March 23, 2006
 

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Posted: 11.01.05

Three for the Road

When using public computers, browsing the Web and checking e-mail securely can be difficult—unless you have the right key.
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By Tim Bajarin




As any serious road warrior knows, trying to keep up with your normal workload while traveling is no easy task. I’m often forced to access e-mail on the go, seek out information just before going into a sales call or dash into a Web café to get last-minute material to augment a client presentation, all while dealing with flight
schedules, meetings and fellow travelers. So I’m always on the lookout for tools that can make my traveling life easier and let me work more efficiently.

Lately, three products have become almost indispensable in my mobile lifestyle. The first is StealthSurfer II, a USB key loaded with the Firefox Web browser; Thunderbird, an open-source e-mail program; and Anonomizer, which adds additional network security and IP masking.

It comes in several memory sizes, but the 256MB version meets most of my needs on the road. This little tool is a must if you have to use another person’s computer or a PC in a Web café and need everything you do to be secure. When you plug StealthSurfer II into the USB port, it produces a password-protected log-in screen. Once you enter the password, you can launch Firefox or Thunderbird from
the StealthSurfer II thumb drive, and from that point, everything you do in these programs is private and unseen by the host computer. The price varies according to size; the 1GB version sells for $299, and I never leave home without it.

The second product, Browster, really helps me to view Web e-mail and Web pages faster. You can download it free and watch a demo of how it works at www.browster.com. With Browster, when you search for a Web page in Explorer or Firefox, as you mouse over the search results, a small icon pops up; if you place your cursor over the icon, the Web page comes up instantly without having to launch an entirely new page. This saves me a lot of time, since I can see if the information on that page is significant before I decide to actually go there for more detailed results.

The third product, also a download, is called Onfolio. This program allows you to efficiently organize Web research and publish it into reports, Web sites and documents. It lets you capture local copies of Web content for reliable access as well as read and manage RSS news feeds. The personal version costs $29, and this is the one I use all the time. Once you download it you will see a small suitcase icon in the right corner of your browser bar. From that point on, if you go to a Web page that you want to keep and, more importantly, organize under headings like competitors or research, you just click on the suitcase and it launches a small utility that asks if you want to save it as a link or an actual page. Once you choose how you want to save and name it, you hit save and it copies that link or full Web page into the Onfolio suitcase, and you then have that content in its own place for future use. Since I am in the market research business I constantly use this to capture market data or information on companies I cover all the time, and it makes it a breeze to keep this Web-based material organized and readily accessible.

As a road warrior who travels over 150,000 miles a year, any tool that makes traveling less difficult is a real blessing, and these three surely fit the bill.
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