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Tech Buzz 02/05

iPods for business, protecting Linux and more

The iPod Squad

IPods aren't just for music anymore. With a little ingenuity and the help of software applications, some people are adapting them for business uses. OS X users already know they can sync their OS X address book and calendar to their iPod. Users can also transfer files quickly over the FireWire connection and treat the iPod much like a USB flash drive. Downloading and installing an iPod Notes script from www.apple.com lets you then view notes on your device.

Some third-party applications have been developed for this market. For example, ProVue offers a $19.95 Panorama iPod Organizer, which can handle data from any program that exports into text files. That covers most database and organizer software.

If you're going to carry your iPod around with you anyway, loading it with your contacts and calendar can decrease the number of devices you have to haul. Drawbacks include a fairly small screen and lack of input capabilities--it's pretty much view-only. There is also no search function, but the iPod's jog wheel is fast and intuitive. Mac-using entrepreneurs who have already invested in an iPod will be able to get the most out of these bonus features and may be perfectly happy without ever touching a regular PDA.

Group Effort

It seems like there's always room for one more search engine. The new kid on the block these days is Clusty from Vivisimo. Clusty sets itself apart by using a clustering technology to generate manageable search results. It's designed to ward off the task of trying to find the good pages among the usual 96,000 hits. Clusty generates search results like you're used to, but it also offers groups of topics and sources in tidy, clickable bundles.

Like some other engines, Clusty has tabs that let you tailor searches to news, images, shopping, and even eBay and blogs. Vivisimo also offers Clusty technology for searching business networks. Most entrepreneurs, however, are more likely to give the Clusty.com search engine a try. The presence of the topics folders may take some getting used to, but could be a handy cure for information overload.

Protect the Source

You may be using Linux to avoid a lot of Windows headaches, but security is still an important issue with open source. You wouldn't use a Windows machine for your business without a firewall and virus protection. Linux software makers recognized the need for a security boost as well, and software that handles those tasks is now available. For example, the latest version of Novell's $89.95 (all prices street) SuSE Linux Professional now comes with a built-in firewall.

There are freeware anti-virus and firewall applications available, but when it comes to your business, you may be more comfortable investing in programs with more direct technical support. There are many options for Linux servers, but finding software with nontechnical interfaces for desktops is a little trickier. Right now, the leading anti-virus option for workstations is Central Command's Vexira AntiVirus, priced at $34.95. Linux server options can be found from Central Command, Trend Micro and others. If you have a Linux server in a mixed Windows environment, check with your IT person for options tailored to your needs.

As Linux continues to expand its appeal, expect more anti-virus and firewall alternatives friendly enough even for nontechnical users. A solid resource for news and other Linux security information is LinuxSecurity.com. While worms and viruses haven't hit Linux with the same verve as Windows, staying on top of security now will help prevent headaches later.

Because of IM,
84%
of IT workers make fewer phone calls, and
76%
send fewer e-mails.
Statistic Source: Siemens Business Group

Of businesses that rely extensively on a laptop network,
50%
lack formal data storage or backup procedures to protect data on the laptops.
Statistic Source: Imation

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This article was originally published in the February 2005 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Tech Buzz 02/05.

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