Tuesday, April 22, 2008
As with last week, this one is extremely busy and may see me miss a post or two. This is because I am getting ready for a scientific conference which starts around the same time as the deadline for another major project I have undertaken.
On that note, my first two recommendations are for inexpensive things that have really made my life easier lately, and my last (and best) is free.
Belkin USB-to-PS/2 Adapter
I began this busy period with quite a bang: One evening as I was tapping away on the keyboard of my frankenputer, it suddenly died! The next day, I learned that my notion of quick repair wasn't possible. On top of that, my time window for doing such an upgrade -- or even shopping for a new machine -- passed quickly. I've been making do with our laptop since.
The single best way to make life on a laptop bearable is to plug in a mouse -- but the small USB mouse I bought for that purpose last year went belly-up, too. On a later trip to Wal-Mart, I looked around for a replacement, only to find all the cheap mice had sold out. I was about to leave empty-handed -- "I refuse to pay forty bucks for a mouse!" -- when I noticed this little device hanging in the rack nearby.
Beautiful! For fifteen bucks, I got to use my old PS/2 mouse with the laptop -- and the old PS/2 keyboard. I hadn't even thought about also using separate keyboard, but my back and shoulders certainly appreciate having the keyboard in my lap again! And the added bonus is that the two peripherals use only one of the two USB slots.
Cepacol Maximum Numbing Throat Lozenges
As if my computer turning into a pumpkin wasn't enough, I came down with a really nasty cold a week or so later. That knocked me out of commission for the better part of two days. Bad enough, but what I really dread about colds is that for the next several weeks, I get this horrendous residual cough, and often chest or back pains from the resulting muscle strain.
This was going on one day when I was at the barber, so she offered me one of these. I took one just to be polite, but boy! Knocked that cough out! I picked up a pack on the way home, and one in the morning over the next few days all but eliminated the cough. (In my case, I think the forcefulness of the coughs irritates my throat, leading to more coughing. By breaking this vicious circle, the lozenges brought more than just immediate relief.)
There is one caveat: These contain benzocaine, so eating them like candy is a bad idea. In fact, the package has directions for use. Nevertheless, I know what I will be buying the next time I get a cold!
Okay. This is not really a product recommendation, but after I read this article in the Houston Chronicle about an incredibly time and money-intensive social networking site, my reaction was quite a bit along these lines. Heh, heh!
And yes, best of all, it's free!