Mini Optical Mouse for Laptops… So Long, Touchpad!

July 6, 2010 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Computer Accessories, Gadgets 

mini-optical-mouseNot too long ago, I made the transition from desktop to laptop, and for the most part, it’s been great. The laptop is much smaller, leaves me with more space, and I can pick it up and take it with me whenever (and wherever) I want to. The only time that I miss my old desktop PC is when I’m having a really mouse-heavy day – man, can that touchpad get tedious. It works fine, so I can’t complain about that, but like many others out there (you, perhaps?), I’m sort of hardwired to use a regular mouse. In the sort of way that when I have to, say, navigate to and click on a few hundred links, I can start to feel a little fried.

That’s why I’m planning to get my hands on this little number in the very near future. The Mini Optical Mouse. It’s tiny, cute, and unlike the old roller-ball mouse that I used to wrestle with (sound familiar?), it uses optical laser technology that doesn’t jam up on you. Oh, and one more thing – its cord is also retractable, so everything packs up nice and easy when it’s time to ready the old laptop bag for an adventure.

I have a friend who’s quite the business jet-setter, and she swears by this thing. She does an awful lot of work perched at hotel room desks and airport laptop stations, but having the Mini Optical Mouse along for the ride helps her hit a level of productivity that’s much more on par with a regular day at the office. The faster she can work on the road, the less time she has to spend slogging through backlogged e-mails and reports when she’s back in the office. I’d shell out $30 for that.

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3M X20 Digital Projector

x20-digital-projectorThere’s nothing like a projected image to make you feel like you’re at the movies. When I was a kid, it was always a thrill to see the media center lady roll a projector into the classroom after we got in from recess, because it meant we were taking a break from the drudgery of Science and Social Studies, and getting to slack off with a few action-packed educational film strips instead. And then there was that time about 10 years back when, despite my being a mature grownup, I jumped right in when my Dad hauled out his work projector (typically reserved for presentations) to entertain my sick, stuck-at-home little brother – let me tell you, the best way to watch Ice Age is on the living room wall.

But those childhood (and kid-at-heart) warm-fuzzies toward projectors in general began to change as I left college and became immersed in things like real-world jobs and the multimedia business presentations that they often require. I’ve sat in more than one crowded conference room, looking on as guest presenters fumbled with laptop-to-projector connections as the hour of meeting commencement, pointing and laughing in derision, jogged right past them. Yikes. And these were intelligent, capable people. But technical difficulties will happen, especially if you’re an outsider dealing with other peoples’ electronics. It’s painful to watch.

That’s why I think that the X20 Digital Projector by 3M looks so incredibly useful and promising. What better way to avoid technical difficulties than to bring your own projector along? I know, I know – it sounds like a schlepping nightmare, but it’s not at all. To start out with, the X20 is little: only 11 by 8 by 2 inches (approximately). And at around 4 pounds, it’s definitely one of the lighter projectors out there. Did I mention that it comes with a carrying case? That makes it a natural for travel. But what I really like is that it can help cut down on how many other things you have to haul around.

While the X20 and it’s cousin, the WX20, both offer (of course) connections for laptops and other devices, the X20 also has USB ports for a mouse and flash drive – perfect for computerless .jpg presentations. And you know what that means, right? Leave the laptop at home!

Sorry, this product has been discontinued.

3M Notebook Privacy Filter

April 2, 2010 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Computer Accessories, Gadgets 

3M-notebook-filterWe’re coming up on Easter in a couple of days, but today I’m going to track back a couple of weeks to a very cool experience I had on St. Patrick’s Day (and no, it didn’t involve green beer or Bailey’s). A few hours before tucking into a plate of corned beef and potatoes, I got the chance to be a guest on Debbie Mahler’s Technical Tidbits podcast show on BlogTalkRadio. It was great – definitely one of the most enjoyable radio interviews I’ve ever been a part of! For that particular show, the topic was computer, laptop and data security, and it was my job to give listeners tips on how to prevent thier laptops and personal information from being stolen.

Throughout the course of the show, a bunch of cool products made their way into our conversation, but there’s one in particular that I thought would be totally blog-worthy: the 3M Notebook Privacy Filter. This is probably my favorite pick for all of you serial public laptop users out there. You know who you are: the folks who are zoned out in front of their notebook computers in Starbucks, Paneras, and airports the world over. The ones who are so intent on their screens that they wouldn’t even know it if some shifty-eyed shyster were lurking around, trying to steal glances at personal information over their shoulder or from the next seat.


You heard me. And clean up that mouthful of Frappuccino® you just spewed all over your keyboard. Bad people can steal account numbers, passwords, and entire identities by peeking at the right laptops at just the right moments. Many of us will squeak by without ever becoming a victim in that manner, but you never know. And yes, I know it’s beyond cliched, but better safe than sorry.

Back to the notebook privacy filter. It’s so simple, so easy to use, that the whole thing is almost comical. It’s just an overlay that you slide over your laptop screen. Once that baby’s in place, things suddenly become a lot more secure. Sitting in front of your laptop and gazing at the screen head-on, everything’s clear as day, as it should be for the legit user. But should someone try to sneak a peek from an angle, all they can see is dark screen. No passwords, no Social Security numbers, no photos – just dark. I don’t know about you, but I’m beginning to see the light…

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