About Me


Dick DeBartolo, MAD's Maddest Writer, and co-host of The Giz Wiz at GizWiz.TV, The Giz Wiz on ABC's World News Now, and on Tech Guy Labs with Leo Laporte on TWiT.tv. But wait, there's More »

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    After more than a dozen years as "Special Correspondent" - once a month, for a full hour, where I joined Craig Crossman and later in the series, Ben Crossman on Computer America, it was time to take a break from the series. But this longest running nationally syndicated talk show continues on! You can find the latest shows here: www.computeramerica.com


    New gadgets you may not know about!


    Utility knifes don't have to be scary!

    My fear about utility knifes is that someone is going to put one in my tool without retracting the blade completely. Then while reaching around for tools I'm going to cut myself. Ouch!! That shouldn't happen with the new Rapid Edge from Rapid Tools. It's features heavy-duty die-cast construction with excellent ergonomic comfort BUT it has a feature that I think is great! It's called Safe-T-Vue. As soon as the blade tip comes out, an LED light alert comes on! It also features a Slide-n-Lock button so you can have different secure cutting blade lengths. The light does more than just alert you to the exposed blade; it's great for cutting carpet, drywall, etc. in dark corners of your home. The LED light illuminates the area you're working in. It makes it easy to follow any line you're cutting along. It includes 3-patented Rapid Edge serrated blades. And the cost is $8 or less.


    Rapid Tools also makes the Shark. It's the first & only tool to combine a utility knife with a wire stripper. It comes with 5 Rapid Edge blades, their own the patented, serrated blade that lasts longer & cuts easier. The pliers-style, wire-stripper grip locks securely into the body of the knife when not in use. There's a spring-loaded wire cutter that opens easily and cuts comfortably. The precision ground stripping holes easily remove insulation from 10 to 18 gauge wires. And built in also is a wire cutter & crimper. The one-button, quick blade change is easy & saves time. No tools required to change the blades. And the four-blade storage compartment opens wide for easy blade access. It's under $20.


    Hear this Netcast: www.twit.tv/dgw816

    Acoustibuds shown installed on a pair of regular earbuds.

    Earphones or ear aches?

    What's with the majority of those ear buds that are shipped with iPods, and many of other major MP3 players. The audio isn't that bad, but they seem to be designed to fit about 1% of the ears people have. I haven't met one person yet who said: "Wow, the ear buds I got with my MP3 player are SO comfortable!" There's a new product that can go a long way to make those ear buds you already have, a lot more comfortable. They're calledAcoustibudsand they fit better, stay in the ears and improve the sound quality. John Burton, who owns the company said: "With all of the unique shapes and sizes of ears, achieving this goal without discomfort or the bulk of over-the-ear hooks gives our team a great sense of accomplishment. The surprise came when the twin cone core idea was added for high-fidelity acoustics and in combination with the exceptional sound isolation created by the multi-barrier fins." Come on, he's the president of the company. My personal opinion? I like these a lot. Acoustibuds only come in two sizes and that's enough. The thin, flexible silicone rubber fins are angled to assure optimum position and contact within many different types and size ears. They will not fit on every kind of earphone, however. Acoustibuds are designed to fit "flat faced" ear-buds like those that come with your iPods, iPhones, mp3 players and some cell phones. They are not developed to work with in-ear headphones. The price is good too. A retail package includes one of each of the two sizes of noise-isolating earphone adapters and two storage pouches. Price is under $15.00 They're available in white or black, and can be purchased on Amazon.com.


    The company's website is: www.acoustibuds.com

    Have sensitive documents you want to get rid of?

