Hardware Tips: USB Flex Adapter, HDMI Monitors

The last time I ran a , readers just ate it up. So this week I've got another one, with a cool USB accessory that lets you move cords and devices out of the way and instructions on how to get an HDMI second monitor to display full screen (if your laptop has an ATI graphics card, that is).

Remember the good old days, when laptops had USB ports at the rear? Now, most models have them on either side, which is a little more convenient for plugging and unplugging devices but an aesthetic nightmare.

Indeed, my laptop has taken on a decidedly Borg-like appearance, what with cables poking out of each side and running off in various directions. And when I plug in my USB aircard, it sticks straight out, just waiting for an accidental mouse-hand bump to knock it loose--and possibly break it.

Fortunately, there's a simple accessory that can help. I call it a USB elbow adapter, a small double-jointed plug that lets you angle USB cords and devices however you please. Just pop one into your USB port, plug in your accessory, and turn or rotate the adapter as needed.

If, for example, you want a cord to stay as out of sight as possible, you can point the adapter straight back and run the cord along the edge of the laptop. Or you could point an aircard up to keep it out of harm's way.