Dealing With Network Lockdown Issues

As many of you know, MPOW has a very active filtering system. They haven't blocked sites totally, but trying to use services like IM, Google services and anything else that's AJAXy can be a real pain in the butt. I find myself instructing patrons and saying things like, "on a regular computer this would work," or, "what you should have seen at this point is...." Needless to say, that gets old. I cannot teach classes where I just show the patrons how to do something--they have to use their imaginations.

Anyway, I'm trying to build a collection of portable apps on a thumb drive that will allow me to show our patrons how to do things without some of the network restrictions on downloads. So far, I have Portable Firefox with The following add-ons: ScribeFire, Zotero, Meebo, del.icio.us, FireShot, a MindMeister shortcut, and the Google Toolbar. I have made my iGoogle page the homepage for this experiment and added gadgets for todo lists, Gmail, Google Reader, Google Docs, and Google Notebook. In addition to this, I've loaded a TiddlyWiki onto the drive, just for the sake of experimentation.

So far, I have had mixed results. The network lets me open an instance of Firefox. I loaded the MindMeister shortcut on my computer at home, now the shortcut doesn't display at work--I must have left behind a cookie. The del.icio.us button works fine. I haven't had the chance to chat with anyone using Meebo, but it did sign in and open when I clicked on the button. TiddlyWiki works just fine. The Google Toolbar seems to reconfigure with each computer I plug the drive into. FireShot works beautifully, I'm really pleased with that one (I like the ability to annotate the screenshots on the fly.) The only downside is that it only captures the web page, not the browser as well, but I can live with that for now. I can get Zotero to work for capturing complete web pages, but not for capturing snippets.

The real problem, so far, has been ScribeFire. I cannot get it to add my Blogger account. I have tried a number of solutions that I have found in their forum, but nothing has worked so far. The only thing that I can think of, is that the '.' in my user name must be throwing them off. This is a real disappointment, because one of the reasons I had for creating this portable environment was to enable me to post on the fly, from any computer at work, or at home.

I'll keep at it though and let you know how it goes.

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