In case you haven't noticed _ maybe if you're a hermit living in a cave _ it's that time of year again.
Gift-giving time. You know what I mean. Retailers think it runs from October to February, but people like me narrow it down to, at most, a couple weeks before Christmas. Sorry about that, stores.
Some people are easy to think of gifts for. Others, not so much. Geeks many times fall into that second category to the non-geeky crowd.
Since I am considered to be more or less of the geek persuasion, maybe I can help. It's almost getting to be a tradition for me to suggest gift ideas this time of year, so the other day I went shopping for a little while to see what I could find in local stores that would qualify as acceptable presents to my kind of people.
Some of these things I have suggested in other years, but _ like socks and underwear _ some items are perennials.
In that category I would include USB flash drives, which have grown in affordable size to be very useful. An eight- or 16-gigabyte drive will let you carry around an awful lot of "stuff" in your pocket or on your key chain, and they can be had for less than a bill that displays a picture of a guy named Grant.
Along the same idea, but a bit splurgier, would be an external USB disk drive. Music and video collectors are always hungry for more storage space.
A not-very-sexy, but many times much appreciated, gift will be the proper ink cartridges for an ink jet printer. These little babies are not cheap, so people hate to buy them, but certainly appreciate getting them. A pack of photo printer paper is a nice accompaniment.
Of course if your giftee doesn't have a color printer, that could be an idea, too. Today's printers will do a very good job of printing photos, and there are even small printers that specialize in those smaller-size pictures that grandparents like so much. Decent ink jet printers are pretty cheap, as the printer companies want you have one (so they can sell you the costly cartridges later on).
Smart phones are becoming extremely common now, and many will function like a GPS to help you find your way as you drive in unfamiliar territory.
But many phones' GPS function dies out when there is no cell signal (like quite a bit of the territory around here). A dedicated GPS device works all the time, and you won't have to give up an awful lot of money for one anymore.
For the geeky guy with a lot of mobile devices, and only one 12-volt power outlet in the car, they make adapters which will plug in and provide two sockets, one for a GPS and one for a cell phone charger.
If the recipient has a cell phone, but no car charger for it, guess what? Santa can provide one of those, too.
Just make sure it is the right kind for the particular phone, because the "universal charger" idea hasn't kicked in yet in the U.S.
If you're thinking along the lines of a more generous present, beautiful LCD computer monitors are now pretty affordable. Someone with an old CRT-style monitor will really appreciate one.
Or, if you want to go bigger yet, this is the year for big-screen LCD TVs. The high-definition display is quite awesome, if you've never seen it, and prices have come down a lot. Really decent models can be had in the $500 range now.
Blu-ray is the technology for putting high-definition movies onto optical disks. If you want to watch rented high-def movies, you need a Blu-ray player to connect to your high-def TV set. These are now in the $100-to-$200 range, and go really well with one of those big beautiful TVs that your giftee may already have. Hint, hint.
All of these items are available in the stores right around here. I know, because I intentionally went around looking for them. And local availability is one of the key things for those who _ ahem _ don't plan ahead far enough to allow for online ordering or traveling to buy gifts.
Here's hoping that I may have helped some Santa and some geek. And, really, I wish all of you the happiest of holidays.
Bruce Endries is former systems manager at The Daily Star. He can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. His columns can be found at www.thedailystar.com/techgp.
In case you haven't noticed _ maybe if you're a hermit living in a cave _ it's that time of year again.
Back to nature
"The peace of the hills is about me and upon me; the leisure of the summer clouds, whose shadows I see slowly drifting across the face of the landscape, is mine. The dissonance and the turbulence and the stench of cities -- how far off they seem! The noise and dust, and the acrimony of politics -- how completely the hum of the honey-bee, and the twitter of the swallows blot them out!"Continued ...
- If you go
Raise a glass
The popularity of small-batch adult beverages is intensifying in upstate New York.Continued ...
Thick hot air and clammy clothes entice brisk visions of jumping into a pool of refreshing water. Plunging into the soft cool environment of good old-fashioned H2O can rejuvenate the soggy mind.Continued ...
Racing Under Saddle
Those looking for the thrill of watching live horse racing will not have to travel outside the region this summer.Continued ...
- Back to nature
- Around The Arts
Glimmerglass director offers employment tips for arts grads
So, in a few short weeks you're graduating with an arts degree. Now what?! In the safety of college, one can ignore the realities of the outside world, where housing and meal allowances aren't rolled into a tuition payment and jobs aren't available simply because you're a student.Continued ...
Volunteers are the SWAT of the arts world
When you work at an arts organization, particularly a nonprofit, employees often wear many hats -- accomplishing the duties that appear in the traditional job description, and then some. It happens everywhere. It's a running joke among people who work at nonprofits. There is too much to do, and not enough people to do it. That's when you call in the back up -- SWAT if you will.Continued ...
Let creativity flow with unstructured art projects
As I sit here writing this, the holiday glow is still going strong (my column deadline is two weeks before the publication date), and I've been spending a great deal of time not only with my daughter, but her stuff. We're incredibly lucky to have a loving network of family and friends that spoil her, so I've been merging her new goodies with her old.Continued ...
