Games, Keyboards And Other Clever Products
By Judith A Rogow
Jun 1, 2003 - 10:00:00 PM

Last month I mentioned games for the family and illuminated keyboards, and, oddly enough, the two tie in together rather well.

Games are probably one of the most popular uses for computers, from the quick hand of Solitaire you play at lunch to the role-playing game you hope will keep the kids quiet long enough to chat on the phone without distractions. Games are resident in virtually every desktop or laptop system.

Photo by Richard Hormaza

These days, people spend more time online playing games than they do reading books and magazines according to an eMarketer survey. Playlink estimates suggest that 140 million people regularly play games online. Online game players are not just teenage boys - 48 percent are women, and 63 percent are between the ages of 25 and 44. In fact, the fastest growing online games group is comprised of girl gamers, according to Jupiter Communications

GameHouse( has games available from $9.95 to $34.95 with several combination packs at a discount. Ranging from Tic-Tac-Toe to Solitaire and from Casino games to puzzles, there is something to keep everyone happily occupied for hours. The answer to how to keep the kids busy on a rainy day can be found at GameHouse.

A couple of favorites are:

Super Glinx - With three levels of difficulty, either timed or not, Super Glinx is a deceptively simple yet challenging game with more twists and turns than a one-lane mountain road. Like an unfamiliar road, it allows you to become complacent then throws you a curve.

Super Collapse - This is the game that had a pair of normally quarrelsome teenagers rapt. They spent hour after hour figuring out the "work arounds", and groaning when their plans failed. The few minutes they allowed the grown-ups to play were punctuated by hints about ways to gain higher scores, but we could never beat their totals.

When I mentioned to the PR person for GameHouse that the games were addicting, he sighed "everyone puts that in a review". So I won't mention that you might become hooked and find yourself getting up in the middle of the night for "one last game".

However, if you do decide to make a final attempt at beating the 15-second bonus round after the tenth level, you might want to consider the EluminX keyboard from Auravision (

This clever computer keyboard is equipped with internal luminescence and is the first commercially available computer keyboard that remains totally visible even in dark or low-lit workspaces, thus providing a perfect solution for late night web surfers, gamers, and computer users. The EluminX keyboard eases eyestrain by making the keys easy to see, reducing the need for the glare of task lighting as well as reducing symptoms of computer vision syndrome (CVS) including eyestrain and headache.

The keyboards are available in bone, black, or silver with a MSRP of $99.00, and are compatible with any desktop system. Oh yes, the light does go off when you shut down your machine.

Since I'm mentioning clever inventions, how many times have you heard someone say, "I wonder why they can't come up with . . ."

Enter Innovative Solutions and Technologies (, designers of several clever inventions that make life a bit less complicated.

Their premier gadget, the Sidewinder, is the world's smallest, lightest, and most powerful portable cell phone charger. This decidedly low-tech, yet incredibly useful, unit weighs under three ounces and puts out power greater than a plug-in charger. The premise is simple, you wind up the handle, and convert your energy, or that of anyone who wants to try it (you'll be amazed at the curiosity this creates), into a charge for your phone. Just two minutes of charging brings you 6 minutes of talk time and even more standby time. You can keep charging and talking indefinitely, which could be the difference between life and death in a disaster such as our earthquakes.

The Sidewinder was designed for any time you are away from a traditional power source and you need to complete a call, but it can be used virtually anywhere, even at home if you forgot where you put the charger.

More uses might include camping treks, storms that mean loss of electricity, canoeing trips, hikes in the mountains or long horseback rides. Since the unit is tiny, about half the size of a deck of cards, it can be stowed almost anywhere.

The Sidewinder also contains a powerful LED light that runs over 5 minutes with only 30 seconds of charging. In the works is a fire starter that will delight campers. A connecting cable for the Sidewinder, and a half crank, will create a 6 inch high flame in one minute for a virtually instant campfire.

Since I hate having to tote a bulky charger with me on assignments, I'm particularly pleased with their USB computer charger. A simple cable connects my cell phone to my USB port, which is incredibly handy when I'm in a hotel room working on my laptop. It will, of course, also work in my office with the desktop computer, saving a bit of space in my cluttered work area. There is a connector to charge your cell phone battery from a pocket PC in the works, and I keep hinting that a laptop charger for the PDA would sure be handy. As Heather, a PR gal who really knows her products says, "wait a few weeks, you never know what we'll come up with next!"

The basic unit - the Sidewinder plus a cord for whatever cell phone you are using- is $24.95, with additional cables for different phones available for $4.95 each, and a neat carrying case for $2.99. The USB connector for your desk or laptop is $8.99, and theres no price set for the fire starter cable at this point, but I'm told it will be "reasonable".

Next month's article will be about . . . well, whatever strikes my fancy.

© Copyright 2007 by