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December 2000, Week 3 -- Taking a Drive

 

   Four web sites provide free hard drive storage. They are the best way to transfer large files, any file.

   The sites typically offer 25 megabytes of free storage when you first sign up, then add more for additional fees or bringing in new business. You should take a look at all of them to decide which would be most useful for you and your business.

   There is a big advantage to these services. Not only can you make large documents available to others who have the same access code, but unlike sending a fax, the material on the drive is not limited to text. In fact it makes no difference whether it is text, images, video or sound. Businesses can have product and sales information available for download by customers or more restricted information available only to employees or agents. Individuals can share whole photo albums. All of these sites can be accessed from any place that has access to the Internet. So anyone could use the online drive as a place to store material temporarily while they travel, then pick it up again at the new location.

 

   This kind of hard drive storage is not a substitute for the hard drive on your own computer. It is far too slow and, by today's standards, too small. Transfer speed is limited by the speed of your modem and your computer. In short, it makes no sense to use these services as a substitute for your own computer's hard drive. Aside from that, they are a terrific deal.

 

   The leading sites are http://driveway.com; www.mydocsonline.com; www.xdrive.com; and www.idrive.com, listed in no particular order. They all work pretty much the same.

    I-Drive offers 50 megabytes of storage to start with and unlimited storage if you're willing to pay for it. You can clip and save pages to your hard drive space to be viewed later by others.

    MyDocsOnline was picked by PC World Magazine as the best online storage site on the web. That wouldn't seal my decision on this or any other topic but it's worth throwing in the hopper and considering. The site has a nice "drag and drop" feature. Drag any file you want to the drive's "web folders" icon and off it goes.

 

    http://driveway.com Widely used service. Lets you create the appearance of a private label that looks like a company label to other users.

 

    www.xdrive.com You start with 25 megabytes but can move up to 100 megabytes of storage if you can get friends and colleagues to sign up.

 

   Finally, some Internet services, like AOL (America Online) also provide a small amount of free storage for members, but much less than the four services mentioned above.

 

Tracking

   Ever wonder why there's never a cop around when you need one? Were they parked somewhere "cooping," as it's called?

   You can track the path of police cars or anything else that moves by placing a device called "TravelEyes," a GPS receiver about the size of a pack of cigarettes, inside the vehicle. GPS stands for "Global Positioning System," a satellite tracking method developed by the U.S. military.

 

   TravelEyes does not broadcast an immediate location but records up to 20 hours of travel on a memory chip. This information can be downloaded and read with any Windows 95/98/NT computer. The device records the path, speed, all stops and the duration of each stop, and displays this information on a map. List price for the unit is $600; there are no other fees.

 

   TravelEyes is made by Advanced Tracking Technologies. Phone: 888-279-4577; e-mail: sales@traveleyes.com; web: www.traveleyes.com.

 

   More expensive devices (in the $1,500-$2,500 range) are available for tracking in real time, the changing location being broadcast continuously. Some sites you want to look at for these include www.gpss.co.uk; www.fleetrack.com; www.teletype.com; and www.hegyi.com. www.cnde.iastate.edu  is a university site with information on correcting for errors in places that don't have good satellite coverage.

 

Internuts

 

-- www.yack.com  Has reviews and links for online games, videos, radio stations, chats, etc. The radio guide lets the viewer tune in to 3,200 radio stations, including commercial stations. You can listen to your favorite radio stations, even though you are far outside their broadcast area. FM stations, for example, usually have a range of no more than 50 miles from their transmitter. Well done site.

 

-- www.blackholetv.com Music, film, experimental videos, commentary, a hodgepodge of stuff. The animation is fun.

-- www.bobhopevideos.com and www.bobhope.com Listen to the famous comedian tell jokes. Also has his television specials and movies on video.

-- www.customs.treas.gov Site maintained by the U.S. Customs Service. Has information on what travelers can and cannot bring into the country, and what requires duty fees. Has import and export information, quotas, etc., for businesses. Special section for small business.

 

Two for shareware

 

-- www.zdnet.com  has a couple of shareware programs that caught my attention. One is "KPK File," which can encrypt and hide sensitive files from prying eyes. The other is "AI Robo Form," which lets you quickly and easily fill out forms on the web.

 

   You can search for a program of any type by typing the appropriate key words in the search field on the home page. Other large sites, like AOL, Yahoo, Lycos, etc., also maintain extensive shareware libraries.

 

NOTE: Readers can search more than four years of columns at the "On Computers" web site: www.oncomp.com. You can e-mail Bob Schwabach at bobschwab@oncomp.com or bobschwab@aol.com.