Apparently there is a tradition of gift-giving during the cold season in these parts, and friends have asked me if I know of any items suitable for gifts for their technically-inclined relatives and friends.
Here are a few suggestions:
A year ago Julie gave me a Jukemaster 100. This is a CD jukebox made to look like a 1950s-era table juke that you would find in a diner. You can burn your own CD, and make title cards. The over-all effect is very much like a real jukebox. It comes with a CD with 50s and 60s hits. My 5-year-old daughter Caroline loves it, and now knows many of the songs by letter and number (B1 is "Do you Love Me?" by the Contours). Apparently these are being manufactured again, and all of the distributors anticipate a quick sellout: http://www.noveltyandmore.com/jukemaster-jukebox.html
This year for her birthday I gave Julie an eStarling digital photo frame. This thing is great. You have to have a wireless router for the full functionality. Comments at Amazon say it's hard to get it working with WPA. We just use WEP and an unpublished SSID; getting it set up was easy. Anyway, the best bit is that they give you an e-mail address so that you can mail pictures to the frame. You can also set up a whitelist for the address so that only family members and friends can e-mail to it. It is fantastic to get surprised by a photo from someone who is dear to you. About the only thing I can complain about is that some of the photos don't take up the entire space available for pics, and the black background isn't quite as black as the frame, so for smaller pics there is a bit of a gap. Still, it's a wonderful product. We have it on top of our piano. For people without a wireless router, you can insert various memory cards/sticks, but without the wireless functionality, you might want to get a cheaper frame. [Amazon ]
In June I went out to Iowa for my college reunion. I think it was my 75th. In any case, I forgot to bring Julie's camera. So on the drive through the cornfields I dropped into a Wal-Mart and grabbed what seemed to be the most powerful of the small compact cameras. The one I settled on was a Canon PowerShot SD1000. This has been a great purchase, and I have since discovered that it is routinely called the best new tiny camera out there. It has 7.1 megapixels and a viewfinder, which is apparently nowadays unheard of, but invaluable for bright light and other circumstances. My only issue for this camera has been that the manual is weak; but for most things I've been able to figure out what I want through the UI. Below is a picture of Caroline (in the middle) with her second cousins (I've done a wee bit of red-eye reduction.) [Amazon ]
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