More travel gadgets and a fixed iMac

In last week's Gearhead I discussed some of the gadgets I took on holiday, but neglected to mention two others I fancied.

The first is the PowerSkin for Apple iPhone 4/4S produced by Tennrich International & XPAL Power Inc. This is a combo iPhone case and rechargeable booster battery that adds a slight heft to the iPhone. Without the PowerSkin the iPhone is 4.5 inches high, 2.31 inches wide, 0.37 inches thick, and weighs 4.9 ounces; with the PowerSkin the device becomes 5.1 inches high, 2.5 inches wide, 0.77 inches thick, and weighs 5.78 ounces.

The payoff for the additional heft is the embedded 2000mAh battery delivers, roughly, an extra 480 minutes of talk time and 350 hours standby time and a shockproof "skin." In effect you get an iPhone that can runs for a full 24 hours or more without recharging.

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The iPhone connects to an integrated Apple iPhone dock connector in the skin and you can charge and sync your iPhone via the case's built-in Mini-B USB port.

Made from a smooth, hard rubber-like material, the case has an on/off button for the battery on the bottom edge (other models have it on the back) and the USB connector at the bottom of the right-hand side. A short press displays the power reserve via four LEDs (all four will light when fully charged) while a two second press toggles the battery power to the iPhone.

The case provides access to all of the iPhone's control buttons, although the iPhone's Sleep/Wake button on the left side of the top edge is a little hard to press due to the stiffness of the case material.

The increase in battery life is fantastic when you're traveling. I tested the PowerSkin for Apple iPhone 4/4S which has, I see, now been discontinued and replaced by the even sexier PowerSkin® for Apple iPhone 4/4S (GLOSSY BLACK) and the PowerSkin® for Apple iPhone 4/4S (MATTE TITANIUM), both priced at $69.99.

PowerSkins (pictured at right) are also available for a variety of devices from HTC, RIM and Samsung. If you're traveling there surely will be many times you'll be glad to have one of these PowerSkins, which get a Gearhead rating of 5 out of 5.

Another traveling gadget that impressed me was the Logitech Tablet Keyboard For iPad. This low-profile multimedia keyboard has a carrying case that opens to become a prop for your iPad -- it's a clever design that allows your iPad to be set up in portrait or landscape mode at any angle from about 60 degrees to 45 degrees from the horizontal.

The key action of the Logitech Tablet Keyboard For iPad (pictured at left) is very good, and the overall weight with batteries installed is a reasonable 14.4 ounces. Priced at $69.99, the Logitech Tablet Keyboard For iPad gets a Gearhead rating of 5 out of 5.

Finally this week, we return to the topic of my iMac crashing after I upgraded to Mountain Lion: I've been trying out various tools to see if the problem would go away and it did! Unfortunately, despite making changes carefully, I have only a suspicion about what actually fixed the problem and no idea what the problem actually was.

The tool that may well have done the job is one that has attracted a lot of negative attention over the last few months for rather odd reasons: MacKeeper 2012 published by Zeobit.

MacKeeper is an impressive Swiss army knife kind of maintenance application for OS X that combines a sophisticated file finder, disk usage analysis, disk cleanup, duplicates finder, a smart uninstaller, application updater, login item control, default application for filetype management, data encryption, file shredder, deleted file recovery, backup, safe browsing firewall (for Safari, Firefox and Chrome), antivirus and physical theft remediation all in a single app for $39.95.

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The first time I ran MacKeeper (pictured above) I tried the Fast Cleanup feature which includes a Binaries Cutter that "scans your applications and deletes their unneeded parts designed for other platforms (either Intel or PowerPC) and leaves parts for the platform that your Mac uses," a Languages Cutter which removes unused languages from applications, a Cache Cleaner that clears out the cruft from application and system caches, and a Logs Cleaner which purges system and user log files.

On a well-used system with lots of apps installed the Fast Cleanup is not all that fast, but after allowing MacKeeper to analyze my iMac and then let it do its thing, wonder of wonders, I haven't had a system crash since! I have no idea what was changed that made my installation of Mountain Lion work reliably, but given that I don't have to restart my system several times every day, I really only care in an abstract, "it would be kinda interesting to know" way.

The hoopla over MacKeeper is well documented by Leander Kahney over on the Cult of Mac, and I concur with other reviewers: MacKeeper is a fine piece of engineering. It is very well-featured, well-designed, appears to be very stable, and does a fantastic job for a very reasonable price. You will not be surprised to find that I award Zeobit's MacKeeper a Gearhead rating of 5 out of 5, even though I have no idea how it might have cured my iMac's problems. Ah, sweet mystery of life ...

Gibbs is in the dark in Ventura, Calif. Enlighten him at gearhead@gibbs.com and follow him on Twitter (@quistuipater) and on Facebook (quistuipater).

Read more about software in Network World's Software section.

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