Hardly anyone uses just one
computer any more. There's your desktop computer. Maybe a laptop. The one
at work. Your spouse's computer, the kid's computer, the library computer,
school computer . . . if you're anything like me, there are probably about
four or five systems that you use in a typical week.
And of course, the stuff I want is always on the other computer. What
was the address of that web site I visited last month? I know I bookmarked
it . . . oh yeah, that was on my desktop computer and Iím on the laptop.
I wish I had a copy of that report Ö but the file was too big to fit on
a floppy and this system doesnít have a zip disk and I would have forgotten
to bring a disk any way and the systems administrator wonít let me insert
disks because sheís afraid theyíll have virusesÖ. Iím out of town
and the client asked for a copy of the logo and I didnít think to bring
it with me . . . I didnít even bring my laptop with me this trip . . .
and why oh why didnít I burn it onto a CD? I need to send a draft of this
letter to Rosalyn but she uses free Juno for her e-mail and canít accept
attachments so I guess Iíll just have to wait until I see her next week
when we can work on it together. . .
That was a rare peek into Susanís brain on a bad day. Maybe yours, too.
There is hope.
We tend to thing of the Internet as a place where we go to get information,
but it can also be a place where we put information. I tell my Internet
classes that the Internet is the worldís largest network of networks. This
means that you have access to millions of hard drives. Some will let you
store stuff on them and they donít even charge you.
Why do they do this? The web-based interfaces that you use to store
your files contain advertising. Every time you look at a page you see an
ad. Some people find this obnoxious, but itís no worse than commercial
TV. Why do they let you watch the Super Bowl for free? Because they have
a captive audience for the ads. Same principle. Also, when you register,
the sites give you an opportunity to sign up for periodic e-mail newsletters,
or to share your e-mail address with other advertisers (I usually say no.)
Here are two ways you can use the Internet as an extension of your own
My computer has a lot of bookmarks. At last count, 540 of them. I operate
under the ďbetter safe than sorryĒ rule. I might need to find that site
again and Iíll never remember the URL.
My obsessive-compulsive bookmarking doesnít always save me, though.
What if Iím using my laptop, or Johnís computer? The bookmarks, all ten
zillion of them, are somewhere else: on the hard drive of my desktop computer.
Blink solves that problem. Blink reads the bookmark file from your hard
drive and copies it onto free web space on the Blink server. Your bookmarks
are accessible, whatever computer you are using. And Blink isnít just for
computers. You can access your Blink bookmarks using WAP enabled phones
or browser-based wireless devices, such as PDAs.
This is also a good way of saving all of your bookmarks in a safe place
in case you have a hard drive failure. One Alamo PC member told me that
he lost all of his bookmarks when he upgraded to a newer version of Netscape.
The service also facilitates sharing bookmarks from Netscape and favorite
places from Internet Explorer if, like me, you use both programs.
Check out all of the Blink
I have a lot of ways of storing files too big to fit on a 1.4 MB floppy.
My desktop has an external, portable CD burner, a zip drive and a high
density (120MB) floppy disk drive. My laptop has a high-density floppy
drive. Johnís computer has a zip drive. I have an external, portable zip
drive that I keep at the peaceCENTER to use on the computers there. So
why oh why do I never have the files I want when I want them in a medium
that will work on the computer Iím using at this moment? One of the worldís
I also have trouble sharing files. Not many people can use the high-density
floppies and theyíre too expensive to hand out anyway. Same with zip disks
Ė at $10 apiece I get stingy with them. CDs are cheaper but they still
have to be handed over in person. Even the people who can accept e-mail
attachments may not be excited to get a 10MB graphics file from me.
Driveway lets you park your files on a remote server, for free.
When you initially sign up you get 25MB of space, which is pretty darn
big. You can increase your storage space by up to 30 MB by taking several
online surveys and get up to 40 additional MB of space by recommending
Driveway to friends. If 95 MB isnít enough, you can purchase more storage
Driveway has several potential uses:
You can reach Driveway at <www.driveway.com>.
It is remote storage for your files; extra protection in case your hard
drives crashes. Although the site is secure, I would hesitate to store
sensitive files such as financial records or client lists here. You never
Your Driveway files are available for you to view or download wherever
you can get an Internet connection, no matter what computer you are using.
You can share Driveway files with friends and associates. Each folder can
have its own accessibility criteria. However, you must list, by e-mail
address, the people you wish to have access for each folder.
There are other sites that offer the same free
services as Blink and Driveway. For free file storage, look at a big list
of sites at <http://www.netlockers.com/>.
For bookmark storage, also look at
I would be careful about where I park my files. Both of these sites use
a Java applet to read information directly from your hard drive. These
two sites are reputable, but be wary about giving ďJoeís Basement Data
StorageĒ even temporary access to your disk.
Your bookmarks reveal a lot of personal information about you. If you
can read the fuzzy print on my Blink screen capture, you will see that
Iíve bookmarked the Activistís Handbook, an article about Archbishop Romero
and Amazon.Com Ė and thatís just filed under ďA.Ē If you could see the
whole list you would know a lot more about me that I might be willing to
reveal. I feel confident that Blink will not pass them onto anyone else
but other sites might not be as discreet. And Iíve already warned you about
storing sensitive files remotely. Be careful.
If youíre only taking information from the Internet youíre missing out
on half itís capabilities. Itís one big hard drive Ė use it!