A Quickie Poll: What’s on Your USB? (Educator Edition)

Lifehacker was the first blog I ever read with any regularity, and I’ve been a huge fan since the day I started. For the uninitiated, Lifehacker offers tips, tricks, tutorials, and how-tos for streamlining (“hacking”) your daily habits. A discussion thread that pops up there (and on similar techie blogs) from time to time is “What’s on Your USB Drive”, in which people compare… well, you know.

So in the interest of a break from my mind-numbing summer job of writing standardized test questions (yes, it’s about as exciting as it sounds), get ’em out.

Here’s what’s currently on my 2Gb Cruzer Micro:

  • John T. Haller’s PortableApps Suite – slightly modified; contains flash-drive-friendly versions of OpenOffice, Firefox, Gaim (instant messaging), Sumatra (PDF reader), VLC (media player), Clam (antivirus), and xPlorer2 (file manager)
  • PC Repair System – a 36-app first-aid kit for your PC. I have no idea how to use most of these, but could probably figure some of them out if I had to (or could at least give to someone who does know). Much like a real first-aid kit, I keep it in hopes I’ll never have to ask someone else how to use it.
  • All the digital documentation for each class I’ll be teaching this coming semester (Multicultural Studies, Shakespeare’s Comedy, and Sophomore English) – handouts, audio/video files, plans/outlines, etc.
  • Four complete music albums (legally obtained and DRM-free, thankyouverymuch) I was supposed to give to a friend the last time I saw him but forgot to (sorry, Dan – get at you next weekend).
  • Photographic evidence that I have the cutest two-year-old in the all-time history of everything ever.
  • A .txt file titled “READ ME IF YOU FOUND THIS”. The contents are my name, work address & email, and cell phone number, as well as the promise of a reward for its safe return.
  • An encrypted folder containing… well, if I told you, it wouldn’t be a secret! Just some boring personal stuff that no one but me would find interesting and I don’t want messed with.
  • 1.2 Gb free space

Before I got my tablet PC, my flash drive was a godsend – I don’t have an assigned room, and have taught all across my school’s 72-acre campus. Thanks to it, I’ve never been without any offline teaching resource. Despite the tablet, I still carry it on my person, if for no other reason than for redundancy’s sake.

What are your “must have” docs and apps for your portable drive? Let us know in the comments.


  • My portable drive has been sitting in my school bag unused for the last three months. Since I got a laptop a year and half ago, I don’t really find any for a USB drive. I occasionally pull out to back up my files but that’s it.

  • Whoops, I missed a word. The second sentence should say “. . . I don’t find any NEED for a USB drive.”

  • hey damian, thanks for this – i liked the portable apps download. i’m continually frustrated by which files are the most updated. i see portable apps as one of two good solutions for note-type documents (the other being google docs), ones that don’t need to be perfect, but i will lose if i just jot on a piece of paper.

    i’ve been meaning to share a good tech tool i’ve discovered lately – the perfect software to store those “random” bookmarks. “perfect brain” – lame name, great place to store those links that you might want to see once again but probably not more than twice. better than delicious, imho, but not web-based.


    if it doesn’t happen in the next few weeks, ask me to make good on this promise.

  • @David – Yeah, my tablet PC has pretty much rendered my USB drive obsolete too, at least for the time being (the tablet belongs to my school, and I have to give it back when I leave their employ). Still, it’s nice to have all that stuff in my pocket and not have to lug the tablet around to have access!

    @Jeffrey – Glad you liked it! I had a look at those links you provided, and PerfectBrain looks really interesting. I’ll look forward to a detailed rundown on your blog. Good luck with the start of the school year; hope everything’s going smoothly!

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