Pings & Packets from eWEEK Labs - 18

UIU 2.0 delivers most of the time ... Multiplicity tidies up work spaces ... APC makes charging easy.

UIU 2.0 Delivers Most of the Time

When a product comes along that promises to make it possible to create one operating system image and deploy it to multiple systems with radically different hardware, I pay attention.

With Universal Imaging Utility 2.0, released in May by Binary Research International, I could create different Windows 2000 and XP images and deploy them to many—but not all—of my test systems.

UIU consists of a 200MB cache of common drivers and some configuration tools. It works with Microsofts Sysprep utility to configure the Windows system. After completing this setup but before rebooting Windows, I could run any standard imaging tool—in my case, Symantecs Ghost.

When UIU worked, it was a beautiful sight to behold. I created an image on a Micron Pentium 4 system and successfully deployed it to a Dell Pentium 3 system, a custom Labs-built system and a Toshiba laptop.

But when it didnt work, things got a little messy. UIU doesnt support SCSI drives on Windows 2000 systems, though it did work with Windows XP and SCSI drives. Also, it probably took twice as long to create an image using this tool as it would using Ghost alone, and I had to create a separate image for older systems that didnt support the Advanced Configuration and Power Interface.

UIU is priced starting at $19 per seat for 10 to 99 seats, and it slides down to $8.60 per seat for more than 5,000 seats.

Go to www.binaryresearch.net/UIU/download.htm for more information and a free trial download.

--Jim Rapoza

Multiplicity Tidies Up Work Spaces

Users who rely on multiple computers but want to get rid of the mice and keyboards cluttering their work spaces should consider Stardocks Multiplicity.

Multiplicity, available now, lets users control multiple systems with one keyboard and mouse. The software comes in two versions: The $40 standard version lets a user control two computers; the $70 professional version allows control of as many as six computers.

For their primary machine, users will need a PC running Windows 2000, XP or Server 2003, as well as an attached keyboard and mouse. For secondary machines, Multiplicity supports 32-bit XP, Windows 2000 and Server 2003, as well as x64 versions of XP and Server 2003.

I found Multiplicity Pro easy to set up. After installing it on two computers and designating one as my "primary" machine and one as the "secondary," I could use the same mouse and keyboard to access both computers at once. Multiplicity uses a TCP/IP network connection between the machines. All machines require their own monitor, however, so Multiplicity should not be confused with a remote desktop application.

More information is available at www.stardock.com.

--Anne Chen

APC Makes Charging Easy

Any business professional who lugs a mobile office on a daily commute or through an airport will appreciate American Power Conversions new power-ready line of luggage, which makes it easy to charge devices on the run.

The internal power cord organizer and internal cord ports are the key differences between my APC rolling test case , designed to hold a notebook computer with a screen size of 15.4 inches or smaller, and other rolling computer cases Ive used.

Using the case loaded with an optional $80 APC universal power adapter (an excellent price for one of the most versatile external power supplies Ive seen), I charged my computer, PDA and cell phone while all were neatly stowed in the case, using only one wall outlet plug, with no cord spaghetti.

APC designers went to town with useful touches. The light-grey interior makes it easier to see items such as pens and keys, even in the bottom of the pockets. The cases in-line skate wheels passed my "clatter" test—a loaded bag rolled quietly over uneven bricks on San Franciscos Market Street.

The ballistic nylon fabric is a durable cover, and external pockets can be velcroed flat when not in use or easily opened to hold a water bottle or wet umbrella safely away from the internal electronics.

APCs power-ready cases became available in May and range from $39 for a backpack to $99 for the roller I tested. Roll on over to www.apc.com/tools/travelpower/index.cfm to check them out.

--Cameron Sturdevant