Lesser-Known Fact: Cable labeling is a lot more fun when the wire markers remind you of the Spokey-Dokes you used to snap onto your bike wheels back in elementary school.
Yes, I went there. I just compared a very interesting new form of wire marker to the ’80s bike accessory that left baskets and handlebar streamers in the dust as they went zooming down the street to the neighbor kid’s house with an unmistakable “slide-clack-slide-clack-slide-clack-slide-clack” and blur of neon colors. Meet the next wave of cable-labeling awesomeness: Clip-Tags Plastic Wire Markers from HellermannTyton®.
Clip-Tags are so simple, yet so functional. They have a tube-shaped design that’s open along one side, so they can be easily slipped onto cables and wires, even if the cables are preterminated with larger connectors, or are already in use and can’t be unplugged to have, say, a heat-shrink sleeve label slipped over the end. That’s the “Spokey-ness” of them – a small, plastic, bead-like object that’s designed to snap around another object in any configuration you choose.
Clip-Tags are available in single digits ranging from 1 to 9, so you’re free to apply multiples in different combinations to create any number or code you need. They’re easy to apply, too – Clip-Tags come packaged on a unique flared applicator that lines up right against the cable you’re labeling so that you can simply slide a number into place, wherever you need it to be. There’s no need to wrestle around with these things – they’re very straightforward.
Another cool feature is that because Clip-Tags are only one digit long and have the ability to move a little bit, they still allow the labeled area of a network cable to flex and bend, unlike other wraparound labels that tend to add a degree of rigidity. So if your cables need a little wiggle room, these are perfect.
Plus, they’re just like Spokeys… did I mention that?
So, you say you wish you could squeeze more family or vacation photos into your workspace, but you hate clutter or just don’t have room to spare for another desktop picture frame? I hear you. Back when my husband and I were dating, he always felt a little slighted because he kept pictures of us around his workstation, but I didn’t.
I felt bad about it and even bought us matching collage photo frames for our desks, but even that never happened because between my keyboard, mousepad, monitor, desk phone, cell phone stand, mug, pen holder, notebooks, Post-It™ pads and stacks of trade magazines on my desk, I wouldn’t have had room to move my computer mouse, much less an elbow, without knocking something over. Where was the Manhattan Digital Photo Mouse when I needed to convince my sweet boyfriend that I wasn’t ashamed to display his face at my office?
It’s the ideal computer peripheral, really – all the power to click away to your heart’s content, combined with a slideshow of your favorite people and memories, all in the palm of your hand. Feeling a little stressed as you hammer away at a presentation that’s due EOD? Just take a few deep breaths as you gaze at your mouse and are whisked away to that beach hammock from last year’s tropical getaway. Frustratedly pondering why you allow yourself to be tethered to a desk for 40-plus hours a week? Glance down at the pictures of your pride and joy (who will be needing braces and private school tuition before you know it) gliding across your mouse, and find a renewed sense of motivation and purpose! (Okay, the second one may be a little far-fetched, but you see where I’m going.)
Long story short, being able to store and view an entire photo album worth of pictures (8MB, to be exact)on your computer mouse is kind of awesome! I used to think that those custom photo mousepads, were a fun idea, but this totally blows those out of the water. Like I said – awesome.
Here we are, ready for that highly-anticipated Friday evening time-clock punch, and all I can think about is how much time I wasted (and fumes I involuntarily inhaled) last weekend. Want to know how I spent last Sunday afternoon? Perched on the edge of my bathtub, spraying coat after coat of foaming shower cleaner onto a vintage (i.e. ancient and hopelessly crusty) heat register grate that was so disgusting that I had no choice but to give up trying to clean it with my vacuum’s brush attachment, and resort to chemical-based crud erosion instead.
The foaming bathroom cleaner got the job done after several applications and some waiting, but when I got back to work Monday only to meet Techspray® G3 Blue Shower Cleaner and Degreaser from NTE®, I couldn’t help but have a “where have you been all my life?” moment. This stuff is designed to do exactly what I was trying so hard to do: strip grease, grime and other gross stuff from metal without much need for scrubbing or other unpleasantness. Had I known about this magic potion, I could’ve taken a nap instead.
Okay, to tell the truth, this degreaser may be overkill for household use, but it’s perfect for cleaning everything from circuit boards to engine parts – in other words, things that have vital functions and can’t be sacrificed to soap and water or just any cleaning chemical. Just spray this solvent on, and let it do its thing. If you need to do any wiping or scrubbing, it won’t be much. Just think of it as Scrubbing Bubbles® for really important tech and mechanical stuff.
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.
Filed under: Energy Conservation, Gadgets, Power and Data Distribution
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!
