Validian\u2019s Flash Communicator marries secure instant messaging with USB Flash memory devices, resulting in an enterprise-grade IM product that can simply be plugged into any IP-enabled Windows-based computer.Founded in 1999, Validian is a small, publicly traded Canadian company that produces secure IM and secure, IP-based application-to-application data transport products.Flash Communicator has a number of interesting features, not the least of which is the fact that the\u00a0IM system is completely self-contained in a device with non-volatile memory. It is a completely peer-to-peer client and uses a minimum of two-factor end-user authentication. Flash Communicator logs all IM sessions, providing a time-stamped copy of sessions to all participating parties. It can authenticate against Active Directory or LDAP-enabled directories, and it operates with a variety of standard encryption algorithms. Flash Communicator can support up to 3,000 simultaneous connections.One of the fundamental advantages of Flash Communicator is that it provides the ultimate in portability, allowing all IM functionality and data to be carried in a completely self-contained and very small unit with no software installation required. This allows mobile workers to travel extremely light, and it eliminates the risk of leaving sensitive data on a public system, a borrowed computer, etc. Even if the unit is lost, the system is secure because of the requirement for users to be authorized before sharing data with other users. Flash Communicator is being bundled with Sony\u2019s FIU-810\/W Puppy Fingerprint Identity Token bundle, a line of tools that authenticate users of communications devices using their fingerprints.I like the idea of completely self-contained communications devices like Flash Communicator, for a couple of reasons. First, they provide complete portability of an entire messaging infrastructure in a form factor that is dramatically smaller than a Web-enabled cell phone, PDA or laptop. Second, they allow people to communicate when and how they want, since just about any Flash memory device can be used with just about any Internet-enabled device.Flash Communicator sells for $40 per user per year.