- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 2, 2002

Little things mean a lot, the old song goes, and that's just as true in computing as anywhere else, I suppose. Recently, I've found several "little things" that are quite helpful in making my computing life and work easier:
Avery's AfterBurner CD labeling system. At $29.99, the package includes one of the easiest-to-use devices for affixing printed labels to compact discs: The printed label includes tabs to hold the label in place as the CD is pressed down. The result is a perfectly applied label.
In itself, that would be enough, but the genius of the AfterBurner system is the supplied "Click'n'Design" software for both PCs and Macs (the Avery folks say both versions are included in the pack). This software allows you to be rather creative with label design and print "full face" labels that use the entire surface area of the label for a design. With a little work, your labels can have an excessively professional appearance.
With CD and digital-video disc burners becoming more and more popular, the need to professionally label discs is important. I don't think you can find a better system than AfterBurner; refill packs in glossy, matte, clear and foil formats are available. Team them up with your creativity and a good ink-jet printer and you have a useful system that is sure to win you praise for your creations. The firm has a Web site for the product, www.avery.com/afterburner/index.html, where product information can be found.
The Plantronics headset/speaker switch is an idea whose time is, frankly, overdue. Most of us have computers with audio output; many of us have a need to alternate between using headphones for dictation, Internet telephony and so forth, and using speakers for gaming, music and listening to Internet radio.
If you have only one set of audio connections on your computer and want to alternate between a headset and speaker, you have a built-in problem: The need to switch between the two devices usually means a trip to the rear of the computer and fiddling with cables. For $20, the Plantronics switch lets you connect both speakers and a headphone and has enough cable length to make the switch an easy-to-reach item on your (physical) desktop.
This is a sensible product that will work with both Macs and PCs, and it's worth your investigation. Someday, I hope, the majority of computers offer multiple connectors for such devices, but until then, this is a good substitute. Details are online at www.plantronics.com.
Sound, Part II: The Olympia Soundbug, $50 from Wave Industries Ltd. (www.soundbug-us.com), suctions onto a flat surface such as table or even a window, connects to an audio jack and produces, well, sound. It's good for presentations, amplifying a cell phone so a crowd can hear or other uses. If stereo sound is desired, two units are needed.
While this isn't, per se, an alternative to desktop speakers, it is a handy means of bringing sound to a larger number of people when needed. The sound quality is good, the device is small and easy to carry (useful for traveling presenters), and the price is right.
The Nex best thing: For your iPAQ hand-held computer, that is, may be the NexiPak add-on from Nexian Inc. The sleeve holds your iPAQ hand-held device and provides two useful benefits: a battery that adds up to 12 hours of power, and two compact flash-card slots to hold wireless antennas, storage devices or whatever is needed.

Write to: Mark Kellner c/o The Washington Times, Business Desk, 3600 New York Ave. NE, Washington, D.C. 20002. Send e-mail to [email protected], or visit the writer's Web page, www.kellner2000.com. Talk back to Mark, live, every Friday from 5 to 6 p.m. EDT on www.adrenalineradio.com.


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