E-Holster offers security in a world of dangerous data...

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March 20, 2000

E-Holster offers security in a world of dangerous data

This is the city, 9 a.m. I'm feeling a little jittery after a Penguin Mints binge on the 505 train as I drag my sorry body into the office. I hear a knock at my door.

Some hard-faced geek I've never met walks in, tells me he's just dyin' to show me something. He reaches into his jacket in a fashion that I don't take kindly to. I reach for the Colt Commander I keep taped to the server under my desk for emergencies like this one.

"Whoa. Easy there, pal," he says. My heart skips a beat as he rips open a leather holster dangling from a black strap under his armpit. He pulls out ... a Palm Pilot?

My eyebrows raise. He reaches across to the other armpit, opens another flap and whips out a cell phone.

"E-Holster," he says without emotion. "Latest thing in uber-geek accessories. $59.95 in nylon, $99.95 in leather."

He takes the holster off and tosses it onto my desk. "Keep it," he offers. "You look like you need it." He turns before I can thank him and is history.

I put on the rig and holster my Handspring Visor and StarTac, feeling like a digital gunslinger with two cybersix-shooters. I toss on my jacket and prepare to face another day in a city that doesn't care. Somehow, I'm a little cockier now. I can catch, dodge or fire back at any electrons that come whizzing my way.

Information: 888-425-1034 or www.e-holster.com.

-- Sean Carton

Digital road warriors can stay connected via Roku

Unified Messaging Systems are the rage these days among digital road warriors. A UMS is software that integrates as many of your information "channels" as possible -- e-mail, pager, voice mail and fax -- into a single point of access. Some systems work through human dispatchers or voice synthesis to read your e-mail and documents to you over the phone. Others use e-mail software that turns voice messages into attachments. Some incorporate both.

Roku takes a different approach, and it's free. It not only links your e-mail and calendar to various mobile devices such as pagers, cell phones or laptops, but also allows you to access all your desktop files from the road. What it doesn't do is voice mail.

When you log in from your laptop or a computer kiosk at the airport, Roku lets you grab files, attach files to e-mail and update your calendar. It can also forward e-mail messages and appointment listings to your alphanumeric pager or digital cell phone (if your phone has this capability).

At the moment, Roku only works with Micosoft's Outlook for calendar and e-mail forwarding. You can access your Roku account (and your PC desktop) from Internet Explorer or Netscape Navigator.

One impressive feature of Roku is that it's context-sensitive. If you have a meeting with a client in New York, Roku will offer you directions to the client's office, suggest good restaurants in the area and provide links to airlines and other resources. These linkage partnerships, along with banner ads, are where the company expects to make its money.

Roku should be approached as early-adopter tech. It's a work in progress and not without its hassles. We had a terrible time trying to get it to work with our desktops and cell phone. Hardware compatibility is limited (only certain phones and pagers will work) and there is currently no Mac or hand-held computer access. We still recommend giving it a try if you need this kind of multidevice access and you want to get in on the ground floor of what's likely to be the wave of the future. You certainly can't beat the price.

Information: 703-449-1700 or www.roku.com.

-- Gareth Branwyn

For full reviews of these and other gadgets, visit www.streettech. com.

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