Pelican 1075 Series HardBack Cases: Portable Armor for iPads, Netbooks, and Midsize Gadgets

August 30, 2011 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Gadgets, Tools and Cases 

pelican-hardback-caseYou’ve got a shock-absorbing silicone cover for your cell phone and a laptop case that can shield your notebook computer from everything short of nuclear disaster or heavy artillery, but let me ask you this: who’s looking out for your tablet?

Like both our old friend Billy Joel and the new wave of obsessive couponing that’s spawned a rash of Sunday circular thefts from coast to coast, the world of Gadget Protection tends to go to extremes (Billy, please forgive me for dragging your name into the same sentence as extreme cheapskates… ummmm, I mean couponers). Pocket- and full-sized electronics are still the most widely-owned gadgets out there, so they have tons of covering/carrying options available, but those somewhere-in-the-middle tablets, Netbooks, and iPads don’t have it quite so easy yet.

Luckily, Pelican has looked kindly upon midsize gadgets, with their breakable screens and too-big-to-fit-in-your-pocket designs, and has put together a little something special to keep them safe when you decide to take them on the road with you (and who doesn’t?). The company’s new 1075 Series HardBack™ cases give your tablet or Netbook (or several smaller gadgets) near-indestructable protection that can be slung over your shoulder and carried along for the ride.

If you’re not familiar with the hallmarks of Pelican cases, let me drop a few key words to give you the idea. Watertight. Crushproof. Impact-resistant. Buoyant. Self-equalizing. They’re basically equipped with everything you’ve ever dreamed of and more. One time, we actually took one of their earlier, mini-sized models out into the company parking lot, repeatedly ran it over with a large SUV, and the case suffered nothing more than a few surface scratches. If you’re going to put your precious electronics into anyone’s hands, I strongly suggest they be Pelican’s.

But back to the details. As their name and my earlier description imply, HardBack™ cases are constructed of a rigid outer shell, which is lined with customizable foam to create the perfect cushioned fit for any device. An o-ring seal keeps moisture out, so much so that you can submerge a closed Pelican case to a depth of 3 feet without any problem. Elevation changes aren’t an issue, either, thanks to a built-in pressure equalizing valve that automatically balances internal air pressure.

Kind of makes you wish they made a Pelican Case in your size, doesn’t it?

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FastCap 3rd Hand Support Beam: The Cabinet Installation Assistant that You Don’t Have to Pay

June 28, 2011 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Tools and Cases 

fastcap-3rd-handYesterday afternoon, I officially made the acquaintance of the FastCap 3rd Hand support beam. It was a totally new product to me, but it had the very strange effect of immediately conjuring up a mental snapshot of an insanely ridiculous situation I found myself in about a year ago.

During this little flashback, I found myself back in the middle of a home repair project we were working on that involved hanging a much-heavier-than-it-looked metal cabinet onto a bathroom wall. To make things even more interesting, the section of wall that the cabinet was going on happened to be above a toilet, in a very narrow bathroom alcove that didn’t allow for the use of little luxuries like step ladders. Hmmmmmmm.

So imagine, if you will, my husband standing (and trying to balance) on top of a somewhat unstable toilet, with a power drill in one hand, and a fistful of screws in the other. And me, squeezed sideways between the toilet and side wall, desperately trying to hold up and balance that stupid cabinet, arms shaking under the weight. Awesome. I won’t get detailed with exact quotes from the exchange we had in the process, but suffice it to say that it was heated and liberally laced with profanity, especially when the studs turned out to be in locations other than where we had originally calculated.

At that point, I was sucked back into present day, and found myself staring at the 3rd Hand, wondering where it had been all of my marriage/DIY career.

FastCap’s aptly-named 3rd Hand universal support is made for jobs that usually require a second person (who possesses that requisite third hand) to hold up – and keep steady – cabinets, molding, and other heavy fixtures while someone else does the fastening. It’s adjustable from 5 to 12 feet, can manage up to 150 pounds, and can even be used in conjunction with plastic sheeting to create dust barriers between rooms. Add to that the fact that you don’t have to pay it hourly wages and that it doesn’t get pissed off and storm out if you yell at it during a particularly tense moment, and you have the perfect assistant for a multitude of jobs.

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BES Drywall Protector Plate: Keep Work Holes in Drywall Safe from Cables, Pull Tape and Power Tools

April 20, 2011 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Tools and Cases 

bes-drywall-protector-plateEver done a repair or home improvement project just to find, when you were done, that while the main thing you were set on accomplishing came out great, something else was accidentally damaged in the process? Like maybe you managed to finagle that couch up a tight, curving stairwell, but not without putting a hole in the plaster wall? Or perhaps you refinished your hardwood floors with beautiful results, only to peel the paint off your baseboard molding when you pulled away the painter’s tape that had been protecting it from stray polyurethane? Arrrggghhh!!!

