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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 But wait, there's More »

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    Remember When Radio Shack – or The Shack – Sold X-10 Modules?

    Thursday, August 27th, 2009 Netcast 904


    With X-10 modules and an X-10 control center you could control up to 8 gadgets using the electric wiring in your home. I still use them! Radio Shack dropped them a long time ago, but it turns out that X-10 equipment not only lives on, but keeps getting updated. I recently bought the new X-10 Universal 5-in-1 Learning Remote. It can replace up to five remotes by controlling your TV, VCR, DVD, Stereo, and cable. But wait! There’s more. It can also control lights and  appliances that are plugged into X10 modules. It’s easy to setup - just look up the code for the TV, VCR etc. and enter it into the remote using a simple key sequence. The booklet of codes is quite extensive and includes codes for most TVs, VCRs, Satellite, and cable boxes. If the code can’t be found you can use the Learn function – to add codes from obscure or older audio/video remotes. But this remote also has a X10 Super Key! To turn on a lamp simply plug any lamp into a lamp module, push the X10 "Super Key," then push "Button 1" and "Channel UP." The light associated with A1 turns on! Now push Volume down or up to dim and brighten the lamp, or push channel up or down to turn it on or off! Push the TV button and instantly switch from controlling your lights to controlling the TV! You can use an Appliance Module to turn on the coffee machine, air conditioner, etc. If you don’t have X-10 components already you can buy everything you need at: Then have incredible sales there! The remote control I bought “retails” for $49.99, but I got it on one of their weekly sales in a really money-saving package! I got two 2 Lamp Module (LM465) which would be $25.98; the 5-in-1 X10 Universal Remote (UR73A-2) $49.99, and something you must have to convert impulses from the remote to the house wiring – a Wireless Transceiver (TM751) $12.99. That was $88.96 worth of goodies for which I paid $19.99 + $5.90 a total of $25.89. If you’re into inexpensive home automation, check them out. You can add video cameras, security modules, and even control X-10 components via a computer program they sell. You can sign up for sales, but they often send out two different email offers a day. It’s a pain sometimes, but they do have incredible sales!


    Universal 5-in-1 Learning Remote (UR74A)

  (Wear sunglasses! Everything on the screen is flashing!)


    Hear this Netcast:


    World’s First Folding Mouse?

    Wednesday, August 26th, 2009, Netcast 903


    The Microsoft Wireless Arc Mouse could be the world’s first folding mouse. It’s certainly the first one I’ve ever seen. It’s cleverly designed and ergonomic. Unfolded it’s just about a full size mouse. When you travel this is way more convenient to use than a laptop or netbook touch pad!  When it’s time to pack, the Arc folds to fit into the included travel bag. Folding it shrinks the overall size by about 40%. But wait, there’s more! When you fold the Arc Mouse, you automatically shut it off. That way you’ll save battery power. (Microsoft says battery power should last about six months. It uses two AAA batteries.) Also the small USB dongle that makes the Arc wireless, stores under the closed portion of the mouse. It’s secured in place with a special magnetized niche. The USB micro trans-receiver dongle is small, but not as small as the ones Logitech uses. I had to remove the dongle before my Acer netbook would fit in its carry bag. The buttons on the Arc mouse are pretty standard — left and right click button with a scroll wheel between them. There’s an additional button on the left side that can be used as a “back button” in Web browsers. But there’s a problem with the placement of this button. You really have to change the potion of your hand to use it. It can’t be pushed with the hand in the normal ‘mousing’ position. The Arc utilizes laser technology so it works well on almost any surface, except the usual things that stop practically any mouse – like glass. I didn’t download the Microsoft’s IntelliPoint software, but if you do, you'll have additional features. My netbook identified and installed the Arc drivers in less than a minute with no software. You can ignore the $59.95 price. If you do a web search you can find it for about $31 to $35. It’s available in many colors. For some reason I found the maroon version (the one I have) on Amazon for under $30. I haven’t shopped at this place, but here’s the link:



    Hear this Netcast:


