I’ve always been able to appreciate a nice, sturdy, sharp razor knife when it comes to doing projects around the house, but I recently I tried one that topped all others. I had some picture framing to do, but having just moved, I couldn’t find my utility knife. Luckily, I happen to work for a company that sells them, so I put in an order for the Klein-Kurve® razor knife. I hadn’t actually used one before, but judging from its curved design and rubber grips, I thought it looked very comfortable to use.
Suffice it to say, when I got my new Klein-Kurve® home and laid into some heavyweight mat board, I was extremely impressed. If you’ve ever cut any very thick paper-based material with a razor knife, you’ve probably found that it’s very easy for the blade to waver mid-cut if you don’t have an absolute death grip on the knife, and that the top layer of paper can catch the blade and bunch up if the knife isn’t sharp enough. Well, neither of these was an issue with the Klein-Kurve®. Thanks to that curved shape and the grips I mentioned before, it’s much easier to get a good hold on the Klein-Kurve®, as opposed to standard, straight-bodied, smooth metal utility knives. And the blades are very sharp, and keep their edge for quite some time… I thought that maybe it was only working that well because it was brand new, but it’s still cutting great, and I haven’t even changed the blade yet.
As you can see from the photo, the Klein-Kurve® utility knife also comes with a great little bonus – a plastic holster that lets you clip the Klein-Kurve® right onto your belt.
When was the last time that a tool bag stopped you in your tracks? The last, and, come to think of it, first time that happened to me, I was right here in my office at CableOrganizer.com. It was about a year ago, and I clearly remember breezing in the door, noticing a rugged (and terrific-looking) tool tote sitting on my coworker’s unmanned desk, and thinking “Wow – that’s awesome!!!!” The only thing that kept me from grabbing the bag off his desk and inspecting it more closely was the assumption that it was my coworker’s personal property, and the last-minute realization that that wouldn’t have been the polite thing to do. And so, I managed to get my curiosity under control until I could make some well-mannered inquiries about said awesome bag and its origins.
As it turns out, the tool tote was actually the Veto Pro Pac Closed-Top Tool Bag, and it didn’t actually belong to my coworker – it was a manufacturer’s sample, because (woo-hoo!) we were about to start selling it. On hearing that, my restraint lessened considerably, and checked the tool bag out in a more hands-on fashion.
The Vet Pro Pac is very unique in that it’s completely and perfectly rugged, functional, and (dare I say it?) manly, but also has the added bonus of an eye-catching design that has a tendency to turn heads. But no matter how great it looks, one can’t forget that the real magic is on the inside. When its covers are unzipped, the closed-top Veto Pro Pac reveals a patented interior center panel that’s lined with row upon row of pockets, each which allows you to store individual tools in a vertical position. If you’ve ever emptied a tool tote looking for one specific item, this is a definitely a feature you can appreciate. Everything in the Veto Pro Pac is laid out in such a way that every item can be seen, so you it won’t just save you time, it’ll also make your life a lot less frustrating.
The closed-top Veto Pro Pac has a waterproof polypropylene bottom, and its body is made of heavy-duty PVC-impregnated nylon (1800 denier) to provide great protection, even at jobsites with harsh conditions. And it’s also ergonomically designed, right down to the handle grips and extra-wide shoulder straps.
When I was a kid, I was always fascinated by the fancy lamps at my aunt and uncle’s house – you know, the kind that would automatically change the brightness of the light if you just touched the lamp base. That was back before I understood what dimmers were and how they worked, and needless to say, it didn’t even occur to me that they could help conserve energy. No, back in those happy days, dimmers existed purely for my entertainment.
But know that I’m all grown up and paying my own electric bills, I really appreciate the fact that dimmers can help reduce the amount of money one needs to hand over to the utility company every month. Over the past few months, more and more energy-saving products have crossed my desk, but one of my favorites has been the Amertac™ Westek® Screw-In Lamp Socket Dimmer. It turns out that you can actually transform any lamp into a 3-step lamp by just screwing one of these Westek® dimmers into your lamp’s light bulb socket. Once the dimmer is installed, it takes only a light touch on any metal part of the lamp to adjust its light output. Pretty neat, right? Not bad for something that costs less than $12 and requires only a few turns of the wrist to install.
