During the Consumer Electronics Show I wanted to check out devices that allow employees to say FUIT and circumvent their IT department. Whether it's an annoyingly complicated VPN, a locked down browser, or simply not enough storage on corporate network shares, there were devices at CES that can make employees' lives easier (and IT administrators' lives harder). As a disclaimer, I want to mention that of course none of these products were specifically created (I think) to do anything too malicious to your IT department or prohibited by your company, but the fact remains that these consumer tools can help users move beyond or get around their IT department. FUIT!
Click on the links below for a full demo of each product, live from the show floor at CES in Las Vegas:
- Hyperdrive CloudFTP This small device turns any USB storage device into a wireless file server by creating its own wifi network or joining an existing one. Aside from using it to share data across personal devices, it would be great for sharing data among small groups in the same office—without having to use any corporate-provided resources.
- Steelcase media:scape mini Four people using any devices that output video can share their screens on one monitor with this hub. It's display-only—no remote-controlling other devices—but might be something an individual department would want to buy as an alternative to relying on complex conference room video systems.
- j5create Wormhole This USB-to-USB dongle connects two computers (there are various versions for PC to PC, PC to Mac, etc) and allows files to be dragged from one to the other. The mouse and keyboard on one device can control the other, and clipboard sharing is possible, too. No more emailing yourself files, and this is also easier than plugging and unplugging a thumb drive, especially if you have to go back and forth quickly in your workflow.
- iTwin The iTwin is a two-part USB stick that allows a folder on one computer to be accessible from another over the internet, via an encrypted VPN. The files stay on the host computer instead of getting stored in a cloud service, and it can be a lot easier to use then logging onto a VPN to get work files. No special ports are needed for the iTwin to communicate, so there's a good chance it could fly under the radar.
- SurfEasy SurfEasy is the product that inspired this series. It's a browser with a built-in proxy on a USB stick. In addition to the demo that I got at CES, you can also read an article I wrote about it in December.
- Primadesk Primadesk is a web service that catalogues all of your cloud based content. You can search Dropbox, Google Docs, Gmail, Twitter all at once from a single interface, as well as drag and drop from one of your accounts to another. This isn't really FUIT per se, but it could make using all those other FUIT services much easier. It doesn't search your local files (yet), but since my home folder is essentially my Dropbox folder anyway, that's okay with me.
- FXI Cotton Candy Cotton Candy from FXI Tech is a USB stick-sized compute device. It's pretty much just a tiny computer that runs Android or Linux and plugs directly into HDMI monitors. It has wifi, and Bluetooth to enable using a mouse and keyboard, and it has a micro SD card for storage. On one end there's a USB plug (HDMI is on the other end) that allows it to function as a guest computer on a laptop. I didn't actually get to make a demo video because FXI didn't have a booth at CES, but there's certainly been a lot of buzz around Cotton Candy.