The Sanctuary Charging Station and Desk Valet

December 31, 2009 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Gadgets, Power and Data Distribution 

sanctuary-white-full-smCell phones, PDAs, digital cameras, MP3 players, handheld video games…. if you’ve had it with juggling separate chargers all of your small electronics, I’ve got a charging station that you’ll definitely be interested in: the Sanctuary. Right off the bat, I have to share my assumption that this device charger was named the Sanctuary because of the feelings of order and serenity it can bring to those who use it. Untangling multiple charger cords can be a stressful experience, but it’s one that you’ll never have to deal with again…. once the Sanctuary comes on the scene, that is.

The reason for the Sanctuary’s calming effect is twofold. The first (and most obvious) reason can be chalked up to its aesthetic properties. Design-wise, it’s no-frills: clean lines, smooth contours, and a pleasingly stark white exterior. The second (and, I should add, concealed) soothing element is that the Sanctuary contains 12 built-in connectors that are compatible with up to 1,500 different devices. You realize what that means, don’t you? You can finally toss all of those cluttering chargers… or at least stash them away for travel. The Sanctuary plugs into a power outlet with just a single cord, and the built-in connectors do the rest of the work.

Have I mentioned how delightfully compact the Sanctuary charging station is? Only 9″ x 9″! I don’t know about you, but I’ve lost a chunk of countertop far more expansive than that by charging just 2 cell phones and a digital camera — it’s amazing how much space a few measly charger cords can take over. And while we’re talking about charging multiple devices, I should let you know that despite its diminutive size, the Sanctuary can accommodate 4 or 5 well-placed devices, with room left over for your keys.

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Faux-Leather Charging Station

December 31, 2009 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Power and Data Distribution 

charging-station-right-smWhile I was scrubbing house this weekend, inspiration for which product I would highlight in today’s blog came to me out of the blue, when I came face to face with my faux-leather charging station. There was a time when the two-and-a-half-foot section of counter between the kitchen sink and wall was largely eaten up by our two tangled cell phone charger cords. Not only did it look like a mess, but I’d also have to constantly mop up water that would somehow find it’s way out of the sink and threaten to soak both the cords and phones. As you can probably imagine, that situation got old fast, and it didn’t take long for me to bring home a charging station.

The charging station has 3 pods that can accommodate 3 or 4 devices (depending on their sizes), as well as a hidden back compartment that holds a mini power strip (to plug chargers into) and stashes charger cords out of sight. Once you have it set up, the only visible cord is the power strip’s — but if you keep the charging station nice and close to an outlet, even that one isn’t too noticeable.

Since I was the one insisting that we get a charging station, I thought the decent thing to do would be to at least let my husband pick the color, since he was going to be using it too. What can I say, the man has an eye — he chose black, which looks pretty darn sleek on the countertop. It’s been about a month now, and we both love the station — it makes us look and feel deceptively organized, and has returned a chunk of premium counter space to our small kitchen. Oh, and before I forget: the fact that charging station is faux leather has actually been a bonus — I’ve wiped it down with a damp cloth, with no harm done.

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Pelican 9500 Shelter Lighting System

December 22, 2009 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Electrical, Tools and Cases 

pelican-field-light-militaryBeing that I’m a non-camping civilian who doesn’t even own a pair of night-vision goggles, it’s kind of funny that I’m so fascinated by today’s featured product – but how could I not be? The whole idea of a lighting system that can both illuminate field shelters and crank out a red LED glow that’s safe for night-vision maneuvers appeals to that deep-down, Special Ops wannabe place that’s inside each and every one of us. Meet Pelican’s™ 9500 Shelter Lighting System.

Made up of 3 lamp modules that can be used alone or connected and hung along a tent’s ceiling, the 9500 is all about providing diffuse and even light. Its LED beams spread outward at a 210° angle and stay steady, without the annoying strobe and dimming effects that fluorescent lights can subject you to. And being that LEDs are noiseless, the 9500 Lighting System is also incredibly safe, with no electric hum to draw attention to your field shelter. When darkness falls, the system can be switched over to night vision-friendly red LED light for security.

