VANCO 1080p Swivel HDMI Cable

swivel-hdmi-cableWant to get a terrible HDMI connection? First, make sure that your home theater components are squeezed into a very tight space; the closer to the wall or the back of your entertainment center, the better. Next, twist and bend your HDMI cable into tight angles to get it plugged into your DVD or Blu-Ray™ player. And finally, start your movie or video game and wait for the signal to eventually cut out on you – it’s inevitable after all, since you’ve done everything in your power to damage your HDMI cable’s conductor. There you have it, folks: the perfect recipe for home theater disaster.

Okay, I’m being facetious here – first of all, no one wants a failed high-def connection, and secondly, I would never encourage you to make that happen. The main idea here was to point out a common practice that can have you burning through an unending succession of HDMI cables. While you can’t always avoid positioning A/V equipment against the wall or in the close quarters of an entertainment center, you can take steps to ensure that tight spaces don’t become the death of your HDMI connection. Meet the VANCO Swivel HDMI Cable.

Perfect for plugging into a wall-mounted Plasma or LCD screen or home theater components stored in the aforementioned short-on-space cabinet, this HDMI cable is equipped with a 180° swiveling connector at each end, which means that the cable can flex and bend to make just about any difficult connection without putting undue stress on the conductor. This design feature lets the conductor do its job (transmitting clear signals) instead of squishing it into oblivion and rendering it useless. Can you see how this unique cable can save you both money and frustration?

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Surface Raceway – 500 Series

surface-raceway-sHome theater cables: can’t live with ‘em, can’t live without ‘em. Although visible A/V wiring may be driving you crazy, you can’t exactly get rid of it completely, because that would mean the end of music and movies. But at the same time, how can you fully enjoy your home theater experience if you’re constantly distracted by the sight of exposed (and maybe even messy) cables? Answer: surface raceway.

If you’re not familiar with the name or concept of surface raceway, allow me to explain: it’s basically an enclosed channel that sticks onto walls and ceilings by way of a pre-applied adhesive backing, for the purpose of holding, organizing and hiding many types of cords, from home theater cables to network wiring. Generally speaking, most raceways, including the 500 Series, have hinged, latching covers that can be opened and closed as needed so you can easily install or switch out cables.

500 Series Raceways are made of flame-resistant PVC, in your choice of white, beige and black. But no matter which color you choose, you can always paint it later with Latex paint, and make it blend in perfectly with you walls, ceilings, or any other element of your decor. It’s really easy to custom-configure, too. Although raceway typically comes in 5′ lengths, you’re not limited to straight-aways. This raceway can be scored with a razor knife and snapped into shorter pieces, or just cut to length with a standard hacksaw.

And did I mention that it can even be wrapped around corners or branched off in different directions? Thanks to its long list of optional accessories, which includes inside and outside corners, 3 and 4-way tees, end caps, elbows, junction boxes and ceiling entries, the 500 Series is one of the most versatile surface raceway systems on the market.

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Wee Buddy® Fiberglass Conduit Rod

May 8, 2009 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Cable Pulling, Tools and Cases 

wee-buddy-w-acc-kit_smWe’re into May and things are starting to heat up, but one thing never changes: Friday morning product training sessions. Just a little while ago, I had the pleasure of trying out some of Jameson’s most popular products, the first of which was the Wee Buddy® fiberglass conduit rodding system.

This fiberglass fish tape and reel combo is far more lightweight than steel, so it’s a lot less trouble to schlep around a jobsite than steel tape would be. Secondly, it’s completely non-conductive, so you don’t need to worry about electric shock or injury in the event that the conduit rodder accidentally comes into contact with a power source.

In the case of the Wee Buddy®, the fiberglass rod is covered in a bright orange polymer jacket, which not only makes the tape easily visible, but also keeps it smooth to the touch no matter how long you have it for – a huge advantage over bare fiberglass, which can start out smooth but eventually “bloom” after extended use and continuous exposure to UV rays.

If you’re not familiar with fiber blooming, it’s what happens when the glass fibers begin to disintegrate and separate from the rest of the rod, and let me tell you, it can lead to some serious skin irritation and discomfort for whoever happens to be handling the bloomed fiberglass. So as you can imagine, it’s a huge benefit to use jacketed fiberglass, because it not only strongly resists blooming, but is also far more comfortable for operators to use throughout the product’s entire lifespan.

