Best mobile data platform: New CES gadget? Or penknife you started carrying as a kid?

Adding flash drives and lights to obsolete accessories sounds silly, unless you dislike losing critical data

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The big problem with gadgets announced at hype-fests like the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) – besides the tendency for them to not yet exist or, if they do, be impossibly complex or too expensive to use – is that they assume even non-geeks will be willing to buy and actually use something that requires them to change even their most basic habits.

Go camping with Boy Scouts and, in addition to the contraband stashes of fireworks, tiny projectile weapons like crossbows or slingshots, knives many times too large to qualify under the four-inch-limit rule and lighters that work more like blowtorches than campfire-sparkers, you see a lot of those little red pocket knives.

A lot of the kids, and the parent they grudgingly allowed to tag along, carry little Swiss Army Knives out of habit or the need to have a tool more suited than a door key to help drive a screw, pry something out of a chunk of wood or remove a splinter.

Most don't even consider the little Swiss folders to be knives. For a 14-year-old boy cut loose in the woods with permission to cut things without asking first, nothing qualifies as a "knife" that wouldn’t look perfectly appropriate as key prop movies about goth serial killers.

The dads, who got in the habit of carrying them from their dads, take them so much for granted I've heard more than one complaining about having forgotten to bring a knife or axe or spoon or any other useful thing, while trying to split a bagel, spread peanut butter or slice dice and julienne dinner using a little Swiss with a two-inch blade, scissors and bottle-opener/screw driver.

I don't mean one of these monsters, or even one of the Boy Scout-branded versions. Usually it's one of these, which they might have been carrying all their adult lives.

"This is nothing; don't even know why I still carry it. Just a toy; not even a good screwdriver."

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