Searching at warp speed

Every now and then I give thanks for Google Desktop which is probably the most useful item in my computing arsenal.

It saved my bacon again last Sunday when, at the last minute, I remembered that I was moving house the following day and needed to write my column early. The reason for such unseemly haste is that I didn’t have any idea when I might expect to have my new phone and DSL lines installed.

No matter how reasonably I pointed out that 21 days to wait for a phone line, and up to six weeks for a DSL connection, is just not reasonable, the operator could say no more than ‘that’s how we do things’.

It didn’t even help when I told her that this was the sort of service that one would expect in a Banana republic, not in a country with serious first world aspirations.

Those sorts of delays might be OK if everyone always had plenty of warning when they were going to move but often people have to move at short notice to take advantage of a flat or house suddenly becoming available.

I bitterly resent the conscienceless way the company has exploited its monopoly position to exploit its customers and, perhaps not surprisingly, to provide service which is usually pretty shoddy.

Anyway, so there I was with only an hour or two in hand, and the need to track down a website I saw weeks ago and which featured lot of interesting products. The site was all about USB technology and Google Desktop produced the goods in double-quick time.

I had no idea what the site was called but I told Google I wanted to view web pages I had previously visited and which contained the word ‘USB”. Google brought up thumbnails of all those pages and I soon found the one I wanted.

The site at everythingusb.com is an impressive resource relating to USB technology and regularly features new USB products ranging from the intensely useful to the bizarre.

A recent addition to the site, for example, is the Eco button which you connect to your PC and tap to activate power-saving mode. The supplied software even tells you how much energy you’ve saved.

Another product, which might be pretty useful, is a mouse with an extra button on it which, when pressed, instantly shows your PC’s desktop. You would click the button whenever the boss happens by and you’re playing Solitaire.

The product which I originally saw on the site and which I wanted to find again was a nifty little gadget called Drivewire, which is produced by Apricorn (apricorn.com). It allows you to connect any hard drive to your PC with a USB cable.

You can get enclosures locally which hold a hard drive and connect via USB but they are limited to one particular type of hard drive. The Drivewire can be used with SATA or 2,5” and 3,5” IDE drives and it doesn’t enclose the drive, allowing you to plug and unplug them rapidly.

See you next week, Telkom permitting.

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