Over the past few days, I keep seeing mentions of a college guy who decided to ditch the Internet (e-mail, social media, web surfing – you name it) as well as his cell phone for 90 days. During this time, he had infinitely more time to study, learned the value of a handwritten letter, found creative ways to meet up with friends and family, and was even able to win an old girlfriend back. After an extremely unplugged 3 months, he concluded that he’d found out who his true friends are, strengthened relationships with those who matter most, and gained an appreciation for the basic day-to-day social interactions that were facts of life as little as a generation ago, but are practically unknown in our current Facebook and text message addicted age.
To say the least, I was inspired, at least enough to break away from my usual ramblings about chargers and other accessories that pimp out the gadgets that are permanently glued in our hands and to our ears, and keep them ready for use now now now. While each of those things is great in its own respect, there’s also something to be said for things that don’t glow, beep, or have apps, so that’s what we’re sticking with today.
Meet BlueLounge® CableClips™, a line of multi-purpose cord wraps that very recently charmed me with their no-nonsense functionality and minimalistic good looks. They have a basic one-piece design that features two cord channels, and absolutely no components that will pinch cords or snap off. They’re made to keep excess cable length coiled and clipped together, and that’s exactly what they do – just push cords into CableClips through the lengthwise openings in the cable channels, and you’re organized. And like everything from BlueLounge, they’re aesthetically designed to complement, and not overwhelm, their surroundings.
Sometimes simple is just better.
It turns out that GPSs aren’t the only handy gadgets to have suctioned onto your interior windshield these days. I just met the newest addition to our solar power family of products, and I have to say, I’m quite pleased to make its acquaintance. Meet the Car and Boat Multi-Device Solar Charger.
Figures I’d like the Car and Boat Solar Charger – after all, our company is based in South Florida, a region that is widely acknowledged to be the Land of, well… cars and boats (flashy ones). And lots of sun. So it’s the perfect fit! But global coordinates aside, this mobile sidekick will work great anywhere that there’s a steady source of daylight.
As I mentioned before, this extremely novel and useful charger suctions onto your windshield, which puts it in perpetual sunbathing mode. That means it’s continuously charging, so you have the power to recharge cell phones, GPS units, mobile video games and more, anytime, anywhere. This may be the greatest thing to happen to road trips since Red Bull.
The Car and Boat Solar Charger comes with a retractable adapter cable and 4 interchangeable connectors (micro USB, mini USB, Nintendo™ 3DS and Sony PSP®), so that you can directly connect the charger to almost any mobile gadget. Other features include a red LED charging indicator, so you know when it’s charging, and a flashing blue LED, which does nothing more than mimic the look of a car alarm light so that you’re vehicle’s a little safer when you’re not around to watch it (love that!).
Reel-A-Pail Quickwinder: The Fast-Action Cable Winder That Puts a Protective Shell Around Stored Cables
I’ve pretty much had it with the old “thumb-crook-to-elbow” cable wind, because even though that old standby is a fast and easy way to turn a long cord into a smallish bundle, I’ve found that in most cases, the cable loops tend to mingle a little too closely, and end up tangled anyway. Sheesh.
So I switched to assorted winders and cable reels, which were great until my husband found out the hard way that reeled cords hanging out on a trailer can come loose when jostled around too much, causing the plug-end of a much-needed extension cord to hang over the side and bounce along the road asphalt in such a way that said plug arrives at its destination looking like someone tried to put it down a garbage disposal. Sheesh again.
I had been beginning to think that cord reels have to be stowed in protective boxes or similar to prevent the cables wrapped around them from unwinding, being scratched up, getting wet or becoming encrusted in dirt, but not to long ago, I ran into I new type of cord winder that’s put a glimmer of hope on the horizon: the Reel-A-Pail® Quickwinder™.
As you’ve probably already guessed, the Reel-A-Pail involves both a reel and a pail, and is indeed quick at winding cables. Just think of it as a heavy-duty cable reel that’s encased in a bucket-like outer shell that keeps stored cable perfectly contained, and protects it from the ravages of dirt, moisture, abrasion and impact. That’s what I’m talking about!
One of the things that I like so much about Reel-A-Pail is that it’s all-inclusive (a package deal that doesn’t require any extra add-ons for complete functionality/protection), comes in several styles and sizes to suit almost any need, and is even versatile when you get down to specific models, as each type can accommodate a range of cable types and sizes. It terms of portable cable storage and organization, you really can’t go wrong.
Depending on which model you choose, the Reel-A-Pail Quickwinder either comes with a flat base that can be bolted down to a trailer, truck bed or floor, or a handy built-in wheeled cart that lets you roll substantial loads of cable wherever they may be needed.