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Above is one of three items I bought today not because I wanted to but because I had to.

What I bought today was a 7-port USB hub (above with 2 ports in use on the far end), an external card reader, and an internal USB card for the PC.

I found I didn't need the external card reader because the internal card had an extra pins that I could connect my front card reader to. However I'm keeping the external card reader anyway because it was cheap and it's useful for my netbook.

Speaking of price, everything put together after tax was $51, with the hub being the most expensive of the bunch at 25 bucks.

The reason I went with a 7-port is to accommodate for all the USB ports I lost because of the lightning strike, which is 8. Six in the back, two in the front.

How it works is like this - and this is technobabble but there's no other way to describe it.

The internal card is a 7-port. 4 external outs, 1 internal out (there's a port on-card), 2 pin-outs on-card. The 4 external outs connect my mouse, keyboard, scanner and 7-port external hub. The 1 internal out isn't used because I have nothing to put there. One of the pin-outs connects my internal card reader on the inside of the case.

The hub connects whatever I want to put in there, which varies depending on what I'm doing. The ones that will be "permanently" connected are a webcam, headset, 8GB stick and cord for my cell phone.

In the end I'm left with 3 free ports, and that's fine.

I was amazed at how much stuff I connect with USB, which is basically everything except for the monitors and sound card connections.

One thing I lost was the ability to use USB 3.0, but that doesn't bother me because I have nothing that uses 3.0 spec, nor do I intend on buying anything 3.0-capable. USB 2.0 is something I'm pretty sure is going to stick around a good long while yet, so I'm not worried about it.

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