Computer Gadgetry

Here are some things on my computer desk.

Fujitsu Scansnap (I have the earlier S510 model)
If you’ve ever tried to use the scanner on an all-in-one printer, you’ve probably wondered why it was so complicated.  If you’ve got a lot of scanning to do, all those tedious clicks and settings really add up, and it’s worth considering a dedicated device.   All dedicated scanners are not created equal though.  What Fujitsu has done with their Scansnap line is a rare feat in technology: they’ve made something that is actually as simple as they claim.  When I want to scan something with the Scansnap, I flip open the top and bottom tray, put my material in the feeder and hit one button.  Whether it’s one page or many, the scan rapidly completes and I’m asked to name one file then click ok.  It can do double-sided in one pass if you want and it does need tricks like automatic blank pages elimination and auto-rotation.   There are detailed settings under the hood if needed, but in normal use you may never even have to fiddle with them.  I have one of the original S510 models but I’ve set up newer ones for clients and the ScanSnap philosophy of ‘as simple as necessary, but no simpler’ has remained intact over the years.  Highly recommended.

CyberPower CP1000PFCLCD PFC Sinewave UPS 1000VA 600W
I run my whole dual monitor, dual computer setup off of this and it according to the nifty display that can be called up on front panel, I’m using  using 25% of its capacity.  The battery cuts in if the power ever gets ugly, and if the power goes out completely, I can stay up for about a half hour with everything running.  There is an internal fan that spins up keep the battery temperature in line during an outage, but otherwise the unit is dead silent.   Its output is pure sine wave or close to it (see the nice technical explanation here).  The connector layout in the back is very well designed and includes all the ports you’d need for a typical home or office installation.

I used to like APC UPSes, especially the BR900, but within a disturbingly short number of years – typically 3 – everyone of their ‘sealed nonspillable’ batteries has begun leaking sulphuric acid.  I’ve seen 12 cases firsthand so far.  Either the battery construction is too weak or they are running too hot.  Whatever the case, there hasn’t been a recall and it’s made me look elsewhere.  As of this writing I’ve been running this Cyberpower for over a year without any trouble and it definitely does more to maintain a consistent battery temperature after switching over.

Linksys WRT54GL Wireless Router (update: the Asus RT-N12 D1 appears to be a worthy successor)
Before you say anything: If you have a router that looks like this but doesn’t say WRT-54GL on the front then it is not the same thing.  The L means that it’s running a bulletproof Linux operating system on good hardware.  If there is no L then it’s probably running a buggy ZynOS derivative on corner-cut hardware, both of which are sure to result in disappointment.

Now that we have that out of the way, I’d like to say that this is an exceptional router in terms of both its range and reliability.  Linksys marketing would have you believe that this is some kind of pared down, entry level model, but what it actually is is the best thing Linksys have ever made.  To this day it will throw a bigger wifi reception bubble than any 802.11n router I’ve seen, including the ‘top of the line’ Linksys models (or is it Cisco?  make up your mind please).  And while some people are forced to reboot their half baked routers on a weekly basis to stay connected to the internet, the WRT-54GL may never need a restart to ‘un-glitch’.

True, it’s only capable of 802.11g bandwidth but, for the vast majority of users, that 54Mbps pipe is still more twice as big as their cable modem’s most optimistic 25Mbps download speed.   Also, it can’t do the sometimes terribly convenient WPS trick that some wireless printers use to connect initially, but you can always install them the normal way, right?  Yeah maybe the days of this original G are numbered, but then again that’s what they said when 802.11n came out…in 2009, BITCHES!

ATEN 2-Port USB 2.0 DVI KVM Switch with Audio CS62DU
KVM stands for Keyboard Video Mouse and a KVM switch allows you to use one set of of these devices with 2 or more computers.  I’ve dealt with several KVM switches, and owned a few flaky IOGear models, and this one is remarkable in its ability to just work perfectly all the time (IOGear KVMs often have an issue where one computer being off means that the mouse may or may not work).  Instead of switching between computers with a the double tap on Scroll Lock, it has a very nice feeling dedicated button that looks like an iPod Nano.   It costs more than the IOGear competition but the fact that it’s so reliable in addition to having its own slick button makes this totally worth it.  I use it to switch between a Dell Optiplex 390 and a Core i5 2.3GHz Mac Mini with a Logitech MK260 wireless mouse/keyboard set shared between them.

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