Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Internet Transfer Card

Share files over the internet - CONVENIENTLY
  [vote for,

We seem to be entering an era in which portable media, like floppies, CDRs, etc. is slowly being made obselete by fast network speeds and truly gargantuan fixed disk capacities... the problem that remains, is one of convenience.

A hyperlink or email attachment is an unsatisfyingly epheremal thing; you can't pick one up and touch it or give it to other people the same way you can a floppy disk - unless you write out a URL out on paper, which is a tedious process that invides single-character errors; .htm vs .html vs .shtm vs .shtml vs .cgi, etc etc etc.

My idea? An external USB flash drive which you store your IP address, filename(s), and password hashes for each file - your computer's password, hashed with the filename. Since no actual file data is stored, just the names and hashes, the capacity of the disk itself could be inconsequential - perhaps 64, 128, or 256K, and therefore dirt cheap and mass-manufacturable.

This way you could give access to individual files on your computer(through a modified FTP protocol or something similar). The effect produced would be essentially giving someone a 900MB file on a $0.50, 128KB disk. Just 'copy' the file onto the puny flashdisk, hand it over, and bing, they've got it. No more burning stubborn CDs, no more slow floppy drives, no more huge #s of bizzare and hyperexpensive external media types.

Corona688, Dec 08 2002


       If barcode scanners were more common, you could just pre-print barcodes with sequentially-numbered URL's and then put whatever file you needed someone to get in the appropriate spot on your server.
supercat, Dec 08 2002

       Cute, but I'm not sure how useful.   

       For the most part, when tangibility matters, people use business cards which have an URL printed on them (and act as a mini CD-ROM if they're fancy). Your solution would be better only in that you can customize it on the spot, which leaves a pretty small niche of usefulness.   

       I'm also unclear you could really package even a small amount of solid-state storage for 50 cents; there are fixed costs associated with USB interfaces and the like. A stack of CD-R business cards which you can burn seems more likely to work, but even if your laptop does have a CD-R burner it will take a minute or two.
egnor, Dec 08 2002

       Well -- there is something to be said for a tangible physical token. If one could be made that was really cheap (so you could have a stack of them and give them away to whomever), writable on the fly, and had UI that just let you drag and drop a document to it, that could be worth something. Not much, but...   

       It doesn't replace the website, it just supplants it with a machine-readable, tangible manifestation of a URL.   

       It's not the greatest idea and I'm not sure how it could be implemented cheaply enough (without requiring specialized hardware at the receiving end) but it's not the worst idea that was posted today.
egnor, Dec 08 2002

       // but it's not the worst idea that was posted today // Why thank you. ;p   

       You guys are missing some stuff; this isn't just a URL replacement, it's an entirely new system. A URL only works for files that are on the net; with this, you could share ANY file that's on your computer, with the caveat that it must have a net connection. Essentially, it's like an FTP that gives total access to your system - except: 1) Access is 100% read-only 2) It doesn't give any file listings 3) Each file has IT'S OWN PASSWORD.   

       Could be useful, I think. At it's barest level, I suppose, you could reduce the system to just a puny thumbnail drive that carries hyperlinks; the core of the problem is that hyperlinks are a pain to carry around, despite their being puny - less than 128 bytes in general.
Corona688, Dec 08 2002

       Well, the part about installing a Web server on your computer and giving out encoded URLs that let people access certain files isn't super interesting.
egnor, Dec 08 2002

       A smaller shoesize sneakernet.
bristolz, Dec 08 2002

       It seems like a new link format doesn't require you to invent a new sort of media to transfer them on. Why not use floppies? A much-more-expensive alternative with a smaller capacity -- especially one that only holds one particular sort of information -- doesn't seem like a winner, even if it's slightly smaller and faster and cooler. (The price seems unlikely ever to fall as far as you'd need it to; USB devices with their own interface will probably never be as cheap as removable media.)   

       Then, though, you just have an idea for a new sort of link and file server, which egnor's note suggests is unfortunately one of many.
Monkfish, Dec 11 2002

       I like the idea of something that works like this. The card doesn't have to hold separate information for each file on it, that can be stored on the computers and communicated through the net. It just needs enough to say which computer holds the files it pretends to contain, and distinguish itself from other cards linked to the same computer.   

       A magnetic strip is probably enough.   

       I'm not sure the technology has developed the right way for this idea. Huge flash drives are common (too expensive to give away like business cards though), but I'd still consider 900 Megs too much to transfer over the internet.   

       [supercat] //If barcode scanners were more common, you could just pre-print barcodes with sequentially-numbered URL's and then put whatever file you needed someone to get in the appropriate spot on your server. // Cameras might be common enough. Also, if you have one area for the encoded URL or whatever and another to write a label on that would be good.
caspian, May 22 2006


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