And this lamp socket dimmer doesn’t just save you money on electricity – it also cuts back on your light bulb costs, because you don’t need to use the more expensive 3-way light bulbs. Standard bulbs will work just fine – just keep in mind that these only work with incandescent bulbs, not CFLs.
I know that the products I tell you about usually have to do with practicality, safety, or organization, but we’re going to cut loose today and take a tangent toward the goofy. Just for the heck of it (and because they make me grin), I’d like to introduce you to our Animal Cord Clips.
Well, now that I’m thinking about it, I guess that these clips do get you somewhere in the department of organization. But don’t let that fool you – they’re still fun! Animal cord clips are backed with adhesive hook- and-loop, so you just peel the liner off the hook-and-loop and stick the cord clips to a wall, your desk, your computer monitor, or anywhere else you need them to gather up some excess cable length.
There aren’t many cord organizers out there that also have cartoonish good looks (now there’s an oxymoron for you), which is why these are so popular with kids. My sister used to work with kindergarteners and first graders, so I bought her the entire set of Animal Cord Clips, thinking they’d be a fun addition to her classroom. She very creatively made a few simple alterations and turned them into magnets, which were such a hit with the kiddies that the students would actually ask to take them home. That’s all the proof you need.
Personally, I’m going to magnetize my “Tiptoe the Elephant” cord clip and keep him on my refrigerator, to act as a pen-holder next to my grocery list. That, ladies and gentlemen, is what I like to call “using your noodle.” So, what are you going to do with your Animal Cord Clips?
Say you have a beautifully decorated living room, the focus of which is a home theater setup of top-of-the-line A/V equipment. Everything looks great… until you notice the straggly audio wires that are leading from your receiver to each of your Surround Sound speakers. An undeniable visual flaw in an otherwise perfectly designed room. How do you fix the situation without spending a small fortune to have a professional run in-wall cabling? With FlatWire, of course.
FlatWire is an incredible new wiring system that is made up of, literally, paper-thin flat cables that adhere to your wall and can actually be painted over. Easy enough for any home DIY’er to work with, FlatWire is completely invisible once installed. The installation process involves a few steps, but they’re all simple, and the results are well worth it. It all starts out with plotting out the placement of your speakers, and then measuring and cutting the cable. Once the cable is cut to size, you apply spray-on adhesive to the marked cable path, then smooth the FlatWire onto the adhesive. From there, the wire is covered with mesh tape and compound, sanded smooth, and finally painted over. And you’re left with a professional-looking home theater for a fraction of the price of paying a pro installer.
Filed under: Home Theater, Power and Data Distribution
When you hear the word “squid,” what do you think of? A tentacled creature drifting through the deep? A plate of delicious fried calamari? Or maybe SpongeBob Squarepants’ cranky neighbor in Bikini Bottom? Any of these word-associations would be right on the money, but let me tell you what I think of: home theater power. If you’re scratching you head and thinking “???????!!!!!,” allow me to explain – there’s an extremely cool, mollusk-like surge suppressor on the market, aptly named the PowerSquid® for its unique and unmistakably tentacled design.
And I guess that would beg another question: why on Earth would you want a surge protector that closely resembles one of the odder-looking sea creatures out there? The first, but less significant, reason is because the PowerSquid looks fun and different – it’s the kind of thing that you don’t run across every day. But far more importantly, it’s very practically designed, especially in terms of home theater setups that are chock full of equipment with bulky plugs and connectors.
If you’ve ever tried to plug multiple bulky adapters into a standard power strip, you probably found that it was impossible to make use of all the outlets because of the way those chunky plugs tend to invade the neighboring outlet’s space. In situations like this, you generally have to skip over the infringed-upon outlets, using just every other receptacle. It’s a real waste considering that you paid for all those outlets but are limited because of unimaginative product design. This is the part where tentacles come in handy. The PowerSquid’s® “arms” are actually short power extensions, each of which has an individual outlet at the end.
