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On the side of my Dell Latitude laptop, above the DVD drive, is a slot marked 'EC'. Pulling on it revealed a strangely shaped ruler with a temperature converter tool on the back. What is this? Why is it there?

picture of odd ruler

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64  
It looks like you can use to to measure very small spaghetti portions. –  Jack Aug 15 '13 at 15:29
6  
It looks pretty useless... You should mail it to me, and I'll get you the proper plain-jane dust cover in return –  Canadian Luke Aug 15 '13 at 15:31
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Hold at arms length and use holes to identify planets in the night sky while waiting on login prompt to appear or security patches to install. –  zundarz Aug 15 '13 at 19:04
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That is sooo coool! –  ricovox Aug 15 '13 at 20:27
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@RonSmith - available at e-bay. Someone is selling theirs for $25.Must be the rare white version. ebay.com/itm/Dell-Latitude-E6430-M92YV-Gray-Express-Card-Blank-/… –  Carl B Aug 15 '13 at 21:08

4 Answers 4

up vote 75 down vote accepted

It is a cool little multi-tool that Dell used instead of a plain slot keeper to keep dust and crud out of the Express card slot. It is actually pretty cool that Dell put this handy little tool in place of an otherwise useless hunk of plastic. There is a letter opener and everything.

Pretty cool.

Asus has one that stored flash Cards as a storage area:

ASUS

And there is one that you can get if you are bored with your multi tool:

Cool

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I see a wire stripper (possibly) and either a can opener or a bottle opener. And a way to check screw sizes. Cool! –  Journeyman Geek Aug 15 '13 at 15:28
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@JourneymanGeek - if it could open my Guinness bottles, I would get one for my pcie slot!!! –  Carl B Aug 15 '13 at 15:32
    
Express card is not a PCIe slot though. It has both an USB port and a single PCIe lane. –  Hennes Aug 15 '13 at 15:51
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@JourneymanGeek - Probably not strong enough to be a bottle/can opener. That looks like a letter opener, along these basic lines: s7d5.scene7.com/is/image/Staples/s0345069_sc7?$splssku$ –  KeithS Aug 15 '13 at 18:48
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Coolest answer. –  MGOwen Aug 16 '13 at 3:19

A clever soul at Dell has turned the plastic spacer filling the ExpressCard slot into a small ruler, wire diameter measurement tool, and letter opener. This is maybe not an essential feature, given that the ruler is only 2in long, but it shows an amusing level of design imagination.

Read more: http://www.itproportal.com/reviews/laptops-pcs/dell-latitude-e5530-advanced-review

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The Express Card (EC) slot is a PCI Express card slot used for various hardware options, such as a wireless card. PCI Express Card technology is the latest PCMCIA standard. There aren't very many cards (relative to USB) to put in them but you can add USB ports, media card readers, bluetooth and wireless cards.

Phone compnanies often hand them out as part of their mobile broadband offerings.

Solid State Drives (SSD's) are available, as well as Serial ATA (SATA) cards for adding external SATA drives.

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Thank you @vfbsilva - I wonder if there is anything clever that we can do with the little ruler? It is a strange shape. –  James Taylor Aug 15 '13 at 14:21
    
@user39951 can you provide a picture of it? –  vfbsilva Aug 15 '13 at 14:23
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I have a picture but need ten reputation before I can post it. I presently have eight reputation :-/ –  James Taylor Aug 15 '13 at 14:45
    
@user39951 - So use a comment and somebody will add it to your question. –  Ramhound Aug 15 '13 at 14:47
    
@vfbsilva Good news, I now have 13 rep so I have added a picture of the little ruler. There is also a degrees F to degrees C converter on the back. –  James Taylor Aug 15 '13 at 14:58

In some computers, these rulers are used by engineering and computer aided design students and professionals. When they work from their home or dorm room, They use these to scale drawings and sketches onto the computer from a sketchbook or piece of drawing paper. There are computers that contain a longer, built in ruler or scaling tool like a slide rule. This Dell C1P22 Express Card ruler is only there because it is a dust guard for a slot where an internet card would be placed.

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