It's easier than ever to take digital stuff with you, thanks to keychain drives, iPods and cheap memory cartridges. But having files at...

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It’s easier than ever to take digital stuff with you, thanks to keychain drives, iPods and cheap memory cartridges.

But having files at your disposal requires some forethought. You must remember to sync your digital organizer or load a file on a flash drive to make sure you’ll have it later.

That’s why software makers have tackled the idea of helping give computer users access to their desktops over the Web. With programs such as GoToMyPC, you can use a Web browser to get to your files remotely, as long as your computer is running and connected to the Internet.

Now a California startup is taking the idea a step further. If your files are available to you over the Web, why can’t you choose to make them available to other people, too? Imagine e-mailing a friend a link to an MP3 he could download or e-mailing a colleague a link to the presentation you accidentally left at home.

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That’s what Avvenu is designed to do. The service, in a free beta test right now, works as promised, though it requires users to do a little organizing.

I installed and began running Avvenu in minutes. The application doesn’t require much active memory and didn’t slow my computer’s performance noticeably.

But it ran constantly in the background, with a little icon to remind me that my files were available from any browser. I created a password, of course, to limit access to the files.

In an options menu, I designated the My Documents folder as my Avvenu starting point, the place the program would take me when I logged in.

On a different computer, I logged in to Avvenu’s Web site, and there were my files — or, at least, 15 folders. The My Documents folder on my home computer contains dozens of subfolders. Avvenu displayed 15 at a time, listed in alphabetical order.

That meant, to get to a folder that began with the letter S, I had to click several times on the “Next” link. We’ll see if Avvenu develops a better way to browse through folders.

The sharing feature worked swimmingly. I selected a file to send to a friend, then determined how long the link to the file should be active. The friend didn’t have to install Avvenu to get and play the file.

Pioneer AVIC-D1

Pioneer Electronics




XM NavTraffic Digital Satellite Tuner

XM Radio

$330 plus subscription

Even if you know where you’re going, you won’t get very far if you’re stuck in traffic. A new package from Pioneer and XM NavTraffic attempts to tackle both driving headaches.

Pioneer’s AVIC-D1 navigation system provides on-screen directions while the XM NavTraffic service displays traffic delays on an on-screen map.

The AVIC-D1 navigation system costs $1,800, the XM NavTraffic Digital Satellite Tuner is $330 and the XM NavTraffic service costs $10 a month. A traffic subscription that also includes XM satellite radio programming is less than $17 a month.

— Deborah Porterfield

Gannett News Service