Spring is in the air, and that means blue skies and blooming blossoms (unless you live in London or the Bay Area, where it's basically gray all the time).
It's also the time for spring cleaning, when we dust the cobwebs from the corners of our rooms and PC enclosures and dispose of another year's collection of clutter.
Without the proper technology though, spring cleaning can be a real chore. That's why we put together this list of five gadgets that can help organize your life and clean up your act once again.
1. O2 Hurricane canless air duster
Tagline: "Never buy canned air again!"
Blasting canned air at your keyboards, computers and other electronics is the fastest way to rid them of most of that crummy build-up, but there are some downsides to using an old-fashioned spray duster.
The O2 Hurricane, on the other hand, emits no chemicals and carries no risk of unwanted explosions (phew).
It uses a rechargeable NiMH battery that's said to provide as much use as 25 normal cans to blow a "high-powered stream of 100 percent breathable, safe air," making it perfect for cleaning out anything with nooks and crannies, from your custom PC to camera lenses to normal household objects.
At $79.95 it may seem like a novelty purchase, but at least it's a responsible one.
2. Plug Hub
Tagline: "Rid the rat's nest"
Few things ruin a room's look like a jungle of cords sticking out under a desk or TV stand, and a spring organizing spree is the perfect excuse to clean that mess up.
There are a million different solutions, but we find the plug hub particularly effective.
A surge protector rests on the tray while your many cords snake into the enclosure, wrap around the internal cord anchors, and poke neatly out the top.
You can even mount it to a wall or the bottom of your furniture to keep the floor completely clear.
3. Neato Robotics XV-12 robot vacuum
Tagline: "Goes where other vacuums fear to tread"
Hopefully you've been vacuuming regularly through the winter. But even so, spring is the time to really get down and dirty on your floors - which is to say, make them super clean.
But why do the grunge work when a robot can do it for you (and probably do a better job)?
There are a lot of options out here, but the best robot vacuum might just be the Neato Robotics XV-12.
It's not a household name like Roomba, but Gizmodo wrote in its most recent review of robot floor cleaners that the Neato XV-12 "truly beats the hell out of the [Roomba] 770 in terms of raw strength."
"It sucks dust out of carpets like a black hole, munches coins, nails, and other hard debris - consistently, satisfyingly filling the dirt trap after every cleaning," said the site. Even if you don't have nails lying around your floor boards, you can probably still appreciate that power.
They also said that it's loud, but if you can stand the decibels of a "jet turbine" roving around your house then it sounds to us like the Neato XV-12's greater sucking power and cornering abilities (those squared-off edges!) make it the best choice.
Get it at: DaisyDiskapp.com (US$10, UK£6.61)
Tagline: "See what takes up your disk space"
A messy computer, like a messy home, can hamper your productivity and seriously thwart your attempts to excel in Feng Shui (digital Feng Shui is definitely a real thing).
But when it comes to freeing up hard drive space during spring cleaning, it can be difficult to prioritize. You might spend hours deleting old photos or documents to find that your disk is still bogged down by unidentified sources of clutter.
Enter software like DaisyDisk, a cheap and simple way to see exactly what's taking up space on your computer. It works great for Mac OS X; for Windows you can use the free WinDirStat, while Linux users will want to check out KDirStat. For a free Mac alternative, try Disk Inventory X.
But none of those are as elegant as DaisyDisk, which displays your hard drive clutter as an easily analyzed, attractive circular map. One look and you'll know exactly what useless old crap to delete, and your computer will thank you.
5. NeatDesk desktop scanner and digital filing system
Get it at: Amazon ($369, UK£243.74, ships internationally)
Tagline: "Lose the paper. Keep the information"
Spring cleaning is bad enough when you're just changing sheets and beating rugs, but you'll also likely find yourself stuffing dozens if not hundreds of receipts and other documents into a bulky filing system or other primitive organizer.
Though the price is steep at $369, it's well worth it for the NeatDesk scanner and organizer, which can scan up to 50 receipts, business cards and other documents per minute, with few limitations.
Best of all is the included software, which automatically pulls and stores information from each scanned document. Receipts are filed by vendors and amounts, documents become keyword-searchable, and business cards are turned into digital contacts.
Now that should definitely reduce some of your winter clutter.
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