My quest for a playable copy of Wasteland led me to a portable version of DOSBox. Interestingly enough, it spawned the subject of my next post. A recent trend in computing these days is the idea of portable applications. Programs you'd use pretty much everyday, that you can carry with you to work, school, a friend's house, even the public library. They could be anything from web browsers, to office suites, to email clients, to sudoku. What's cool about portable apps is the fact that they keep your settings, without ever having to install it on another computer. Say you have a portable version of firefox on a thumbdrive, you can take it to your parent's house, and have your bookmarks, your passwords, usernames and logins, browser history with you. No need to use their crappy Internet Explorer. No need to leave traces of porn websites or craigslist uh adult meet-up listings on their machine. Ever. It's all on your thumbdrive. you're basically using their machine as a terminal, to run your programs. And because all your data is read/written on the thumbdrive, it's a good way to keep your information private, and secure.
A second advantage of using portable apps. is the fact that it doesn't bog down your registry with crap that your operating system has to process. Since most portable apps don't need to be formally installed, this streamlines your computer, and makes it perform faster. Even faster than those finally fast commercials. Who knew? What this means for computing in general is immense. There are multiple ways of carrying around data these days. A thumb drive, micro SD cards, Memory sticks, your cellphone. which means there are lots of ways to carry around your apps with you. And you can encrypt these drives, memcards, with something like truecrypt or even windows vista/7's bitlocker if your running versions of the OS that have that feature, just in case you lose your thumb drive.
But wait, there's more, if you have some internet drivespace, like on Mozy.com, or microsoft's windows live skydrive service. you can backup your thumbdrive, and not worry so much when you lose your drive as long as you keep your data synched. (You did encrypt the data right?) So yeah, portable apps is just another way to keep your data safe, and secure and private. and well, obviously portable. A word of warning though, when using portable apps is that you're gonna be using your thumbdrive/memstick/memcard on other people's computers, and that's a good way of getting virused, if you're not careful. So make sure you protect yourself at all times (see the antimalware/antivirus post below). But if you do, no worries so much cos you made that backup right? See what a good idea that was?
Just as an aside with the whole portability thing, is that, there are a lot of portable versions of games out there now. From Plants vs Zombies, to World of Goo, to Baldur's Gate 2 and even the epic Diablo 2. which means you can game almost anywhere which is always a good thing.
So be safe, be portable, be secure, be private. and remember to back your shit up.