Another great feature of this field lighting system is its longevity – because LEDs have a standard lifespan of around 50,000 hours, there aren’t any bulb changes involved, and that means that there’s no need to carry along fragile replacement bulbs. After all, the less you have to pack and transport, the better. And talk about tough: the 9500 can drop up to 3 meters onto solid concrete, and still keep on ticking.

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Shrinkflex 2:1 Fabric Heat Shrink Tubing

December 21, 2009 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Braided Sleeving, Heat Shrink Tubing 

shrinkflexI know you’re not tuning into this blog for a weather report, but it’s 52°F in South Florida. Considering that it’s late December, that’s nothing to shake a stick at for most other people in the United States, but to all of us who have devolved into wusses from living in a warm climate, it’s cold. After seeing one of our coworkers wrapped up in a stylish shawl to ward off the chill, my office mates and I began wishing we had something similar. Somehow that led to Snuggie™ jokes. Talk about a quirky hybrid – 50% blanket, 50% robe, 100% “what the heck?”

Anyway – I am going somewhere with this, I promise. All of this stream of conciousness stuff that led me to think about unusual product hybrids ultimately brought to mind Shrinkflex Fabric Heat Shrink Tubing. Shrinkflex is a new type of cable protection product that recently came our way, and while it’s tempting to call it just “braided sleeving” or “heat shrink tubing,” you can’t, because it’s both! Sounds strangely cool, doesn’t it? It is.

Shrinkflex 2:1 (the “2:1″ describes its shrink ratio, and means that the product is able to shrink down to half of its original diameter) is actually woven just like braided sleeving, but incorporated into the blend of yarns is polyolfin, which is a cross-linked polymer that shrinks when exposed to heat. When you combine these features, you end up with a product that has the good looks and flexibility of braided sleeving, but the “like a glove” fit that you can only get from heat shrink tubing.

So why would one want to use Shrinkflex? It provides great protection for cables, wires and hoses found in harsh environments that dish out high heat, vibration, and abrasive conditions. It stands up to liquids and chemicals like oil, antifreeze, gasoline, Diesel, brake and hydraulic fluids, battery acid and water, and can be used at a continuous maximum temperarture of 257°F.

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Braided Sleeving for Christmas?

December 17, 2009 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Braided Sleeving 

red-green-goldPETIt’s Day 3 of our pre-Chirstmas countdown, and when I was getting into blog mode this morning, I went into momentary panic, thinking that I had already run out of of Christmassy items to talk about (like I mentioned in a previous post, I already covered most of those products months ago). But I was saved – by braided sleeving, no less. Now, you’re probably asking yourself, “What kind of loon would think that braided sleeving has anything to do with the holidays?” Well, I’ll tell you – or rather, show you. Just take a gander at the photo to the right, and you’ll understand my reasoning.

Do you see that stuff? It’s like a beautiful candy cane wrap for your cables. I know that there are a lot of cables out there that need protection no matter what season it is, but there’s no question that this stuff was made for the most wonderful time of the year. I’m not about to suggest this as a great gift idea, but if you’re the kind of person who loves to spruce things up outdoors with lights and other electrical decorations, this could be right up your alley.

Outdoor lights and motorized Santas can’t get by without extension cords, which have to withstand the wear and tear of weather, rough outdoor surfaces, and ever-threatening pedestrian traffic. All of these stresses can cause the extension cords’ outer insulation to wear down and eventually crack – something that you really don’t want to happen. An overlay of festive red, green and gold braided sleeving is just the ticket to prevent abrasion and prolong the life of your extension cords, and will add a really nice visual touch to your outdoor Christmas display as well.

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Decorative Snowman Power Strip Cover

December 16, 2009 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Power and Data Distribution 

snowmen-power-strip-coverIt’s the second day of our Countdown to Christmas, and even though the main event is only 9 days away, I still have decorating on the brain. Sure, the tree’s been up since Thanksgiving weekend and my office Christmas lights for only a few days less than that, but I can’t seem to resist the red, green and shiny baubles and boughs anytime I’m walking through Target, the craft store, or even the supermarket, where I just caved in and bought a pair of glittery red taper candles. Yeah. I’m normally committed to elegance and tastefulness, but this is the time of year to throw sensible decor out the window and go for what makes you smile, giggle, or turn into a starry-eyed kid again. That said, I’m seriously thinking about acquiring a decorative power strip cover that’s festooned in snowmen.

You heard me. Why not? Like I want to look at a stark, drab power strip laying under the Christmas tree. So I’m thinking about disguising/snazzing things up with a cute little facade that features 5 jolly snowman buddies who look like they’re having some good old-fashioned, lighthearted holiday fun. This decorative power strip cover comes in two pieces that snap together, forming a power strip-sized shelf that’s camouflaged by a very festive front panel. As I mentioned, it’s perfect under the Christmas tree, but also works great anywhere else you may need to plug in light strands, like on the sills of decorated windows. And when the holidays are over, just unsnap the two parts and store them flat in an ornament box until next year.

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Two Spool Wire and Cable Storage Bag

spool-bag-christmas-lightsIt’s only 10 days until Santa Claus comes screeching into town, and as we start the final countdown, I thought it might be fun to highlight a few of our more Christmassy products. I realize that I’ve already brought up Christmas in earlier posts (I got way ahead of myself in that respect), but there are still a few interesting items that can be very helpful during the Yuletide season.

Only yesterday I was mulling over the things that post-holiday cleanup entails, and the Two-Spool Cable Storage Bag (or Twinkle Light Keeper, as I like to think of it) came instantly to mind. Now, I feel like I’ve used this anecdote far too many times for different things, but it involves a classic Christmas movie, so I’m just going to go for it. Remember in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, when Clark Griswold (Chevy Chase) decides to deck the house out in “25,000 imported Italian twinkle lights”? He unloads a beach ball-sized knot of Christmas lights on his young and reluctant son, Russ (Johnny Galecki), with a dismissive “You can work on that.” This scene is pretty funny as it plays out onscreen, but I’m going to go out on a limb and assume that it’s one you don’t want to recreate in real life. That’s where the nifty Two-Spool Bag comes into play.

The entire concept of the bag is so simple, but it prevents some pretty major decorating and post-holiday storage headaches. That’s because when you open it up, you’ll find two cable reels on stands, each of which allows you to spool up to 100 feet of mini Christmas lights. Imagine having 200 feet of holiday lights stored tangle-free inside a bag that measures only 15 x 6 x 11.25 inches! You may have had to unsnarl things this year, but decking the halls should be a whole lot merrier the next time around.

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BlueLounge® Space Station Desk Organizer

space-station-desktopOnce upon a time, I used to like to throw myself down on the couch, put up my feet, and kick back with my laptop on my (and here’s where it got its name) lap. A comfortable and relaxing way to surf the Web, no doubt, but there was just one little issue – the hot air that came billowing out of the thing, and had a way of slow-cooking both me and the computer. If you keep that up, you not only get a tad sweaty, but you also guarantee that that laptop is going to start deteriorating from the high temps and bite the dust waaaaaaay earlier than it’s supposed to. Luckily, we as humans have instincts and mobility that allow us to move ourselves away from heat and into better situations. Notebook computers, on the other hand, do not. If you’ve got a laptop that you want sticking around for quite some time, one of the best ways you can extend its life is to step in and take temperature control into your own hands.

When it comes to electronics, the most important part of heat dissipation is proper air circulation. If air can’t move relatively freely around devices, heat builds up and temperatures climb. This explains why you’ve probably seen a number of “laptop lift” products out there. In theory, they’re a great idea, but I’m not really crazy about the concept of balancing a piece of expensive techology on several different pieces of plastic. Too much room for error – and klutzes. That’s why I was pretty taken with the BlueLounge® Space Station the first time I saw it – there’s no balancing act involved.

More than just a laptop lift, the one-piece Space Station desk organizer not only raises the rear of your notebook to allow plenty of air circulate, but also tips the keyboard forward at a pleasantly ergonomic angle, so your wrists and fingers are saved from any unnecessary fatigue or discomfort. Add to that the fact that this docking station has a 4 port USB hub for really convenient connectivity, built-in cable management, cell phone and PDA holders and even an accessory bar to hold business cards, and you have a desk accessory that’s truly worthy of a name like Space Station.

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Office Storage Grommets

office-storage-grommetThanks to an article I just finished writing, I’ve been pretty zoned in on desk grommets lately, and I have to say that for something with so simple a purpose (protecting computer cables and phone wires as they pass through the routing hole in your desktop), there are a ton of choices out there. I’m serious – you’d really be surprised. Now, I don’t know what you look for in a grommet, but as for my favorite, I’d have to say that, for the moment at least, I’m most partial to the Office Storage variety.

This decisive personal grommet ranking came about only this morning, after I arrived at the office and promptly unloaded my cell phone, its charger, breakfast, a bottle of water, my computer glasses and spare change for a possible afternoon pick-me-up soda onto the piles of trade publications, mail, and scribbled notes that I left behind on my desk during last evening’s hasty departure. Sigh. Add to that the fact that I’ve already rolled my desk chair (with me in it) over my poor charger cord twice this morning, and you’ll probably understand why right now, I wouldn’t exactly mind having an organizational desk grommet at my service.

I’m not so optimistic to actually believe that any Office Storage Grommet could make the all-consuming paper pile holding court on my desk disappear, but it would help out with the sticky page flags, post-it pads and scads of felt-tip pens that litter my desk from 9 to 5. And my cell phone charger cord probably wouldn’t be feeling quite so bruised at the moment if I had been able to route it directly through my work surface instead of letting it languish dangerously close to my office chair wheels as it took the long way from the under-desk PDU to my desktop.

Alas, my desk is made of glass that’s free from ready-made grommet holes, so I’ll have to wait on this one. But rest assured that if I could install an office storage grommet, I would – in a heartbeat. Until the day comes when I’m in a situation where I can use one myself, I’ll just have to live vicariously through the happy reviews that I continue to read from people who think this is the best five-spot they’ve ever spent.

This product has been discontinued.

Gardner Bender Electrician’s Screw Kit

December 8, 2009 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Electrical 

electricians-screw-kitI’ve never really thought about it much before now, but electricians must go through an awful lot of screws. You always think about electrical supplies in terms of receptacles, outlet boxes, faceplates, switches, and all of those other things that we interact with in our homes on a daily basis. But the fact of the matter is, they’d all just be littering the ground and doing absolutely nothing useful if they weren’t held in place by screws.

This electrical supply epiphany was brought to me courtesy of Gardner Bender, when I recently took a gander at their Electrician’s Screw Kits. A box of screws may not sound like anything special, but these are actually really helpful from the electrician’s standpoint, or so I would imagine.

The first great thing about the screw kits is that they contain all of the most commonly-used electrical screws out there, so you always have the essentials on hand when the need arises. Second, everything comes packed in a neat, compartmentalized box that you can drop right into a tool box or bag. I really like that because the alternative always drives me crazy – ever bought small pieces of hardware that come in blister packs or sealed plastic bags? As soon as you separate the blister from the cardboard backing or poke a hole through the plastic, the game is up. Unless you plan on using every piece, which is never the case, you have a storage nightmare on your hands – parts inevitably fall out of their compromised packages and end up rolling around in the bottom of a junk drawer or tool box. I mean, you might as well just throw them away. Happily, there’s no such frustration with these well-thought-out kits.

And then there’s my favorite feature: the pre-painted screws that come in colors to match your wall plates. Nothing fancy – I just get a kick out of them because I like little details like that. They come in white, ivory, and almond, so unless you’ve gone custom-order on those wall plates and have a color that defies the confines of everyday neutrals, you’ll have ready-matched screws on hand for just about any basic faceplate replacement.

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