    On this Turn The Table Tuesday Leo Talks About His New GPS Photo Tracker

    TTTT, Tuesday, August 25th, 2009 Netcast 902


    The AMOD AGL3080 Data Logger is not for everyone. But for folks who take a lot of photos in dozen of out of the way locations, this device is an easy way (so says Leo) to Geo-tag their pictures. I have to be honest. I do most of my shooting in big cities. So when I look at a photo and see the Brooklyn Bridge, I kind of know where I took it. But Leo goes everywhere and shoots photos with very high-end cameras. Notice I don’t even use the word “pictures”! Leo shoots ‘photos’! But he doesn’t always remember exactly where he shot them. That’s where the AGL3080 GPS Data Logger/Photo Tracker comes in. It’s about the size of a small cell phone and although it doesn’t attach to the camera it keeps track of where the photographer is. It can record more than 1 million data points to provide location information for digital photos (in EXIF 2.0 or later format) from all digital cameras and camera phones. There is a process that Leo described (and I didn’t understand) of how you match the info from the Data Logger with the photos you’ve taken. But if you want one of these, you probably know how it works. It works with Mac and Windows with true USB plug and play functionality – according to the manufacturer! Leo bought his on Amazon for under $60. I don’t know which vendor on Amazon Leo used, but here’s a link:



    Company website:


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    Verbatim’s new Tuff-N-Tiny USB drive is --- well, tough & tiny!

    Monday, August 24th, 2009 Netcast 901



    The Tuff-‘N’-Tiny USB drive is so small you could hide it under two pennies! And the thickness is about the same as that of a penny. It’s most compact, durable USB flash drives I’ve seen so far. It’s small enough to put in your wallet or change purse without creating much a bump. Verbatim Tuff-N-Tiny USB Drives are significantly more rugged than standard flash drives because they feature SIP technology, which encapsulates all of the electronic components into a single miniaturized and sealed unit. As a result, the tiny drives are resistant to dust, water and static discharges. They include a key ring lanyard which you should attach immediately so you don’t misplace the entire drive! The Tuff-N-Tiny USB drives are available in 4GB (emerald green) and 8GB (royal purple) capacities. For security conscious PC users, the Tuff-’N’-Tiny USB Drives also include password security features to protect sensitive data in a user-defined private zone. The public zone is for open access and sharing of non-sensitive content. Since it’s so tiny, it’s easy to put T-N-T drive in the USB port upside-down. That won’t damage the drive, or the computer. With no room for a light on a drive this tiny, you’ll know it’s installed correctly when the computer recognizes it. Leo said a person could install on this device and be able to have a ‘personal PC’ anywhere they plug in their Tuff-N-Tiny USB drive into a PC. When you take it, your apps and files go with you, leaving nothing behind. Works with PC, Mac and Linux. MSRP US price is $29.99 for the 4GB drive and US $49.99 for the 8GB drive. But if you do a web search you can find them for a lot less!



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    We did it! We made it to Daily Giz Wiz #900!

    Friday, August 21st, Netcast 900!!


    Thanks for all the great "thank you" emails! I know you would have enclosed cash if it was possible, but it’s the thought that counts!


    From Dick’s Gadget Warehouse we go back to a mail-order ad for Copper Botton Cookware from 1986!


    Here’s a few of my favorite copy lines from the ad:


    Why are we giving away Famous Nationally Advertised J.A. Bornschaft Cookware for only $19.95 (I thought “giving away” something didn’t involve paying money! And $19.95 in 1986 is equal to about $55 today.)


    These are the most popular and expensive copper-bottom cookware of their kind ever sold by this multi-million dollar firm. (Wanna bet they are also THE ONLY copper-bottom cookware of their kind ever sold by this multi-million dollar firm!)


    Heat resistant handles let you lift them quickly and safely while cooking. (I thought lifting a pot quickly depended on the person, not the pot! And why does lifting a pot quickly even matter??)


    There is a limit of 2 sets per address at this price, but if you order in the next 11 days, you may order up to 5 sets. (Gee, I wanted to order 12 sets! Damn! Fortunately they don't say which 11 days you have to order by.)


    Actually over time I bought about a dozen sets of these pots and pans. The quality was so bad and the metal so thin I could bend the frying pan in half. And doing that was a great visual for TV. So I bent Bornschraft frying pans for Sally Jesse, Phil Donohue, Regis, even for Leo in the TWiT studio! In a way I probably keep Bornschraft in business for a few extra weeks because I had to keep ordering new sets to bend!


    Hear this Netcast:


    A message from the Giz Wiz:


    Thank YOU for listening to our silliness! Many of you have listened to all 900 episodes! And fortunately continue to listen.  I LOVE doing the Daily Giz Wiz, and I appreciate your emails and your support. The lovely and talented Leo Laporte and I have already made plans for Daily Giz Wiz 1000! We expect to record it “live” at CES in Las Vegas, around January 8th or 9th, 2010! We'll keep you posted in case you can join us!