Of course, these examples are purely hypothetical (yeah, right). But apparently I’m not the only goof-up out there taking one step forward, immediately followed by one step back. It’s not something that might be obvious from the get-go, but any sort of through-wall work (cable runs, conduit additions) can turn a necessary but annoying-to-repair drywall cut into an even bigger mess. Think of what would happen if you were to put pressure and friction on the cut edges of a work hole with wiring or pull tape, and how banged up things would get of you kept hitting it with tools and material as you worked. Not too pretty.

That’s where the BES Drywall Protector Plate comes very much in handy. It’s exactly what it sounds like – a plate that installs over drywall cuts to reinforce work holes and provide a protective shield against assault by tools, materials, and hands. Just line it up with your drywall hole, slide the adjustable tabs to lock it in place, and go about your work without constantly worrying that you’re dinging up the sheetrock more than you should be.

The drywall protector plate works with wallboard that’s anywhere from ½ to ⅝ of an inch thick, and is completely reusable. And the best thing is that it maintains the status quo for post-job restoration. There are no screw holes to patch, and no excessive drywall damage to contend with – just repair the work hole (as you expected to do), and enjoy the lack of nasty last-minute surprises.

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Valentine’s Day Gift Ideas for the Geek Who Makes Your Heart Beat Faster

red-bluetoothDon’t ask me how it happened, but by some miracle, Geeky has become the new Sexy. The Conspiracy Theorists out there may surmise that certain tech companies, such as “Orange” and “The-Search-Engine-That-Must-Not-Be-Named” (names have been changed to protect those with powerful legal departments) may have started doctoring water supplies across the nation with geek-seeking aphrodisiac chemicals. Others may say that since we’re all a little gadget-crazy these days, it’s not so weird to pass up human interaction in favor of gaming and social media. Whatever the case may be, certified tech geeks are now making it to the top of “Most Desirable Valentines” lists everywhere, so that begs the question: what do you buy the Apple-Lover of Your Eye?

Chocolates? Sorry… they melt on fingers, and then smudge up computer keyboards. Flowers? Hellooooooooo, not unless they have a Web interface. A romantic dinner for two? Impossible: that would require forcible removal, possibly surgical in nature, from one’s laptop or smartphone. Looks like we’d better give you a few suggestions on how to spark gift-induced romance with your geeky sweetheart.

Being the crew of tech nerds that we are, a few of us at put together a list of His and Hers Valentine gifts with a decidedly techy twist. From iPhone cord organizers and Bluetooths (or is it Blueteeth?) to solar chargers and USB hubs, our Geekentine’s Day gifts are creative, affordable, and may be just what it takes to score a non-virtual smooch or two.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

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Wraparound Sleeving Installation Tool: Forget Fumbling, and Get Zipping

December 14, 2010 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Braided Sleeving, Tools and Cases 

wraparound-installation-toolWraparound (or “split”) braided sleeving is one terrific way to tame and hide cables. If you’ve never used it, it lets you bundle and hide cords inside a sleek-looking woven wrap, but is much easier to use than traditional braided sleeving because it’s split down the side. That slit lets you slide cables in along its length, instead of slowly inching the braided sleeving over them like you have to with the expandable kind. To sum it up, it’s a lot like wire loom, but instead of being made out of hard plastic, wraparound sleeving soft, woven, and extra flexible.

But despite its softness and lack of sharp edges, split wraparound sleeving can, like wire loom, be quite a pain in the tokus to install. It’s no hard to do, per se, just time-consuming… especially when long lengths are involved. That’s why Bentley-Harris is making an ingenious little device known as the Woven Wraparound Installation Tool.

Let me just say that inserting cables into split wrap by hand versus using a gadget like this is like trying to clear 6 inches of snow off your driveway with a toy beach shovel instead of using a snow blower. You can do things the slow and hard way, or zip through the job (literally) with a wraparound installation tool. Your choice.

The wraparound sleeving tool does a couple of things at once. First, it keeps your cables gathered together for insertion, so that you don’t have to wrestle with them individually. Then, it “zips” them into the sleeving all at once. No inching your way along – just wrap the tool around your cables, insert the tool into the end of the sleeving, zoom it through, and you’re done. I’m serious – I’ve used tools like this on several occasions, and they’re great… you can’t go wrong. Paying around $5 for one of these is way more than worth it when you consider the time and frustration you’ll save.