    The Staples Micro-Cut Shredderis an ultra-quiet, jam resistant micro-cut shredder. With its titanium cutter blades, it turns checks, statements, and documents into confetti. There's no worry someone is going to reassemble personal documents and steal sensitive information. Staples says the shred size is: 2/32" X 12/32". I still call it confetti. A really good feature is that this device can also shred staples, credit cards, paper clips, CD's and DVD's. And it works great. I got rid of every old DVD I didn't need because it's fun watching this shredder work. This is one of the higher end models from Staples. It features a blade guard and a lockout key. I have is the 10-sheet micro cut model. It has a large 4.3 gallon bin. The viewing window glows blue when shredding and shuts off when the bin is about 3/4 full. It may have been designed that way so it's easier to empty. The bin must be back in place for the shredder to operate. A 60 decibel noise level is quiet for a shredder, especially one that shreds DVD's. I like the auto shut off too. When the last paper has gone through the blades, it stops the motor. The unit is still on, with all the controls illuminated, but the motor stops. AntiJam with SmartSense technology is clever too. It prevents jams before they start. If you put in too many papers at once, it stops and flashes an icon to let you know you should put in fewer sheets. Price is $199.99, but right now there is a rebate offer of $50. I notice the rebate offer stops & then starts again, so keep your eyes on the Staples ads if you're interested in one. Staples has a wide range of shredders all the way down to a tabletop model for about $50 or so.


    Hear this Netcast: www.twit.tv/dgw808


    The MINI Cooper adds an electric version, the MINI E.

    Carey owns a Mini Cooper and almost every year at some point during CES he picks me up at the Hilton so we can go for a meal, compliments of Computer America. He's taken me to iHop in his Mini Cooper, to Burger King in his Mini Cooper and even to Pizza Hunt in his mini Cooper!  At the NY Auto Show I looked the Smart Car, which is really small. Carey's mini Cooper is not small, but then again it's not electric. I like the Mini-Cooper and at the Auto show I saw the new Mini E, the all-electric version. It's not on sale yet, but there.s a pilot program offering loan agreements to select companies and customers in California, New Jersey, and New York. 500 cars will be available at the initial introduction, about half on each coast. I spoke to one of the project managers of the Mini E and he gave me some facts and figures. He said the car is capable of going 0 to 60 mph in 8.5 seconds and has a top speed of 95 mph. The car can run 100 to 150 miles on one charge depending on driving conditions. I asked if the Mini-E could be charged anyplace there was AC power. It turns out that it can only be charged at its own charging station which is included in the lease price. BMW will install the system in your garage. (You must have a garage to be considered for a lease! Carey does have a garage!) The battery pack weighs 573 pounds, which pretty much takes up all the room behind the front seat. But there still is some room for storage in the trunk area. Charge times can be as little as 2.9 hours with the supplied 240-volt 48-amp wall box. 110-volt household power really isn't an option because it would take almost 24 hours to fully recharge the Lithium-ion batteries. Power for the Mini-E is a 150 kW (204 hp) electric motor, which is 100% emission free. And now for the bad news. You must fill out an application online - it's a one year closed end lease. If accepted (and that process may be closed by now) the price of the lease is $850 a month! And you provide your own liability insurance, while BMW provides the collision insurance.


    Hear this Netcast:


    The real Mini-E is bigger than shown here!

    Here�s a neat green gadget. (It costs some green too, but it�s neat!)

    Way, way back on Daily Giz Wiz 144 I talked about The Voltaic Solar Backpack. It uses solar panels to charge a battery pack inside the backpack.That product is still available, but now they�ve added the Voltaic Generator.This is the first solar bag powerful enough to charge a laptop! The built-inhigh-efficiency solar cells charge a custom designed battery pack. It will also charge cell phones and most other hand held electronics. The solar panel generates up to 15 watts using 20% efficient cells. That�s enough to fully charge the Voltaic battery in about 5 hours according to the company. Thebattery pack stores the equivalent of a typical laptop charge and automatically delivers the required output voltages. It'sshipped with many common adaptors for connection to laptops, phones and other handheld devices. An optional reconfigured MagSafe adapter is available for MacBooks. Weight: 4.5 lbs (2,050 grams) including solar panel and battery. Dimensions: 17"x12"x 3.5" (43x31x9cm) It will hold up to a 17" MacBook Pro. And this is neat: An indicator light inside the handle glows to show when the panels are generating a charge. Even the fabrics are made from recycled PET (soda bottles), which is tough, water resistant and eco-friendly. A note of caution: Some laptop brands do not charge via the Voltaic Generator, so check the company�s website for more info. Returns will be accepted for refund of any bags in new condition for up to 60 days from purchase. $499.00

    If you like to build your own solar project, here�s more interesting news from the company: Voltaic has spent a lot of time designing high quality solar panels, batteries, adapters and other components for our solar bags. We encourage you to use our components for your own solar project. If you are willing to provide us with pictures or links of the finished product, please contact us at
    diy@voltaicsystems.com with a description. We will give a wholesale discounts on all components. Let us also know if there are parts you need but do not see here.


