Surge Buster If you're not worried scorching your laptop when you hook up in your hotel room, maybe you should be. Not only can lightning, black-outs, and other electrical power problems wipe out your data anywhere you go, but hotel phone lines pose particular dangers to your mo-dem. The phone in your hotel room may look like any old phone, with an analog dataport--but, in fact, it may be powered by digital lines. And digital lines have much higher currents that can cause a modem meltdown.

Enter SurgeArrest Notebook Pro, a $59.99 four-ounce mobile bodyguard, that protects your laptop from both excess phone line current and electrical surges. Both your AC adapter and phone cord plug into the unit. Press a button on the device--it flashes a warning if the phone current is too strong for your modem. This feature is dummy-proof; if you forget to check the line, SurgeArrest will automatically disconnect your modem if it's in danger.

As for electrical surges, the unit will either absorb them or, if the power blast is too overwhelming even for SurgeArrest, it gives its life for your laptop--cutting off all power before it expires. (You can send your dead protector back to the company for a new one.) Another bonus: With a voltage range of 100- 240 volts, SurgeArrest operates worldwide.

Contact American Power Conversion at (404) 789-5735, or visit the company Web site at

valuation forms work, but they can be cumbersome to administer and time- consuming to interpret. For a quick snapshot of attendee opinion, check out the Opinionmeter. Originally created to sample consumers' attitudes about service at U.S. postal offices, it's now being marketed to convention planners. The device isn't terrifically high-tech. Planners can only ask up to nine multiple questions--and the questions need to be printed on standard size paper and slipped behind a glass plate. But the Opinionmeter is portable (5 lbs.), easy to use, and can hold up to 2,000 responses in a survey period. Set it up in the registration area the first day with one set of questions, and move it outside a keynote speech with another.

For $2,675, you get the Opinionmeter, report software, a stand, a hand-held printer, and a slave unit that stores data. Results can be downloaded onto a computer and printed out as charts (cross tabulations as well as time and date analysis are built-in applications). For a quicker assessment, use the hand held printer, which prints out results on a grocery-slip style sheet.

Contact American Meeting Planning, (630) 665- 5562;

ne of the things that made the good ol' days of presentations good was being able to mark up overhead trans parencies to drive home a point.

Compared to wielding a fat, emphatic grease pencil, pointing a laser arrow at a computer-generated slide just doesn't have a memorable effect. But Interlink Electronics has launched a new product that gives the pen back to presenters.

FreedomWriter Pro is a wireless, hand-held PC input device that can act as a pen, a mouse, and a keyboard. Using a stylus on a pressure-sensitive input pad, presenters can annotate projected slides with notes, circles, underlines, whatever. But the unit does a lot more. The input pad doubles as a touchpad, allowing cursor control, scrolling, and point-and-click operations. Users can also use FreedomWriter to input text, in conjunction with an on-screen keyboard or writing-recognition software (included). The device is not affected by infrared signals from traditional remote controls and fluorescent lighting.

The FreedomWriter unit costs $199.95 and requires a PC with Windows 95 or higher, an available nine-pin serial port, 16 megabytes of RAM, and five megabytes of free hard-drive space. For more information, contact Interlink Electronics, Camarillo, Calif., (805) 484-1331 or visit

Lands' End, often the catalogue company of choice for planners who need to get a logo stitched onto sweatshirts (or button-downs, windbreakers, hats, towels, duffels . . .), isn't in the business of creating logos. Typically, clients supply a logo, and Lands' End embroiders it. But the company knows a smart time to make an exception. In the spring 1999 catalogue, Lands' End is marketing four Year 2000 logos that companies can pick up for their Y2K teams. As the catalogue says, "Finally, there's something you don't have to prepare for the Year 2000."

To order a catalogue, call (800) 338-2000, or visit The Y2K logos aren't on the Web but the neatly laid out site can answer a lot of questions.