Belkin In-Desk iPod® Dock

September 29, 2009 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Power and Data Distribution 

desk-pod-animatedWhen you think about it, iPods® are kind of like our little buddies. They make us happy. They keep us company while we’re working out, chilling out, or stepping out to have some fun. Is there any other companion out there that shows us such a good time, yet requires so little in return? Kind of makes you wish that you treated yours a little better, doesn’t it?

The next time you tote your iPod® to work, instead of just tossing it haphazardly onto your desktop, show it some respect by seating it comfortably in an In-Desk iPod® Dock from Belkin. This compact docking station essentially becomes built into you work surface, because it installs right into a pre-existing, or specially made, 3″ grommet hole (the kind you run cables through). Once it’s in place, the dock sits just about flush with your desk’s surface, so it’s not like you’ll have some weird electronic appendage growing out of your desktop – it’s actually quite polite and unobtrusive.

After the iPod® dock has been installed into the grommet hole, all you need to do is run the included USB cable between your computer and the underside of the dock, and then pop your iPod into its rightful seat of honor. Just don’t forget to glance over and smile at it once in a while.

Sorry, this product has been discontinued.

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JuiceBar Solar Charger

juicebar-solar-charger_cellphoneAhhhhhhhhh, Florida. Sun. Sand. Citrus. Hurricanes. It figures that there has to be some sort of trade-off, especially when one lives in a place that can be total paradise for years at a time. As most of you already know, every few summers here in the Sunshine State, one of the named storms that taunt us menacingly from nearby Atlantic coordinates will actually make good on its threats, come charging ashore, and give us a proper thrashing. As long as you don’t live in a flood zone, lose a part of your roof, or have a window smashed by a wind-hurled coconut, things generally turn out okay in the end. There’s just that pesky wait of 2 days to a week to get your power back on. Curses!

Up until now, many of us have whiled away post-hurricane downtime by looking on helplessly as the battery bars on our cell phone displays rapidly dwindled. Sure, you can leave your electricity-deprived home and try to plug in at the first Starbucks or McDonald’s to open their doors, but there’s just one problem – everyone else is having the same brilliant idea. What’s a tech-dependent Floridian to do? Why, take advantage of that ever-abundant sunlight, of course.

To do that, you’ll need a JuiceBar solar charger. To be honest, as a fan of that Jamba place, the JuiceBar’s name was the first thing that appealed to me (and yes, I know that it’s also an electrical pun, but that’s beside the point). I just heard “Juice Bar” and my ears automatically perked up. But my interest really picked up when I found out what this thing does. The pocket-sized JuiceBar uses small solar cells to charge the batteries of cell phones, iPods, portable gaming systems, and plenty of other gadgets. Genius. As you can imagine, the entire CableOrganizer staff was immediately enthralled. We’re saved!

I realize that I’ve probably already typecast this product as a must-have for residents of the Southeastern Atlantic and Gulf Coast states, but really, this is also a terrific charger for the green-conscious, tech addicts, and frequent campers out there. And here’s something else you’ll also like: the JuiceBar charger comes with twelve connectors that are more or less universally compatible with most current portable electronics. The JuiceBar has a high-capacity battery that becomes fully charged when it spends 12 to 15 hours in direct sunlight, and that charge is enough to “re-juice” two standard cell phone batteries (on average).

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The Cable Shield Cord Cover

September 22, 2009 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Cord Covers 

cable-shield-cord-protectorThey’ve done it! Finally! A light-capacity cord cover that’s tough as nails, but still has the sense and decorum to actually blend in with tile and wood flooring. If you’re wondering why I’m so tickled by a mere cord cover, then you’ve got to understand how much of a step up this is. Up until recently, if you wanted to hide floor cables and prevent cord-related tripping hazards around the house, the go-to product was the run-of-the-mill flexible plastic cord cover. Not that there’s anything wrong with flexible cord covers, per se. They’re economical, easy to use, and generally speaking, they get the job done. The only thing is, they fit in much better with concrete floors and commercial-grade carpet than with, say, nice residential tile and hardwood floors.

So, as you can imagine, the Cable Shield is a very welcome addition to the cord cover world. To begin with, it’s tough. Instead of using flexible plastic, the Cable Shield lives up to its name through its rugged, unyielding PVC construction, which can withstand weights up to 661 lbs. So bring on the stomping pedestrians, the rolling furniture, and the moving carts – these babies can take it!

But despite the Cable Shield’s name and overall strength, it has (dare I say it?)…. a prettier side. A little something that makes it appeal to even picky decor people (don’t feel bad there, I’m one too). That’s all thanks to the good looking finishes it comes in – which include woodgrain (hardwood floors, anyone?), terracotta and brown (for the tile fans), as well as black. From now on, you’ll never have to trade in your decor for a little home safety and organization.

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Job Dog BuckReel® Cord Reel

September 17, 2009 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Cable and Wire Storage 

buckreel_extension-cordIf someone were to tell you to assume the position for winding up an extension cord, what would you do? If your first instinct is to raise your non-dominant arm, bend it at the elbow, and get ready to loop the cable around and around between your elbow and the crook of your thumb, you’re not alone. But you’re also making things way to hard on yourself. Sure, the old “human cable reel” trick has worked fine for eons, but what if you could achieve a better outcome in seconds, without having to wrap yourself in cords? Like the idea? Thought you would. That’s why I’m about to introduce you to the Job Dog BuckReel®.

The BuckReel® is a cable and cord winder that stores extension cords, ropes, hoses, and holiday lights without letting them get tangled. That’s a lot more than most of us can say for the arm-winding technque, which, done correctly, results in “neat” bundles that magically start to self-knot the second you toss them onto a garage shelf. The unwinding is never pretty – but I digress. What I’m getting at is that it’s kind of nice to be able to just use a cable as soon as it’s unwound, instead of dealing with a wad of cords that looks like it’s been attacked by a mischievous Boy Scout with a third-degree black belt in knot tying.

