Ahoy there! This is my personal blog which I use as my memory extension and a medium to share stuff that could be useful to others.

On an earlier post, I mentioned the convenience of using portable applications on a USB drive. Typically, if you require to use a portable application on your USB drive, you will require to navigate to that application’s installation directory on your USB drive and then launch the application. Creating shortcuts to the applications on your desktop is pointless and will defeat the purpose of portability (tying you to the desktop). Fortunately, some software vendors have developed application launchers or docking software (similar to Windows QuickLaunch bar) that can be completely installed on a USB drive. By using one such dock called RocketDock (similar to the early Mac dock), I have quick access to my portable applications.

 

Download RocketDock v1.3.5

In order to launch RocketDock automatically on a Windows computer as soon as a USB drive containing it is inserted, I did the following:

(1) Downloaded the RocketDock executable. You may use the download button above or click here for the latest version.

NOTE: RocketDock is licensed under a Creative Commons Public License and by downloading RocketDock using the download button above, you are agreeing to use it as per the terms of the Creative Commons Public License. Although the RocketDock website says that RocketDock isn’t supported on 64-bit versions of Windows Operating Systems, I have been using RocketDock with 64-bit Windows Vista Ultimate with no issues experienced so far.

(2) Installed the RocketDock software in a directory RocketDock in the  root of my USB Drive. For example, if my USB drive letter is P:, then the location of the RocketDock directory will be P:\RocketDock.

(3) Added a file called Autorun.inf to the root of my USB drive (P:\Autorun.inf) with the following contents:

[autorun]

open = RocketDock\RocketDock.exe

icon = RocketDock\RocketDock.exe

action = Gimme RocketDock mate!

label = Mr.KIPS

 

The above steps will display a pop-up window similar to the following when the USB drive is inserted:

 

rocketdock_autoplay

 

(4) When RocketDock launched, I then dragged the executables of my most frequently accessed portable applications onto the RocketDock, resulting in a dock similar to the screenshot below:

 

rocketdock

 

So, RocketDock has enabled me access my portable applications quickly.

I have not had a perfect user experience with RocketDock. Sometimes, RocketDock just does not launch when my USB drive is inserted and rarely, it just disappears off the screen. However, both these glitches can be addressed by simply launching the RocketDock manually (RocketDock.exe).

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When I started working as an independent contractor, I looked for ways to carry my work with me with minimum fuss and break free from the office PC/laptop. I was looking to install my favourite software completely on a USB drive without being tied to a PC/laptop (eg. by using Windows registry). I had been using a SanDisk Titanium U3 USB drive for a while, but was frustrated with the slow U3 Launchpad and unavailability of U3 versions of popular software. A little research led me to PortableApps.com which provides both individual portable applications and a portable suite of applications that can be run on a variety of hardware (USB drives, iPods, portable hard drives, etc.). I opted to use individual portable applications so that I could install only what I required. So, I formatted my SanDisk U3 USB Drive and installed portable versions of some of the software I use frequently (PuTTY, Mozilla Firefox, Notepad++, etc.) from PortableApps.com. The launch screen of Portable PuTTY is shown below.

 

putty_portable_launch

Although using some portable applications on my USB drive is a bit slower than their non-portable counterparts installed on my laptop, I don’t mind trading this minor performance impact (noticeable only for certain applications like Portable Firefox) for the significant convenience that portable applications bring me. With portable applications on my USB drive, I carry all my work in my pocket and easily switch working between my office and home laptops. For example, I can use all my bookmarks and plugins in Firefox or all my saved sessions in PuTTY (Portable PuTTY can save sessions to a file, thereby removing dependency on the windows registry) on both my office and home laptops (and any other computer) by simply switching the USB drive from one to the other.

Portable Applications give you the advantages of carrying your applications (and obviously data) with you, accessing them from any computer with a USB port and leaving no data behind on the host computer.

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