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Surrounded by Stuff

Category: Hardware Published on Thursday, 14 February 2013

New 'Stuff' from Newer Technologies, Ooma and AirBac 

Stuff!  Loosely defined as items taking up space in your house or office you KNOW you got for a specific purpose, but are now gathering dust and piling up all around you. Welcome to my world, except my "stuff" consists of many very useful computer accessories, etc. that I never got around to reviewing. So, as a public service, here's a glimpse at a few that you may want to share space with.

The folks at Other World Computing, known basically for their Apple peripherals, want you to think Newer Technology when shopping for any desktop or computer accessories. This line of gadgets runs the gamut from LED desk lamps to computer repair toolkits. A few of the items I've played with (and am still using) include a Seven-Port USB Hub with a four amp power supply ($27.95), a Power2U AC/USB Wall Outlet ($24.95),  a NuGreen LED Desk Lamp ($69.99) and an 11-Piece Nylon Toolkit ($17.95).

The standouts in this quartet are the wall outlet and the desk lamp, both of which are used and abused the most in the Berman universe. The wall outlet consists of two standard wall outlets and two USB outlets. Not surprisingly the USB outlets get the most use for charging all of our portable devices - - - smartphones, tablets and USB-chargeable toys. Gone are the days when we have to hunt for a wall plug to charge all of our geek gadgets. Plus you can charge up to four devices at the same time.

The LED desk lamp is an attractive, flexible neck lamp that features 50 LEDs guaranteed to shed bright light in even the darkest corners for 45,000 hours. It also features a "power ring" that just requires a touch to turn the lamp on or off.

We've also been playing with the new Ooma home phone telephone service. Now, we've tested other VoIP (voice over Internet protocol) services and have, truthfully, been disappointed in their reliability and flexibility (especially when connecting them to alarm systems). Let it suffice to say that the Ooma system belayed all of our doubts about converting any telephone system to VoIP.

We combined three components: The Ooma Telo ($179.99), an Ooma Handset ($59.99), or you can use your own handset, and the Ooma Linx ($49.99). All we had to do was connect the Ooma Telo to our modem/router so it could access the Internet, plug in a handset and activate it online. The Ooma Linx was connected to the alarm system and wirelessly linked to the Ooma Telo, which enabled it to call out to the alarm company in case of a break-in, fire or other emergency. The benefit? Free domestic phone calls, instant email and text alerts when 911 is dialed and you can keep your current phone number.

Last, but not least, we have an upgrade to an old favorite: the AirBac (Price depends and the bag you want). We've been using the AirBac Journey ($99.95) that is designed to hold a notebook computer, a tablet, all of the accessories and any other items essential to your survival. This is our second AirBac (we wore the first one out through overuse) and we were skeptical when its creators told us they had made several improvements to it.

The concept is simple: You fill a bladder in the bag with air and add cushioning to the straps and you get one of the most comfortable backpacks you'll ever use. Simple, right? Well, the folks at AirBac weren't satisfied with just doing that. They took the older concept, which they used to create the original AirBac, and expanded upon it, adding more padding to the straps, making the bladder refillable using an air pump and making it more ergonomic.

The result was further reducing the weight of the load --- and stress --- on your back, the straps' ability to "mold" to your back and a much more comfortable backpacking experience.

More information on these items can be found at, and 

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Attention Facebook users: Check out Michael Berman's Jocgeek fan page at, or follow him on Twitter @jocgeek.  You can also contact him via email at  Mike's blog can also be found on the Huffington Post website at