A Wee Buddy® feature that I found extremely interesting is the fact that it can be repaired on the job should a break ever occur. Apparently all fish tape and rod snaps at some point, regardless of what it’s made of or who manufactured it. It just naturally weakens under the stress it’s exposed to job after job. If you’re using a steel tape, you’re pretty much out of luck if it breaks – the only option is to toss it and get a new one. But Jameson’s fiberglass rodding design, combined with a very well-thought-out repair kit, allows you to repair an injured Wee Buddy® tape on the spot in just a few minutes, so you can get right back to work without missing a beat. I may not be a contractor, but I can definitely see how preferable that would be to halting operations and waiting for new conduit rodder to arrive.

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Brady ID PAL™ Portable Label Printer

May 7, 2009 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Label Printers 

id-pal-printer-animationIf you’re a complete butterfingers with penchant for labeling things, have I got the label printer for you. Meet the Brady ID PAL™, a handheld, multipurpose label maker that’s tough enough to withstand even a 4-foot drop onto concrete. So, now that you no longer have to worry about your labeler being destroyed every time it slips out of your hands, what sorts of tasks is your ID PAL™ going to help you tackle?

For starters, it’s rugged design makes it perfect for use in the field, where you never know what types of harsh conditions you might encounter. So that makes it great for network technicians, electricians and home theater installers who are always on the go, especially since the ID PAL™ can quickly crank out long-lasting thermal transfer labels for cables and wires. Labeling adds a truly professional touch to any cabling installation, because it keeps wire clearly identifiable for future tasks like troubleshooting and updates. But the ID PAL™ isn’t limited to professional applications – it’s also great for labeling things like containers, shelves, file folders, toys, and school supplies around the house, office, or classroom.

As far as features go, the Brady ID PAL™ can create labels that range from ⅜″ to ¾″, with single or multiple-line printing. ID PAL™ cartridges, available in clear and 6 different colors (white, blue, green, orange, red, and yellow), are easy to change, and are printed on at a resolution of 180 DPI. Although the ID PAL™ label printer runs on 6 AA batteries (each batch of batteries provides enough power to print 3500 labels), you also have the option of using an AC power adapter.

Sorry, this product has been discontinued.

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LaCie USB and FireWire Hubs

May 6, 2009 by · 2 Comments
Filed under: Power and Data Distribution 

lacie_hub_2-smThere’s a reason why we’ve always stashed our USB and FireWire hubs under our workstations – they’re boring. I mean, why drag down the look of your desk by parking what is essentially a gray plastic box on it? The only problem with hiding your USB hub is that it’s harder to reach when you need to plug in or unplug something. What would you say if you could have a modern, aesthetically pleasing USB hub that you could leave out in the open? And plug into easily? If the idea of such a product makes you smile, you’ve got to check out the LaCie USB and USB/FireWire hubs.

With a sleek and sculptural design that looks great in minimalist office, the LaCie USB hub has a smooth globe-shaped base that blossoms into a spray of flexible USB and/or FireWire extensions, hidden among which is even a fun USB-powered fan! Between its mod good looks and those bendable USB connections, the LaCie hub is not only something you can be proud to display on your desk, it also makes connections fast, easy and organized. And best of all, it will work with any computer, whether you play for the PC or Mac team.

Label Buddy

May 5, 2009 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Label Printers 

label-buddy-animatedOver the past few years, I’ve been exposed to some of the most high-tech label printers out there, but I have to confess that, despite my knowledge of the more expensive and complex label printers of the world, I still have a weakness for my Dymo® Label Buddy. It goes back to when I was a kid, and I got a turn-and-click style labeler as a stocking stuffer one Christmas. I don’t remember if it too was made by Dymo®, but I do remember that I could’t put the thing down, and ended up labeling everything in sight until I ran out of label tape. How could I not? It’s strange how entertaining it can be to turn that dial and spell out the names of even the most basic of objects, and how satisfying it can be to see your label emerging, one letter at a time, with each passing click.

