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Industry IT Water-Cooler for Power-Users:
Gadgets to Love
Posted 13 years ago on 9/28/2007
Take Away: If you're like me, and most techie types I know, you're something of a gadget collector. I'm always on the lookout for new stuff that'll enhance my life in one way or another. Here are a few recent finds.
 A blog topic from Wes's Blog


I've always had a love/hat relationship with my laptop computers. Addicted to full-sized, ergonomic keyboards, I never have made peace with the stingy little array of buttons that passes for keyboard. The same is true of the built-in pointing devices. They've improved over the years, but I've yet to meet one that compares to even a funky mouse.

So, although I do much of my work on a laptop, I insist on packing around a real keyboard and mouse. My present favorite keyboard/mouse setup is Microsoft's Wireless Laser 6000 bundle. The keys are full-sized, and arranged in a comfortable ergonomic curve. The Wireless Laser Mouse 5000 that was bundled with the keyboard is full-sized, and pleasant to operate. Both are powered by their own AA batteries, and the batteries last a long time.

The wireless receiver plugs into a USB port - and is powered thereby. It has a generously long cable, and sports green LEDs to indicate caps lock, number lock, and function key lock.

When I place a laptop on a standard height desktop, the screen is simply too low for me. Some of my colleagues elevate theirs by parking the laptop on a cooler pad, phone book, or ream of paper. I'd been thinking about getting one of those cooling pads, but procrastination, for once, paid off.

Browsing the office supplies area of a big discount store, I spotted a very clever gadget, marketed by Rubbermaid (but you won't find it on their web site). It's a laptop support made of sturdy wire and metal mesh. The mesh allows for plenty of air circulation at the bottom of the laptop. Better yet, it's hinged at the front and it's angle can be adjusted to raise the laptop's screen to just about any height you want. This product is actually made by Rolodex.

Included is a new Rolodex frature, a nifty box that sports two powered USB sockets, and an AC socket. This snaps into a slot on the back of the stand. Rolodex has standardized the size of these hubs to work with other of their office products.

Rolodex makes several other interesting wire and mesh office accessories, including an intriguing monitor support that had both a shallow drawer - and space beneath where you could slip a laptop or docking station. You can browse their lineup at the Rolodex page here.

Batteries are ubiquitous among my gadget collection. Over time, their cost adds up. Worse, discarding dead alkaline batteries is not very environmentally friendly. Several years ago, after trying a couple of the popular "off the shelf" brands of NiMH rechargeable batteries, I went on a search for better batteries and chargers.

When I first came across my now favorite NiMH batteries and chargers, they carried the Maha brand. They now seem to be phasing out the Maha name in favor of "PowerEx." Their batteries are great, but it's their chargers that are the real standout.

PowerEx offers a broad line of "smart chargers," that recharge batteries quickly - while being kind to the batteries, too. One feature I really appreciate is the deep discharge cycle. This is great for keeping your batteries in top conditio, and PowerEx includes instructions on how this feature can be used to revive an otherwise "dead" battery.

Best of all, PowerEx batteries and chargers are competitively priced. Thomas Distribuiting is where I've been getting mine. They carry several other brands of batteries/chargers. They also offer very reasonably priced replacement batteries and AC power converters for digital cameras. Browsing the Thomas site is well worth the time.

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Blog Contributed By Wes Peterson:

Wes Peterson is a Senior Programmer Analyst with Prestwood IT Solutions where he develops custom Windows software and custom websites using .Net and Delphi. When Wes is not coding for clients, he participates in this online community. Prior to his 10-year love-affair with Delphi, he worked with several other tools and databases. Currently he specializes in VS.Net using C# and VB.Net. To Wes, the .NET revolution is as exciting as the birth of Delphi.

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