I admit, I’m a bit OCD when it comes to the cleanliness of my work area. Stray papers are kept in neat stacks, my wallet, hat, and keys live in a wire mesh basket, conveniently out of the way. But organization of my personal effects can only go so far, for there is one aspect inherent to computing that causes a mess not easily tamed. I am, of course, speaking of the snakes-nest of cables and wires that traverse each of our desks and workstations.
For years now, my approach to cable-management has consisted of two main components: cable-ties and contractors wire-guides. The wire-guides are screwed into the back edge of my desk, with a guide every 6 inches. Wires are threaded through the guides, organized by usage; wires I hardly ever move (speaker cables, DVI and monitor power cords, etc) are tied together with cable-ties, while wires that I frequently need access to (PowerBook charger, phone charger, etc) are threaded, but left loose. This setup is far from ideal. Every time I got a new peripheral, or decided to change the layout of the components on my desk, I was forced to cut the cable ties, re-thread the cables, and re-tie the wires with new cable-ties. Not only was this expensive, having to buy cable-ties over and over, but it was also very time consuming.
Enter the RadTech CableYoYo. The CableYoYo, designed by BlueLoungeDesign and produced by RadTech, is a tiny 80-mm wide x 9-mm thick plastic square with a notch for winding cords. Able to accommodate up to 8 feet of 3.5mm low-voltage or data wiring, CableYoYo is the perfect size to store USB and Firewire cables. Each CableYoYo comes with an adhesive “button” which enables CableYoYo to be stored under desks, on walls, and even behind computers! (Though I’m not sure what kind of Mac user would dare mar the sleek surface of their machine with anything, even something as sleek looking as the CableYoYo.)
The cable is held in place using an innovative system of bumps on the corner of the units flanges. Wire is threaded back and forth between these bumps, and friction keeps it in place. Though interesting, I found this system to be lacking in strength. I used one of the units I was sent to control the mess of my mouse cord, and found that whenever I pulled the mouse a bit too far, the cable would release, and I was forced to re-clamp it between the bumps. I suspect that the grip of the bumps would not be such an issue if it was not for the fact that the bumps only exist on one of the corners of the unit. I found that the difference between 5 and 6 wraps (totally arbitrary numbers mind you) was too great a discrepancy, causing the cord to wind up being either too short or too long.
I found that when winding cable, I tended to grip the CableYoYo quite tightly. Now, this could just be a quirk of mine, but the tight grip caused the lips of the unit to bend inward, closing the gap which the cable fits in, and making it difficult to wrap. Making the lips a bit stiffer, or the plastic a bit thicker, would surely remedy this issue easily.
The only other issue I had with the CableYoYo was the backing on the adhesive knob. The backing had no easy place for me to grip it, and having just trimmed my finger nails, it was near impossible to remove. I ended up using my pocket knife to lift up the backing. Adding a special corner/handle such as that found on pudding cups (mmmm… pudding cups) would make it much easier to remove the backing. The one good note I have about the backing is the fact that it can be removed and reapplied, even if it was not intended to.
After using the CableYoYo for a few weeks, I have to say that is is absolutely the best cable-management solution I have ever come across. Sleek, simple to use, and inexpensive ($5 each), the CableYoYo brings a certain Mac-ness to an otherwise boring category of products.
Note: The picture of the horrifically messy desk comes to us courtesy of James McMurry.