One of the pleasures of mobile computing is finding ways to approximate the more full-featured and fulfilling desktop experience while on the road. It’s a nice challenge to see exactly how far you can stretch your equipment and what portable gear you can bring to enhance your mobile computing.

Mac users who hate trackpads invariably bring a mouse, but I’ve come across the odd duck who brings a Wacom tablet, which is essentially a large trackpad. Duh. I myself use a 12-inch Powerbook and I keep a full-sized keyboard and mouse, and sometimes a large monitor for the times when I use it in the office. The setup effectively turns my Powerbook into a Mac Mini, but I like it that way.

The biggest limitation on a portable (aside from the battery) is storage space - it’s one of those things you can never have enough of, like money, or RAM. On the lower end of the scale you have your flash drives, and on the upper end, the fast, hi-capacity, slim, sleek external Firewire 800 or USB 2.0 external 2.5-inch drives in cool enclosures (although with the new MacBook Pro, it’ll be strictly USB, since Apple dropped support for FW800 with this product line). Buy a notebook drive and get one of these inexpensive cases and you can have terabytes of storage at affordable rates for your ‘books, which is always cool.

And then there’s people like my friend Kenneth Chua. He surprised everyone at our User Group staff meeting last night by hauling out a big, jury-rigged 3.5-inch desktop hard drive hand-engineered, powered and adapted to work off a USB port:

Using a large 3.5 enclosure he couldn’t close because of the cables and little PCB and USB jack contraption that jut out of the casing, Ken ingeniously increased his mobile storage space by using old stuff from the house that would normally be useless in a mobile context.

Never mind that it looks clunky (not to mention actually being clunky) and slightly hazardous to your ‘book’s health (or yours) - it works fine. It saves you from having to buy a pricey, itty-bitty notebook drive and enclosure. Still and all, it’s likely a bitch to lug around. You think Ken’s drive’s big, wait until you see the big-ass power adapter it comes with.

I personally wouldn’t go to these lengths just to get me an external drive, but different strokes for different folks, right? Besides, there’s a lot to be said for a Mac user’s ingenuity. So why do it at all? Because you can, that’s why.

I’m sure some of you guys have your own home-brewed solutions - why not post them so we can all benefit from your experiences?

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