Caution: Now backing up

This is definitely cool, as they say. It’s called the BackupKey, from TurnKey Technology. It is a pocket-size hard drive that connects to a USB port and requires no software.

We’ve written about so many backup programs and devices that we’re in danger of someday doing back-to-back backup columns, but what certainly got our attention about this one is there’s no software. That’s right: nothing to load.

Plug the little drive into the USB port on your Windows computer and after a few seconds’ delay, a box pops up asking you if you want to back up your files using this device. Sure, we said. That’s why we’re here.

From that mouse-click forward, everything went as smoothly as an ice cube on a hot stove pipe. And it was just as quick. It automatically backs up your bookmarks, e-mail, music and shared documents.

Recovery was simple, and a menu of choices allowed us to de-select files we didn’t want to bother backing up. We could also add new folders, even those on a network.

We made some changes to a shared folder on our network. With the BackupKey plugged into a second computer, we clicked “backup.” It automatically added the new document from the network.

You can plug this little hard drive into 10 to 12 computers and it will keep the data from each computer neat and tidy in separate folders.

BackupKey comes in 80- and 120-gigabyte sizes, $200 and $250 list (all prices U.S.), respectively. You can find it at


Getting all charged up


People are carrying so many battery-powered wireless gizmos these days they can probably be detected from space. But when the battery runs down, no flying saucer is going to come down with a recharge.

There are two problems with recharging things on Earth. One is finding a place to plug in, but the bigger problem is finding a connector that fits the gadget. We recently tried out the new PowerAid Mobile from US Modular, a backup battery that comes with five adapters that fit cell phones, iPods, Treo PDAs and many other devices designed to take their charge from a computer’s USB port or a wall outlet. None of the adapters fit our Sony-Ericsson w800 cell phone, but that wasn’t crucial since we can never remember to turn it on.

The PowerAid Mobile weighs about 10 ounces and fits in a shirt pocket. It can recharge your cell phone or PDA in an hour. It holds a charge for two to three hours of heavy use. (Five indicator lights tell you how much charge is left.) It comes with a transformer that allows recharging from a standard electrical outlet and a USB cable for charging it from a computer’s USB port. If you recharge from a computer port, it takes about six hours.

Having the PowerAid in your pocket is one solution to a dead gizmo, but what if your devices aren’t compatible with it? will sell you just the tip you need to plug into a portable device, but it doesn’t have tips for every phone. (Once again, it didn’t have one for our phone.) The tips run around $10 each and charger to fit them sells for $20. But that does not include a backup battery you can carry with you, like the package from US Modular. The PowerAid Mobile lists for $50 at their own site:, and it was the same price at


Lost in the desert


Searching for our cell phone charger, we found a wonderful new search engine called This turns out be an engine for just consumer electronics, and it finds lots of hardware. You can use it to find a product, research a product and troubleshoot a problem. Price deals are published every day.

Using Retrevo, we found the Soldius1 with iPod kit, a $100 solar-powered charger. It came with a set of tips that fit every kind of iPod, most cell phones and the Blackberry PDA.

The Soldius charger is about the size of a small paperback book, half an inch thick, and weighs 4 ounces. It slides open to reveal an array of solar cells, and these, of course, are the widget in the works that makes the wheels go round, as we used to say. Works on cloudy days too.


Internuts Our previous go-to site for newspapers online was We know, it sounds like a disease, but that’s spelled with a “b.” This new site has hundreds more newspapers than we could find before, including 22 of them from Azerbaijan, for example. Who knew they had so many newspapers? You can find a lot of the classic tall tales here, like stories about Paul Bunyan and Pecos Bill. There are four categories: Tall Tales, Myths and Legends, Spooky Stories and Children’s Stories. Under this last category there are even tongue twisters, like: “I wish to wash my Irish wristwatch.” There are also bedtime stories to read to your children.


The Numbers Report


Seventy-eight per cent of [U.S.] Web users use a broadband (high-speed) connection. That’s up from 65 per cent a year earlier, a Nielsen/NetRatings study reports, and moving toward 100 per cent.

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