Opportunities abound for career in the arts
I was recently asked to speak at a local high school about my career path and how I came to work in the arts. It was interesting speaking with these seniors, and discussing their hopes for life after high school.Continued ...
The art of the appraisal explained by one who knows
So often in this column my co-writer, Brittany, and I talk about how art is everywhere and can be appreciated by all. Perhaps because of my passion for everyday art, there is one part of the art world I just cannot grasp -- art appraisal. How can you put a value on something so seemingly subjective? So, I set out to learn more about this industry.Continued ...
- Glimmerglass director offers employment tips for arts grads
- Music Beat
Oneonta student looks to take music industry training in different direction
At a recent concert reception in New York City, I was surprised to meet people who had imminent plans to move to the Otsego-Delaware county area. They explained that our area is so rich in musical and graphic arts that they knew they would enjoy living here.Continued ...
- Music Industry Tips
Complete education involves classroom, real-world learning
There is new, long overdue attention being paid in our institutions of higher education to the use of directed practical experience as an essential partner to the classroom lecture.Continued ...
- Music Industry tips
Copyright royalties can make you smile
A few years ago, I wrote an article on the skill and dedication necessary to become a songwriter.Continued ...
- Oneonta student looks to take music industry training in different direction
- Parenting Imperfect
Oh, just to be able to savor an English muffin
All I wanted to do was eat my English muffin. The family had other plans.Continued ...
A reminder of the small-child years
It's amazing how quickly you forget what earlier stages of parenting are like. This is probably a blessing -- and one that only evolved after countless generations of parents only had one child because they could remember each stage too clearly.Continued ...
Well, at least she's listening to what I say
The older the kids get, the happier I am that we have a dog. She, at least, seems to be excited to see me when I get home.Continued ...
I want to visit the world of 'The Pioneer Woman'
It is a double-edged sword, this whole having kids old enough to leave home alone for short periods of time thing.Continued ...
It is in February when the breaking point is reached
If I could edit the calendar, the two months I'd do away with are August and February.Continued ...
- Oh, just to be able to savor an English muffin
- Senior scene
As Time Goes By: I'm trying to be the rockin' up-to-date 'cool dude' grandpa
Time flies at my house. If I sit down to write an article, I can't help but see that I have an inbox of unread letters in my email. My brain records this as saying in block letters "YOU GOT MAIL."Continued ...
From the Office: Seniors need to work to keep their brains healthy, too
As we age, both our bodies and our brains face changes. How these changes affect us are determined by genes, environment and lifestyle.Continued ...
Looking Back: We should all cherish our time with our families
Time marches on, and it seems like a different lifetime since we brought up our own children.Continued ...
As Time Goes By: I'm hearing voices -- and not only mine own
There are two problems that seem to be inherit to growing older, which when viewed in the context of a sentence appear to be opposites but are in truth part of the same problem â€"you either are getting deaf or you start talking to things that surround you.Continued ...
- From the Office: What you need to know about Affordable Care Act, Medicaid redesign
- As Time Goes By: I'm trying to be the rockin' up-to-date 'cool dude' grandpa
- Tech, GP
Thankful hard-disk shortage is about over, and counting my blessings
Well, I'm almost ready to let out a cheer.Continued ...
Businesses need backups for their computer people, systems
In the interest of full disclosure, I want to let you know that I have taken a new position, professionally. I recently joined Eastman Associates, a local general contractor, to do its IT work, as well as taking care of some other functions of the business.Continued ...
Windows 8 seems to be made for the good of Microsoft, not the user
By Bruce Endries The software company everybody loves to hate, Microsoft, recently released what it calls a "consumer preview" of their next operating system, Windows 8.Continued ...
The Granite State got it right on software purchases
Believe it or not, I have found a bright spot in the political landscape, amid all the vitriolic partisan fighting.Continued ...
Visit a construction site and you'll probably find an iPad
It was just about two years ago now, that the iPad came out, and I wrote a column about it. At that time, I went out on a limb and said that thought it was a product which would fill certain niches very well, but that it wasn't very likely to fill in for what is normally considered a computer.Continued ...
- Thankful hard-disk shortage is about over, and counting my blessings
- Teen Talk
Teenhood Today: I long for furniture, hills, rice
Why hello there, upstate New York! I must say, it's a little weird going to a restaurant, to the store, or to the local meetings for individuals loving the color lime green without being asked if I'm the girl from the newspaper.Continued ...
A Word of Advice: What's new isn't always what's better
We're often told in life that we should try to experience everything we can, broaden our horizons, and even I have written columns about stepping away from the familiar in hopes of growing.Continued ...
On the Go: Mile markers of life can be painful, but enjoy them
Our insignificance is crippling.Continued ...
Weekend Reviews: 'Cherry' perfectly captures my feelings
School has finally dwindled to a close, and I can feel myself settling into a state of unperturbed relaxation, everything once again becoming slow and lethargic, the days going by with an air of hazy wistfulness.Continued ...
Teenhood Today: Don't expect expectations to always be fulfilled
In case some of you haven't noticed, I'm not a huge animal person. Sorry to all of you animal-lovers, but you most likely won't ever see me at any secret meetings you may hold.Continued ...
- Teenhood Today: I long for furniture, hills, rice