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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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    Off My Camera Lens, Dust & Fingerprints!

    Monday, August 31st, 2009, Netcast 906

    It looks like a kind of thick fountain pen, but it's actually the LENSPEN. It was sent to me by the Spoon Sisters who find unusual gizmos for their website: LENSPEN is a quick and easy way to clean your camera lens.  On one end is a convenient, retractable brush, made of soft, natural bristles. Use that to dust away any hard particles or contaminants. (I used this brush on my Netbook keyboard to get dust out from between the keys.) On the other end of the device there’s a unique tip that holds the special LensPen cleaning compound. It flexes, matching the contours of the lens. By applying gentle pressure on the lens and using smooth circular motions, any smudges or fingerprints will be removed instantly. Fingerprints are oily and that’s why some cloths just smear the oil without actually removing it. But wait, there’s more! More than just protection for the tip, the special LensPen cap replenishes the tip with more cleaning compound each time it is replaced and twisted a half turn. The same company makes Digi-Klear, a similar device to clean other digital equipment. It’s the same price and also available from Spoon Sisters. $13.50.

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    A Good Pair of Binoculars for Under $20. In 1995.

    Friday, August 28th, 2009, Netcast 905  / Back to Dick’s Gadget Warehouse!


    It was back in early 1995 when I went to a press conference for Bnox, a very inexpensive, really good quality pair of binoculars. “It's all done with mirrors” is what the makers of Bnox said about their new four-ounce set of binoculars. At just 4” wide, the binoculars had an impressive 7x magnification. They were made of a heavy-duty plastic, and even the optics were plastic, but I was quite amazed at how good they were. When I took them out the Gadget Warehouse I tried them again after about 14 years and was able to see buses clearly two blocks away! Since they were plastic, they could be used on the beach, in the rain, while hiking, etc., because they were ruggedly built. The company sold them at places where people might sight-see and realize they left their binoculars at home, or just didn’t want to bring their expensive ones with them. Sporting events was another place they were sold. One logo branding BNOX did was for NASCAR. They were fixed-focus and intended to retail for about $20. But low and behold, a web search finds a warehouse outlet that still have BNOX’s for sale. And only $11. 00, plus shipping.

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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!)


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    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:



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    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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