Pings & Packets from eWEEK Labs - 35

FEMA finally gets it right ... Xantrex packs on the backup ... See a pattern forming?

FEMA Finally Gets It Right

Hurricane season is nearly over, but the country will probably see more disastrous weather this winter. And, now, those who need to request assistance online from the Federal Emergency Management Agency can do so with less worry about what browser or operating system they use.

Just after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, I wrote a column taking FEMA to task for having a vital online form for requesting assistance that could be accessed only by those using Internet Explorer. After I wrote the column, I heard from several readers who witnessed the effect of this limited form firsthand, including a volunteer in Dallas who saw someone try to access the form from a donated system running Linux.

Although it took FEMA more than a month to get it right, the agency finally did, and now those who seek emergency assistance from FEMA can avoid the long phone waits and use the online form on multiple Web browsers.

If you or someone you know needs to request assistance from FEMA, the improved Web form is at www.fema.gov/register.shtm.

--Jim Rapoza

Xantrex Packs on the Backup

Recently, Ive been testing out Xantrex Technologys XPower Pocket Powerpack 100, a product that—its action-packed, comic-book-worthy moniker aside—plays the fairly tame role of backup battery for your various mobile devices.

The $120 device consists of a weighty NiMH (nickel-metal hydride) battery pack, an inverter module, and AC and car cigarette-lighter power adapters. The inverter, which sports one USB port and one standard three-prong power outlet, either piggybacks on the battery pack for powering devices from the pack or hooks up to the cigarette-lighter cord for car use.

According to Xantrex, the XPower Pocket Powerpack 100 will drive your laptop for about 2.5 hours, and, of course, that juice will stretch a lot further if youre charging a mobile device or a cell phone. The battery pack takes about 11 hours to charge.

The XPower Pocket Powerpack 100 works best with devices that can take a charge from a USB slot. For standard prong-powered units, youll still need to lug along your power bricks.

Would I bring a device such as the XPower Pocket Powerpack 100 along on my next trip? Maybe. The battery pack is a bit unwieldy, but the inverter would definitely be worth taking on a long car journey.

More details on the XPower Pocket Powerpack 100 are at www.portableinpower.com.

--Jason Brooks

See a Pattern Forming?

None of these is likely to end up on Oprahs book list, but they might be coming to a shelf near you. Leading the October pack of enterprise IT prose at Amazon.com were "Patterns of Enterprise Application Architecture," a 560-page work by Martin Fowler. Two other works recognizing patterns—in enterprise integration and solutions using Micorosoft .Net—also made the top 10.

1. Patterns of Enterprise Application Architecture

BY MARTIN FOWLER, ADDISON-WESLEY PROFESSIONAL, $34.64 HARDCOVER.

2. Enterprise Integration Patterns: Designing, Building, and Deploying Messaging Solutions

BY GREGOR HOHPE, ADDISON-WESLEY PROFESSIONAL, $38.73 HARDCOVER.

3. Sun Certified Enterprise Architect for J2EE Technology Study Guide

BY MARK CADE, PRENTICE HALL, $29.05 PAPERBACK

4. Enterprise JavaBeans, Fourth Edition

BY RICHARD MONSON- HAEFEL, OREILLY MEDIA, $29.67 PAPERBACK.

5. Linux Enterprise Cluster: Build a Highly Available Cluster with Commodity Hardware and Free Software

BY KARL KOPPER, NO STARCH PRESS, $32.97 PAPERBACK.

6. Enterprise Solution Patterns Using Microsoft .Net: Version 2.0: Patterns & Practices

MICROSOFT CORP., $19.79 PAPERBACK.

7. Implementing Backup and Recovery: The Readiness Guide for the Enterprise

BY DAVID B. LITTLE, WILEY, $29.70 PAPERBACK.

8. Enterprise Architecture Planning: Developing a Blueprint for Data, Applications, and Technology

BY STEVEN H. SPEWAK, WILEY, $78.18 PAPERBACK.

9. Enterprise J2ME: Developing Mobile Java Applications

BY MICHAEL JUNTAO YUAN, PRENTICE HALL, $34.99 PAPERBACK.

10. Enterprise Data Center Design and Methodology

BY ROB SNEVELY, PRENTICE HALL, $49.79 PAPERBACK.

As compiled for eWEEK by Amazon.com from its sales database, from Oct. 1 through Oct. 31