Ask a Geek: Looking for handy tech gadgets

Adam Darack

Dear Geek,

We all love gadgets. What handy tech gadgets would you recommend for my business? I’m looking for things that you’ve used, and things that I might not even realize would come in handy.


Inspector Gadget

Dear Inspector,

Fun question, and something I love to talk about, though my passion for this stuff tends to make me a prime candidate for a future “Revenge of the Nerds” movie, if they ever make one. (I’d be with the Lambdas, not the Alphas.)

To start with, I have a gadget that I use only two to three times a year, but in those moments is absolutely priceless. It’s a device called a hard-drive duplicator dock, and connects to a computer using a USB cable. It has two slots where you can insert hard drives. If you put a hard drive into one of the slots, it instantly turns it into an external hard drive. If you put a blank hard drive in the other slot and hit a button, it clones the first hard drive you’ve put in. How is this useful in the real world, you might be wondering?

Let’s say something happens with your computer and it won’t boot up. This doesn’t necessarily mean the data on the hard drive is gone. It’s possible to remove the hard drive from that computer, put it into this gadget, connect it to another computer, and if the hard drive itself is still functional, you can now access all of the files you likely thought were gone forever. Cloning a hard drive with this device gives you an exact backup without needing complicated software. The device I personally use is the hard-drive duplicator dock. For just under $60, it gives a remarkable bang for the buck.

Next up is another storage-related item — a flash drive. You can now buy a 128GB flash drive for under $40. To put that in perspective, a typical blank DVD can hold 4.7GB worth of data. That little flash drive gives you the capacity of over 27 DVDs for file storage. Great for storing files or to make sure you have them on you at all times (get one that attaches right to your keychain). They even make some with two ends, one that can connect to your cell phone and one to a computer. This allows you to copy things from your cell phone to the flash drive, then, when convenient, from the flash drive to a computer. I typically use flash drives made by Silicon Power, Samsung, and Corsair.

A last little gadget that can come in handy is a USB wireless adapter. I often see people with desktop computers who want to put them in an area where there are no network jacks. Some desktops now come with built-in WiFi capability. If yours doesn’t, for under $20 you can buy an adapter the size of a quarter that will give your desktop computer the ability to connect to a wireless network. I have used Linksys, Belkin, and TP-Link adapters that have all worked great.

Thanks for writing in,