Business reading: Google and Commodore

Current business reading: The Google Story. I’m about a third of the way through this book about the guys who started Google and the empire they created. It’s an interesting read, but its clear the author is in awe of the folks behind Google. If you can get past that, though, there is something here for you, assuming you like to read about how successful businesses started (as I do).

A more interesting (in my opinion) business book that I recently read is On The Edge: the Spectacular Rise and Fall of Commodore. If you have a fondness for the early Commodore machines, as I do for the Commodore 64, you’ll enjoy this book packed with insider information about how Commodore became the most powerful and successful personal computer company in history, only to lose it all in the end.

Flash-drive adventures

Being able to carry around two gigabytes of data on your key ring is handy.

I recently got a USB flash drive: a JetFlash 110. This is a great piece of hardware. It’s very fast compared to most flash drives I considered. It’s built well and I have no worries carrying it around in my pocket on my key ring. Windows XP recognizes it as a removable storage device when you plug it into a USB port — no drivers needed.

First thing to do when you get one of these: set up an encryption system. You want to be able to carry around the drive with your important data on it, but don’t want to worry about what will happen if you lose it or have it stolen.

The JetFlash 110 comes with security software, but it is not secure. True, it does password-protect data on the drive, but: it also includes a “recovery” utility that you can use to get your data back if you forget your password. Sounds convenient, but what that really means is the data is not secure. If you can recover your data without a password, so can someone else. So don’t bother with the included security software.

I erased the flash drive and then installed TrueCrypt on the drive in traveler mode. TrueCrypt is serious encryption for Windows. It allows you to format partitions of hard drives, or create encrypted files that act like hard drives. And they are actually secure. If you lose your password for a TrueCrypt volume, your data is gone. Just as it should be. Traveler mode allows you to mount your encrypted volume as a hard drive on any Windows XP system without installing drivers or other software. Handy!

I’ve been a user of The Bat for email for quite some time now, and it just keeps getting better. RitLabs has released a special “traveler” version of The Bat called Voyager that lets you take your email with you wherever you go on a flash drive. Works like a charm, and it is fairly simple to synchronize your Voyager database with your desktop The Bat database.

With strong security like what TrueCrypt offers, I can safely carry vital data like passwords, email, source code, etc and not worry about losing it.

My quest for the perfect keyboard.

It was high-time I got a new keyboard. My old Compaq keyboard served me well, but it was aging and I need a USB keyboard anyway.

I went to CompUSA so that I could try out some keyboards. And what did I find? I don’t like any of them!

There are two major problems with most of the ‘high-end’ keyboards available today: 1. They are wireless. I don’t want a wireless keyboard. I use my keyboard in front of my monitor. The cord does not get in my way. I don’t want a keyboard that needs batteries! 2. Microsoft, Logitech, and some other companies have decided to do away with the F-keys — they have reassigned these keys and made the “traditional” F-keys a secondary function. So, that basically blew all of the “good” keyboards I could find at CompUSA out of the running.

I decided to get a “cheap” Viewsonic keyboard. It felt okay to type on and didn’t have a billion extra useless buttons (though it did have some). But this keyboard had some keys in the wrong place! Note to keyboard designers: the key goes ABOVE the Enter key, not next to the shift key! After using this keyboard I got extremely frustrated that I would easily hit the now misplaced key when I went for the right-shift, and accidentally his the Enter key when I went for the !

So finally I decided to just look online at some reviews. I settled on the Saitek “Gamer’s” Keyboard, and I like this keyboard! It does have some useless features: a blue backlight that shines from under the keys (it can be dimmed or switched off), and a “command pad” that is separate from the keyboard that can presumably be programmed for various functions or game keys — I haven’t bothered to plug this in. However, this keyboard has a wonderful feel to it — not too mushy, and it tolerates my rather “imprecise” targeting when I type. See, I never really learned how to type the right way, and I frequently hit the bottom or side edge of a key instead of right in the middle. Many keyboards do not like this kind of typing, but the Saitek doesn’t seem to mind, and I get great response from my keypresses no matter where on the key I apply the pressure. Also, this keyboard has the key where it belongs, has the normal F-keys, and does NOT have a million useless “media” buttons all over it!

Honestly, I think this is the best keyboard I have ever owned! I could care less that it is marketed as a “gamer’s keyboard” — it just happens to be the best designed keyboard I have tried. And it looks good too — a silver and black design that matches my Microsoft Intellimouse and my LCD monitor. If you’re looking for a decent new keyboard, give the Saitek Gamer’s Keyboard a try.

Continuous Ink System review updated

I have updated my review of a Continuous Ink System for my Epson printer: “Well, it’s been a little over two months and several hundred printed discs since I installed the CIS. And it’s working great, and none of my bottles are even half used up…” Nothing special added, but I’ve received quite a bit of email because of this review asking how I like it after extended use.

My Continuous Ink System: A Review

I’ve neglected my blog this month. However, today I have an interesting new review to post: my review of a Continuous Ink System for my Epson R200 printer. Are you sick of ink cartridges that are priced as if they contain liquid gold? I am. So a Continuous Ink System may be the solution for you — read my review to see how it worked for me.

On a related note, I really like this Epson R200. I use it primarily for printing directly on inkjet printable CD-ROMs and DVDs. No more cheesy printer labels and stompers; no more sharpie pens!