Maryland Bar Bulletin
Publications : Bar Bulletin : December 2006

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 TECHNOLOGY TALK:

BY JOHN ANDERSON  

Gadgets That You Want, Need or Never Heard About

Last month I was asked to be a presenter at the 8th Annual Solo & Small Firm Conference. My fellow presenters, Ronald Jarashow and Mary Molinaro, offered many useful and practical items as part of our "60 PC, Gadgets, Software, Utilities Tips". While our entire presentation is only available to attendees of the conference, I thought I'd share a couple of the more interesting gadgets from the presentation.

My gadgets were more on the lighter side. I tried to showcase some items that I discovered that people might not have herd about or thought of before. Some items are just hitting shelves in Japan and won't make it to our shore's stores until the next holiday season. Technology is great for lovers of gadgets because, while it might be possible to do something, gadget inventors never ask themselves if it should be done, and I love it.

This doesn't mean that all the items on my list were impractical (one was one of those "Why didn't I think of that?" items that make perfect sense). Most everyone has a shredder to mangle all of their discarded paperwork, but what do you do with that stack of CD-Rs you use to back up all your data? Do you put on your protective eyewear and attempt to smash them with a hammer or simply keep them forever? Well, the Alera shredder has two solutions. The first is a CD defacer which will sand off the surface of the disk. The other is a full-size shredder with the muscle to turn your used CDs and DVDs into shiny little bits.

The other office item is a little odd. Forget all that talk about the paperless office – what you want is the stapleless office. This little guy will attach up to five pieces of paper by creating a small slot in the paper, and then pulling the slot through and inserting this tab on the back of the paper. It comes from many different vendors in a variety of colors and is the perfect item to slap your firm name or logo on for hand outs and giveaways.

The other seemingly practical item that tops everyone's cool list is a biometric personal password manager. Biometrics is the use of fingerprints, retinal scans or voice-recognition to identify a person. The idea is to use your fingerprint to access your list of passwords for different websites and computer programs. However, I was crestfallen upon discovering that the TV show "Mythbusters" was able to overcome an industrial-grade fingerprint scanner with nothing more than a photocopy of a fingerprint. I know that if someone discovers my password I can change it, but what do I do if someone gets my fingerprint? Biometrics work, but only when something you are (such as your fingerprint) is combined with something you know (like a password). While it is still convenient when used with items not of a personal nature, it just doesn't seem as "James Bond" as it use to be.

A lot of the other gadgets I discussed were mostly about how portable movie players were getting more powerful, whether you watch movies on your PSP (Playstation Portable), your iPod or portable DVR (Digital Video Recorder). I talked a little about satellite radio and the new Sony Walkman, which looks like a colorful USB memory stick. The interesting thing about the new Walkman is that you can listen for three hours on a three-minute charge or up to 27 hours after a full charge.

The last "normal" item was the newest cell phones to hit Japan. One new phone will not only play mp3 music files but also be able to access satellite radio.

Normally, everything we see coming from Japan gets smaller and smaller, so I was surprised when I saw a new phone that was huge in comparison to its brethren. The riddle was solved when I found out that this phone has an eight-gigabyte hard drive that can store 1,600 mpr3 music files, or about 16 movies. Did I mention that it also has a two-megapixel camera?

I did say that was that last normal item, didn't I? Good, because up on the gadget menu is the Segatoys iFish. The iFish is a speaker for the iPod or other audio players, and much more. It has a clear body and a blue translucent tail. It also as five LED lights that flash in different patterns when music is played through iFish. When not plugged into your iPod, it will play several tunes and ambient music, and it will spin and wag its tail to the beat while flashing an array of colors. It will provide hours (or minutes) of fun, depending on whether or not you have a cat.

The last gadget shown was a miraculous new device called the DVD rewinder (yes, it actually does exist). If you just hate rewinding your DVDs manually after watching them, simply snap the disc on top of the "Centripetal Velocity Spindle", press the button and watch in wonder as your disc spins up. It even has its own rewinding sound. Works on CDs, too!

Hey, I never promised to enrich your life with these discoveries. I just hope I brightened your day and showed you some things you probably never knew existed.

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Publications : Bar Bulletin: December 2006

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