on the temperament of hospital IT staff …

  6. Don’t know the effect this would have on the temperament of hospital IT staff …

    I mentioned it to our IT lady. Her eyes rolled back and she started foaming at the mouth… guess I shouldn’t have said anything

  7. You’re aware that a good percentage of USB drives have viruses on them right from the factory, right?

    • I wasn’t aware of that, but I always reformat new thumb drives when I purchase them anyway.
      Also did a quick internet search and found that some viruses are written to load onto new drives that are inserted into the computer – such as at photo kiosks and in internet cafes.
      Be careful out there.

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