    Hear this Netcast:

    At look back and a look forward.

    Back on March 7th, 2009, I talked about the Porter Case. It was on Dick�s Gadget Warehouse Friday. The Porter Case is a clever rolling suitcase that converts to a cart so you can pile your other luggage on top. The original Porter Case is still available, but it�s a bit pricey at about $300. But the company has come out with a more affordable line of Porter Cases PCX Lite Line. I recently started using the Porter Case PCX Lite 21" Standard Case w/Cart. Like the other suitcases in the line, the PCX can still be used as a cart, but there�s an extra easy step for the conversion. On the lower price line you disconnect the handle and reconnect it in a different place. It�s very easy to do and the new easier engineering cuts the cost of the bag to about $149.00. It carries a little less weight than the original, about 100 pounds � but how much stuff do you have?? It fits easily into the overhead bin on an airplane with no problem. One side of the case has a semi-hard construction to carry the 100 pounds on top. Wide high flotation ball bearing wheels make it easy to navigate and there�s a single button control extension handle. There�s a solid 5/16" steel axle, bag liner with lid elastic cross over strap, and side & end carry handles. I like this suitcase a lot.


    Hear this Netcast: www.twit.tv/dgw814



    A Nite Lite that helps teach kids when to go to bed & when to get up!

    The folks who designed the Good Nite Litedesigned it for both kids and parents. The kids will love the �moon� and the �sun� and the parents will like what it does to help them get more sleep in the morning. It seems that toddlers, from about age 3 to 5 or so, often wake up starting around 4 am. Then they go into their parent�s room to see it�s time to get up! That�s where the Good Nite Lite comes in. It helps toddlers start to understand the concept of night and day. And it gives them some guidance as to when it�s okay to get up and wake the folks. This clever device uses a simple smiling sun or moon to help young kids understand when they should be sleeping or awake! The six-inch light contains a timer that that lights up the blue sleepy moon to signify it�s bedtime, and then changes to the yellow sun at a time you, the parent sets. The bright sun lets your child know it�s okay to get up and wake you. This hopefully lets parents get more sleep. A nice �green� feature allows the Good Nite Lite to shut off during the daytime to save energy. A small battery (included) runs the clock, and AC from the outlet powers the moon/sunlight. Parents I told about this gadget thought it was great idea! $34.99

    For more information, visit the Good Nite Lite website: www.goodnitelite.com

    Hear this Netcast: www.twit.tv/dgw801


    Sensor Plug � A simple device that can help save electricity easily.

    This is pretty easy to use! No wiring, no batteries, no tools. SensorPlugis like having an extra pair of hands when you need them! It�s a motion-sensing outlet that uses a passive infrared motion sensor. Plug in a light, or whatever you like, and it�s triggered �on� when you walk past. I want my Sensor Plug outside a closet full of gadgets with a small spotlight plugged into it. As I approach the closet door with an arm full of boxes the light goes on. It stays on as long as it senses movement and then shuts off automatically.You can adjust the auto shut off time from 2 to 6 minutes, but it will keep the light or device on for as long as it senses movement. Mine�s been a big help already, and I thinking on uses another one as a burglar alarm. It sure will get someone�s attention when they enter a room and a big light comes on! It�s rated up to 600 watts. Installation is as easy as plugging SensorPlug into a wall outlet. It�s a three prong plug so it can be grounded. It comes with a spare fuse and a screw for securing to the wall plate, if desired. Sensor Plug costs $19.95/2 for $35.00. This is a neat device.


    Hear this Netcast:

    This is a great idea! The Zircon Repeater Ruler

    You climb the ladder to take measurements with your tape measure. Once you�re up there you realize you don�t have paper and pencil. And even if you do, once you write the figures down you can�t find the paper they're written on! That won�t happen with this clever tape measure. You record the measurements with the built-in voice recorder of the Repeater grade tape measure. It�s simple to use, just press the big red record button and you can capture up to 20 seconds of measurements wherever you are. The Repeater comes in different lengths and each one has a tough plastic outer casing and locking mechanism for tape control. While the sound quality isn't a replacement for your MP3 player, all you really need it to do is plays back the measurements you recorded! I did a web search and although it�s no long on the Zircon website, you can find it here for about $20.


