Interesting to see how two trends could make the PC quite different from what we know it. Beside Google, "Citeseer":http://citeseer.nj.nec.com/cs is an incredibly useful way to find related academic documents. Give it a try.
# "Knoppix":http://www.knoppix.org/ . Now that modern BIOS let you boot from just about anything. Not just a floppy, but really anything, folks at Knoppix have created bootable CDs that have all the executables on the CD and just boot. That means only the data is left on the machine. What a great way to have a zero install. Of course, you can now go larger with a bootable DVD, but it is amazing what you can include in 700MB. Also interesting to see how it is configurable. You get BTW, Linux, the KDE graphical desktop, MP3/Ogg/MPEG4 media player, Open Office.
# "USB Key fobs":http://www.pricegrabber.com/search_attrib.php?page_id=152&sortby=popular-&vendors%5B%5D=0&popup1%5B%5D=55%3A105&popup1_attr_id%5B%5D=105&popup2%5B%5D=0&lo_p=0&hi_p=0&form_keyword=&sortby=&ut=1813100444775761. These are truly amazing devices. The only thing that Connie has ever asked for that I don't have. They are amazingly convenient personal storage. It is totally passive and 256MB is $50, 512MB is$130 and 1GB is \$250. "Samsung":http://www.pcworld.com/news/article/0,aid,112684,00.asp is the leader in this and the technology developments are pretty amazing. A 512MB flash is a single chip for goodness sakes.
# "Migo":http://www.eweek.com/article2/0,4149,1366612,00.asp are already doing clever things by caching personalization information like favorites, etc. Then there is "ibutton':http://www.ibutton.com/pki.html which throws a Public key certificate on the fob. Given that USB 2.0 is everywhere and fast, I know understand what a smart card is. It ain't a mag striped thing. Its a keyfob with identity on it plus a cache.
# "Peer Tech":http://peertech.org/UsbKeysAndHardwareCrypto has also done this so that with just a CD that has a read-only Linux file system plus the fob for keys then it is easy to have secure access anywhere and worry about viruses, etc.
# "OceanStore":http://oceanstore.cs.berkeley.edu/info/overview.html. Related to this is abstracting storage. At Berkeley, they are working on a Peer-to-peer system that persists files forever. A very impressive set of research has been done on this. "IEEE Internet Computing":http://oceanstore.cs.berkeley.edu/publications/papers/pdf/ieeeic.pdf has a great overview of the architecture.
# "RDF":http://www.xml.com/pub/a/2001/01/24/rdf.html. I've actually had an RDF description on this blog forever, but haven't understood exactly what it is for a long time. This reminds me that it is a general purpose description language that is easy to query. Used quite a bit for newsfeeds, but its more general than that. It's a W3C thing with a formal "specification":http://www.w3.org/RDF/ and I actually found their formal "primer":http://www.w3.org/TR/rdf-primer/ quite helpful.
# "JXTA":http://www-106.ibm.com/developerworks/java/library/j-jxta2/. As part of this peer-to-peer research, quite a few folks have developed basic frameworks for writing P2P applications. JXTA is one that Sun has done that provides a high scale way for peers to communicate (rendezvous) with each othere.