Coasting in.

Driving home last night, stop-and-go traffic on the 101, gas gauge pegged to E, I finally ran out of gas about half a mile short of my exit. Restarted the truck and made it as far as the exit, then a couple blocks up Poplar, before the truck ran out of gas again while I was waiting at the light. Restarted it the second the light turned green, gunned through a right hand turn and up the little hill on Delaware — up up up, hang on there, don’t die on me yet — until the engine coughed and died just as I crested the rise. I punched the clutch in and coasted another block, wrenched the steering wheel around to pull into the parking lot, coasted along another fifty feet, and then made a final, careful right turn to roll slowly, just as the truck ran out of its last bit of momentum, into the gas station.

Coasting in.

Walk this way.

Clara heard “Walk This Way” on the radio last week, and asked to hear it again yesterday. Karen says they listened to it about 18 times yesterday morning (including both Aerosmith and Run DMC versions) before preschool. After she got home, all Clara wanted to do was sit in front of the computer and listen to it over and over again. “I want Arrowsmiss” she said. She must have spent an hour listening to the song. “He said ‘flying up in the air’,” my little rocker girl observed after awhile. God help us when she asks what “down on the muffin” means.

Walk this way.

Maxtor OneTouch II

Maxtor OneTouch IIBackups are boring. Backups are tedious. That’s why no one backs up — and why, one day, you’ll inevitably lose everything you own to a hard-drive crash. Maxtor’s OneTouch II can save you from that miserable fate by making backups as simple as poking a little blue button.

The earlier versions of the Maxtor OneTouch were plagued by balky, flaky software that was often hard to configure. This year’s version is simpler and more reliable. Once configured, you can leave it on and forget about it — or push the glowing button on the front of the drive to start an on-the-spot backup.

Add to this the OneTouch II’s generous 300GB capacity, its speedy transfer speeds, and the option to connect via USB 2.0 or FireWire 400, and we’re sold. -Dylan Tweney

SPECS:
Maxtor OneTouch II
$320
Weight: 3.3 pounds
Size: 8.6 x 5.5 x 1.5 inches
Specs: 300GB; USB 2.0, FireWire 400 ports; AC powered; backup software included
www.maxtor.com

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Link: Maxtor OneTouch II

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Maxtor OneTouch II

Verbatim Store ‘n’ Go Pro

Verbatim Store Sure, it may not look like much. But the Verbatim Store ‘n’ Go Pro has a lot going for it — not the least of which is its 6.8MB-per-second write speed, the fastest of any thumbdrive we’ve tested. When you’re rushing to get the last few files onto your virtual briefcase so that you can head home for the weekend, write speeds like this make a big difference. The Verbatim is no slouch at reading data either, pulling files off the drive at a speedy 12.5MB per second.

All this speed comes in a tiny package, significantly smaller than most USB thumbdrives. When plugged in, a blue light at the nether end of the Verbatim drive pulses gently on and off — great for raves, but a little distracting at the office. The drive comes preloaded with easy-to-use utilities for automatically syncing a folder of your choice and for creating a secure, password-protected partition.

Finally, the drive has one design feature we especially like: The built-in loop for attaching to a keychain is on the drive itself, not on its cap. If the cap and drive ever become separated, the important part will remain connected with your keys. -Dylan Tweney

SPECS:
Verbatim Store ‘n’ Go Pro
$58
Weight: 0.4 ounces
Size: 3 x 0.7 x 0.4 inches
Specs: 256MB; USB 2.0; security and sync software included on drive
www.verbatim.com

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Link: Verbatim Store ‘n’ Go Pro

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Verbatim Store ‘n’ Go Pro

Fogware Internet Radio Recorder

We’ve been looking for a way to beef up our music collections without dipping into the ramen noodle fund ever since the iron fist of the law came smashing down on the paradise of free file-trading that was Napster. That’s why we were excited to try Fogware’s Internet Radio Recorder, a Windows program that, for the price of a couple of CDs, lets us save internet radio streams to our heart’s content.

Alas, it was not to be. Internet Radio Recorder lets you save audio streams from internet radio stations as MP3 or Ogg Vorbis files, and it will rip CDs to the same formats. It also lets you burn and label CDs of your new MP3 library.

But the program’s great achievement is also its biggest shortcoming: It relies on internet radio stations, which are simply too flaky, inconsistent, and low quality to warrant serious recording. Most over-the-air radio stations don’t even offer an internet stream, thanks to misguided FCC rulings that have all but shut down the internet broadcast industry. All that’s left is a swarm of all-night pirate radio stations from Europe playing a mix of ambient and techno music, with the odd public radio station thrown in here and there.

Internet Radio Recorder lets you browse a huge list of such stations, but its search tools are inconvenient and its recording tools clunky. Most of the time, it’s just an annoying and not very useful toy. It looks as if we’re going to keep spending our lunch money on CDs after all. -Dylan Tweney

Best Feature: Integrated CD recording tools
Worst Feature: Nearly useless radio station search utility

SPECS:
Fogware Internet Radio Recorder
Price: $40
System requirements: Windows 2000 or Windows XP; 100MB of disk space; broadband internet connection
www.fog-ware.com

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Link: Fogware Internet Radio Recorder

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Fogware Internet Radio Recorder