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Ideal RJ11/RJ45 Telemaster Kit: The “Ideal” Way to Tote Cable Termination Supplies from Job to Job

December 8, 2010 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Network Products, Tools and Cases 

33-704-telemaster-kit-closeupI recently hopped onto an airplane to go visit family, and as I got ready to leave, I realized how frighteningly calculated my carry-on packing and preparations have become. It’s a pretty serious case of TSA-induced OCD. There’s the clear cosmetic bag filled with 3oz (or smaller) bottles, the cell phone, the camera, and the ID and boarding pass, all strategically positioned in the oversized handbag in such a way that they can’t fall out or get swiped, but are ready to whip out (in the order needed) as soon as I get to the security checkpoint. Forget the people who bumble with their shoes, belts and laptops – I have a flight to catch, and I haven’t been sent to the x-ray machine yet.

Not to go on about my travel-induced neuroses; the point is that when you have to take your show on the road, things are always more complicated, and it can be a little disorienting when you have to repeatedly juggle your stuff. It’s one thing to do that when you travel home for the holidays, but when your job depends on it every single day, well… you’ve gotta have a way to keep your act together. Especially if you’re an on-the-go phone or network installer who works on the road, and has to truck around all of the tools and parts needed to tackle each job.

That’s why I really like the IDEAL Telemaster Kit for RJ11 and RJ45 cable terminations. Whether you’re dealing with RJ11 or RJ45, this all-in-one kit has a multipurpose crimp tool that works for 1, 2 and 3-pair RJ11 plugs, and 4-pair RJ45s, as well as assorted stranded modular plugs (45 total) that come separated into their own compartments, so you never have to guess which kind you’re grabbing for. One of my favorite things about the plug compartments is that they make it easy to keep track of inventory – they let you see, at a glance, how many of a certain plug type you have left, which definitely beats scrounging around the bottom of your tool kit for just one more RJ45 connector.

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Gator Rolling Laptop Case: Damage-Free Transport for Up to 8 Laptops

September 16, 2010 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Tools and Cases 

gator-rolling-laptop-caseI moved last week – a whopping 3 miles away from my old house. But from the way that I panicked over the general safety and transport of my laptop, you’d think I was about to go base jumping with the thing strapped to my back. In answer to what you’re probably asking yourself right now, no, I didn’t have the foresight to purchase, say, a laptop case when I got the computer, so the 5-minute drive through some of the tamest streets in the continental US started looking like the thrill rides I so desperately avoid.

I ended up packing the darn thing in the exact middle of an oversized laundry basket full of clean, folded clothes. But I wouldn’t surrender it to the boys who were tossing the rest of our stuff into the back of a pickup truck – instead, I gave the laptop-padding laundry basket the passenger seat of my car, and then personally carried it into the new digs and unloaded it myself. Ridiculous, I know, but how would you feel if your notebook computer was destroyed?

Luckily, apart from moving, it stays home and doesn’t travel, but I’m starting to feel for people who have to regularly fly with a laptop, or even multiple laptops. That has to be a little stressful – plenty of businesspeople have their entire lives (or careers, at least) stored in their notebooks. Luckily, the designers at Gator know a thing or two about electronics transportation, and have come up with the perfect solution: the Roto-Molded rolling laptop case.

Granted, the since the Gator Rolling laptop case can accommodate up to 8 laptops, it’s more than most solo business travelers need, but it’s perfect for government and military transport, or for traveling to trade shows with multiple company-owned laptops. The rotationally-molded polyethylene outer shell is super tough, and the case’s interior is lined with dense foam that’s compartmentalized for 8 laptops, as well as accessories. And just because they knew that these cases will most likely be flying, Gator has equipped them with built-in release valves, which equalize internal and external air pressure during altitude changes. Pretty smart.

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Tie-Matic HD: How to Take Twist Ties to a Whole New Level

tie-matic-hdWhat is it about twist ties that makes us love them so much? Maybe it’s the fact that they’ve always come free with purchase of garbage bags (that’s how I’ve always gotten mine). Maybe it’s that they’re the most idiot-proof method on earth for closing anything. Or maybe it’s because they’re always on the good stuff, like bags of bread, popcorn, and cotton candy. I don’t know. It just seems like they’ve always been there, and always will be, because it’s tough to improve on something so thoroughly useful.

