While I am glad to see digital cameras, cell phones, MP3 players and other portables are getting tinier and tinier, their designers forgot one simple thing - the cable.  These modern designers have no respect to industry standard and create any special connectors they like.  Whenever I add a new USB device into my portable collection, I have to carry one more lengthy and stiff cable.  Can you believe it, I have to carry a bag just to hold these stupid 6-feet cables.  Let's do something about this mess.
First, cut this HandSpring Treo cable (about $7 on eBay) like this: leave 1 in at each ends and cut off the cover by .5 in.  Also cut off a 1.5 in heat-shrink tube for later use.

 

Cut the wire tips like this: the longest one at the left side is the shortest one at the right side, vice versa.  This way, the to-be-soldered contacts will not touch each other.  Don't forget to put on the heat shrink tube to one side before you start soldering.

Now solder these ends: red to red, green to green, etc.

Use a electric tape wrap the naked wires and prepare the shielding tips like this.

Solder the shielding tips well, so it is hard to break this short cable even you stretch it hard.

Now move the heat shrink tube to the middle and heat it with a heat gun.  Looks rugged and decent, does it?

I did this to all my cables, including one for my Canon camera and a standard A-to-mini USB for my Odessey 1000 MP3 player.  Add a Zip*Linq A-to-A retractable extension cable, you are all set.  Now kiss your bags good buy!

 

If you cannot do soldering, you may order such a short USB cable on the Cool Stuff page.  These are currently available: USB A-to-A, USB A-to-mini, and all the Sprint cell phone cables that Radio Shack carries.  Please specify the cable type in the message field of the online order form.  To be honest, Zip*Linq has all the standard USB and Firewire cables and you don't need to buy those from us.  However, that retractable wheel is still too thick to me and I don't want to carry too many of them but one extension.  Zip*Linq really should remove the two white plates to make it thinner.  If you have a special cable and would like to make it short, you can send it to us for this modification for $20 plus shipping.

This article is mainly to draw some attention from modern designers, so their future products will come with 6" cables, no more 6' please!  If people do want longer cables, they can easily buy an extension.