When computers at BSU don't have the programs you need . . .

don’t despair. There is a VERY SIMPLE fix for this that even I forget about. You don’t have to have a software application installed on a computer’s hard drive to use it . . . you can access it from your flash drive or iPod. iPods now offer up to 80 GB of memory, as much as a laptop computer, and you can configure your iPod to act just like an external hard drive. Also, flash drives are increasing in storage space while decreasing in price, a very nice relationship indeed.

So, you can use an iPod or flash drive to hold your favorite software programs, connect them to any computer at Boise State (well, most computers, anyway), and then launch and use the program from this external drive. The reason we don’t think about working with programs this way is that since the beginning of personal computing, programs resided on computer hard drives. I suppose this was because we didn’t have portable storage devices that were large enough to hold software . . . until now.

I thought of this when I needed to solve a problem for a faculty member. Students were using Cmap tools, a concept mapping software. The professor asked me if I could get this program installed on computers in The Zone, the new multimedia lab for students in the ILC. I said I would check into that, and found out that it might take some time. Of course there is always another way to do the same thing, right? Student could copy Cmap tools software (it’s 30 MB, not that large) to a flash drive (get a 1 GB or more) and then simply run the program from that. And since Cmap tools also automatically stores the concept map files within the Cmap folder, it would be a piece of cake for students to always have their files in the same place and access them easily. So, a problem turned into a solution that can be used for many instances where programs are needed, but not installed on other computers.

Therefore, consider copying your favorite programs to a flash drive. Keep your flash drive with you and use it when you are on another computer that doesn’t have the program. It’s a foolproof solution, it’s easy, and you will be so much more productive. And you won’t ever be caught without the program you need. Hurray for technology!

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