For most of us, once our computer and its peripherals have been installed, it pretty much stays the same. I'm talking about all those plugs...

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For most of us, once our computer and its peripherals have been installed, it pretty much stays the same. I’m talking about all those plugs or ports that most computer manufacturers gleefully place in the back of the computer, knowing full well that if we ever decide to change or plug in something new, we’re going to have to reach behind the computer.


Reaching behind the computer may sound easy enough to the uninitiated. But those of us who know what we have to do to get behind our little computing box truly understand how difficult it can be.


First of all, there’s the pain and suffering associated with having to actually rotate the computer almost 180 degrees so we can clearly see the back. Some put their computers on a wheeled base to make moving it easier.


But it gets worse. Consider all the dust bunnies you’ll have to face back there that have been multiplying for months or in some cases years. And worst of all, given that there could be literally a dozen or more cables plugged into the back of your computer, the rotation maneuver will most likely be difficult at best. In almost every case, at least one or more of the cables aren’t long enough for that degree of rotation. So they either restrict the movement, unplug themselves or become damaged.


If restriction is the problem, then you most likely are familiar with the yogalike contortions you have to endure trying to get your head into a position so you can see what is plugged into where. This usually ends after your first or second visit to the chiropractor.


If something becomes unplugged, you hope and pray that it’s a cable that you can easily identify or has only one possible place into which it can be plugged back. And if you have damaged the cable, you hope it’s one you can easily replace at your local PC store and not some proprietary wire that you’ll have to send away to replace.


But there is an alternative for you and it’s from a company called Marathon Computer (www.marathoncomputer.com).


The RePorter is a clever little gizmo that literally extends your back ports to a more convenient position. Looking much like half a tennis ball, the RePorter consists of a single 5-foot cable that at one end contains connectors for each of your computer’s most used rear ports.


At the other end sits the half-ball device that contains all of the corresponding female ports. These are two USB Type A standard ports that support USB 2.0, Firewire 400 and 800 ports, an audio-in minijack (1/8 inch) and a stereo audio-out minijack (1/8 inch).


A nice added touch is that the two USB ports light up with an electric blue glow letting you know that the RePorter is plugged in.


As an aside, the RePorter works well with your portable computer, too, and makes it easier to plug things in when you’re on the road. And its high-impact plastic construction means it can take most anything you can dish out.


So now with a RePorter connected to your computer, you won’t groan the next time you have to swap out something on your computer. Every port will be sitting right there in front of you, within easy reach. And with those blue lights, it even looks pretty cool just sitting there on your desk.


The RePorter sells for $59 and works on any Windows PC or Macintosh.