I’m about to make myself sound really boring, but I’ll just come right out and say it – I spent last Friday night revisiting my childhood fascination with turn-and-click label makers. Back when I moved into my apartment (about 6 months ago), I had bought a Label Buddy to do some basic organizing around the new digs – you know, start off on the right foot. But even with the best of intentions, I got sidetracked and my Dymo® Label Buddy sat, still wrapped and untouched, in a storage cabinet until last weekend. I went rummaging for something else, but came up with my Label Buddy instead, and the discovery led to a late-night “let’s get this place into shape” tear. That mood doesn’t strike me often, especially not on Friday night, so I decided to run with it and make the most out of the situation.

So, I labeled my freshly-washed kitchen canisters and, just for fun, my husband (yeah, yeah, real mature). And do you know what? I had fun doing it. The Dymo® Label Buddy is incredibly easy to use. If you’ve never gotten your hands on a turn-and-click label maker, you really should try one. They’re the most basic kind out there: you just turn the dial to the letter or character you need, give the labeler a quick squeeze until it clicks, and watch your embossed label pop out one letter at a time. Label Buddies are a great option if you just need to make a few household labels every now and again, and are perfect for getting your kids to label school supplies and other belongings (they won’t know it’s not a toy). And best of all, there are no batteries involved – they run on sheer people power, so they’ll never run out of juice.

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NOTRAX® Cushion-Lok™

May 4, 2009 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Workplace Safety 

notrax-cushion-lokOnce upon a time, before I landed this cushy desk job in which I just sit on my rear end, writing at a computer all day, I spent 6½ years working in the foodservice industry. If you’ve never experienced that line of work, let me tell you that while it’s far better exercise than your average office job, spending 8-10 hours a day on your feet can take a real toll on your knees and ankle joints. Although it’s always stressed that supportive shoes are key (and they are extremely important), they’re not always enough – sometimes you just need anti-stress floor mats.

While your mind may reason that a floor is a floor, your lower extremities will tell a completely different story. Try walking across different surfaces; you’ll find that carpet and wood flooring have a lot more “give” than concrete and tile floors, both of which are so hard and dense that they have a way of “pushing back” at your body, causing your joints to absorb all of the shock that’s generated from footsteps. Work environments like manufacturing facilities, industrial plants, restaurant kitchens and foodservice stations almost always have hard tile and concrete floors, and need to be treated with cushioned floor mats not only to increase workers’ comfort, but also to prevent long-term injuries and disability.

From line cooks and bartenders to machinists and assembly line workers, individuals who work on their feet need the protection of slip-resistant, anti-fatigue floor mats like the Cushion-Lok™ series by NOTRAX®. These solid PVC vinyl mats stand up to liquid and chemical spills while absorbing footfall impact and increasing traction (and preventing slip-and-fall accidents) with their Grip-Step top abrasive coating. They even have a diamond porthole system that facilitates the drainage of accumulated liquids. Available in solid black, or in black with a highly-visible yellow border.

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Klein-Kurve® Multi-Cable Cutter

May 1, 2009 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Tools and Cases 

klein-kurve-multi-cable-cutterI don’t know if it’s actually possible to wax poetic about a cable cutter (or any other hand tool, for that matter), but today I’m going to try. When I came into work this morning, the first thing I tackled was prep work for some sample kits, which involved cutting about 100 pieces of 4-pair Cat5e cable. While Cat5e cable may not look like much to cut, it can be nearly impossible if you attempt it with the wrong tool (which I happened to do yesterday afternoon). After a few tries, I gave up, and put in an order for the Klein-Kurve Multi-Cable Cutter by Klein Tools. It was waiting for me when I arrived this morning, and completely amazed me with the way it sliced right through the cable, we seemingly zero effort on my part. Whoever started that whole “like buttah” quote (Will Ferrell?) probably didn’t have copper cable on the brain, but that phrase definitely describes the way the Klein-Kurve® tore through (in a good way) those pieces of Cat5e.

The great thing about the Klein-Kurve® is that it isn’t limited to Cat cables – 3 blade types are integrated into this cutter, so it can also handle coax, as well as stainless steel wire. It can even shear screws! The low-fatigue design is very comfortable to use – I know, because I made those 100 cable cuts within 10 minutes or so, and didn’t feel a thing. A large part of the comfort factor comes from the Klein-Kurve’s® double-dipped handgrips, which feel delightfully soft and smooth while improving your grip and absorbing any stress that would normally be transferred to your hands.

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