The BuckReel® eliminates snarling because it wraps cords around an actual spool, the way nature intended them to be. But this isn’t a stationary spool that you need to physically wind your cables around. The BuckReel has a very cool design that incorporates a free-spinning hand grip inside the spool, and a stationary crank handle on the rim of the spool itself. To wind up cords, you just hold onto the inner grip with one hand, turn the crank with the other, and watch as your cable is spooled in no time. Once the winding has come to an end, you just store the entire BuckReel® until the cords on it are needed again – it’s equally at home on a shelf, or stacked two high in a 5-gallon bucket.

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Self-Adhesive Con-Tact® Paper

September 14, 2009 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Cord Covers 

contact-paperHow did we ever get along before Con-Tact® paper? Before that smooth-on-one-side, sticky-on-the-other
vinyl “paper” on a roll appeared, what was covering our kitchen shelves, or lining our utensil drawers? I don’t know about you, but when I was a kid, I didn’t exactly have access to a laminating machine, so clear Con-Tact® paper always saved the day whenever I had a particularly stunning art project that needed to be immortalized. Like I said, whatever did we do without it?

Up until a few weeks ago, I never really knew that Con-Tact® Paper came in a wood grain print — did you? It turns out that this less-seen pattern opens up even more possibilities than the regular clear and countryish floral patterns that you normally find at the store. We’ve found that wood grain Con-Tact® paper works particularly well for snazzing up/camouflaging otherwise blah-looking flexible plastic cord covers that are being used on hardwood or laminate flooring.

While there’s nothing wrong with solid-color cord covers per se, the hard truth is that sometimes you just don’t want them standing out against your shiny, cherry-stained flooring. Well, getting them to blend in has just become pretty darn easy. Just cut a strip of Con-Tact® paper that’s wide enough to span the cord cover and wrap a little bit around its edges, peel off the backing, and smooth it into place.

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Rack-A-Tiers® Wire Pulling Strap

snatch-strap-application_smWhen you think of pulling cables through conduit, what do you imagine one of the biggest problems to be? Working the wiring through tight bends? Or how about friction damage? Both of these are undeniably conduit-related pains in the, ahem… tokus, but there’s another possible pulling snafu that’s even more obnoxious: twisted cables.

Now, when I say “twisted,” I’m not talking about a little benign spiraling. I’m referring to the hard core wrapping and tangling that sends conduit friction levels through the roof, and can even cause your cables to start attenuating. The kind of mess that demands a do-over every time.

Spare yourself a lot of frustration, not to mention that overwhleming sense of deja-vu with every re-pull, by enlisting the assistance of a Rack-A-Tiers® Wire Puller Strap. This simple but ingenious cable-pulling implement actually staggers the wires you’re pulling, so while they’re technically together, they stay distinctly separate (read: knot-free and running parallel to one another). The cables enter the conduit untangled, and emerge at the other end the same way. Quite the winning concept, isn’t it?

Here’s how it works. The Wire Pulling strap is approximately 4 inches long, and has triangular wire holes cut out along its length. You just attach a cable to each of these holes, rig the pulling strap to your fish tape or wire puller, and haul away. Having the cables staggered just that little bit with the pulling strip makes a huge difference – as a matter of fact, it can actually cut labor time in half.

Rack-A-Tiers® cable pulling straps are made of powder-coated steel, and come in sets of 3 (one each of red, blue, and green). Having the multiples lets you attach 2 or more together if you have a large number of cables to pull, and the mix in colors helps you to keep different groups of cable visually separated while they’re being simultaneously pulled into the same pass-through or junction box.

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Panduit® Adhesive Lined Grommet Edging

adhesive-lined-slotted_smQuick – as fast as you can, name as many classic “pairs” as you can think of! Peanut butter and jelly. Chicken and waffles. Sonny and Cher. Starsky and Hutch!!! It’s never much of a challenge to come up with pairs that are funny, delicious, or total ’70′s throwbacks, but listing obvious dangerous duos can be a little tougher. I don’t know what comes to mind for you, but two things that don’t do well together for me are sheet metal and cables.

At one point or another in your life, chances are you’ve inadvertently made contact with the edge of a piece of sheet metal, and sustained, at very least, a scratch. Sharp sheet metal edges can be really nasty to things that are softer then they are, be that human skin, or even cable insulation. That’s why it’s so important to cover them up and render them harmless -but how do you accomplish that feat?

Easy. Just try some adhesive-lined grommet edging from Panduit®. Designed for use in server rooms and data centers where enclosures made of sheet metal abound, this completely customizable product gives a quick fix when you need to make cable cutouts safe for contact with both hands and network cables. The grommet material comes on a roll, so you can cut off the exact amount you’ll need. And it’s even lined with adhesive, so once it’s in place, it will stay exactly where you want it to.

Here’s how it works (this won’t take long). First, as I just mentioned, you cut off a piece that’s the same length as the sheet metal edge you need to cover. Next you apply the grommet edging by slipping it onto the edge (the sheet metal will slide easily into the grommet channel). And for a finishing touch, pinch the applied grommet between your thumb and forefinger all along its length, so that the adhesive lining activates and gets a good grip on the sheet metal. And, well… that’s about it.

Not a bad day’s work, considering that the tiniest amount of effort and a very cost-effective product are all you need to invest in the safety of your cables and your fingers. Believe me, you’ll appreciate this stuff the very first time you run wiring through a sheet metal cutout and manage to finish the task with both the cable jackets and your skin intact. I promise you this: sheet metal and grommet edging are a way better combo than Sonny and Cher.

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