Things I can’t live without…

..it’s perhaps a bit of an overstatement, the title of this blog post that is. It should be something like “items that make life a lot better or easier”, in my humble opinion!

Via Spence, I appear to have been caught by yet another meme thing. Since Spence’s replies didn’t include humans, I can only imagine that I have to choose a handful of techie objects.

Who’s next? Alan, Granville, Gary and Liam. I wonder if there are “meme police” who go around checking to see who keeps these memes going and who is killing them off? As I write this, I decide to go for a quick search, and guess what I find? Well I never. Bang goes another great idea. Back to the drawing board for me, ho hum.

My answers? Shouldn’t be too hard, here we go, a few of the techie things that make my lifer better or easier:

MP3 Player/Podcaster
My recent spate of podcasting has proven rather addictive, so I’d have to say that I must have my podcasting kit. At the moment, I’m using an iRiver H300, 20GB, colour screen, external mic, USB 1.1 host and USB 2.0 device connections – it’s a pretty good unit. It’s hard to get my precise model here in the UK, but there are similar available – note that the H10 shown below requires a cradle if you want to use external microphone option. If you are thinking about podcasting, an external microphone is a must – there’s a pretty good search facility that will help you find such a device over here. Further good advice, via the chaps at NxtGenUG can be found here (includes a link to their podcast!)

Headset
You might begin to think that there’s a theme here, but no, there’s not. I use Skype – having a good set of headphones+mic is essential for me. I use a USB 2.0 Plantronics unit, cost a lot a year or so ago, doesn’t cost so much now. It’s a tidy unit, lots of folding bits so it fits into a nice little carry bag which is ideal for transporting alongside the laptop and all it’s bits.

Record Cards (aka Index Cards)
Hah, I hear you say, they’re not a techie gadget thing. True enough, but since I’m rarely without a small pile of record cards (held together using a small clip), they are pretty much essential for my operation. Trust me – there are many famous names who do likewise. Check out this video if you more convincing. And if you want a bit of a laugh, here’s another video!

Microsoft Wireless Notebook Presenter Mouse 8000
As I noted here, this mouse/presenter combo is rather neat. Whilst I haven’t used it in anger yet, I expect it to be “right up there” on this list.

WebCam
Microsoft’s NX-6000 webcam is another gadget that I haven’t used in anger yet, but one that is proving to be a lot better than the cheap £9.99 units that the superstores here in the UK are plugging as trolley-fillers. It is delivered in two flavours, a notebook version and a standard desktop version. I’ve not tried the desktop version, the VX-6000. However, the notebook version, the NX-6000 offers remarkably good quality and has a built-in microphone, which means I can alternate between using the webcam and the headset.

One negative point: it’s designed to hook over the top of the laptop screen, I’ve yet to find a laptop that it’ll sit on – the screens are too wide for the hook! That said, once you’ve found a way of securing it, the lens position is adjustable, so you can angle the lens to suit your sitting position. And it’s packaging is very neat: it all folds away into a hard cylindrical zipper case, ideal for stuffing into one of those pockets in your laptop bag!

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