Home > The Treasure Hunt Club > No. 48 All on a Stick

No. 48 All on a Stick (2009年07月10日)

カテゴリー: The Treasure Hunt Club
Marcel Van Amelsvoort
(Kanagawa Prefectural College of Foreign Studies)
You probably have a memory stick, a flash memory device that you
connect to your computer by plugging it into a USB port. In fact, if
you are like most people these days, you probably have more than
one―either on a keychain, in your bag, permanently plugged into your
desktop computer, or maybe all of these. Over the last few years,
these convenient devices have been increasing in memory capacity and
speed and decreasing in price. It is now possible to buy a high-speed

4GB stick for about 3000 yen. And this means that a memory stick can
do much more than just store your random documents and files and
pictures. You can now easily park programs on it and launch them from
there too. A few weeks ago at the JALTCALL conference I attended a
presentation called PortaCALL by Bill White and Shawn White where they
introduced applications you can put on a memory stick and take around
with you. This is particularly useful if you work at several locations
and would like to use programs you have configured to the way you want
them. But there are many reasons to go portable. A portable app works
as you move computers and it doesn’t require additional software on
the PC. It doesn't leave files or folders behind on the PC or
interfere with any software installed. And in the case of Firefox,
after you have configured it and loaded it with bookmarks, you can get
your learners to download it so they are ready to learn with all the
links you want to give them in an ad free and English-based interface
complete with a Japanese dictionary function.

But there are many things you can do with these applications. The
following list of things you can do is from the website:
・Carry your web browser with all your favorite bookmarks
・Carry your calendar with all your appointments
・Carry your email client with all your contacts and settings
・Carry your instant messenger and your buddy list
・Carry your whole office suite along with your documents and presentations
・Carry your antivirus program and other computer utilities
・Carry all your important passwords and account information securely

But you really can’t appreciate the beauty of the many free
applications until you try them. The first place to go is
PortableApps.com, where you can find a wide range of programs to
download. And the first thing you should download is the web browser
Firefox. Then, you can configure your version of Firefox by
downloading various add-ons. Bill and Shawn recommended QuickProxy, an
application to make sure you can use your Firefox no matter the proxy
settings at the school you are at, Adblock, which blocks advertising
from displaying on websites you visit, BackWord, which gives
instantaneous translation for words you mouse over on a web page, and
a nice little tool called a Virtual Magnifying Glass that you can use
to enlarge sections of a web page to show your students.

But don’t stop there. You can also download a lot of other free open
source software that you will likely find useful. Open Office is a
suite of programs similar in functionality to the Microsoft Office
programs. In fact, you can save files as Office files and open
existing Office files with these programs. The sound editor Audacity
is also available here to download onto your memory stick. And there
is a very nice program called KeePass that can securely manage your
passwords, and an anti-virus program called ClamWin. And this is just
the beginning.

There are dozens of programs available now and new ones appearing
regularly. And did I mention that they are all open source and they
are all free?