Despite my attraction to digital music (you might recall previous columns I've written about the topic), I've felt no real desire to pick up one of the many hardware media players that are encroaching on the portable CD player space. The lack of playing time and the inability to switch to new music without attaching the device back to your computer seemed to limit the utility of these devices. New storage media due out this fall, such as DataPlay and Silicon Disk, with their large storage capability on small packages (about 500MB in a write-once package that's smaller than a silver dollar) seemed to be the direction these devices would go, so I planned to wait until fall when these new music playback systems would be available.
Then an Iomega HipZip Digital Audio Player came across my desk.
This player uses what Iomega used to call Click! disks and now calls Pocket Zip disks: 40MB rewriteable disks about 2" across and 1/10" high. The HipZip player is the size of a tall pack of cigarettes and not much heavier. It has a built-in Lithium-Ion battery that Iomega says provides 12 hours of operation (I haven't used it for more than about 4 hours without recharging).
The HipZip player is easy to use: Under Windows 2000 and Windows XP, you simply plug in the device's USB connection, and it shows up as a removable media storage device—no drivers necessary. This ease-of-use is what appeals most to me. Unlike a lot of the personal audio players, the HipZip doesn't require you to launch your music management application to read or write files from the HipZip. You can use Windows Explorer to treat it like any other storage device. So although the device shows up under Windows Media Player 7 (WMP7) and WMP8 as a music device so that WMP can read and write files to it, you don't have to use it that way. In fact, you can write to the device any file type that Windows can read, so if you need to transfer files up to 40MB in size between two users who aren't on the same network, one can just mail the other a Pocket Zip disk. I also use the player to back up data files I create when I travel. Most of my computers have USB ports, so moving the device between Win2K systems isn't a problem. The HipZip Player costs about $250, with the Pocket Zip disks selling in 10-packs for less than $100. At the moment, Iomega has a $50 rebate program "http://www.iomega.com/promos/promos.html#hip" going if you decide to buy one. This option is worth considering if you're in the market for one of these players, if only because of the added utility (at an admittedly higher price) that the rewriteable removable media brings.
This week's tip:
Often, nothing is more dangerous than letting an average user access the Control Panel components. The system administrator must balance between giving the users enough access and not giving them too much control over their own machines. But it's important, especially for traveling users, to have complete control over their notebooks. Few things are more frustrating than being on the road and needing to fix something, only to find out that you don't have sufficient access to your own computer to make the necessary changes.
When faced with this management dilemma, a system administrator can give users Administrator rights to their systems, but hide the functions that can get them into trouble. Here's a tip that lets you hide Control Panel applets. The applets are still on the system, and users can access them from the command line, but by hiding them, you prevent users who are just playing around with the system configuration from easily doing damage to their system setup. You can make these changes using System Policies, but you can also implement them directly in the registry.
- Launch regedt32.
- Open HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\Explorer
- Add the REG_DWORD value DisallowCPL, and set the data value to 1.
- To hide an applet, add a REG_SZ key named DisallowCPL with a value formatted like so:
- 1REG_SZ access.cpl
- 2REG_SZ appwiz.cpl
This approach only hides the icons; it doesn't restrict access to the applets from the command line.
The applets you can hide are: