I’m getting the feeling that I’m on kind of a minimalist jag this week. Only yesterday I was talking up the virtues of small and incredibly simple cord organizer, and today, we’re exploring the “less-is-more” advantages of what happen to be the shortest USB cables I’ve ever set eyes on. Meet the Extra Connectors.
Made by BlueLounge Designs, the not-so-evil geniuses behind some of the hottest and most functional charging stations on the market, Extra Connectors are foot-long USB cables (yes, you got that right, they’re only 12 inches) that let you add extra connectors to BlueLounge Charging Stations that have spare USB ports, or just plug small devices into your laptop without the hassle of an extra 5 feet of USB cable cluttering up your workspace.
I don’t know if this is just the first time I’ve come across cables this short, or if it’s been going on forever without my knowledge, but to be quite honest, I don’t care – the whole concept is brilliant. Think about it. When you want to connect, say, your digital camera to your laptop to import photos, do you really need a 6-foot USB cable? No! In reality, you’re setting your camera down about a foot away from your computer, and then working around the pile of cable slack. Inconvenience for a greater benefit is one thing, but fighting a needlessly, wastefully long cable for elbow room is pretty much insane.
Extra Connectors are compatible with over 1,500 devices, from a lineup of manufacturers that include Nokia, Sony Ericsson, LG, Samsung, Palm, Sony, Nintendo, and Motorola. With the odds that they’ll work for you being so good, you’ve definitely got to give one a try. You won’t miss the cable slack – I promise.
Once in a while, you just have to appreciate something for its sweet simplicity. Take the Cord Hog, for example. Granted, it’s not too prettily named, and it looks way more like a pine cone than anything in the pig family (or at least I think so). But it’s easy to use, and when it comes to ummmm… hog-tying (as in limiting the movement/activity of) cable slack, this little cord winder is as uncomplicated as it gets.
Yes, I realize that this looks like just another plastic thing that you wrap cords around. But here’s what I like about the Cord Hog cable wrap: you don’t have to be a meticulous cord spooler to get the finished product to look like the picture. Have you ever looked at the packaging of some organizational product (especially one dealing with cable management), and seen an impossibly pristine “after” shot? The “before” pic matches your situation perfectly, and then you put the miracle organizer into action. No matter how hard you try, you can’t get your cords to coil as neatly, and there are inevitably a few loops of cable that, due to having spent years in a mangled pile of clutter, refuse to de-spazz and align smoothly with the rest of the bundle. The end result may be better than what you were originally dealing with, but it’s nowhere near as good as what you were hoping for.
All of that example-giving to explain that the Cord Hog has built-in channels, into which you fit excess cable as you wind it around and around. Proper alignment isn’t an option, and that’s a good thing. As you wrap, everything automatically falls into place, and you come out looking like a photo stylist for an organizing magazine without even breaking a sweat. Did I mention that the Cord Hog can also accommodate up to 12 feet of cable? So give the Hog a try – it will have your desk or counter top looking like less of a pigsty in no time.
If you thought that Teflon® was just for non-stick cookware and stain-resistant fabrics, think again. We’re used to using the slippery stuff around the house pretty much every day, but did you know that it can actually be spun into filaments and braided into a protective sleeving for cables and wire assemblies? I know – it blew my mind, too.
Teflon braided sleeving isn’t the stuff you’d use to snazz up A/V cables or organize computer wires – it is, in short, what the proverbial Big Dogs use to create a protective, friction-reducing shield around wiring in military vehicles, aircraft, and other high-intensity environments. Temps up to 550°F? Teflon’s the heat shield for the job. Abrasion? Don’t make me laugh (try scraping up something that repels pretty much everything). And chemicals, solvents and fuels? Teflon® sleeving was tested in the presence of 16 of the toughest common industrial substances, and it barely batted an eyelash.
With something so rugged, you’d think that it might be a handful to work with, but thanks to Teflon’s notoriously slick characteristics, it slides gently though your hands as you maneuver it along cable assembles, unlike some other more run-of-the-mill braids that can have a slight sandpaper effect after a while. It’s the classic “tough-guy-turns-out-to-be-a-softy” scenario – and if you ask me, that’s one situation you would want any mission-critical cable to be in.
It’s always totally killed me that charging cell phones or digital cameras too well can actually cause their batteries to bite the dust faster. Hmmmm, let me get this straight: I regularly plug in my gadget of choice to make sure it maintains a good charge, but if I’m not standing by to unplug the charger as soon as the battery is full, things will actually start to deteriorate? Nice.
As far as I’m concerned, someone should address that little detail before they bother cranking out iPhone™ 17, or the next most amazing thing to hit the tablet market. We need to prioritize here, people – please, please come out with immortal batteries first! I’m probably just dreaming here, but in the meantime, until we see the day when batteries are no longer burnt out on the very thing that keeps them powered, there’s the Belkin Conserve Socket™.
Designed to work much like a smart power strip, the Conserve Socket™ cuts power to devices when they’re no longer in use, or have had their fill of electricity. The only difference is that instead of being a bulky, full-sized power strip, the Conserve Socket™ has only one outlet, and plugs right into a wall receptacle, just like a nightlight. And whereas smart UPSs detect the on/off status of “master” devices to gauge when to automatically shut off peripherals, the Conserve Socket is equipped with a timer, via which you can tell it to call it a day after 30 minutes, 3 hours, or 6 hours.
If this sounds like somewhat of a downgrade in technology, it’s actually not. Let’s say that you need to plug in a cell phone charger. In most cases, a smart power strip wouldn’t cut power to it, because it’s not a peripheral attached to a master device. It’s just plugged in, period. It’s the main event itself, so to speak, so turning it on or off requires your own decisive action (ie, plugging in or unplugging). “Turning off” would involve you physically disconnecting the charger in order to cut power flow to it, but the Conserve Socket’s timer lets you stop the electrical flow to the charger (and its corresponding gadget battery) without actual physical removal. As soon as that timer goes off, “ping” – no more power (okay, it doesn’t make that noise, but you know what I mean).
The Conserve Socket™ is not only perfect for avoiding overcharged batteries, but is also a great way to make sure that hot devices and appliances (like irons, curling irons, and coffee makers) aren’t left sitting in “cook” mode for too long – no one likes a fire. It helps you conserve energy, save money, and stay safe – not a bad deal for around $13.