    Hear this Netcast: www.twit.tv/dgw795

    Here's a brand new gizmo from Zircon: http://www.gizwizbiz.com/dickiesquickies.html

    Yet another new kind of flashlight!

    Most likely you have an emergency flashlight in your car. But will it work when you need it is another story. Usually the batteries are weak or worse yet, dead. There�s a new device, theUSB Flashlight-erthat not only solves the dead battery problem, but also adds an extra feature for gadget lovers. The Flashlight-er is an in-dash, rechargeable flashlight that allows you to also charge any small electronic device that uses a USB to USB adapter. Keep it plugged in to charge your phone, PDA, Blackberry, etc., and when you need a flashlight, just remove the Flashligh-er. Three LED�s automatically switch on to give you a small powerful flashlight. Michael Lifshitz, from Flashlight-er told me it�s usable with all of the newest Smart phones, including the iPhone! The Flashlight-er is small so it sticks out less than an inch from the dash. That�s much less than a typical lighter plug device. The USB Flashlight-er comes with the one-amp USB plug which should charge devices back to full power quickly. Michael said that if you plug an iPod with a dead battery into the Flashlight-er, it should come back to full strength as quickly as a home charger would take. Cost is $29.95, plus S & H. For more information, visit www.theFlashlighter.com.

    Hear this Netcast: www.twit.tv/dgw809

    Light your way to family harmony.

    That�s what it says on the Johnny-Lightwebsite: �Lighting the way to family harmony�. When �dad� lifts the seat, the light comes on�it goes out when he puts the seat back down�So it�s a good reminder for dad. It�s easy to install, with no tools needed. There�s a hidden switch that lights toilet bowl when the toilet seat is raised and then shuts it off when the toilet seat goes down. It�s designed to end the bathroom battle of the sexes by reminding us guys to put the toilet seat down. And this part from the company�s website is pretty funny: Eliminates annoying "fall-ins"! This must happen when you go to sit down not realizing the seat is up. If I remember correctly, according to the little video on the company�s website, 45,000 people have toilet injuries every year! The Johnny-Light is a soft green, so it won�t jar your eyes in the middle of the night. DURACELL batteries included. $13.95, plus $1.75 S & H. It�s also available at Lowe�s. Available to buy, I don't thinkit�sinstalled on the toilets there!


    Hear this Netcast:

    A Toy That Can Help The Environment! It�s Mary Meyer's Fuzz that Wuzz

    Here�s a way give a child a cuddly animal while you help the environment. Meet the Fuzz that Wuzz! The very cute Snifflzzzdog, is one of 11 new Fuzz that Wuzz toys from environmentally conscious toy maker Mary Meyer. These cuddly critters � the collection includes puppies, bears, a bunny and a moose� are all made from recycled products. The stuffing and fabric, for example, are 100% recycled plastic bottles. Depending on the size of the toy, they contain 10 to 15 recycled bottles. And they really are cute! I didn�t plan on using these critters on my Toy Fair spot for World News Now on ABC TV, but as I walked by their booth at the Javits Center, I had to stop to ask about them. That�s when I heard the whole recycle story. I think it�s a really great idea. Depending on the critter, they retail for about $20 to $25.




    It�s cheap, and it works!

    We�ve all done it, unplugged some equipment on the desk and then tried to grab the cables you just unplugged from sliding off the back of the desk and onto the floor. Well Keep-a-Cable is a simple solution to help you manage your wayward charging cords and peripheral connectors. This simple device is made from high-density polyethylene and its fitted with notched holes at the top. Using a very high strength 3M adhesive it mounts to the edge of any flat surface like the back edge of your desk. The five holes at the top of the Keep-a-Cable are designed to keep cables from sliding off the desk. It�s an inexpensive and effective solution to chasing cables behind desks, equipment cabinets and under tables. It even has holes for screws if you want to make a more permanent installation. Keep-a-Cable are available in single wire, five wire and long strips to accommodate everything from a single cell phone charger to an entire rack of servers or other electronic equipment. A 5 wire/4 pack is just $5 + S&H. A 10 pack is $10.00 + S&H. Complete pricing is at the company�s website:


    Hear this Netcast: www.twit.tv/dgw796

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