This past weekend, my husband and I finally got around to hitting the local farmers’ market, which we’ve planned on visiting for months. We bit the bullet and shirked the dumb grown-up responsibilities (like working out and home maintenance) that have shackled us for the past 8 or so weekends, headed downtown, and dove into stand after stand of deliciousness. And do you know what? Everything came twist-tied. Yep. We picked up a couple of bunches of basil from a group of up-and-coming young chefs who are about to open their own “farm-to-fork” restaurant, and grow their own herbs and produce. Twist ties. And then there was that huge loaf of artisanal multigrain bread from the extremely hip pseudo-Italian bakery in the next town. Twist ties.

Same thing for flower bouquets, bunches of carrots, bags of cookies, blown-glass pendants attached to display cards – you name it. It was like Twist Tie Mania out there. Someone must have had some pretty sore fingers and wrists from twisting all those things. Unless…

They had something like the Tie-Matic HD, an automated twist tie machine that closes bags and bundles cables in a second (literally), but gives your wrist a break from repetitive twisting motions. This, as it turns out, is how food companies turn out bagged products in high volume without paying little elves to sit up through the night, fastening twist ties. You just keep the Tie-Matic HD filled with rolls of ties, hold your bag (or coiled cables) in the allotted space, and let the automated tying machine spring into action. It reduces labor hours, prevents frustration and repetitive-motion injuries, and saves a lot of money in general. Sounds almost as good as farmers’ market baked goods, doesn’t it?

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Cable Protector Transport Cart: Sometimes the “Lazy Way” is Just Smarter

cable-protector-transport-cartEver picked up a heavy-duty polyurethane cable protector? They’re heavy – sometimes really heavy. Depending on its width and the amount of “ramp” area it has, a typical cord protector can range anywhere from 20 to 100 lbs. Granted, for that type of product, heft is a definite selling point, because it means that the cord protectors aren’t going to be pancaked or pushed around when pedestrians and vehicles go over them. But think about the fact that you almost never need just one cable protector, and that they’re often used on a temporary basis.

Add it all up, and that means some serious cable protector hauling every time you need to set up, break down, or just change configuration. Not that having to break a sweat every now and then is a bad thing, but seeing as how most cable protectors are at lease 3 feet long, they can be a little unweildy to schlep, considering their weight. Moving more than one at a time is, in most cases, not advisable. Now, I know that there are a few people out there (I may or may not be one of them) who think that making multiple trips is lame, and would rather overload themselves in the name of efficiency than have to go back a second or third time. These people tend to end up in pain shortly after entertaining these thoughts. These people need to get a cable protector transport cart.

You heard me. The Yellow Jacket Cord Protector Cart. It can hold up to 12 of the biggest and baddest cable protectors at once, but lets you roll them from Point A to Point B in comfort, instead of juggling them like an idiot and sweating like a pig. And in the event that you just need to store the cord covers for a while instead of immediately setting them up in another location, the cart doubles as the perfect storage rack. When it’s time to put the cable protectors back in action, just wheel them wherever you need them. I hate to say it, but sometimes the “lazy” way really does end up being the smarter way.

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ArmorKraft Decorative Post Sleeves: Traffic Control with a Touch of Class

July 22, 2010 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Tools and Cases 

armorkraft-decorative-post-sleeveNow that I’ve taken a gander at ArmorKraft Decorative Post Sleeves, I’d like to bestow their maker, Eagle Manufacturing, with an honorary new motto: “We Make Crudely Functional Bollard Posts Look Gooooooooood.” Seriously, though – while bollard posts and vertical wooden railroad tie-style stakes may be extremely useful in keeping vehicles from going where they’re not wanted, they don’t look too hot. As a matter of fact, they’re pretty much blots on the landscape. And no one likes that.

Luckily, ArmorKraft Post Sleeves give you a way to keep the traffic-controlling benefits of bollard posts without having to endure the sight of their ugly mugs. As a matter of fact, these sleeves can actually transform raw posts into things of beauty and sophistication. Just slip one over your bollard post, and suddenly you have a structure worthy of, say, a West London park or a country club. It’s like sending your bollard posts to finishing school.

ArmorKraft Post Sleeves have the look of high-end cast iron, but fortunately aren’t bogged down by cast iron’s hefty weight and price tag. Since they’re made of super lightweight HDPE, the post sleeves weigh in at only 8 pounds each, are resistant to chemicals, UV rays and, of course, water, and are more or less maintenance -free. And they’re available in several different designs to suit your taste and setting. There’s Classic, which is perfect for lending a park or garden-like feel to your property; Golf Traditions, which is great for roping off walkways at country clubs and golf courses; and Equestrian, which adds extra ambiance at stables and other horse-centric facilities.

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