Q: In trying to get the most out of my iPod nano, I’m going to try to use it to carry around my documents and settings, so that I can use a PC in the computer lab as effectively as I can. What’s the best way to do this?
A: With the iPod’s “Enable Disc Use” option checked in iTunes’ iPod settings panel, any iPod is as useful as a USB flash memory stick for carrying around documents and settings – simply drag and drop your files into folders onto the iPod’s file system in Windows Explorer.
However, you can do so much more with Disc Use enabled. There’s a recent trend that’s making portable flash memory all the more exciting, and all the more useful: portable applications. Portable applications are special versions of popular open-source, freeware programs that have been crafted to store all of their settings and temporary files in a local directory rather than in the Windows registry. Therefore, these needn’t be installed as most applications must, and can be entirely self-contained on a flash drive. They’ll leave nothing behind on the host computer, and enable you to carry programs along with their settings wherever you go. For example, you can carry a copy of a web browser along with all of your bookmarks, an e-mail client with all of your accounts and messages, or an entire self-contained office software suite, and so on. Virtually any computer you connect to, regardless of what software it has installed, can be useful to you. For a list of (free!) portable applications, check out John T. Haller’s site, PortableApps.com.