PostPoints tip: It's OK to hoard some USB cables
My desks at home and work are overrun by surplus cables from old gadgets--but thanks to recent moves by manufacturers to standardize on connections, that's not necessarily a bad thing. You can benefit from this trend too: If a device of yours breaks or is lost, you may still be able to get good use out of its cables if they're either micro- or mini-USB. Both kinds of plugs are smaller than regular Universal Serial Bus connectors: The former, at about one-eighth of an inch thick, is most often found on digital cameras, external hard drives and some slightly older phones; the latter, at just a sixteenth of an inch thick, is most often seen on new phones. (You can see a photo comparing the two with standard USB connectors and read a technical description at Wikipedia.) Should an extra cable match either description, keep it around as a spare--or loan it to a friend in need.
November 17, 2009; 8:55 AM ET
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