My cell phone is old. Three years old. I’m looking for a new one and was disappointed when Motorola announced their latest slim-design cell phone with iTunes inside.
It’s not as sleek as I hoped, and there’s still that dumb 100 song limit. Go to 1,000 songs and I’m a buyer.
The trend is toward portability. Already I have all my music on my iPod. I mean ALL my music. About 3,500 songs, a few hundred music videos, and now I’m collecting movies and TV shows.
Photos? Yep, nearly 10,000 digital photos reside on my iPod. Portability is king. Not to mention collectablity (I made that up).
The latest to come from the free loving folks in the open source movement is portable browsing and portable email.
Mozilla brings us Portable Firefox and Portable Thunderbird. So portable they’ll fit on almost any portable device that can plug into a Mac.
Pick your portable poison. iPod, pocket hard drive, pocket USB thumb drive, memory card, whatever. If there’s a little less than 100 megabytes of storage you can carry email and browser.
That’s email as in Thunderbird and browser as in Firefox. The portable versions will fit on a USB thumb drive (or other device) and let you carry browser and bookmarks and email deep in your pocket, or tagging along on a keychain.
What if you’re like me and use Safari and Mail? Surely you have a backup for each? My backup is Thunderbird and Firefox.
What you get with the portable version of each is a slimmed down version of each that will fit snuggly on that fashionable USB thumb drive. Or iPod shuffle. Or iPod nano.
Portability is probably aimed at the USB devices, as they’re more compact and less cumbersome than carrying and attaching a cable to a remote Mac just to run mail and a browser.
On the surface, having a few major Mac applications in your pocket sounds cool, handy, stylish, plausible, and thoughtful, though I can’t help but wonder if this isn’t a solution looking for a problem.
Think about it. Assume you don’t have an iBook or PowerMac or MacBook Pro with you and you’re away from your desktop Mac.
Suddenly, you develop this irrepressible urge to check your email and browse your favorite news sites. What do you do?
You’ll find someone with a Mac or PC that’s connected to the net and use a browser to browse and a browser to check email (most internet service providers have a browser-based email system available).
Or, you’ll find someone with a Mac and whip out your USB keychain, plug it in, and use your own applications to check mail and browse?
Uh huh. Right. I don’t think so. Except for the overly geekier among the Mac crowd, I just don’t see that happening, trendy, cool, or not.
Mail is important. So are the hundreds of documents we have stored on our Macs and PCs. Backup is important, so I tend to view portable devices part of a backup plan—as a convenient “off site” storage of important documents.
I don’t see portable applications as worthy of much consideration. Yet. Why not? Two words. Home Directory. To be really “portable” I need to take more than just email and a browser list (both of which already have solutions elsewhere).
Just let me take the whole shebang on a portable device, and make it synchronize with my main Mac (trust me—I’ll hear from Bambi and Tera within minutes of publishing this; pointing out the error of my ways).
How hard can that be? Hard enough that Apple hasn’t done it. Yet.
Let me apologize for moving the topic from ultra portable needs to my needs. After all, I’m still porting an extra human. Temporarily. Seven weeks and counting. Trust me. I’m counting.
Portable Firefox and Portable Thunderbird are both free (hence my attraction to portable applications). Drag the applications to your USB thumb drive, iPod or other device, and you’re good to go. Literally.
Portable document storage? Yes. Portable email and browser? Why?
Tera Jean Patricks
My Home Directory is about 90 gigabytes. That won’t fit. As to email and browser on a USB device? Why?
Jack D. Miller
Portable email sounds like a decent idea if it syncs up my email addresses and messages. But I use Mail, so why bother?