Managing a rat's nest of tech toys
Several simple solutions address the problems created by the many clever gizmos we use in our jobs
I paid a lot of money for my gadgets — of which I have many — so I always store and transport them in orderly, secure cases. This ensures they will be safe from damage and ready to use on a moment’s notice.
Yeah, I’m lying. My stuff often winds up in a tangled rat’s nest of cables, adapters, and chargers — ”wall warts” that don’t match with whatever I’ve brought with me. Yours are likely no different.
Toward organizing my toys better and having them last longer, I’ve added a few items to the travel case inventory. I’ve found these keep things more secure and easy to get to when I need them.
You’ll never have to buy another overpriced customized case for the latest version of your WhizBang 2000.
Grid-It makes panels sized to fit sun visors, three-ring binders, briefcases, full-size suitcases, and others. They also have a collection of more specialized cases for iPods/iPhones, BlackBerrys, laptops, and other unique collections. Prices range from around $10-$35, depending on size. You can order from Amazon.com or one of my favorite computer gadget merchants, Cyberguys, among others.
I travel with an assortment of cables from Zip-Linq. These come in just about every connector combination you can think of, but the attached cables are contained within a spring-loaded spool. To use them, grab the connectors and pull in opposite directions. When you’re done, pull the connectors to the max limit and the cables wind back into the spool. Instead of a tangled cable, you have two connectors with a spool in between.
There are copycat brands, but I’ve always been disappointed with them. Pay the extra couple of bucks and get something reliable. Cyberguys has a great collection of Zip-Linqs, as do other vendors.
Recently, I found several low-cost options on Amazon.com. These are small plastic cases that hold four AA or AAA cells securely, and the ones I bought have markers that make it easy to differentiate the used batteries from the fresh ones. They all run about $2.00 each, although some are sold individually and others in packs of five or so.
The good/used markers on the cases serve a valuable purpose — they make it easier to recycle the batteries. You can throw them in the trash, but know that batteries contain some metals that not only contaminate the soil, but are in limited supply. Recycling moves those metals back into the process, where they can be used again. Just about any electronics or hardware store will accept batteries for recycling, and you don’t have to sort them first.
Tim Dees is a retired police officer and the former editor of two major law enforcement websites who writes and consults on technology applications in criminal justice. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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