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

  • 70
    It looks like you can use to to measure very small spaghetti portions.
    – Jack
    Aug 15, 2013 at 15:29
  • 7
    It looks pretty useless... You should mail it to me, and I'll get you the proper plain-jane dust cover in return Aug 15, 2013 at 15:31
  • 5
    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, 2013 at 19:04
  • 3
    That is sooo coool! Aug 15, 2013 at 20:27
  • 2
    @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, 2013 at 21:08

4 Answers 4


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:


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


Seems there are a few other remotes you can store in this space.

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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, 2013 at 15:28
  • 1
    @JourneymanGeek - if it could open my Guinness bottles, I would get one for my pcie slot!!!
    – Carl B
    Aug 15, 2013 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, 2013 at 15:51
  • 3
    @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, 2013 at 18:48
  • 2
    Coolest answer.
    – MGOwen
    Aug 16, 2013 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


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.

  • Thank you @vfbsilva - I wonder if there is anything clever that we can do with the little ruler? It is a strange shape. Aug 15, 2013 at 14:21
  • @user39951 can you provide a picture of it?
    – vfbsilva
    Aug 15, 2013 at 14:23
  • 1
    I have a picture but need ten reputation before I can post it. I presently have eight reputation :-/ Aug 15, 2013 at 14:45
  • @user39951 - So use a comment and somebody will add it to your question.
    – Ramhound
    Aug 15, 2013 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. Aug 15, 2013 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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