Since the tentacles can bend and move in any direction, they not only give each plug or adapter plenty of breathing room, but can be routed in the general direction of the device they need to power, so cords stay a lot more organized. And, of course, there’s the surge suppression factor – with a 3,240 Joule rating, the Home Theater Power Squid protects attached home electronics from destructive power surges . As a matter of fact, this PowerSquid® comes with a $500,000 connected equipment warranty to keep you covered.
It seems to be one of the Laws of the Universe that if you leave a disconnected cable lying on your desktop, it will pretty much stay put until you reach for it. At that point, it will start to slip away, eluding your outstretched hand by only an inch or so. That is, until it reaches the very edge of your desk, at which point it will plunge into oblivion just a fraction of a second before your fingers can grab it. Sigh.
Then comes retrieval. Crawling beneath your workstation isn’t at the top of most people’s “to-do” lists in the first place, but it becomes even more of a chore if the area under your desk has the typical pile of computer and peripheral cords mixed with the occasional dustball. Now, you get to sort through the mess and find the right cable, maneuver it back up to your desktop, and then plug it in fast before you risk having to go through the whole ridiculous slapstick routine all over again.
If you can think of better ways to use your time than chasing after loose cable ends, then you may want to make friends with the Cable Caddy, a cool little desktop cord organizer that hides behind your computer to neatly route USB and other peripheral cables while they’re plugged in, and holds them securely in place when they’re unplugged.
The Cable Caddy comes with adhesive strips and a desk clamp, which let you affix it to your desk so it doesn’t jump overboard with your cables. Wondering how it keeps a grip on cords? The Cable Caddy has 5 narrow channels that are big enough to let cables move freely through them, but still narrow enough to catch onto connectors and keep them from sliding away. You’ll never have to grope around for MP3, cell phone charger or printer cables ever again.
I just wrapped up a meeting with our representatives from Triplett, a test equipment manufacturing company that’s been in business since 1904. They’re known for offering a huge variety of electrical and cable testers, and while many of them are made for professional technicians, I was reminded of one of their simplest products, which also happens to be my favorite (and yes, I do own one). Ever heard of the Sniff-It voltage detector? It’s a little device that can check for the presence of AC voltage without ever having to actually make contact with the outlet you’re testing.
About a year and a half ago, my parents purchased and remodeled an older home, which at the time had several power outlets that were “fidgety” at best. That is to say, the receptacle wiring was somewhat suspect. We had to make a few updates, as well as replace wallplates throughout the entire house. Being one of those “better-safe-than-sorry” types, I decided it would be more than worth it to buy a Sniff-It, because I was a little uneasy about the boys (my husband, brother, and Dad) operating on bravery alone.
The tester really couldn’t be simpler to use – the only button on it is the on/off switch. Just slide the switch to “on,” watch and listen for the quick light flash and audible chirp that let you know that things are up and running, and then you’re ready to sniff out some voltage. Just hold the Sniff-It close to the outlet or wiring in question; if tester stays quiet and no lights blink, you’ve got the all-clear to start work, but if it starts blinking and chirping, you know that the circuitry or components are still electrified.
As you can probably tell, I’m already a big fan of the product, but I still learned something new about it today. As it turns out, the Sniff-It is now a standard-issue tool for all field technicians of a well-known security company. Several years ago, one of this company’s technicians was tragically and fatally electrocuted when attempting to move a manhole cover that was, by some fluke, in contact with live underground circuitry. It was one of those things that you’d never in a million years expect to happen, but this poor guy, who was just doing his job, ended up losing his life because the pre-existing conditions at the jobsite were far different than what could be expected, or what actually met the eye. The company has now taken the extra life-saving step of providing all of their techs with Sniff-Its, because this little tester actually has the ability to save lives.
