Cat5e cable is generally not one of those things that makes me stop and go “Oooooh!” Personally, I use it every day without even thinking about it, kind of like lip balm or tissues. I spend 8 hours a day sitting at a laptop whose Cat5e Ethernet cable provides me with a vital Internet connection and is never more than an inch or two from my left hand, yet I never give it even a second of thought or attention unless I need to unplug it to pack up my computer. How’s that for appreciation?
I have to say, though, that my interest and admiration were piqued yesterday afternoon when I met the newest network cable to join our lineup. Cicoil® (pronounced “see-coil”) Shielded Cat5e cable is very uniquely designed for use in manufacturing facilities, labs, and anywhere else where it’s likely to be attached to moving machinery and subject to some serious EMI/RFI. What makes it so fascinating are the totally flat design and the ultra-flexible clear silicone jacket that envelopes the shielded conductors.
The silicone is extremely durable, but has a somewhat jelly-like flexibility and stretchability that is unlike anything I’ve ever seen in a cable jacket. It’s a big part of what makes Cicoil Cat5e resilient enough to withstand up to 10,000,000 motion cycles (perfect for use with automated machinery that’s in near-perpetual motion), and clean/non-polluting enough to use in laboratories and cleanrooms that require RoHS-compliant materials. And since silicone is great at resisting water, fire and chemicals, this shielded Cat5e is good to go in even the harshest environments.
Because it’s such a specialized cable, Cicoil is sold be the foot, so you can order just what you need, without worrying about wasting money on extra that won’t be used. While it comes unterminated in standard orders, you also have the option of paying a little extra to have it factory-terminated to your specifications. Either way, you’re get something very, very good.
I don’t know if I’m just catching things at exactly the right minute as I flip through the channels at night, but I feel like I’ve been seeing a lot of references to survivalists on TV. Their causes are all different, ranging among horrific possibilities like Take Two of the New Madrid Earthquake, impending fallout from the much-anticipated 2012 Presidential election, and just Armageddon in general. Guns, preserved food, medical supplies… all good things to have when you head for the hills, but let’s not forget our gadgets, folks. Maybe you can ditch the cell phone and the GPS, but I think I’d like to have an MP3 player along to boost my spirits with a few tunes. Personally, I’d have a portable solar charger hidden among my personal effects, because what are you going to do if you need to plug in but can’t?
Okay, okay, so maybe my imagination is running away with me and the survival what-ifs, but the bottom line is, whether you’re living off the grid, camping, or are just experiencing a brief but annoying power outage in the heart of civilization, sometimes it’s nice to have some backup to keep those mobile electronics going. And on the bright side, barring a massive asteroid collision or catastrophic volcano eruption that would put so much dust/ash into Earth’s atmosphere that all light would be blotted out, we’ll always have the Sun. But I digress.
All this to say that I’ve found an extremely new portable solar charger that’s small enough to slip into your pocket, but is made to stand up to whatever tough environments and situations you and your small electronics may find yourselves in. Meet the Expedition™ Solar Charger.
With a folding design that helps protect the solar cells when not in use, and a rubberized outer shell that makes the possibility of accidental drops, scrapes and bumps a lot less scary, the Expedition is meant for the rough and tumble lifestyle of the great outdoors. One feature that I really like is the built-in 60 lumen LED, which will light a 30 x 30 foot area for up to 8 hours on a single charge. Not to mention that it comes with five interchangeable connectors and an adapter cable, so in many cases, you can plug in your devices without their original chargers. In addition to absorbing power from sunlight, the Expedition can also gather energy from indoor light, or even be plugged into a computer via USB for an ultra-quick charge.
So whether you’re living off the land or in a high-rise, give solar power a try… after all, these days it never hurts to have a little backup.
Okay, before I start, a quick disclaimer: what I’m about to say isn’t a fat joke, I’m just trying to illustrate a point. Now that I’ve put that out there, how many times have you seen a movie (or been in a real life situation) in which someone of robust physical stature, who is generally lacking in physical speed and agility, says in a humorously menacing way to a smaller person whom they’re trying to prevent from leaving or doing something undesirable: “(Fill in the blank, blah blah blah)… or I could just sit on you.” At which point the smaller person gets a comically horrified look on their face and promptly complies.
I’m not saying this is acceptable behavior, but it’s definitely a means to an end (ie, keeping something lightweight and prone to running away or misbehaving) in one place with the strategic application of extra poundage. Like weighing down the edges of an outdoor tablecloth so it doesn’t flap up and catapult your picnic spread onto the patio pavers. Or spreading out your flip-flops and other beachside effects to keep your towel on the sand, where in belongs, and where you’ll need it to be when you get fed up with rogue seaweed brushing your leg like a giant squid tentacle and decide to trudge back to shore.
Or like when you have a sumo wrestler plunk down on your disconnected computer cables so they stay ready for action at the edge of your desk, instead of tumbling over the side and onto the floor. Okay, maybe that one’s a little far-fetched, but that’s basically what BlueLounge® had in mind when they came up with the Sumo™ Desktop Cable Manager.
The Sumo is basically a sleek, weighted block with two cord channels carved out of its underside, and it’s designed to hold disconnected cables against a tabletop while still allowing them a little wiggle/breathing room. The cord channels are wide enough to let the cables move freely back and forth, but are narrow enough to prevent connectors from slipping through and causing their respective cables to fall to the floor. After all, it’s infinitely better to be able to just reach out and plug in instead of crawling around on the ground, looking for the right cable.
The Sumo Cable Manager has super cool gripping abilities, thanks to the micro-suction pads lining its underside. As you might guess from its name, micro-suction technology involves the equivalent of thousands of tiny (and indistinguishable to the eye) suction cups, which have the ability to grab onto, but easily release from, smooth surfaces, much like Spider Man (awesome). That means it stays in place without hardware or sticky double-sided adhesive, so you don’t have to worry about taking a bottle of Goo-Gone® to your work surface if you ever decide to move the Sumo to another location.
Confession: even as much as I’ve loved going on about smartphones (and mobile tech in general) for the past who-knows-how-long, I only caved in and got one about 6 months ago, and let me just say: aside from the laptop that I rely on for work, I’ve never spent this much time interacting with a silicon-based non-life-form in my life.
And it gets better: I seem to have acquired Smartphone Neck from the obligatory hunch one must assume while making the most of one’s unlimited text plan and squinting at tiny browsers. Seriously – the next time I’m in a clothing store dressing room, I’m going to have to sneak a peek in the 3-way mirror, because I’m pretty sure that I have the beginning of a Quasimodo-style thing happening in the shoulder region.
Just when I feel like I’m doomed to a life of hopeless hunching, along comes Milo™. No, Milo isn’t a massage therapist, chiropractor or maker of neck braces for the gadget-impaired – it’s a gorgeous little smartphone stand from BlueLounge® Designs, my absolute favorite maker of gadget accessories.
Along with BlueLounge’s signature modern, minimalist styling, the Milo Smartphone Holder has an incredibly cool feature that’s referred to as micro-suction, which lets the holding surface grab onto a smooth phone or case with barely any pressure applied – no clips, no big suction cups. It’s one of the best features I’ve seen on anything in quite a while.
Anyway, the whole reason I see Milo as being a neck-saver to any gadget junkie is because of the delightfully comfortable (dare I say ergonomic?) angle it holds phones at, in either portrait or landscape position. Find a surface that you can easily sit in front of (desk, table) and you can sit back and watch streaming videos, scroll through playlists, check incoming calls or text without having to grab the phone with both hands and slowly but surely fall into the Hunch.
Could this have helped poor Quasimodo? I fear not. But it’s never too late to save yourself!