Heat shrink tubing: it’s such a simple and inexpensive product, but there aren’t many other materials out there that are as useful or versatile. Sure, most people use it for insulating cables or protecting wire splices, but there are a million other ways to put heat shrink to work. We hear from customers all the time who have invented uses for heat shrink that would put even MacGyver to shame. There’s the guy who repaired his glasses, a young lady who reassembled a broken curling iron, and a fitness enthusiast who needed to improve the grip on his home pull-up bar. It’s true that necessity is the mother of invention, but it seems that that whole “invention” thing is a lot easier when one has some heat shrink laying around.
While the most die-hard heat shrink users (network technicians, electricians, custom car hobbyists and case modders) tend to keep multiple feet or even spools worth of the stuff around, buying heat shrink in quantity may not make sense to others who just want to use it for odd repairs around the house. In cases like these, a heat shrink tubing kit is the way to go. These kits include a variety of heat shrink in different sizes and colors, which has been pre-cut into usable lengths so you just have to choose a piece that suits your project, and shrink away. You’ll find that heat shrink is perfect for protecting soldered joints or spliced wires, for holding mlutiple cables together, and even for providing some much-needed strain relief to older cords that have a tendency to hang heavily from their connectors when plugged in. But like I said before, those are just a few standard uses – we think you’ll cook up some far more inventive ways to use heat shrink when the need for a quick fix arises.
To read more about our customers’ and employees’ heat shrink improv, check out “The Handyman’s Guide to Improvisation: 7 New Ways to Use Heat Shrink Tubing” in the CableOrganizer.com Learning Center.
When it comes to cable management, cable ties (aka “zip ties”) are one of the simplest solutions out there for bundling up cords and wires. They’re cheap, they’re easy to use, and they work fast. There’s just one problem: they’re only good for a single use. As soon as you need to cut them off to reconfigure your cables, they’re useless – you have to start over from scratch. This is all thanks to the locking-head that most standard cable ties have; while it’s great for keeping things in place, it also makes it impossible to remove or adjust a cable tie once the tie has been applied. There’s no turning back.
And talk about the waste. In addition to the fact that you have to throw cable ties away after just a single use, there’s also the issue of all those good-for-nothing clippings that come from trimming the “tails” of cable ties flush after installation. That’s a lot of wasted plastic, and don’t forget that you paid for it. But that’s not all: cable ties are also subject to over-tightening, which can damage cable insulation and compress conductors so much that data signals are interrupted or completely cut off.
Wow! Is it me, or did I just go on (and on) about the drawbacks of zip ties? Don’t get me wrong, they’re actually a great product, it’s just that those are a few points that you have to consider if you’re going to be using them on a large scale or in conjunction with especially sensitive cables. This all leads up to me introducing you to Mille-Ties, a revolutionary new breed of cable ties that are kinder, gentler, and yes, reusable.
Instead of being composed of a solid plastic strap with a molded-on locking head, the Mille-Tie is built like a chain, made up of many individual links or cells. It stretches, flexes, and bends to conform to cable bundles without putting stress on them, and is virtually impossible to overtighten. Mille-Ties ratchet snugly around cable bundles, but their design causes them to automatically stop tightening as soon as they’ve reached their tensioning limit, so you don’t have to worry about damaged or malfunctioning cables.
MIlle-Ties also greatly reduce waste because after you complete a tie and trim the tail off, you can actually use the excess to make another tie. The Mille-Tie is designed so that all of the larger cells (that’s every other cell) act as locking heads, so as long as the cut-off tail is long enough to make it around your cable bundle, you can use it just as you would a full-sized Mille-Tie. Pretty cool, huh?
And finally, I’ll go into that whole removable/resuable thing I mentioned earlier. While they won’t let go until you purposely remove them, Mille-Ties don’t lock permanently, so it’s incredibly easy to reuse them. Once you have a Mille-Tie tightened around your cable bundle, all you have to do is thread the end back through the same cell, leaving just a tiny loop behind. This leaves you with a little release-tab to pull on to release the cables while leaving you with an intact cable tie that’s ready to use again.